Request for help/ideas: creating an emergency/alert automation for disabled person living alone

My mother lives alone in a rather big house. Though she isn’t old, due to the nature of her illness, she cannot always make a phone-call (as she may not be able to speak) or even pick up her phone and use an alert app to notify emergency services. I would like for her to be able to notify me and emergency services by performing a very simple action that doesn’t require much force or complex steps like opening and interacting with an app. But it cannot be easy to trigger by accident given the extremely serious nature of the alert to be sent.

The best solution I could think of (other than having someone assist her when I’m not there, which she absolutely won’t have…) is to program a wireless button (like the shelly button) to trigger an automation after three presses or two long presses or something like that. The smaller the better, so that, I don’t know, maybe she can wear it on her neck or something. I bought the shelly button but I’m having some issues with reliability (not related to WiFi range, this is fine). The setup I made in her house uses Bluetooth (door/temperature sensors) and WiFi (switches) and I was able to get good coverage in the whole house for both. I should have probably gone with something low frequency, use a ConBee or something like that, but for now the whole thing is set up on BT and WiFi. Obviously, I’m willing to invest in Zigbee if necessary.

So, my first question would be: do you have any hardware suggestions for something that she can always have on her that would enable her to trigger the alert in a simple way while at the same time minimizing the risk of doing it by accident?

Then there is the alert issue. I think the best idea I could come up with would be to install a gsm modem and use the sms functionality to send a text to the emergency number with her personal data, medical info and the code to the key safe at the door, plus another message to me. Or maybe a message to me and only another one to the emergency number if I don’t do something to deactivate it within, say, three minutes (to further lower the risk of false alarms being sent to 112). I couldn’t think of anything offering better reliability - I thought about third-party sms services and automated calls, but I guess it’d be best to rely on local machines that could operate even if internet were down. But maybe I’m missing something.

All ideas much appreciated, thanks!

Not a direct answer to your questions, but there was a somewhat similar topic in the past which might provide some inspiration on what could be done: Dead man's switch

I’ve rigged up a Wallace and Gromit system for my own use (getting on a bit, sadly).

I opted for a third party alert service on grounds of reliability - the complexity of what it would need to do is far beyond what I could maintain, and I really wanted to install it and forget it, not be forever tinkering. After looking at a few I chose one called My SOS Family (I’m in the UK, but I believe they operate in other countries).

This is built around an Android app. Alarms can be sent by tapping a widget on the phone, calling out to Alexa or by speed dialling an emergency number. Contacts (not emergency services) are alerted by text, email and automated phone call, and when one of them acknowledges the call, the others are told they can stand down (a nice touch). It costs around £30 a year and support is great.

I’ve extended this using a variety of services - HA, IFTTT and Llamalab automate - so that I can also trigger an alert from a smartwatch button, and I have several physical panic buttons at accident hotspots round the house (bathroom, stairs). These are Philips Hue buttons mounted on the skirting board.

As I said, it is very Wallace and Gromit, and partially dependent on the Internet (and indeed on HA, which has been known to go wrong :roll_eyes:) but I can let you have more details if you’re interested.

I built it partly because it was fun, but your situation sounds serious. I would strongly urge you to bite the bullet and pay for a third-party service - or at least create your own system around a third-party alert service. If there is an emergency and something you’ve built goes wrong you’ll feel like shit.

Edit (having looked at Dead Man’s Switch above):

My SOS Family has a timer function so that an alert is sent if you have not checked in after a specified time. Not quite the same, but possibly useful.

There is obviously a reason why the usual alarm pendant (push button and fall activated) with monitored telephone call back is unsuitable? The service would return a call and if they were unable to talk with your mum (speakerphone activates) they will despatch care. This would cover your mum not being able to speak to them if she needed help.

My SOS family sounds good too and reasonably priced. I will take a look at that for similar circumstances I have to OP…thanks

Thanks, these are all good suggestions. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find a service like that in her country… I will look again, maybe I overlooked something.

In the Netherlands, the toilets for disabled people are equipped with an alarm wire.

This is a wire connected to a switch and usually runs around the room just a little above the ground. This makes it easy to trigger when laying on the floor…

It would be easy to hook up this switch to HA, and from there to…whatever😋

Maybe an option to use this on rooms?



I use the Aeotec nanomote and have it perform some various actions for my disabled son. I have one of the buttons turn the lights on in the living room, one turns the lights off, and one that sends voice alerts smart speakers stating “xxxx needs help” (he has yet to use this one, I still test it thou). I have one unused button and I don’t utilize any of the double tap functions due to his dexterity. This button is small and can easily be worn around the neck or on a key chain. It is also rechargeable via mico USB connection; charge will last several months of use but I try to charge it every other month or so.
This is Zwave but there are plenty of other options.