Prepared for emergencies in old age
Emergency systems help the elderly live more safely in the comfort of their own homes. Thanks to technological innovation, the options today extend far beyond simply pressing a button on a wristband.
Figures published by the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (BFU) show that each year in Switzerland over 280,000 people have a serious fall that requires treatment at a medical practice or in hospital. Of this figure, 88,000 are over the age of 65. In fact, over 1,500 of the elderly people who fall each year die as a result. That’s why prevention and ensuring a fast response in the event of a fall are so important. This not only saves lives, but helps people live safer for longer in the comfort of their own homes.
In the past, a clunky button worn on the wrist was the only way elderly people could get rapid help in an emergency. Thanks to technical advances, a number of alternatives are now available that are not only more discreet, but also offer a greater range of functions. When you’re selecting a device, there are a few things you need to watch out for:
Emergency contact: should the alarm alert members of the family or the emergency services?
Emergency procedure: when the alarm is triggered, should the emergency services be sent straight away or should verbal contact be made first?
Mobility: should the emergency system work only at home or outside as well?
Usability: How tech-savvy is the person using the device?
Button, watch or smartphone?
Smartwatches and emergency app
Friends and family are also important
Whether and when an elderly person requires an alarm system depends largely on their personal situation. “It's certainly a good idea for people who live alone and who have little contact with family, friends and neighbours,” says Allgaier. However, despite the technology available, he also recommends getting friends and neighbours involved. “It’s worth agreeing a system to help neighbours know that you’re OK. For example, if the blinds are up, the sign on the door is turned around, the postbox is empty or you’ve been in touch by phone.” Emergency systems all have one thing in common: they provide support, but they cannot guarantee safety 100%. “Family members are often more interested in a reliable monitoring system than the elderly persons themselves,” says Allgaier as a final thought.