The amount of time spent immobile after a fall greatly affects the outcome of an elderly person’s health and rehabilitation. Of the falls that don’t result in injury, some 90 percent still have a detrimental impact on health and well-being, and a fall resulting in a serious injury may signify the beginning of an irreversible, downward spiral.
While it may be impossible to prevent every fall, the next best thing is to be alerted as soon as possible when someone has fallen and, thus, greatly reduce the amount of time the fallen person is on the floor or ground.
Since the shower/tub is a prime spot for falling, a simple-to-use telephone in the bathroom is a good idea (with large numbers and speed dial features). However, the phone needs to be accessible from the floor near the spot where a fall is likely to occur − such as on a low shelf or bench near the shower/tub so that the phone could be pulled toward the victim with the cord.
Personal Emergency Response System
An electronic device known as the PERS provides an easier, more reliable solution. The PERS is typically worn in the form of an electronic pendant, either around the neck or wrist. In any type of emergency situation where the victim is still conscious (a fall, heart attack, or fear of an intruder), he/she presses the pendant and a pre-designated emergency agency is automatically called (police department, fire department, or even a family member or neighbor).
Some PERS companies are now offering a small, pager-like device that is worn around the torso to detect the physical action of a fall for cases when the victim loses consciousness. The accelerated signals the body produces during the fall are sent to the base unit in the home; the base unit calls the monitoring center; and the monitoring center calls someone on the contact list. If none of the contacts are reached, emergency services are automatically dispatched.
Wireless security sensors can provide additional peace-of-mind. Micro door sensors, motion sensors, and door/window sensors are battery powered and communicate with a security panel wirelessly. The sensors cover three points in the home:
- Exterior doors
- Kitchen use
- Motion throughout the residence
These systems are easy to install and configure. They include a password-protected secure website that allows caregivers to check in on the homes of their elderly, physically, and mentally-challenged loved ones. Door sensors are especially useful in the care of dementia or Alzheimer patients, and sensors in the kitchen can even help monitor a person’s eating habits.