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Alzheimer's & Dementia
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Expert Review – Voice Reminder Device (Medicines, etc.)





Wellness Wizard


MANUFACTURER
Safety Response Systems, LLC.

COST
$149

VENDORS
Senior Care Mall

DISCLAIMER
The listing of these products is for informational purposes and individuals must use their own caution and judgment when using these resources. Functional levels and changes in judgment and reasoning are highly variable in people with dementia. Interventions must be individualized and continually assessed because those that are effective for some individuals may only work briefly and may not work at all for others.

DESCRIPTION
The Wellness Wizard, referred to by the manufacturer as an electronic caregiver assistant, plays customized medication and safety reminder messages at the times specified by the caregiver. For example, a message might be, "Dad, it's time to lock the door before you go to bed" or "Mom, time to take your medicine." The Wizard's messages are recorded by the caregiver, ensuring that the voice is familiar to the person with dementia.

After a voice reminder message plays, the person must push the large flashing yellow light on the Wizard to acknowledge they've received the message. If the button isn't pushed, the Wizard automatically calls the contact(s) you've entered with an alert to check on the person.

You need to install the Wizard in the room where the person spends most of his or her time so they can hear the voice reminders (for many people, this is the living room) or you could use a remote speaker in another frequently used room.

Another product feature is one button speed dialing to the caregiver, 911, the physician, or the pharmacy.

PROS
Easy to set-up and easy to use – installs like a telephone answering machine. It's also easy to record and change your messages.

Offers helpful reminders to persons who can understand and carry out instructions.

Color-coded speed dial buttons can be used for calling you (or another caregiver), the doctor, pharmacy, or 911.

Automated alert phone calls are made to the designated caregiver(s) if the person doesn't respond to messages, so you can check on them before a crisis begins.

Records up to 20 messages.

No monthly fees.

CONS
Volume on the Wizard may be too low to be heard from another room. The Wizard can be used with a remote self-amplified speaker in another room (available at most electronics stores for $60 and up).

This product has a lot of helpful features, but, as the person must respond appropriately to the reminders, only people with mild memory loss will be able to learn how to use it.

When the person goes out of the house, they need to turn the Wizard's message function off and then turn it back on upon returning. The button is located under a small lid so that it doesn't get turned off by mistake, but it makes it harder for a person with memory loss to use it. If the Wizard is not turned off before leaving the house and no one responds to a reminder message made during that time, the Wizard calls the caregiver with an alert. If the person doesn't leave the house very often, this wouldn't be much of a problem. Consider using reminder signs. For example:
  • On the inside of the door: "Dad, if you're going out, press the blue button under the lid on the Wellness Wizard."
  • At the location they place their keys or bag when they return home: "Dad, be sure to turn the Wellness Wizard back on by pressing the blue button under the lid."
CAUTION
Effectiveness in larger homes may be reduced without additional speakers.

This product is for people with mild memory loss, and not everyone will be able to learn how to use it. To increase the chances of success, be sure to:
  1. Teach them how to use it, using short ongoing sessions (like a 10-minute session every day for a week). Choose a time of day when the person is at their best. If the person becomes agitated while learning, stop and try again later. If the agitation occurs at subsequent sessions, this could be a sign that using the device is beyond the person's current skills.
  2. Leave reminder signs to help the person remember how to use the Wellness Wizard like, "Mom, push the blinking yellow button on the Wizard after you listen to my message."
  3. On an ongoing basis, you'll need to double check to see if the person is actually following the instructions in the Wizard's messages (taking medications, keeping their appointments, locking the front door, etc.).

Product Selection Criteria

Our goal is to teach you how to be a good consumer and to help you learn about specific products and unique product features that may enhance your safety and the safety and function of the person with dementia. The products shown in This Caring Home serve as examples only. Manufacturers continually change product specifications and the products represented may be different from those now on the market.

We realize this is not an all-inclusive list. Products featured in This Caring Home were chosen for one or more of the following reasons:
  • Affordability
  • Attractiveness
  • Availability
  • Color selection
  • Ease of use
  • Quality
  • Safety
We encourage you to discuss product selection with other caregivers and health care professionals.


How We Tested

"ThisCaringHome.org tested many products that are commonly recommended for best practices to identify the best use of these products and any potential problems in their use by caregivers and individuals with dementia. Each product included in an Expert Review was tested in a home environment, either an apartment or a single family home (or both), by at least two people. Rosemary Bakker, interior designer, gerontologist and dementia specialist, was one of the testers for every product. Whenever possible, we tested the product over time, sometimes days, weeks, or months, for:
  • Ease of use
  • Reliability
  • Potential safety issues
As a result of our testing, we're listing the pros and cons for using these products and including safety precautions for various products. These products were not tested by persons with dementia. We hope in the future to do case studies to learn more about what works and what doesn't work in a larger variety of caregiving situations and home environments."

Products listed on our website but not tested by ThisCaringHome.org are referred to as "Product Listings".



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