Technology Offers New Protection for Seniors

Teaching Senior Citizens to use technology to improve their lives.

Technology Offers New Protection for Seniors

January 19, 2015 Uncategorized 0

May, 2011 – What if there’s a fall and nobody’s there to help?

It’s a question millions of American families with aging loved ones ask every day. Seniors prefer to live at home where it’s safe, comfortable and affordable – but someone with the ability to help needs to be close by, just in case. The reality is falls are inevitable, no matter how careful family members and caregivers are in making a home safe. Falls can be caused by everything from uneven floors or throw rugs, to mobility and stability issues, medical conditions and even reactions to medicines.

Whatever the cause, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries to older adults.

The statistics are alarming.

  • One out of three seniors falls each year.
  • 40% of all seniors or 12 million people will fall this year.
  • In 2007, 18,000 older Americans died from fall related injuries.

(Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

In addition to the immediate dangers of seniors falling, such as a broken bone, health complications increase if a senior falls and doesn’t receive help.

  • If a senior falls and remains on the floor more than four to five hours, he/she could spend up to 18 days in a hospital or rehab facility.
  • If a senior remains on the floor overnight after a fall, he/she could spend up to 30 days in a hospital or rehab facility.

(Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

For years, families have turned to Personal Emergency Response Systems, so-called medical alarms, for help. These pendant devices provide a so-called “panic button” that a senior can press if an accident occurs. Remember the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial. However research now shows in four out of five fall incidents the senior doesn’t push the button, either because they are too stunned or embarrassed, they forget, or they are physically unable.

Armed with a new understanding of the short comings of the panic button alert, medical alarm companies are developing new technologies that will detect falls automatically.

“Health care providers, caregivers and family members need to assess older patients for their fall risk factors, modify their living arrangements and if needed, utilize a medical alert system with automatic fall detection technology,” says Chris Otto, a senior care expert and the President and CEO of Halo Monitoring. The new generation of response systems utilizes motion sensors and accelerator technology to constantly measure a person’s movements in relation to height, orientation and acceleration in order to identify a fall. For example, sitting down or reclining on a couch is considered normal activity. A fall, with a sudden change in acceleration, movement and height is considered an abnormal action and the system automatically contacts a call center for emergency help. There is no need for the senior to push a button. Depending on the manufacturer, the systems are worn on pendants, belt clips and even on chest straps under clothing.

Medical alarm systems are also making the jump to the internet, allowing families and caregivers to remotely monitor a senior’s health and physical activity. Using secure web portals, family members or designated caregivers have the ability to check on an elderly loved ones situation without invading a senior’s privacy.

Robin Sanders bought an advanced medical alarm system for her 77 year old mother-in-law Elizabeth Madison who lives in Roseville, MN.

“After Elizabeth fell in the basement and almost hit her head we agreed we needed a monitoring device,” said Sanders. “About one month later she again fell in the basement and her husband was upstairs but didn’t know what happened. The medical personnel staffing the call center saw the alert and called the house as well as notified me. We all feel better knowing the system is there.”

“I felt so alone when I fell, it was a real wakeup knowing what can happen,” adds Madison. “I don’t have that fear of falling anymore. Now I feel secure, and while I know the system is supposed to detect a fall, I also know there is a panic button if there is an emergency.”

“While families do all they can to protect their elderly loved ones, the new technology in monitoring systems provides families with additional peace of mind knowing help will be called even if elderly loved ones aren’t able to do it,” adds Otto.

Editorial provided by Frank Graff, Halo Monitoring.