Do You Need Fall Detection with Your Medical Alarm?

For elderly people as well as those with debilitating illnesses or handicaps, medical alarms have long been standard items used in an effort to provide easy access to emergency care. Able to help people maintain their independence at home and to put the worries of friends and loved ones at ease, medical alarm systems have proven useful for people in many different situations. Even during highly stressful or dangerous incidents such as a heart attack, the ease of pressing a panic button included in a medical alarm system makes it easy for users to get in touch with an emergency operator and, if necessary, to acquire the help of paramedics. Still, some people may be concerned about a fairly common type of incident, falling, that can leave victims unconscious and unable to even activate their worn panic buttons. Over the years, medical alarm manufacturers have attempted to address this issue by introducing automatic fall detection, which is aimed at using the alarm if and when a certain type of fall sensor is activated by a built-in tilt sensor that can sense when the detector, which is worn by the user, tilts at more than 60o. This feature isn’t always included in most medical alarm systems, and some prospective buyers may wonder whether it’s truly necessary –or whether it is simply an extra cost that isn’t really justified. Taking a closer look at fall detection issues can help make it easier to decide whether fall detection is a wise idea for personal use.

The vast majority of emergency medical situations thankfully allow victims to retain at least some of their normal mobility and focus. Though the act of reaching a telephone or alerting neighbors to the need for help may be difficult or require dangerous amounts of time, simply pressing a button located on one’s own wrist or neck is likely to take mere seconds. This allows traditional medical alarm systems to be useful in most circumstances. The fact remains, however, that if and when a user is unconscious or entirely unable to move, their convenient panic buttons can be rendered useless. A fall detection unit can alleviate the worry that this fact may cause by providing alert system users with a way to alert others to a possible problem even if they cannot activate their medical alert on their own.

The potential benefit of a fall detection feature must be weighed against the potential disadvantage, as well. While the sophistication and accuracy of fall detection-enabled devices can vary depending on design and manufacturer, no device is entirely perfect in that certain harmless movements may trigger a false alarm. A typically acceptable way to handle this particular possibility is to insist on working with a medical alarm service that routes calls to a service-owned response center rather than to local emergency responders or other emergency contacts directly. Users who are connected to a professional emergency response center can communicate with operators and report whether a false alarm has occurred, saving friends, neighbors, and family members the stress and panic of a false alarm and avoiding misuse of public emergency hotlines. Choosing a quality medical alarm monitoring service as well as investing in a highly reputable, well-made physical system are especially critical when opting for built-in automatic fall protection.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to purchase a medical alarm system that incorporates automatic fall detection should be based on a realistic analysis of the actual risk involved in the user’s personal situation. Typically, older populations are more susceptible to falls, especially those that may result in complete incapacitation. Certain disabilities or injuries may also render a user predisposed to serious falls. When such people live in environments with falling hazards such as staircases, bathrooms that haven’t been fitted with slip-proof features, children’s toys, and so on, these risks increase substantially. The more likely it seems that a user may experience a serious fall, the more realistic it may be to work with a medical alarm system that covers the possibility of falling and being unable to use a panic button normally. In some cases, users or their families may also simply feel more secure with the added protection of fall detection, as knowing that this “failsafe” feature is on board can provide an extra element of comfort even if the likelihood of experiencing a serious fall is slight.

There are very few situations in which a traditional medical alarm could be unable to provide users with the protection that draws so many people to purchase such systems each year. After all, the widespread applicability of medical alarms makes them a popular feature in the homes of people of many different ages and medical situations. When serious falls are a major concern, however, adding the option of fall detection may be a wise move.

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