A medical alarm fall detector is a system whereby a wireless transmitter can be worn in the form of a pendant or wristwatch. If the wearer falls the transmitter will send an emergency signal to a central station or a pre – programmed number to signify that a person has fallen. The disabled, partially disabled and the elderly often live alone or spend a lot of time alone; the possibility of a fall makes it vital for them to take some steps to protect themselves and get help quickly, and this is where a medical alarm fall detector comes in very handy.
In the 1980s there was a catchphrase, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” which came from a television commercial for a medical alert system in the form of a pendant. The idea was that if the person fell and could not get up to use a telephone to call for help, all they had to do was press the button on the receiver which allowed them to speak directly to a dispatcher on the other end, who would send help.
This type of personal medical alarm became quite popular for many years; it gave some form of assistance to the elderly, and made their families and carers feel more at ease as they would be able to summon help if they had a fall. Unfortunately it was found that in most cases the person who fell did not press the panic button either because they were unable to because they were unconscious, or they were too disoriented or embarrassed to. Someone who has suffered a stroke will also not be able to push the alarm, so something better was called for, and this came in the form of a medical alarm fall detector.
How common Are Falls in The Elderly?
- The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that every year one in three adults that are 65 years or older and living at home fall.
- Most of the elderly who fall do not discuss this with their physicians as they are embarrassed.
- Falls are the leading cause of death from injury, and are the most common cause of hospital admissions for trauma and non-fatal injuries.
- In 2009 there were in excess of 2.2 million non-fatal fall injuries among older adults, and approximately 581,000 of those had to be hospitalized.
- Falls cause various problems such as of traumatic brain injuries, and fractures of the pelvis, hip, leg, ankle, spine, upper arm, forearm, and hand.
- The older people get the more likely they are to fall and the more likely they are to need hospitalization.
- The longer the elderly lay on the floor without help, the longer the hospitalization period will be; a senior who lies on the floor for more than four hours will require up to eighteen days hospitalization; lying on the floor overnight could account for a thirty-day stay in rehabilitation.
A medical alarm fall detector cannot stop the elderly or infirm from falling, but at least if they do fall help is not far away. There have been many reported cases where an elderly or infirm person has fallen and could not get to a phone or push the emergency button and have laid on the floor in pain for hours or even days, and some have died because nobody realized something was wrong until it was too late. This is very traumatic for the person who falls and also for their family. A medical alert fall detector will prevent this from happening.
What Type of Medical Alarm Fall Detector Should I Get?
There are various types of fall detectors, and which one you decide to get for yourself or your loved ones will depend on you, but here are some interesting facts to assist you to decide which medical alert fall detector would best suit the particular circumstances.
Dual Function Medical Alarm Fall Detector
- This is a medical alert system which acts as a personal emergency response and a fall detection protection unit.
- The detector is in the form of a pendant which is worn by the user.
- It is a wireless unit which has a manual alert button which can be pressed in the case of any type of emergency.
- It also has a fall detector which automatically triggers a telephone call to a monitoring center if it detects the wearer has fallen.
- This medical alarm fall detector has a built-in tilt sensor. When the sensor is tilted more than 60 degrees for more than a pre-determined period, which is usually around sixty seconds, it triggers a call to a monitoring center.
- The monitoring center will then dispatch assistance within mere seconds.
These units will be installed by experienced technical staff, who will also train the wearer on how to use the system. The monthly fee for the system covers free service calls, and free technological upgrades.
Solid State Accelerometer Medical Alarm Fall Detector
- These systems are fitted with state of the art technology which features solid state accelerometer sensors and patented, low power, advanced motion signal processing techniques.
- The system works via a chest strap which the person wears; it is designed to be very comfortable, is waterproof and can be worn 24/7 for complete protection.
- There are tiny sensors contained in the chest strap, which measure motion in 3D. This data is constantly monitored and analyzed in real-time so that signature movement of a fall is detected instantaneously.
- Once the medical alarm fall detector detects a fall, a wireless message is transmitted to a Health Server and immediately on to the call-center and a text message is also immediately sent to any other designated number.
- The chest strap works better than a wrist model because that area moves more predictably than a wrist which often makes jerking and strange movements.
- It is easier to determine the final orientation of a person who has had a fall in the chest area than in the wrist as they may have fallen in such a way that the hand is raised.
- This advanced technology is the only medical alert fall detector to do so, as most other fall detectors require the patient to be completely horizontal for the alarm to be triggered, and do not work if the person has fallen and is stuck lying against a piece of furniture for instance.
- This technology also allows the wearer to wear the device whilst reclining in a chair or in bed, which is not normally possible with another medical alarm fall detector as most tilt sensors work only if there is a horizontal lie, which means they must be removed when reclining or sleeping.
- This proprietary fall detection algorithm system has proven to be very accurate and highly reliable, with 98.9% sensitivity and 99.2% specificity.
Some medical alert systems offer a medical alarm fall detector service as an add-on at a higher fee, and many people feel that this is a waste of money, but that could be a bit short-sighted. Apart from the extra cost of a medical alert fall detector on top of your normal medical alarm system, many of the systems trigger too many false alarms such as detecting a fall when in fact the person is just bending down or having an afternoon snooze. This can lead to great frustration for many seniors, and can also lead to them getting frightened if they have activated the alarm by mistake, and they may get disorientated. This will create a block against this type of technology and they will eventually just refuse to wear the system.
Pros and Cons of A Medical Alarm Fall Detector
- A medical alert fall detector allows a senior to live independently in their own home for much longer.
- There is 24/7 monitoring of the device and help is at hand in the event of a fall.
- Immediate help prevents unnecessary hospitalization.
- An alarm is triggered automatically, so there is no need for the elderly to have to press a button, which is very important in the event of the person losing consciousness or being disoriented.
- Many of the fall detectors are triggered by accidental movement and set off false alarms.
- Some companies charge exorbitant installation fees and monthly rates for these add-on services.
- Some companies only sell the equipment and do not inform you that they do not have a 24/7 backup service, which of course makes the system useless.
If you have a loved one who is getting on in years and are worried that they may take a spill when alone at home, or even when they are not alone but are out of hearing of anyone else, then it may be the time to broach the subject of getting a medical alarm fall detector with them. It is not a good idea to invest in one without discussing it with them first, as it may make them feel that you think they are being ignored as they had no say in the decision and may just boycott wearing the medical alert fall detector which would be a great pity.
Do some research together with your loved one and explain to them how it all works, and make a decision together about which system would be best for them, as they are the ones who are going to have to wear and use the system. Investing in a good medical alarm fall detector will give you peace of mind and protect your loved ones so that they will be with you for many more years.