Help Without the Push of a Button?

Getting Help Without the Push of a Button?

Seniors are living longer and remaining in their own homes.  At the same time, falls have become an epidemic problem that jeopardizes seniors’ chances to live independently. Every year in the U.S., one out of three people age 65 and over will fall. This statistic translates to 13.3 million people who will fall in 2010, or one person falling every 2.3 seconds on average.  And there is a 50% chance that if a senior falls they will do so again within a year.

Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma, as well as injury-related deaths among seniors and the primary reason that most medical alarms / Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) are purchased today.  Lying on the floor for an extended period of time can lead to serious complications, including pressure ulcers, muscle necrosis, dehydration, hypothermia and pneumonia.

Unfortunately, PERS pendants are not effective if one is unconscious, unable, or  unwilling to press the call button.  Studies have shown that in 4 out of 5 falls, manually activated medical alarms are never activated.  When the elderly fall they are often forget to push their button, won’t push their button because they feel they can manage the situation independently or are too embarrassed to call for help.

Recent technological advances have addressed this problem through the development of PERS devices that can detect when a fall has occurred and automatically contact a monitoring center so that assistance can be dispatched.  Briefly, multiple sensors within these devices constantly monitor the wearer’s movements and activities as they go about their daily routines.  In addition to measuring elevation and orientation to the horizontal position these devices also measure acceleration rates associated with changes in position.  When a rapid decrease in height is detected, followed by no vertical movement at all, a call for help is automatically sent.  The most advanced of these devices is small, lightweight and waterproof, and has been determined to detect a fall with 95% accuracy.

Receiving help quickly after a fall can reduce emotional distress and the potential effects of losing consciousness due, for example, to a stroke or insulin shock that can be experienced by a diabetic.  Rapid response can also significantly reduce the costs of extended treatment, rehabilitation or supported living.  The automatic call capabilities now available with some PERS systems ensure that a call for help will be made, even if the one in need cannot make that call themselves.

Article Provided by:
Columbia Medical Alarm
(503) 644-4736

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