Microchips in pillboxes and TV remotes keep watch over elderly people who live alone

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Microchips in pillboxes and TV remotes keep watch over elderly people who live alone
Kim Scarborough, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Microchips installed in commonly used items such as pillboxes and TV remotes are being used to keep watch over elderly people who live alone as they go about their daily routines.

TV remotes, razors, pillboxes, wardrobes and fridges are just some of the objects commonly used by elderly people who live alone in Villafáfila (Zamora), and microchips have been installed in such objects to allow their daily activities to be monitored.

This allows both family members who live far away and volunteers within the town to monitor the daily routines of the elderly who live alone.

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“They have commented that they feel more at ease, and their family members do too,” explained Marisa Andrés and Yolanda Martínez, two of the four volunteers working on the pilot programme.

They decided to volunteer to maintain social ties and familiarity between town residents. They have the responsibility of periodically visiting the elderly and have access to a system that raises the alarm if daily routines are not done.

If this happens, they are the first ones to go to the home and check that nothing is wrong. Fortunately, there have never been any real incidents, only false alarms resulting from technological problems involving the data from the sensors.


The chips have also been installed in a walking frame, rosary beads and a photo frame that an elderly woman kisses every day when she gets up and goes to bed.

One elderly man, 87-year-old Julio García Ovejero, stated that 99% of elderly people want to live in their own town and in their own house and that this pilot programme gives them “more security”, as they have someone to talk to and someone they can call if something happens.

Even so, he hopes the initiative is developed even further and is “more defined”, as “if you are alone, you are still alone”. He feels this way despite the fact that he is still active and leaves the house every day, eats out, follows politics, supports Real Madrid, reads a lot and even writes poetry.


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