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How activity monitoring technology can keep people safe at home

Staying safe at home with assistive technology

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While there are always exceptions, it’s accepted that most people want to stay in their own homes for as long as they can.

Sometimes it can become tricky though as ageing erodes the facilities that help us to stay safe. If we can’t see or hear so well, or our balance or mobility aren’t as good as they were, we’re more prone to tripping and falling. And once down, it can be harder to get up again.

That’s why various designers, manufacturers and service providers have developed ways of getting help in difficult situations.

Telecare systems have become very popular. They’re based around the idea that if there’s a problem at home, a warning can be sent to a call centre, a carer, or another assigned person. They can make a telephone call to check the owner is well, or contact someone who can access a key and make a visit to see whether all is well.

Traditionally we think of these telecare services as being dependent on the user being within reach of an alarm cord, or wearing a pendant or wrist alarm at all times. When they work, they’re excellent, but they need the buy-in of the home owner, and that can be less than forthcoming. Not only do many myths exist around the value of the alarms, but for some people they represent the worst of ageing – being labelled as imminently in danger of falling over and needing help. Even a single fall can drastically reduce seniors’ independence and very fast, and preventing them through any means is critical.

There is, though, actually a far wider range of telecare support services available, that sense more subtly whether someone might be in need of a call, just to check they’re OK.

There are activity monitoring sensors to check if people are carrying out their normal routines, from getting out of bed or a chair at the usual time to switching on the kettle or microwave.

Telecare isn’t necessarily a free service. To find out what might be available, you can ask your parent’s local authority for a needs assessment. Even if there aren’t any free services available, they may be able to point you in the direction of local services, and guide you to an occupational therapist, who is specialised in matching supporting technologies to individuals. You may also be able to talk to a local Disabled Living or Independent Living centre. These centres are using housing association software. And AgeUK’s helpline is always a good place to start.

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Photo by Юлія Вівчарик on Unsplash

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