Personal Emergency Response Systems, PERS, help seniors stay at home and independent longer
There’s no place like home! Now seniors can breathe a sigh of relief. Many elderly people are able to stay in their homes longer and safer than ever before by taking advantage of today’s modern technology. Newly developed sensor devices and web-based programs give peace of mind to both the elder adult and their concerned children. These high-tech devices work by unobtrusively monitoring folks in their own homes. Once fully educated and in-serviced on these systems, most people are excited about having it in their homes as it allows people the option to age in place safely.
Less sophisticated technology has been on the market for some time now, but the biggest drawback of these systems is that they need personal interaction to make them work. The most popular or well known device of this type is the Medical Alert System which is implanted into a wristband or necklace. If a fall or other dangerous situation occurs, one must simply press a button to call for help. The biggest problem is, the person has to remember to wear the device, and be motivated to press the button. Many older adults prefer to remain unattended rather than alarm a loved one when they need help.
The new technology is more sophisticated and allows sensors to unobtrusively track a person’s movement and alert caregivers without wires or any personal interaction. The most basic systems use wireless motion or contact sensors that are placed on kitchen appliances, cabinets, doorways, windows, walls, and beds. These systems are connected to a 24-hour call center that monitors activities and alerts a central control center if a loved one is hurt or cannot be located.
The sensors can be programmed to anticipate activity. For instance, if your mother usually sits in a favorite chair every afternoon, a monitor in the chair can be programmed to note when she is sitting. If the sensor cannot detect her for a significant period of time, a signal will alert the central monitoring center and a staff member will call. If your mother does not answer, the center will alert you or another designated person who can check on her.
Companies or consultants who specialize in this equipment, will assess the home for a small fee, and discuss individual details about your loved one which enables them to recommend equipment that best suits your individualized needs. Meghan O’Sullivan of At-Home Technologies, LLC, is a technical advisor who tracks new developments in technology and helps family decide what equipment best fit their needs. “Good technology represents a great value because it is both comparatively inexpensive and easy to use. The risk of falls, medication management, cooking concerns and wandering can all be addressed with the right devices. Understanding your options are critical to making the best decision.”
Monitoring systems can be purchased, rented, or leased. If you decide to buy one, there is typically an installation fee and a monthly monitoring charge. Rentals are available through national manufacturers, local distributors, hospitals, and social service agencies. Medicare, Medicaid, and some insurance companies do not cover the cost of the systems, although some hospitals and social service agencies may subsidize some devices for low-income users.
Joanna Leefer is an Eldercare Advisor with almost 10 years experience working with aging issues. She was the primary caregiver for her parents for over seen years and worked for FRIA, Inc. (Friends and Relatives of Institutionalized Aged) an advocacy organization for the elderly for over five years. For more information on her services, log onto www.joannaleefer.com. Her book on eldercare will be available Spring, 2013.