By Caring.com Staff
Falls among seniors are incredibly common, and can cause serious injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, some 2.5 million adults aged 65 and older in the United States are treated for fall injuries every year. And in a recent survey of 2,000 adults conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI), the more than 500 respondents with a parent or grandparent living alone or with a spouse said they were concerned for those aging relatives’ safety.
Despite their concerns, more than half said that their senior loved ones living alone lack a number of basic in-home safety items. Features such as raised toilet seats, entrance ramps and shower grab bars can help prevent unintentional falls, while emergency response systems make it easier for seniors to call for much-needed help in the event of a fall.
Midnight. A call came in to Marcus, a dedicated Alert Care America operator.
"Betty, this is Marcus from Central Station. Do you need help?"
"I think I'm having a stroke." Betty explained, "I'm slurring my words and I'm seeing double."
Marcus responded quickly to the situation. After confirming the address with Betty, he called dispatch to alert paramedics. He then informed Betty that he would stay on the line until help arrived.
After speaking with Betty and making sure she would remain calm, Marcus noticed quite a bit of time had passed since he had first contacted dispatch. He called dispatch to see why EMS hadn't arrived.
They were at the address listed on the account, but Betty wasn't there.
To verify the subscriber's location, Marcus asked Betty to check some mail for her correct address. It turned out, she was one block away from the paramedics.
Shortly after getting the correct information, the paramedics arrived at Betty's location and began attending to her.
Thanks to Marcus' determination to see that the paramedics had right address, Betty got the help she needed.
"Beverly, this is Mary from Alert Care America central station, do you need help?"
"Oh, hello. No everything is just fine. I must have accidentally hit my button."
"Oh, that's alright," Mary said. "Just know that you can call us anytime you need."
"While I've got you on the phone," Beverly said, "at the end of December, I fell outside and pressed my button. I really think it saved my life. It was freezing and it was getting dark. It wasn't long after I used my button that my son came, and later, the police. I had broken my femur in two places"
Beverly continued, "I've told everyone, 'You know, if I hadn't had that button, I would have just laid there and just froze to death.'"
Getting emotional, Beverly concluded, "I thank you all for being there for me. I don't know what I'd do without you."
Beverly's rescuer that day was Alert Care America operator Natalie, who followed all procedures correctly to quickly get help to Beverly.
Most seniors today
are focused on living independently for as long as possible, but seniors are also at risk for falls both at home and away from home. What is the best way to help keep seniors safe while enabling them to live their lives?
Popular options are traditional landline personal emergency response systems (PERS) or mobile PERS.Alertcare America's mobile PERS do not require a landline.
Traditional PERS systems require a landline connected to the unit, but 19.3% of seniors
do not have a landline phone.
With Alertcare America's eResponder
mobile PERS, no landline is needed because the devices use nationwide T-Mobile 2G cellular coverage to connect users 24/7 to trained emergency care specialists
at our UL Listed, CSAA Certified Five Diamond central station. No additional cellular contract is needed with our devices: cellular service is included in the service fee.
Because no landlines are needed, Alertcare America's mPERS are also easier to activate and set up than traditional PERS devices.Alercare America's mobile PERS offer two-way voice through the unit, and no base station is needed.
When users press the button on a Alercare America eResponder mPERS device, they can speak with a specialist via the speaker and microphone built into the unit. The specialist can see information about them, including user-provided information like allergies and lockbox details, and can dispatch emergency personnel or loved ones to the user, depending on need.
If an eResponder user needs to be located, the specialist can transfer the eResponder user to 911 for location and dispatch, and after dispatch the specialist can stay on the line with the user until help arrives.
If an eResponder user is outside of the T-Mobile coverage area and needs assistance, the eResponder will dial 911 directly using other compatible area networks.
Many traditional PERS systems require a base station to communicate, and only enable users to get help when they are in or around their homes. Traditional systems cannot help users when they leave home to run errands or travel.
With Alercare America's devices, users can get help at home, at the grocery store and across the country with the press of a button.Alercare America's eResponder mPERS offers users long battery life in a low-maintenance device. The
eResponder is very small and lightweight, and it features a rechargeable battery that lasts up to two months per charge (many other mobile PERS products only last a few days per charge). eResponder users and their loved ones can also receive low battery email and text message alerts when the device needs to be charged.
eResponder can also be worn in the shower, though it is not designed to be submerged.
Colby, an Alertcare America operator, received a panic alarm from Beth, a woman who has had several minor strokes in the past. Colby asked if everything was all right, but received no discernible response from the other end of Beth's two-way mobile PERS device. He asked again if she was in need of assistance, but still heard nothing from Beth. He also called her home phone but no one answered.
Colby immediately called Beth's list of emergency contacts. None of Beth's children answered the phone. The last contact listed was Beth's neighbor, Richard, who fortunately picked up the phone.
Richard quickly went to check on Beth. When Richard arrived at Beth's home, he could tell that something was very wrong. An ambulance was called to take Beth to the hospital.
A week later Beth called Alertcare America to thank everyone who was involved in getting her to the hospital. "I was unable to speak when I pressed my button. You definitely saved my life that day!" Beth said.
