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Best Elderly Fall Detection Devices

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The best elderly fall detection devices enable the older adult and/or their caregiver to take action and received help as quickly as possible after a fall. Devices can consist of low-technology products such as floor mats, canes, and walkers. However, we'll focus on high-technology wearables made possible by advancements in computer technology.

The best fall detection devices enable elders to receive help quickly. These devices can be classified into two categories based on the speed of help.  Devices range from traditional pendants to high-tech wearables and video monitors. 

We'll provide their advantages and limitations then highlight the best in each of these categories.

Category 1:
Impact-based fall detection devices 


Back in 1989, you might have seen the iconic LifeLine commercial "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up." You may also be aware of the Apple iWatch fall detection function, which launched in 2018. These two items make use of the same electronic sensor known as an "accelerometer." They detect the impact of a fall, but cannot provide enough time to prevent falls. It is sensitive and can sense a sudden impact in less than one second as seen in the video.

Devices that solely use accelerometers to detect falls are often called personal emergency response systems or medical alerts. Companies market them as fall pendants or smartwatches. Because of the accelerometer's limitations, these devices are primarily used to detect falls and summon help as quickly as possible. During emergencies, the older adult is required to call for help or push a button for help. This becomes a problem because an older adult who has fallen may be unconscious or can't move due to an injury. 

The Benefits
  • Older adults can push a button and ask for help 

  • Can automatically notify caregivers of a fall

  • Can provide some level of peace of mind

The Limitations/Drawbacks
  • Does not prevent falls

  • Too difficult for cognitively impaired older adults to use


Category 2:
Video- and audio-based fall detection devices 

Consumers have long used baby monitors to keep an eye on their loved ones. Video monitors, in conjunction with caregiver(s), provide the additional support that an elderly person may require as they age. These devices have grown and options are many such as communication, night vision, and connectivity through the internet for remote monitoring. Systems range from simple one-way video monitoring through simple do-it-yourself installation to whole-house two-way audio/video systems requiring professional installation.

The advantages of video monitors
  • Allows caregivers to remotely monitor elders

  • Potential to provide engagement and socialization

  • Identify the cause of falls

The limitations/drawbacks of video monitors
  • Does not prevent falls

  • Raises privacy concerns


What are the experts saying about fall prevention?

We gather information from government entities in charge of directing fall prevention programs in nursing homes and hospitals. They include the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Joint Commission (JC), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These organizations emphasize the significance of the following:

  1. Identifying high fall risk individuals

  2. Identifying underlying risk factors

  3. Implementing good preventive care

  4. Continuously improve care and environment

The best of the best fall detection device

Fall detection devices cannot prevent falls on their own. Preventing falls through fall detection devices is not possible. Preventing falls requires a network of individuals including the older adult, caregivers, and their physicians. According to experts, the best of the best fall prevention solution requires consumers to:

  1. Identify the fall risk factors - Speak with a medical expert and share your personal knowledge of the needs and capabilities of the older adult.

  2. Learn about the underlying risk factors - Many elderly people do not want to believe they are losing their independence. Be open and receptive to your doctor's advice.

  3. Implement and practice good preventative care - Follow the suggestions of your medical professional.

  4. Continuously make changes to improve care, safety, and environment - Continue to meet with your medical professional. Inform them of any changes in needs or conditions. They will help the elderly person in continuing to live safely.



All sources were accessed on December 12, 2021

  1. The fall detection device table was developed using U.S. News 360 Reviews of Medical Alert Systems. Link.

  2. The J.D. Power Home Security Satisfaction Study is the original source. J.D. Power provides rankings based on a 1,000 point scale. Rankings are based on numerical score and not necessarily on statistical signification. Link

  3. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Link 1, Link 2, Link 3.

  4. The Joint Commission Link

  5. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Link



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