September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month, an opportunity to learn more about how to recognize and eliminate potential hazards in your or your senior loved one’s living space, as many falls are preventable. It is also a good time to learn about the advanced technology available to seniors and their families in the event a fall does occur.

According to Age Safe America, falls have become a national epidemic in the United States and are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for those over age 65. They also account for 40 percent of nursing home admissions as nearly half of all seniors sustaining a fall do not resume independent living. The Centers for Disease Control reveals approximately 36 million falls are reported among older adults each year, and of this number, 3 million are treated in emergency rooms.

While the best solution is to work toward preventing falls in the first place, should one occur, improved technology has given us a variety of state-of-the-art ways to communicate with first responders and emergency contacts. As a rule, personal emergency response systems (PERS) have advanced lightyears from the generations old push-button pendants that may (or may not) summon assistance under the right conditions, i.e., being in one’s own home and generally within a limited range. Today, companies such as Get Safe, One Call Alert, and Life Protect 24/7 offer a variety of emergency assistance options in the form of wireless pendants (usually with greater roaming capacity), wall buttons, and landline, cell-based, and GPS systems.

Like a few other home care agencies, Amada Senior Care offers a PERS device called Amada Connect to efficiently summon first responders, providing coverage in the form of a GPS mobile pendant with auto alert fall detection, a cellular home alert device that requires neither landline nor mobile phone, a two-way voice watch or pendant with up to five acres of fall detection coverage, and more options. With many options to choose from, what should you look for when deciding which personal emergency response system is right for you or your loved one?

Consider Your Senior Lifestyle

First, the features that matter most revolve around individual circumstances. Is the senior experiencing Alzheimer’s and likely to wander? A PERS with GPS would be essential here. Is s/he prone to falls? Automatic fall detection technology, in the form of a motion sensor, would contact first responders without any action required from the user.

Over the years, features including fitness trackers, medication reminders, daily check-in calls, etc. have been made available but this usually increases the cost, so prioritizing is important.

User Friendliness for Seniors

With limited vision, decreasing dexterity, and other issues that may plague seniors, gauging the size of any buttons to be pressed, the dimensions of the wearable transmitter itself, charging requirements. and anything else that make it make the PERS hard or easy to use are key to a device’s effectiveness. Also, is it waterproof? As many falls occur in the shower or bathtub, this feature can be essential.

PERS Device Range and Portability

Older iterations of PERS with limited range were known to limit their effectiveness. If a senior fell while walking outdoors, or even gardening just outside the back door, many were completely useless. The more active the lifestyle, or the more likely the senior is to wander, the more important range is though cost may be increased. Nationwide cellular coverage is available with some PERS plans, making them viable throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico if travel is involved.

Trained Operators and Call Center

Quality of monitoring services is key to summoning immediate help. Many times, a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death. Best to look for a company that has its own in-house US-based call center. Also, a 24/7 response team is crucial both for emergency monitoring and customer service in the event a problem arises when using the PERS.

First Responder Contacts

Can the user be connected with friends and family should an accident occur? Most often, the monitoring operator will reach out in this way, but some systems allow for nonemergency contact between user and his/her support network as well. Still others are geared toward friends and family contact only when the button is pushed, leaving it up to them to call 911.

Testing and Repair of PERS Device

The company you select should test the system on a regular basis. When choosing a device, ask what measures in place for this purpose and their frequency, as well as any replacement policies.

Pricing and Contracts via PERS Provider

Just as with mobile phones, cable, or internet, companies that offer PERS vary widely in the way they structure payment and fees. Some charge a la carte, so to speak, breaking down fees for monitoring, equipment, etc., while others offer packages. Some require minimum contracts, activation fees, and cancellation fees. For clarification it may be important to get a written quote when inquiring about costs. An Amada Senior Care advisor can assist in designing a fall safety plan for yourself of a senior loved one at home for emergency response or another independent living concern. We’re here to help, so feel free to call us toll-free at 866-752-1961 or CLICK HERE to find an Amada franchise location near you.

 

“What Seniors Should Look for in a Fall-Alert Device,” written by Beth Herman, Amada blog contributor.