In addition to causing injury, falls in the home can cause older people to lose their confidence and be too frightened to live alone. Fortunately, technology is available that can help to reduce the risk of falls and ensure that help arrives promptly if they do occur. The National Council on Ageing identified September 22nd as “Fall Prevention Awareness Day” and aimed to increase awareness of falls and the dangers they present as well as methods of fall prevention.
An important way of helping people to remain independent in their own homes and managing the risk of falls is through the use of telecare services. Home technology systems can include telecare alarms such as pendant alarms for the elderly. These emergency response systems are perhaps the most easily recognised form of telecare alarms and are very simple for elderly people to use, since they only need the press of a button to summon help. They can be in the form of pendant alarms worn around the neck or bracelets to be worn on the wrist. Some of the modern, more advanced alarms are capable of contacting emergency responders if the user falls, even if the button has not been activated. This type of alarm has been used for many years with great success. In addition to actually keeping the older person safe, they can also increase their confidence in living independently and reassure carers that their loved one will be able to contact them whenever they need to in an emergency situation.
Remote monitoring, including video cameras installed in the home, can also help to keep carers aware of any problems such as the older person walking unsteadily or perhaps actually falling. They can then intervene appropriately. They will be able to watch streamed video over the internet, so that even when they are out and about they can use their smartphone to check on their loved one. The use of video doorbells can enable the older person to admit family members or carers to the property without needing to go to the door themselves. This is particularly useful for people who are at risk of falling. Smart lighting can also help to reduce the risk of falls. This can be used to ensure that the illumination levels of the home can be controlled without the older person having to press a switch to turn the lights on. Lights can be controlled by voice commands, a smartphone or from the central control unit so that the elderly person is less likely to fall, as they will not have to find their way around in the dark. Smart lighting can also be linked to motion sensors so that lights will be turned on automatically when someone triggers the sensor. This is particularly useful for people who might have difficulties in operating the system, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease. Older people can be at a high risk of falls, but the risk can be greatly reduced by the use of innovative telecare equipment.