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Best Elderly Fall Prevention Devices

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The best elderly fall prevention devices enable the older adult and/or their caregiver to take early action to avoid falls. 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 prevention devices enable elders and their caregivers to be proactive. They can be classified into two categories based upon the urgency of action: immediate and timely. Devices range from traditional pendants to high-tech wearables and video monitors. Their primary goal is to achieve older adult safety and provide peace of mind.

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


Category 1:
Fall prevention devices that require immediate action

 

You may be aware with the Apple iWatch Series 4's fall detection function, which launched in 2018. Back in 1989, you might have seen the iconic LifeLine commercial "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up." These two items make use of the same electronic sensor known as an "accelerometer." Devices that rely purely on accelerometers demand immediate action and cannot provide enough time to prevent falls. This is due to the fact that accelerometers can only respond instantly when subjected to force or movement 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 smart watches. 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
  • Summons help when older adult is able to help

  • Can notify caregivers

  • Can provide some level of peace of mind

The Limitations/Drawbacks
 
  • Does not prevent falls

  • Complex technology for cognitively impaired older adults

With the above limitations/drawbacks, the best devices that distinguishes one over the other are not based on their ability to prevent falls, but on their ability to help older adults with their activities of daily living.


Category 2:
Fall prevention devices that provide timely help

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 cause of falls

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

  • Raises privacy concerns

Selecting the best video-based fall prevention devices that provide timely help is one that can meet the older adult's needs in the immediate and foreseeable future. There are two do-it-yourself systems and three professionally installed systems among them. Each support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.


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 prevention solution

Fall prevention devices cannot prevent falls on their own. The optimum fall prevention solution leverages devices AND requires a network individuals including the older adult, caregivers, and their physician. Along the lines of the 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.


References:

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