My Mom is 94 and prone to falling, so I am pleased to host this important guest post by a regular guest blogger here at the Caregivers' Living Room. Thank you, Maria!
Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries among the elderly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Falls can lead to broken bones, head injuries and other serious physical trauma that is more difficult for the elderly to recover from than the average fall victim. Making sure that an elderly loved one doesn't fall is one of the most difficult requirements of caregiving. Even a vigilant caregiver may not be able to stick around at all times to prevent a fall. Fortunately, fall prevention technology is a growing industry that offers helpful ways to reduce the likelihood of a fall.
New developments in senior care have improved the lives of seniors as well as their loved ones. The use of fall prevention technology not only reduces the risk of a fall but allows seniors to live independently for longer. These technologies can also be used to give caregivers peace of mind when they are not around.
Shoe sensors are a popular form of senior monitoring technology. These sensors are embedded into “smart slippers” and they detect changes in a person’s foot movement, transmitting a signal to a doctor or caregiver if there is cause for alarm. Although this technology isn’t on the market right now, there has been talk of more information being available about AT&T’s smart slipper prototype in the near future.
Carpet sensors work similarly, but they sense changes in movement without requiring that the patient remembers to put on shoes. Sensors inside the carpet monitor the amount of pressure being exerted on the floor. If a senior falls, the increase in pressure will trigger an alert that allows assistance to come. Carpet sensors also measure the stress on the bridges of the foot and can detect the weight and location of any object that hits the floor.
Security systems installed in the home can alert caregivers if a patient with dementia tries to leave the home. Many systems offer various components and attributes that would aid in your senior’s well-being, which you can learn more about through different websites. It is common for elderly patients who suffer from dementia or confusion due to traumatic brain injuries to attempt to wander in the middle of the night. Wandering can be emotionally traumatic and lead to injuries, so it is important that caregivers are notified as soon as a door or window is opened.
Wearable technology scaled down to the size of a button can be used to detect whether the wearer is sitting, standing or walking. An Australian company has manufactured a necklace with a built-in sensor that helps build the reflexes of the wearer so he or she falls in a safer way if an accident occurs. Seniors can use a video game console to play a simple training game that helps improve reflexes and prevent the likelihood of a fall. Personal airbags have also been introduced as a potential solution for making falls less damaging when they occur.
Medical Alert Systems
Medical alert systems can help independent seniors contact emergency services if an emergency occurs. Many of these devices are compact and can be worn around the neck or held as a button to push in case of a fall. Medical alert systems are ideal for situations in which a senior may be unable to reach a phone to call for help. These devices also contain GPS to locate an injured senior who does not know where they are.
Fall prevention technology may not be perfect, but a stream of innovative entrepreneurs and researchers are creating lively competition for companies who seek to make the world safer for seniors. By adopting one or more of these fall prevention technology options, caregivers can reduce the likelihood that a patient will fall and significantly decrease the risk of death or serious injury if a fall does occur. For seniors, these technologies could mean the difference between constant supervision and the ability to live a more independent life.
Maria is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.