UK smart options sought to help elderly wandering relative including smart locks for 5 Lever Mortice Deadlock

We have a confused elderly relative with limited mobility in our household who has started wandering around at night and I want to make her safer. It’s a busy house and there’s always someone else here, but in the early hours of this morning she found her way through an internal door into our garage where she fell down a step, undetected. All is fortunately well but I need to make our environment safe for her and thought some further home automation might have a part in that.

There are some things already done or that I can easily do that help:

  • automated lights in all common areas to ensure visibility, including the garage: done - didn’t stop the fall last night though
  • contact sensors on key doors to track open/close evens: done and useful for lighting automations but as our garage contains a fridge, freezer, bikes and gym equipment etc it gets a lot of traffic that I’m not worried about
  • add an internal garage camera to our Arlo system: I’ll do this as is help us understand movements and incidents but that’s not going to stop a fall

I’m seeking the Community’s help to suggest solutions for:

  • Turning the UK 5 Lever Mortice deadlock on the internal garage door into a smart lock - I cannot find a device to do that
  • Tracking movement around the house, a wearable device perhaps?
  • Generating alerts if this person is in certain areas of the house - I have no idea how that might be done
  • Any other good ideas you’ve got from your own experiences

In case it’s relevant, I have a UK v3 SmartThings hub (so have ZigBee and Z-Wave) plus a strong mesh WiFi network. I have a reasonable level of IT & SmartThings competence so am happy to explore complex solutions but have never really looked at locks or security apart from using a Konnected system to use our alarm system PIRs for lighting automation.

Thanks in advance for any bright ideas and advice.

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What is the feasibility of creating a slope over the garage step incase it happens again, it could be created out of wood and carpeted over and around the existing step, the carpet on it would stop it being slippery


I’m sure that’s very challenging! These situations are always complicated because you want to leave easy access options for everyone else in the house while restricting potentially unsafe areas for the person who wanders. You can find lots of support and suggestions for non automated options at your local Alzheimer’s/dementia association. It’s sadly an all too common issue these days.


One of the most common solutions for nighttime wandering if you don’t have children under 12 is any kind of “tricky” door stopper. Something that requires sliding or twisting a manual catch, for example, is easy enough for most non impaired teens and adults, but can still stop a wanderer. But they may be too difficult for young children or someone with physical challenges to use, so they don’t work for every household. These may also be sold as child safety products.

These can also be helpful if they simply slow the wanderer down long enough for a Sensor alert to notify other family members, particularly for late night wandering.

They may also not suit if the door has to be openable from both sides. But it’s a place to start.

Here are a few examples of different types of designs.


For an automated version, one option is to add an additional simple smart throw bolt, then put a “tricky” cover over the manual turn handle. You use this in addition to the existing mortise lock.

You do have to check fire safety codes to make sure whatever you’re using meets local exit requirements, but it’s usually doable.

This has the advantage that you can leave it unlocked during the day and have it on an automatic schedule to lock itself late at night.


For many wanderers, just a simple stop sign sticker is enough to keep them from opening a door. If you want something fancier, you can outline it with a red LED strip, or get one that’s all together automated and only have it light up late at night.


Someday will have technology that can recognise us by our heart beats, but we aren’t there yet.

There are devices that can track an individual person as they move around a building, but they all currently require that the person is willing to wear something, most typically a wristband or a pendant. And not all wanderers are.

Someday we will probably get this option with a smart watch, but again, we aren’t there yet. For now location tracking with the watch is still mostly GPS-based which can help find someone if they’re out in the neighborhood, but not track them room to room.

I don’t want to go into a whole lot of detail on microlocation if the person in your household is not likely to use a wearable, so just let us know on that one if you want to discuss these options more.

Of course, if the wanderer happens to be someone who always has their smart phone with them, there are some microlocation options based on that as well.


