A New Tool for Dad

My name is Kelly, Joe Murphy Sauder. My family and I live in Valencia PA, which is just outside Allegheny County. I am a nurse and a social worker. I have a daughter who’s 32. In our home currently, it’s me, my husband and my father, Edward.


My dad’s a very non-emotional on the outer surface kind of guy. He worked a business his whole life. He managed hotels. He worked in a bank. So he always had to be very practical-minded. My dad has always been so supportive of our family. We always came first.

My dad retired in January of 2019 and was officially diagnosed with kidney cancer in August of 2019. I remember the night that we actually found out. We had just finished dinner and I was in the kitchen doing the dishes. His cell phone rang. I can only hear his side of the conversation… a lot of aha and okay, I understand. Me being a nurse, I can imagine what the other part of the conversation was. So after he gets off the phone, I went in and I said, so what was that about, Dad? He said, well, come in here and sit down. He said, “look, it’s going to be okay. What I really need right now is I need you to be a nurse.” I said “I’ll do my best.”


We have been very lucky to be able to use the voice-activated devices. He was a little resistant at first. He’s heard the speculation out there that it is going to listen to me. They are going to know what I’m saying, and they’re going to spy on me. So we talked about how the technology works and the encryption.


Instead of watching Jeopardy the other night, we play trivia on the Companion 24/7 speaker. To see him when he realized some of the answers (was heart-warming). (With the device,) you can do these fun things. There are also the conversations that it sparks. My dad’s is not a real talkative person. So we were getting him to engage using the device.


It gives a lot of peace of mind to myself and our family that he can just ask for help. He can say, call for help. And there will be someone who can respond and assess the situation. They can either call me or if my dad says I need medical assistance, they would be able to access the paramedics for him.


It makes it possible for me to be able to go to work and spend eight and a half hours doing what I need to do to serve my population. It has so lifted a burden. I definitely think using the voice technology is a tool. I’m a nurse, and I’m a therapist. So, I believe in having a toolbox full of all different things.


I think the first piece of advice that I would offer to family members who are dealing with either health crisis or just the natural journey of aging is: use every resource you can to not only help the person you’re caring for, your loved one, but to help your own quality of life.


I would definitely recommend Constant Companion. Absolutely. Why not?