Caregivers seek help and support from family, friends and local services to make sure all areas are covered for the emotional and physical safety of aging loved ones. Educating caregivers about what is available for in-home care is the most effective way to help keep loved ones in their homes living as independently and as safely as possible. It is imperative for caregivers to plan because one fall could put that independence in jeopardy. Far too often, an action is taken after an accident has already happened.
Adult children are finding themselves in this new role of caregiver more often. They are usually aware of the common areas of the home and safety items that need to be addressed (i.e., proper lighting, clear walkways around the home, removal of clutter especially from the hallways and stairs, grab bars in bathrooms, non-slip strips for the tub/shower, placing night lights in the bedroom and bathroom, etc.). The home will still need a more in-depth assessment in order to make sure even the simplest daily activities are safe and accessible.
Smart technology will make aging in place a more viable option for an increasing number of seniors. Most caregivers today are familiar and comfortable with smart technology and this type of “connected independence” will allow caregivers to feel confident that their loved ones can continue living safely at home. This connected independence offers peace of mind that their loved ones will have easy access to assistance when needed.
The most basic question remains: How does someone get help if they fall?
Having the ability to summon help as soon as there is an emergency means timely medical attention that can save a life and allows for shorter recovery times at the hospital. People who get help within the so-called “golden hour” after an incident typically get to return home instead of going into a rehab facility or worse. The longer time goes by without help, the more serious the situation becomes.
PERS devices are the most under-utilized piece of technology available today. People always believe that they don’t need a device yet. This is like saying a person doesn’t need car insurance because they haven’t had an accident. The flaw with this line of thinking is you can’t get car insurance after an accident any more than you can push a button you don’t have when lying on the floor. To truly age in place, the home must be modified and prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Medical alarms have changed with improvements in technology, adding new and enhanced features. PERS devices aren’t only for just the home any longer; they now also serve younger and more active seniors with mobile PERS (mPERS). Choosing the right emergency response system depends on several factors: If someone lives at home alone but is usually with someone when out and about doing errands, etc., then the traditional home-based PERS unit makes sense.
Individuals who lead active lives outside the home should consider an mPERS unit that offers GPS. This way they can press the button and speak directly into their pendant to a specialist who will be able to confirm where they are even if they are not able to communicate. Most PERS units now have fall detection as an option.
The system someone chooses is not as important as making sure that they get one.
After all, when someone goes to the hospital, what’s the first thing the nurse gives you?
A button in case you need help.
Would you be surprised to hear that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among Americans aged 65 and older? Here are some astounding statistics to help drive that point home:
- 27,000: the number of older Americans who died in 2014 because of falls
- 8 MILLION: Number of emergency department visits for fall-related injuries among the older population
- 7: Percentage of the 65+ American population who reported falling in 2014
- $31 BILLION: The amount that falls among older Americans cost Medicare in 2014.
These startling numbers were published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week, as the agency urged doctors, caregivers, and the American public to have conversations with their older friends and relatives to help prevent falls.
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden was quoted in a news release as saying, “Older adult falls are increasing and, sadly, often herald the end of independence. Health care providers can make fall prevention a routine part of care in their practice, and older adults can take steps to protect themselves.”
Things like increased exercise, removing trip hazards in your home, and having your eyes checked are all positive changes that can help prevent falls in the home.
While there are steps one can take to help mitigate falls, they are a danger that will never fully be prohibited for an older person, especially one living alone. One of the most effective methods is using a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) like Alert Sentry, to ensure that if a fall does occur, that person will receive swift medical attention.
Alert Sentry even offers an on-the-go mobile PERS device with automatic fall detection. This means that the user doesn’t even have to press the button if the device detects their fall; help will automatically be called without them ever having to lift a finger.
Every second of every day, an older American falls. Not only do these falls inflict (often serious and even deadly) injuries, but they also cost billions in medical bills. It’s a burden on our aging American population and one that can at the very least be mitigated with the use of a PERS.
By 2060, the 65 and older age group will more than double, according to the PEW Research Center’s 2015 projections. It is estimated that 98 million Americans will make up that age group in 2060, up from just 46 million in 2014.
In comparison, the under 18 age group is expected to increase by only 11.8% between now and 2060.
So why is the 65+ population growing at such a drastic rate, while the rest of the population growth rates are expected to remain the same over the next 35 years?
- Baby Boomers are aging.There are currently approximately 74.9 million Baby Boomers (aged 51-69) in the United States. The Baby Boomer population is second only to Millennials, of whom there are 75.4 million.
- People are living longer because of advances in science…In 1900, only 4% of the US population was over 65 years of age. Today, that age demographic makes up 14% of the population. Why? Because we’ve had major advances in medical sciences, like organ transplants and radiologic imaging.
- …And improved public health initiatives. Over the last century, everything from public sanitation to education surrounding health and wellness has improved dramatically. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was created in 1946 with a mission to improve field investigation, training, and control of communicable diseases. The CDC leads the charge in educating and preventing against known, new, and emerging diseases around the world and has more than 14,000 employees serving and protecting Americans.
One such advancement in the medical field has been the creation and advancement of Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS). More than 90% of respondents to the AARP’s “Healthy At Home” study said that they wanted to live at their own home for as long as possible. PERS systems help make this a possibility for many, by providing a “safety net” for users by allowing them to call for medical help with the simple push of a button.
Studies show that those who use a PERS system lived up to 6 years longer in their own space than those without this added security. Alert Sentry’s state-of-the-art systems give our clients an added insurance of wellbeing, and our three different products offer something for everyone. Call one of our representatives, available 24/7 to learn more.