Assistive Technology and Emergency Response

Staying safe and independent in your home

small, toy ambulanceThe unexpected can happen at any time. Life may be going along fine and the next thing you know, you’re in an ambulance being taken to the hospital because you’ve been told you just had a stroke. You are in disbelief and overwhelmed that one side of your body is paralyzed and you cannot move without the use of a wheelchair or walker. Your speech is slurred and you cannot communicate effectively. You are having difficulty processing information because the stroke has caused memory problems.

Or maybe your spouse just received a diagnosis of dementia. You work full time and you worry about her safety, risk of falling, or that she might forget to take her medications while you’re not home.

Or maybe you had cataracts removed to improve your vision, but later in life you were diagnosed with glaucoma and are now legally blind. You are having difficulty navigating in your home because of your vision loss and have fallen several times. You were not able to get back up after one of the falls and needed to drag yourself on the floor to get to the phone to call for assistance.

There are solutions that can assist you to live more safely and independently

There are many technologies available today that can maximize your independence and safety, depending on your individual goals and needs.   Common examples are emergency response systems, glasses, hearing aids, and wheelchairs. These and other devices that could help you to function and improve your quality of life are called “assistive technology.”

Don’t forget, the unexpected can strike at any moment, and it is vitally important to prepare for natural disasters, medical emergencies, and other emergency situations in advance.

Emergency Response Systems

Emergency Response Systems are home devices that connect you to a 24-hour call center with the push of a button. The transmitter is typically worn on a neck pendant or wristband and it sends a signal to a console that’s connected to the home phone line. When an individual pushes the button from anywhere in the house, it signals the receiver console to call the system’s emergency response center. The staff at the call center evaluate the situation, deciding whether to call an ambulance or a designated friend or family member. With most personal emergency response systems, the individual can talk with the call center staff from anywhere in the house. There are also options to aid a person who may not be able to communicate verbally or give a signal for help.

There are two levels of emergency response systems: national and local. Some local companies are run by hospitals or social service agencies. It’s worth checking out both types of service as they both have strengths and weaknesses. In most cases, the emergency response system is leased with a monthly service fee, but some companies offer the option to buy the equipment.