Choosing the Best Fall Alert System: A Geriatric Care Provider’s Guide

Senior care communities know that one of the biggest threats to senior independence or the opportunity to age in place is falling. For older adults over the age of 65, falls can lead to negative health and emotional outcomes. According to the CDC, falls in older adults can lead to fractures, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or a fear of falling again that leads to decreased mobility and range of motion.

Unfortunately, falls are not uncommon for seniors. In fact, the CDC estimates that 1 in 3 seniors over the age of 65 fall each year. However, that number could be even higher since some seniors don’t talk to their healthcare providers about their falls at home.

In order to decrease falls at senior care communities, a good fall alert system is imperative. But how can senior care executives and clinical teams sift through the fall alert systems that are out there and choose one that puts the needs of the residents first without impeding range of motion or choice? Following these guidelines can lead senior care community leaders in the right direction when choosing a fall alert and assessment system.

Fall alert systems don’t need literal bells and whistles.

Skilled nursing communities often use fall systems that make loud noises when a resident gets up from a wheelchair or bed. Not only are these alarms sometimes irritating, they can agitate confused or scared residents even further. Fall alert systems in any level of care do not need jarring or loud sounds. In fact, a successful fall alert system should not require sound around the resident at all.

Fall alert systems shouldn’t require the resident to manually activate them.

Seniors who have fallen and need assistance often need to crawl to the closest pull cord or phone in order to signal for help. Not only can this be unrealistic and painful, but moving after a fall can be frustrating or even cause more damage. Successful fall alert systems use smart technology and sensors to monitor the senior within the home and to know when falls happen without the senior pulling a cord or using a phone.

Fall alert systems should work everywhere they’re needed.

Fall alert systems that rely on a pendant or necklace for the senior often do not work outside of their room or in the bathroom. There are major gaps in those systems that can lead to falls and injury in spots of the community that are not covered by the system. Further, most seniors do not wear the pendant into the bathroom or shower, which is where many falls take place. Fall systems that feature sensors throughout the community and resident apartment are a better choice for safety.

Fall alert systems should find problems before they happen.

The future of fall alert systems lies in using technology to alert the clinical team of an elevated risk for a fall well before one occurs.. The nursing team at any senior care community is constantly on the look out for acute changes in resident condition, but what would happen if smart technology could see when slight changes or declines were happening? Fall alert technology should focus not only on the fall itself, but also on health conditions and changes that could lead to a fall in the future. This approach to falls focuses on prevention instead of care after-the-fact, leading to increased resident retention and decreased hospital stays for residents.

Fall alert systems should be better than a second set of eyes.

Most falls happen when seniors are alone, and clinical teams can only guess what happened to lead to the fall or rely on the memory of the senior who fell. Instead of guessing what happened, clinical teams are now using smart fall alert technology to actually watch what happened via privacy protected infrared imaging. It’s true – the best of the best fall alert technology now allows clinical teams to receive an alert that includes a privacy protected infrared video clip of the fall so they can see what happened and provide better care in response.

Additionally, they now have “rewind and review” capabilities so that they can review events leading up to the fall. With this extra information, fall assessment teams can now see what may have caused the fall or which parts of the body received the most impact from the tumble. Care plans for individual residents as well as overall community safety plans can be adjusted with the findings, potentially leading to decreased falls throughout the community as a whole.

 

Finding a fall alert system that marries technology with resident quality of life is not always easy, but it is a necessity for safe communities and healthy residents. What factors do you look for when choosing a fall alert system? What are the benefits of having smart technology in your fall alert system?

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