What is a Personal Alarm for Seniors?
Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) are the most common personal alarms used to improve individual personal safety and increase the ability to maintain independent living.
PERS equipment monitors the safety of older people in their homes through electronic signals transmitted via a standard telephone line and received at an emergency-monitoring centre, or at a family or friends home. A device, carried or worn, can be activated in an emergency to alert the predetermined call centre or family member
A 2010 study by Johnston, Worley et. al. about use in South Australia found “The benefits of personal alarm use to quality of life and harm minimisation may be substantial in older people at risk of falling who live alone.” (https://ro.ecu.edu.au/jephc/vol8/iss4/1)
There are two basic types of alarms:
Non-monitored personal alarms are automated telephone systems (sometimes called autodiallers) which dial preset numbers, are not connected electronically to a monitoring centre and are pre-programmed to the telephone number of a person willing to help (e.g. family, friends, neighbour, aged care village manager). Automated telephone systems dial preset telephone numbers that are programmed into the system and, depending on the product, will have direct voice communication and/or deliver a pre-recorded message.
These systems rely upon the user having a network of people who they trust, that they can call for assistance. When the first call goes unanswered, the system continues to call the programmed numbers until the call is answered. In most systems, there is a feature called ‘acknowledging’. This requires the individual answering to press a particular button to let the system know that the call has been answered by a person, not an answering machine or voicemail.
Monitored alarm systems generally consist of an attachment to a home phone which receives signals from a pendant or other device worn by the user. These signals are received at a monitoring centre and a pre-agreed response is put into action after calling the client to confirm that the alert has not been accidentally activated.
Centre staff will usually have some medical history of the client and access details if the residence is secured. This information can be passed onto the ambulance staff as required. In addition to the cost of the unit and an installation fee, a monthly monitoring fee is normally charged.