At some point it became a cliché, a joke among TV watchers: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” But it isn’t funny for seniors. While these advertisements brought to light the threat of falls for older adults, and even offered some solutions, technology has come a long way since then. In seeking out housing for the next stage of life, older Americans need to ask themselves whether they will be adequately protected against falls.
Often this will mean access to a passive fall monitoring system, but before we look at why this might be the preferred solution, let’s consider what is at stake. According to the National Institutes of Health, studies show that 30 to 40 percent of seniors fall annually and those who fall are two to three times more likely to have repeat falls. One-third of falls result in serious injuries.
What makes passive fall monitoring the best defense against these dangerous scenarios?
1. Passive fall monitoring offers preventive care.
Many fall systems can send a signal once a senior housing resident has fallen, alerting staff to an existing incident and triggering a care response. But all this happens after the fact. Wouldn’t it be better to prevent the fall in the first place?
Passive monitoring can deliver just such a capability. Unlike wearable pendants and wristbands that merely announce a fall, passive monitoring can tell caregivers when a specific resident’s fall risk has changed. Such system may measure gait, motion and other vital information that serve as indicators of a potential incident in the making.
Prevention is a crucial element in the care of seniors at risk for falls. No amount of remediation will ever be as effective as a system that stops a fall from happening in the first place.
2. Passive fall monitoring is non-invasive.
These systems take the burden of asking for help off of the resident, who is freed from the need to pull a cord or push a button to request assistance. Not only does this automatic-response element shift the weight off of the resident and onto caregivers who are best equipped to act; it also ensures a response even when the resident is unconscious, disoriented or otherwise unable to actively request help.
How does this relate to passive monitoring? These fall monitoring systems are by nature discrete. Once the sensors are in place, you can forget about them almost entirely. Passive sensors allow for autonomy and foster independence, while respecting your dignity by using privacy-protected video and sensor equipment. For many older adults, that’s an important consideration.
3. It’s fall monitoring system that’s always on.
People get busy. Activities fill the day. It’s easy to lose, forget or damage a wearable device in the midst of one’s activities. Sort of like forgetting the car keys – and who hasn’t done that? Forget a wearable fall detector, though, and the consequences can be severe.
Passive monitoring is always on, always performing its critical function without the need for you to bring it along, keep it in hand, or wear around your neck. Passive monitoring offers the security of a fall prevention system without the worry that comes with a forgettable device.
As you consider your housing options, what fall prevention systems do you see? Is passive monitoring an option?