Selecting an Emergency Alert Device For Seniors

One of the most difficult jobs faced by many people today is being a caregiver for an aging friend or relative. Senior caregiving predominantly falls upon millennials, who are usually women, and requires a significant investment of time and money. As a caregiver, you would like to always “be there” when your senior needs assistance. However, this is not always possible, especially during this time of the novel corona virus, where senior isolation is so prevalent to protect their health.

 

It is extremely challenging watching over your parents or other senior loved ones at any time, particularly with so many of us dealing with children at home requiring remote learning and many adults working out of home offices. To help caregivers, medical alert devices, also called Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), have come a long way from the iconic “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” pendant with its SOS button to push if a wearer has fallen. With many PERS choices available, it is worth finding the one that has all of the features needed by a senior to stay safe and comfortable when you are not with them. Having a robust and complete medical alert system is now more important than ever.

What Features Should You Consider?

As is the case for many items you purchase, you can divide their desired attributes into three classes: Must Have, Nice to Have and Don’t Care. When selecting a PERS device, you naturally want to include all of the Must Have and as many of the Nice to Have features as possible. What you should include in the latter category depends on the individual situation of the senior who will be wearing the device.

Fall Detection (Must Have)

The statistics surrounding senior falls are truly alarming. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:, one in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall and every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.

 

Virtually all PERS devices have one or more mechanisms for summoning assistance in case of a fall, ranging from a simple push button to summon help up to sophisticated automatic fall detection algorithms and calls for help. None will work if the senior is unconscious and many only work at home. GoFind’s NudgeR PERS pendant has three ways to get help if a person has fallen by contacting a caregiver list and, when available, a 24/7 call center:

 

  •  Automatic Fall Detection whether conscious or unconscious or at home or out for a walk

  • An SOS button on the pendant

  • A call for help (picked up by the pendant’s built-in microphone)

 

GPS Capability (Must Have)

There is a misconception that GPS capability would only be needed for a senior who leaves this home or other facility where they are living. This is not true. A fall or other medical emergency can occur anywhere, in or out of a home, and GPS location capability reduces the time it would take first responders to locate the person in trouble, including within a building. NudgeR’s GPS capability allow caregivers to pinpoint the location of the wearer at any time and lets caregivers quickly direct assistance, if needed, to the senior.

 

GeoFences (Must Have)

A GeoFence is a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location, identified by GPS. While some medical alert devices have limited Geofencing capability NudgeR allows a caregiver to set up both rectangular or circular geofences. This allows the caregiver to determine if a senior has left a pre-defined area, such as their house, and they can then determine the current location of that person. This is particularly useful for seniors with dementia who might wander or get lost while out of their home.

Waterproof (Must Have)

Many elder falls occur in the bathroom, often in the bathtub or shower. A PERS device should be waterproof so that if a fall occurs under these conditions, the unit will still be able to summon help. NudgeR is waterproof up to IP-67 specifications (30 minutes submerged in up to one meter of water) so you can wear it while showering, bathing or swimming.

 

Battery Life and Charging

Like many portable electronic devices, most medical alert devices have one of two ways to keep their batteries charged: by removing the batteries, placing them in a charging station, and then returning them to the PERS device, or through the use of a wireless charging pad.

 

Units without wireless charging have a range of battery lifetimes before they need recharging, ranging from a little over one day to about a week (these numbers do not include “basic” medical alert devices that have only an SOS button to summon help). Seniors who have mobility hand problems, such as arthritis, may have difficulty dealing with battery removal and re-insertion.

The advantage of a wireless charging system, such as the one used by the NudgeR pendant, is that the user just has to place the pendant on the charging pad on a bedside table when they go to bed at night and batteries will be fully charged in the morning. If the senior needs to get out of bed during the night, for example to go to the bathroom, they should wear or carry NudgeR with them and then place it back on the charging pad when they return to bed.

Reminders

It is important that seniors track certain events in their schedules, such as doctors’ appointments and when to take medications. Among its many benefits, NudgeR includes the capability to send alerts to a senior for these reminders as well as for other daily activities, such as when to walk a dog or an appointment to meet a friend.

While many PERS devices feature some Must Have and Nice to Have benefits, having one device that has all the former and many of the latter is important (I have described only some Nice to Have features; there are several others to consider when choosing a medical alert device). If you want to get the most “bang for your buck,” take a look at NudgeR as part of your caregiving plan to keep your senior loved ones safe and comfortable.

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