Seriously need help on humanitarian grounds (Dementia)

Hello - I took it on myself to assist my neighbor whose wife asked for my help otherwise she’ll be forced to put him in some sort of controlled environment. He is +90 and still able to mow the lawn and he makes it a point to lower the US flag every Sunday night and hoist it back up early Monday morning with the national anthem playing from a 60’s boom box. Many policemen/firemen/etc. come over sometimes. The issue - he has been diag. with dementia. He’s a Marine and was in WW-2 and has something called Cong. medal of honor. I just want to help him.

I need a way for SmartThings to detect if he has crossed some boundary and then alert his wife. Now I know there are tons of products available but she’s adamant in terms of me having control. Also his hearing is weak now and thus need some sort of vibrating device which will cause him to realize something is wrong. So plan to use my SmartThings hub for this. Have IFTTT and Amazon Alexa. They have something called Jitter / Jigger phone which is NOT smart. I checked and found a simple open/close sensor / a plugged in switch is reacting to commands issued from my home and thus connectivity is there. No - they have no Internet and they won’t get it. All they have is a Verizon phone line and this 1 candy phone they share. They are ready however to get a 2nd. phone but similar type as its given by the VA.

Anyways - ideas are welcome. Please?

I really would not rely on SmartThings for something like this! There are way too many possible points of failure. And SmartThings reliability, both generally and specifically around geolocation, is not anywhere good enough to support life-critical functions.


I’m sure his wife will appreciate your help.

It’s not likely the Congressional medal of honor: that’s only been awarded seven times since the Vietnam war, all given posthumously. But maybe, if he’s in his 90s, it’s from WWII. Anyway, the detail is not really important, but I would leave it out unless you’re certain.

As far as what the family needs, I agree absolutely with @HalD that smartthings is simply not reliable enough for this need.

There are many kinds of alert/tracking devices available for people with dementia, and the VA will have some. I would suggest you support her in talking to a VA counselor to find out what is available to them at no charge. There will probably be several options.

The Jitterbug is likely the phone that they have as it already has some special features for seniors. It may be that the wife just needs more information about how it works. For example, it should have an emergency button that the husband can use if he gets lost or frightened that will connect him with a real person who can help. It also has louder volume than most phones specifically for those who are hard of hearing. If it is subscribed to the five star system it also has built-in GPS tracking, specifically so that people with dementia can be found if they wander. so it’s quite possible that they already have the features they need, the wife just doesn’t know how to use them.


Hello - this is actually good stuff!! I was thinking of the same, i.e. SmartThings just doesn’t cut it. This is pretty serious stuff. I’ve setup an appointment with VA. His wife is also very old and thus limited in how much she can help. Their only son is in Japan and seems to me - doesn’t care much.

She currently has 1 request which I believe can be done. She wants to know every time the door (exit) is opened. Was thinking of putting a Kwiset smart lock and an open/close sensor. She wants a chime linked to it so a Door chime should be fine. The issue is for me to keep 2 separate groups in MY smartThings. One for my home and one for theirs. She is not much into home security as per her: nothing to steal category but every time door opens she wants. That I believe is doable. Then if he leaves the home and wanders - let me find out what VA offers on that aspect. I don’t mind spending a few for them. He’s a very good man ; a real gentleman and believe this is the least I can do.
As for Medal of Honor I am not very positive but was told he is a recipient by two individuals. He hates to talk about war and WW-2. All he ever told me when I pestered him a bit - “go read how many of me died on a French beach on 1st. attempt and you’ll know why you shouldn’t ask”.


SmartThings is still overly complicated and overly expensive for simple door open alert. Even more so if it’s going to be tied into your SmartThings account.

From your description, you’d need to put a SmartThings hub in their home. It’s unlikely you could reliably have a door sensor in their home connect to a hub in your home. That would require an internet connection that you said they do not have. And thus additional ongoing expense for someone.

Google “door open alert” and you’ll find several standalone devices that will chime when a door is open without any “infrastructure”.

When you’ve got a hammer everything looks like a nail. Since you’re familiar with SmartThings, it’s tempting to apply it in ways where it’s not a good solution.


The Alzheimer’s Organization also has a lot of excellent resources, including discussions of useful tools and home modifications. The sad thing is that dementia affects so many families, but the good news is that means a lot of devices and resources are readily available and can be very helpful.

Caregiving - Alzheimer's & Dementia | Alzheimer's Association

Their resources on safety and wandering might be particularly helpful in this situation.


Hello - this is now resolved.

Met with the VA today. Being who he is, they are going to ensure the associated tracking devices which was correctly pointed out here was already there and I’m now training her. He however, is tough to convince. Kept alluding to some “pin” he needs to find to put back into the hand gun and thus protect Susan (his wife) so that “I can’t be the Blue Falcon”. Not fully understood but trying!! LOL. THANK YOU.

Next - HalD - appreciated sincerely. There’s a small co-pay which I already paid but some Army Corps group is coming on Saturday to install a stand-alone system which will alert every entry / exit. His wife asked me to coordinate and I gladly accepted.

The township police and fire services came forward today morning. They will help her with a centralized fire and security alert service thru panic buttons, etc. and Optimum is our Internet provider here and they have an open wifi into which that service will be connected.

All good. Thank you guys and sorry to bring it into this forum but yes - being with Smartthings my natural tendency was to go there, first.


Sounds like a good outcome. They are very lucky to have such a helpful neighbor! :sunglasses: