One in four seniors suffer a fall each year and nearly half of people age 65 or older sustaining a fall do not resume independent living. Connecticut's homecare experts at Assisted Living Services, Inc. (ALS) have seen firsthand the threats to personal safety that the elderly encounter on a daily basis in their own homes. During National Falls Prevention Month in September, ALS is sharing ways to create a safe environment and utilize new smart home and personal technology.
“The unfortunate reality is that some of our clients are hospitalized after a moderate to severe injury and are unable to return home,” said Mario D’Aquila, MBA, COO of Assisted Living Services, Inc. in Cheshire, Fairfield and Clinton. “We work with families to prevent these accidents in the first place by providing a complimentary home safety assessment at any residence in Connecticut.”
D’Aquila explains an experienced senior home care specialist uses a Quality Assurance Checklist to evaluate the living situation and identify areas of weakness, then makes recommendations such as reducing clutter and installing hand rails, to effectively lower the risk of falls. Specific technological devices from sister company Assisted Living Technologies, Inc. (ALT) may also be recommended after completion of the evaluation.
D’Aquila addresses the top causes of falls and how to prevent them:
Slips and trips can be prevented by wearing proper footwear, wiping up spills and cleaning excess messes, removing cords and hazards like scatter rugs, providing adequate lighting at nighttime and using bathroom safety devices properly.
Physical inactivity can actually lead to more falls! Participate in exercise or activities that improve balance.
Medications may have side-effects that can lead to falls such as blood pressure, sedatives, diuretics, anti-depressants, and pain medications, need to be discussed with a doctor, who may be able to make adjustments or provide advice to reduce symptoms contributing to a fall.
Poor vision can be prevented by getting an eye exam, potential cataract surgery, and avoiding the use of multifocal glasses when ambulating.
Improper use of assistive equipment such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs and others. Make sure the person is trained to properly and safely use equipment by their doctor or medical equipment specialist.
“Some independent seniors avoid using a cane or other physical equipment in public out of embarrassment, so we encourage the use of discreet wearable devices to provide peace of mind and a quick response in the event of an emergency,” said D’Aquila. “In the home, wireless sensors and detectors that are barely noticeable can be installed by caregivers or ALT technicians to prevent and detect falls.”
For example, Walabot HOME is the first and only automated fall alert system developed specifically for the bathroom, where 80% of falls take place. It is also the only fall detection device that does not require any wearable necklace or bracelet. It is automatically activated without pushing a button.
D’Aquila explains Walabot HOME starts by learning a home’s basic bathroom layout and movement activity, then continuously monitors for situations that indicate a fall using the world’s most advanced radio frequency sensors. It delivers four times more accuracy than other automatic fall alert systems while ensuring privacy to the individual. If a person falls, the designated emergency contact is notified through a two-way voice call and a text message. The alarm can be disabled at any time simply by standing up.
For other areas of the home, the indoor Wellness Motion Sensor is a wireless, battery-powered device that identifies the movement of a person within a specific area by sensing the infrared energy emitted from a body as it moves across the sensor's field of view. When this motion is detected, the sensor transmits an alarm signal to the control panel and will alert the family member and or the caregiver of movement.
Another fantastic product from Wellness are their Bed and Chair sensor pads. These pads are placed appropriately underneath the mattress of a bed or the cushion of a chair. Once the individual gets up and walks away the pad senses the shift in weight and caregivers or family members are alerted of the individual’s movement. Alerts can be received via text, email, and/or automated phone call.
To prevent falls from happening in the first place, ALS uses the Smart Caregiver product line of cordless bed pads, chair pads, and floor mats that alerts caregivers via an alarm pager when the elderly person is trying to get out of their chair or bed. The weight-sensitive pressure pads detect when someone is up-and-about, giving a caregiver time to react and ensure the person uses their wheelchair, walker or cane.
“Falls are not a normal part of aging,” concludes D’Aquila. “We encourage everyone to take steps today to stay safe and independent longer.”
Since 1996, award-winning home care agency Assisted Living Services, Inc. (ALS) in Cheshire and Fairfield has provided quality care to residents across Connecticut. Their unique CarePlus program blends personal care with technological safety and monitoring devices from sister company Assisted Living Technologies, Inc. ALS was ranked on the 2020 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies and recognized by Home Care Pulse® as a “Best of Home Care Leader In Excellence”, a designation given to the best home care providers in the nation. Learn more by visiting www.assistedlivingct.com or calling 203.634.8668.
PHOTO: The Smart Caregiver Alarm and Chair Pad Set, offered by Assisted Living Technologies, Inc., is a simple and affordable solution for monitoring a resident within a 300-foot range to prevent falls. Photo Courtesy of: Assisted Living Technologies, Inc.