Thinking back to the unanswered call he received from Beth, Colby reflected, "Sometimes when calls come in it may seem routine because we can't see the results of our efforts. But this is a nice reminder that we do save lives here at Alartcare America every day."
Brigitte was driving down a long highway through the country when she began to feel ill and felt as though she was going to pass out. Brigitte pulled over and tried to call family members without receiving an answer. In her panic, she remembered the GPS medical alert application on her phone and quickly called for help. Kelbi, an Alertcare America operator, answered Brigitte's alarm.
Although apprehensive to the idea of calling paramedics, Brigitte agreed that she needed immediate help. Kelbi got the description of Brigitte's car and asked if she could see any landmarks. Brigitte replied that she had no idea where she was other than the name of the highway. Kelbi assured her that she would get her the help she needed.
With the aid of her supervisor and GPS, Kelbi was able to determine Brigitte's location and relay landmarks, car description and other essential information to dispatch. EMS arrived at Brigitte's car and provided the attention she needed.
Brigitte is so pleased to know that help is available, especially when she is alone in a strange, unfamiliar place
Late last month, in the little town of Connelly Springs, North Carolina, Anne was looking after her granddaughter Lora, when she unexpectedly fell outside her house. She was in extreme pain and found it difficult to move. She immediately pressed her PERS device to call for help.
Experienced Alertcare America operator, Daniel, took the call. "I've fallen outside near the pig pen!" cried Anne. Daniel asked where she was injured. Anne reported pain in her chest and hip. "I thought that she might be having a heart attack," remembers Daniel. He quickly assured her that help was on the way and quickly called dispatch.
Once Daniel was certain that help was on the way, he checked back with Anne. She was still in pain but her mind was on a different matter. She frantically stated that her granddaughter Lora, was still inside the house. Anne wanted to make sure Lora wouldn't be left alone if she were carried away by ambulance. Daniel tried calling the home to contact the 8-year-old girl with no answer. He promptly called dispatch back and made sure that they would check on Lora. Daniel stayed on the line with Anne until paramedics arrived.
Fortunately after 4 days in the hospital, Anne was able to return home. She is eternally grateful to Daniel's response and her PERS device.
Kansas City, MO
At 10:46 a.m. Diana awoke to her living room flame. She rushed out of her home and pressed her PERS pendant as she ran out the door. Alertcare America operator, Blaine, took the call and attempted to contact on Diana's 2-way device as well as her home phone. Blaine was unable to make contact with her so he sent the paramedics to the scene.
When the paramedics arrived they found Diana near the street and were able to immediately treat her for smoke inhalation and get the fire department on scene.
Diana's son Eric placed a call to Alertcare America to express gratitude for the help his mother received that day. He described his mother's PERS device as a "blessing, a true miracle" and is looking forward to having her new system installed when Diana gets back into her home.
Alertcare Operator, Blaine was happy to help. "I know our subscribers can rest easy because we always will send help if we don't make contact. Alertcare America will jump through hoops to help make sure people and property are safe."
Diana's home sustained minimal damage and her 14-year-old dog was saved from the home because Blaine followed proper procedures and erred on the side of caution. The home is currently being renovated from the damages, which were contained primarily to the living room and smoke damage elsewhere. Diana and her family are looking forward to having her back in her home before the holidays.
We would like to extend a special thanks to the the supplier of Diana's PERS device, as well as the Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department for their speedy response and assistance.
"A lot of medical alarms come in to our central station through our Personal Emergency Response devices," explained Amber, the Alertcare America team member, "But this one was really unique. A gentleman's name was on the account, but the person on the other line was actually a woman, a girlfriend of the subcriber."
"I'm nine months pregnant," the woman (Jill) on the other line quickly revealed. Amber could hear the concern in her voice as she shared, "My contractions are ten minutes apart and I need a ride to the hospital!"
"Fortunately I'd just had a baby six months ago," continued Amber, "I told her, 'Hey, you're okay. This is so exciting!' It was natural for me to reassure her that everything would be okay and that we'd get help there soon. After all, I'd been there just a few months ago."
"I quickly dispatched help for Jill, and then called the boyfriend's family listed in the contacts to let them know what was going on. They ran over to the hospital to meet her."
"When I finished the call I couldn't help but shout to the other members in our central station, 'Hey guys, I'm having a baby!' " smiled Amber. "It was such a great experience and so fun to be able to help someone."
Another Alertcare America operator followed up on the call and learned that mother and baby made it safely to the hospital where medical personal were waiting for them.
On the morning of June 12, 2014, Donald collapsed on the floor in front of his bathroom. Struggling to breathe, he realized it would impossible to reach a phone. He knew he needed help, and pressed his medical emergency button.
Alertcare America's monitoring center team member, Stevie, answered his call. She quickly dispatched paramedics and called his emergency contacts to apprise them of the situation while paramedics transported Donald to the hospital.
Donald had experienced acute atrial fibrillation. His pulse was very weak when paramedics arrived, but precious time had been saved by Stevie's response. Doctors confirmed that those critical moments saved his life.
"I'm just so thankful for my device and thankful for second chances," remarked Donald. He has put his second chance to great use, getting more physical exercise as well as enjoying the company of family and loved ones.
"God wasn't ready for me yet." Donald added, with emotion in his voice, "He must have more things for me to do!"