Wearables that Improve Safety for Your Elderly Loved Ones
The assisted living center where my dad lives provides each resident with an emergency alert button that they can push when they need help. It also senses when the person wearing it falls and alerts a staff member to come running. At first, Dad had trouble remembering that he could push the button when he needed help, but after a while he got the hang of it. Now the only problem is he has no sense of how much time has passed since he pushed it, so he’s either unhappy that it “took so long” for help to come, or he forgets why he pushed it in the first place. When he still lived at home, we rented a similar button for him, but neither he nor his wife would push it to summon help! You will have to determine whether the following types of devices, jewelry and related services could be a help to your elderly loved one.
A DTN Home Care client recently purchased a MedicAlert bracelet for her mom through the MedicAlert Foundation featured on the Alzheimer’s Association website. In the event that her mom gets lost, which happened recently, there is an 800 number on the back that the person who finds her can call. The emergency response personnel then calls from a list of loved ones to notify the family.
In partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, MedicAlert has created a specialized program to provide 24/7 wandering protection and emergency response services for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, who are at risk for wandering and becoming lost or having a medical emergency. If an individual with dementia wanders and doesn’t return, caregivers can call the 24-hour emergency response line to report it. A community support network is activated to help find the person who wandered and return them to the caregiver. The service also provides emergency responders with complete medical information. You can learn more about this jewelry and related services here.
If you want to compare providers and services, a list of the 2016 Best Medical Alert Companies can be found here.
Medical ID Bracelets
Another option is an engravable medical ID bracelet with no services included. The person’s name, a phone number and medical condition—for example, diabetes, asthma, hemophilia, dementia—can be engraved on the back. You can search online for “Medical ID Bracelets.” One example can be found here. (DTN Home Care does not recommend a specific provider.)
Emergency Alert Systems
In an article on agingcare.com entitled How to choose an emergency alert system, author Marlo Sollitto informs us, “More than 33 percent of accidents and falls involving people over age 65 occur at home, according to the CDC….There are many devices available that will instantly summon help in the event of an emergency. Sometimes called Personal Emergency Response System, Medical Alert, or Medical Emergency Response Systems, all systems work in essentially the same way: When emergency help (medical, fire, or police) is needed, the senior presses the transmitter’s button. The elderly person wears the transmitter around their neck, on their wrist, belt buckle or wheelchair. In case of emergency, the senior calls for help by simply pressing the alert button, without needing to reach the telephone.”
What to Look for in an Emergency Response System
An article titled “Home Alone” (Nov 2005, Good Housekeeping magazine) lists tips to help you shop for an emergency response system:
- Price: Compare pricing, features and servicing of each system. ask if the price will increase.
- Hidden Costs: The system should be included in the monthly fee with no up-front costs.
- Contracts: Don’t sign a long-term contract.
- Experience: How long has the company been in business?
- Portability: Can the system be used when away from home?
- Ease of Use: Try out the system and make sure it is easy to use and easy to see.
- Waterproof: Can emergency button can be worn in the bath or shower?
- Trained Operators: In an emergency, you need qualified specialists to assist your parent.
- Hours: Make sure the monitoring center is available 24/7 and also has 24/7 customer support.
- Testing: Ask what procedures the center uses to test systems in your home.
- Repairs: Your system should include repair and replacement service.
What Is the Best Option for Your Loved One?
Before you purchase a wearable safety device &/or bracelet, you will have to consider the special needs of your elderly loved one, including whether or not they will remember to wear it and how to use it. Be sure that your service provider allows a trial period, and that you or your loved one’s caregiver will give the user some time to get used to wearing the jewelry or button and to learn how and when to use it. Once that has been accomplished, you will have more peace of mind that your loved one will be cared for when lost or alone.