Anyone who has shopped for a medical alert system knows there’s a wide range of features and pricing options out there. One of the most common extra features offered by medical alerts is automatic fall detection.
But do you really need it?
The short answer is yes, we think automatic fall detection is an important feature. We definitely recommend looking for it when choosing a medical alert. Let’s dig deeper into how automatic fall detection works, its limitations, and why we think it’s necessary on a device.
What Is Automatic Fall Detection?
Automatic fall detection is an integral part of many popular medical alert devices. Fall detection enabled pendants detect when the user might have fallen, and automatically connect to the call center.
The idea behind automatic fall detection is that when a user falls, help can be on the way within moments – even if they’re unconscious and can’t press their medical alert button or talk to a support professional.
How Does It Work?
Automatic fall detection technology uses accelerometers combined with sensors and algorithms to figure out if a fall has occurred. We already use this technology everyday! When you rotate your smartphone and the image on screen rotates with it, that’s caused by an accelerometer responding to the change in orientation of the device.
Accelerometers are used in many other industries, for example, in automobiles to detect a crash and deploy the airbags.
In the case of medical alert systems, accelerometers track the movement of the medical alert device, and if they detect what seems like a fall, that triggers the device to send out a signal to the control center.
Automatic Fall Detection Limitations
Some critics note that fall detection isn’t 100% accurate. This is true – users occasionally find their device has sent out a false alarm. False alarms can be caused by movements that the accelerometer mistakes for a fall, such as bending over or sitting down quickly.
There is also the risk that the pendant won’t sent out an alarm if necessary. This can happen if the system detects movement after a fall and concludes that the wearer is conscious enough to press their alert button.
While it’s important to be aware that automatic fall detection isn’t 100% reliable, the technology still works, and is robust enough to be worth paying a little extra for.
It’s better for a loved one to have the peace of mind of fall detection, even with the slim risk of a false alarms, than for them to fall and have no way of alerting anyone to their predicament.
Why Fall Detection Matters
According to the National Council On Aging, falls are a serious risk for older adults. An older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds, and an aging adult dies from a fall every nineteen minutes.
These are sobering statistics, and they clearly illustrate why fall detection is important. As adults age, the risk of falls is a real and present danger. That’s why we advocate choosing a medical alert pendant with automatic fall detection so the wearer can get help in the event of a fall, even if they can’t speak or move to press their medical alert button.
Getting help quickly in the event of a fall gives seniors a better chance of getting treatment quickly, as well as recovering from the incident. It also lowers the risk of them suffering the secondary effects of being unable to get up after a fall, which include muscle weakness and hypothermia.
Using a medical alert system with automatic fall detection makes it easier for seniors to get help.
Where Can I Get It?
Many popular medical alerts come with automatic fall detection, including Bay Alarm Medical, MobileHelp, Medical Guardian, LifeStation, RescueTouch, Alert1 and ResponseNow among others. Medical alert companies that offer fall protection generally promote fall detection on their websites, so it’s easy to find fall detection enabled pendants.
Automatic fall detection is available for both landline and mobile medical alert systems, depending on the manufacturer. If in doubt, we recommend giving them a call to make sure the system you’re considering matches your needs.
How Much Does Automatic Fall Detection Cost?
Most medical alert companies offer fall detection as a paid add-on. Prices vary a little, but in general you can expect to pay around $10 a month extra for fall detection.
Falling as an older adult is frightening, and dangerous. Although automatic fall detection technology isn’t 100% accurate, it absolutely does work.
We recommend it for providing extra peace of mind and the reassurance that should your loved one fall and be unable to press their medical alert button, help will be on the way in moments.