Audible alerts can be affective, not with Sonos currently but Echo devices can be useful if they are in relevant locations, setting up a movement routine coupled with a virtual switch into Echo which announces a messsge may help


One more non automated option that can be helpful… I have a cousin whose wife has early onset Alzheimer’s. They found a “dementia clock” very helpful for her, in fact, they now have three of them. One in the kitchen, one in the lounge, and one in the bedroom.

She often doesn’t know if it’s four in the morning or four in the afternoon, and these clocks are designed to give the person “time orientation” information, so they know what day it is, if it’s day or night, etc.

They use one that looks like this, and really like it:

My cousin said just the clock stopped a lot of her late night wandering because she was able to recognize that if it was night, she should stay in bed.


Thats brilliant JD, that is useful to us and a relative with similar issues, very helpful


Yes, a great practical and simple aid, I can buy or make something like that. :+1:

Another good idea. I have a scattering of Google Home audio devices that I’ve been trying to get to work with the really useful looking Google Cast V0.1 edge drive by @TAustin but need to figure out whatever network or other gremlins are stopping the required cast-web service from seeing my devices. I don’t have any Alexa capable devices but could perhaps try one just for this use case as a gentle announcement would probably help.

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Thanks JD, many very helpful suggestions there:

  • I love that “tricky” sliding top door lock as an immediate solution and have ordered one - I can easily add a contact sensor to alert us if we haven’t locked it at night
  • Adding a new “additional simple smart throw bolt” is a good idea, any suggestions on a good device? - the door is an fire door
  • Signs - yes I’d suggested, half serious half jokingly, that we put up a “no food or toilets this way!” sign, as we assume they are her drivers!
  • We already have a dementia clock very similar to the one you mention by her bed, but sadly it just gets ignored
  • On microlocation, that’s definitely something I’d like to dig into more as yes, she’s very compliant and would wear a wrist or neck device (she just can’t remember how to activate anything like an alert pendant) though she doesn’t have a smartphone and wouldn’t remember to carry it anyway

Many thanks.

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I’m not sure what being a “fire door” does in terms of specifications in the UK, so I will leave that to others to comment on.

But Nuki, Danalock, and even Switchbot make smart locks that fit over the top of an existing turnbolt and then physically turn it. So you can get any inexpensive dumb throw bolt that would be compatible with one of those and then Smarten it.

For this particular use case, where you are adding it to a door with an existing mortise lock, I myself would probably just go for the least expensive, which would be the SwitchBot. You do need to also have a SwitchBot hub. You can get the mini hub which is less expensive or you could get the new hub 2 which is a Matter bridge so you could bring the lock in to smartthings that way. (I’m pretty sure @Automated_House said his is working now.)

This is going to be a not very smart, smart lock. basically, you just have the ability to lock or unlock it, nothing too fancy with multiple codes or anything, but as a secondary lock to prevent wandering on a door that already has a good lock, I think it should be fine.

the only thing about the SwitchBot is that physically it’s the largest of the three. So I don’t know if that makes a difference for you. Also, it’s Bluetooth to its own hub and then Wi-Fi from there. The official integration is cloud to cloud, but if you use the Switchbot hub V2, you can get a matter integration which is local. The other two are Z wave options.


I should add that all forms of dementia are very individual conditions, as you already noted with the clock: what works with one person might not work with another.

I know that my cousin got a tip from an online forum that some people with cognitive issues are more likely to try to open something that is higher than something that is down by their feet. Basically the weirder it is and the less likely it is that it’s something they’ve had to do in the past, the less likely those particular people are to figure it out. So at his house, there’s a secondary bolt that’s only about a foot off the ground. he used to have it pretty high up near the top of the door, but she would keep trying to open it. The one that’s down by the floor she just ignores. So sometimes you may just have to try different ways to see what’s most effective in your own household. :thinking:


(I haven’t forgotten about the microlocation wearable, but I’m tired today and I probably won’t get to that answer until the weekend as it’s going to require a number of links.)