Falls are one of the biggest concerns for the elderly, and it’s no wonder: The elderly experience nearly 30,000,000 falls a year. From decreased sense of balance to poor footwear or loose rugs and obstacles, the risks are high, and the consequences can be debilitating.
In today’s digital age, there are, of course, plenty of wearable devices out there to help. Far from the popular “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” ads of the late ‘80’s, these devices are designed to detect definite falls and alert medical response and family for help.
Some are worn like a wristwatch and have GPS. You push a button and it dials the emergency contact that comes with the service, and that person determines whether you’ve had a fall and need to contact an ambulance. Others are apps on your Smartphone, designed to be easily accessible as long as your phone is on you.
While there are many products, these are a few options. Note that Point Performance has not tested any of these.
Apple Watch Series 4 has fall detection built in. If it senses a hard fall, it will flash a message to check if you’re okay, or if you’re hurt. If it doesn’t receive any response, it will begin a countdown with an alert before it calls emergency services for you. You’ll also be able to fill out a Medical ID profile that emergency services can pull up when they reach you.
Lifeline Response is also an app that connects you to an agent and maintains your Medical ID on your phone so it can be accessible to emergency care. Like 5Star, it has a fee associated to maintain the service.
iMedAlert is similar to the other responses, but it also has a text messaging feature that will send an automatic alert to an emergency contact letting them know you need help. In addition, you can activate an alarm to alert someone else in the house that you’ve fallen.
GreatCall is a separate watch-like device that you wear on your wrist. For a monthly fee, you can hit the button and it will call its representative to provide you help. It also provides extra services, such as a prescription alarm reminder and urgent care access.
GreatCall also has the 5Star Medical Alert Service, an app available on your Android or iPhone. Should you fall, you tap the large 5Star icon which automatically connects you to its representative. The rep then assesses your situation and calls either your emergency contact or an ambulance to help. There is a monthly fee associated with the service.
While these devices are important and necessary, don’t dismiss the need for fall prevention. There are also ways to prevent falls through exercise and strengthening the muscles that support your body upright.