Falls are what happen to other older people, right?
Guess again. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans—happening far more frequently than we might think. The NCOA says an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds. Many are not able to leave the ER either: every 19 minutes, a senior dies from a fall.
It's a sobering thought, but there is a simple solution. And while this solution cannot prevent a fall, it could at least prevent further damage—or an unnecessary death.
Why everyone, everywhere can benefit from a medical alert device.
Medical alert devices have come a long way since the first advertisements, but the concept is still essential: safety, and the ability to get immediate help. That's why medical alert systems or PERS (personal emergency response systems) are especially beneficial for older adults who live alone. But consider this scenario: a caregiver goes upstairs to use the bathroom. His wife, who has dementia, is downstairs watching TV. While in the bathroom, the man has a stroke, falls, and is unable to reach a phone to call for help. And of course, in the case of a neurologic injury like a stroke, every second counts.
We often think of the person with dementia, or the person we consider the most frail, as the one who needs the PERS, but in cases like these, it's equally important, if not more so, for the caregiver to have one too.
Falls don't just happen at home. The safety benefits of a mobile medical alert system can also ripple out into the community: to the grocery store, to church, to the salon, to the post office—anywhere an older adult visits.
The all-important "I" word and why a device helps, not hinders.
But just as we don't want to think of a senior landing in the ER every 11 seconds because of a fall, many seniors balk at the idea of using a medical alert system, thinking of it as a sign of weakness or dependence. Though its benefits may seem obvious, adult children and caregivers should keep this in mind when talking to a parent or older relative, because to the senior, using such a device symbolizes the need for some level of support. When having a conversation about using a medical alert device, remember how highly older adults value their independence, and explain how a PERS is a tool which maintains independence, rather than something which infringes upon it.
Options: you've got them.
Today's mobile medical alert systems come in a range of styles—many of them wearable, sleek, and barely noticeable—and offering a number of advanced features such as fitness tracking, for example. Cost is important, but so is the chance to consider what features would be most beneficial, which tool is easiest to use, and which style is most attractive.
Check out our two Lively devices, available in a traditional mobile medical alert style, or in a sleekwearable style.