Latest innovations in personal home safety alarms
Most people are familiar with traditional in-home pendant alarms for older people and their benefits. However, few people are aware of how recent developments in technology mean that personal elderly alarms can now do so much more…
What are personal alarms for older people?
Personal alarms for the elderly, also known as telecare, have been around in the UK since the 1980’s. Traditionally provided by local councils at very low cost as part of their social services, these pendant alarm buttons would allow elderly people to raise the alarm should they have a fall, or suddenly feel unwell. The pendant, typically worn around the neck, sends a signal to the alarm base unit when pressed. The base unit in turn would make an emergency call to an alarm monitoring centre, who would arrange for help to be sent. These were (and still are) great devices, which can provide safety and security, peace of mind, and ultimately save lives!
Alarm technology is moving forward
It may surprise you to know, however, that although the last 40 years has seen the invention of DNA fingerprinting, the internet, electronic books, tablet computers, 3D TV and touchscreen smartphones, alarms for the older generation have remained relatively unchanged since their birth in the 80’s. This prompts the very obvious question: has technology not moved on since then?And the very simple answer is…Yes!
So what more can alarms do in 2015?
- Automatic Fall Detection: With traditional alarms, if the wearer has a fall and loses consciousness, or is unable to press the pendant, then the alarm becomes almost useless. New ‘intelligent’ pendants are available with built in fall detection. If the wearer has a fall, the pendant automatically activates the alarm and help can be on the way. These are the next generation of in-home alarms, providing an increased level of protection, safety and peace of mind
- Alarms of active older people: Traditional alarms only work in and around the home. New fully mobile devices use mobile phone technology to provide the same level of protection offered by an in-home alarm, wherever the wearer goes (e.g. for a walk)
- Degenerative Conditions: Traditional in-home alarms do not protect for all needs and conditions. People with dementia or Alzheimers will often wander away from home, or get lost when they are out and about. New alarms are available to protect against these risks while giving the user the ability to remain independent and active.
- ‘Smart House’ Technology: Additional sensors e.g. fire, smoke, heat, flood, carbon monoxide, extreme cold, activity or even inactivity can be added to an in-home alarm system for added protection.
- ‘Talking’ Pendants: Pendants, which allow for two-way communication from wherever the user is in the home, are now available. In an emergency, the wearer no longer needs to be near the alarm base unit in order to tell the person responding to the call what has happened, or to get peace of mind knowing that help is on the way.
Paying for personal alarms
Whilst technology has improved what is available, economic changes have drastically reduced people’s access to alarms. Local council budget cuts, as a result of austerity measures, means that the majority of councils now no longer offer free or subsidized alarm services and people need to buy their own. Individuals on fixed income pensions often cannot afford to pay in excess of £200 per year and are simply being priced out of getting the protection of a personal alarm.
So can technology help affordability?
Yes, thankfully. New technology means that alarms are available which can be programmed to automatically dial family and friends in an emergency. This means that there are no ongoing monthly fees. A ‘family & friends’ alarm can be purchased for under £100, with no ongoing fees, providing an affordable solution most people. What’s more, the right alarm provider will offer non-monitored ‘family & friends’ alarms with the same broad range of features as discussed above. These include devices that:
- are fully mobile (for active seniors)
- are designed for people with Alzheimers or dementia
- automatically detect falls
- offer a range of additional sensors e.g. fire or flood
This is great news as it means that people on a budget are not necessarily limited in terms of the features and benefits available to them.
How to choose the right personal alarm
With so much progress in personal alarms in the past few years, the most important consideration when looking for an alarm device is to speak to an expert who will look to understand your needs and circumstances, and will recommend the most suitable alarm for you. Look for an alarm company which:
- is up to date with technology
- has a broad range of products
- offers a free and no obligation telephone assessment
- looks to understand your needs
- gives impartial advice on the alarm that best suits you
- offers ongoing customer service
- can offer you both 24/7 monitored alarms and ‘family & friends’ alarms