What are they, how do they work and how to decide which one is right for you?
Living alone can be worrisome no matter your age, however as we age, we begin to think about what would happen if we had an emergency at home and weren’t able to call for help. In this instance, having technology that allows you to call for help with the press of a button or a device that automatically detects a call and sends an alert out for assistance.
Technology has advanced so far in the last 20 years that even our mobile phones can detect if we’ve been in a car accident and automatically send for help. Our personal safety options have increased so much that you don’t necessarily need to be conscious to call for help.
What are the different types of personal safety devices?
Alert bracelets or medical alert bracelets, also known as medical IDs, are a tag or emblem worn on your person in the form of a bracelet or necklace, typically worn at pulse points. These bracelets, or ID’s, can be a simple allergy or condition alert or a bit more complex with custom engraving. The custom engraving from companies such as Medic Alert contains your conditions, illnesses, allergies, medications, or devices such as a pacemaker. They can also have a unique identification number for the company you purchased them through which may have further information to help the emergency response teams provide fast and fully informed assistance for you. The medical alert bracelets can be as simple or complex as you need, so it’s important that you or your career do the research to find the best option for your condition.
Personal alarms are an emergency call system allowing the wearer to call for help 24/7 and are designed to help you stay independent and safe at home. Far from the single button alert devices of old, today’s personal alarms come in two types: monitored and non-monitored.
The monitored system usually includes a two-way speaker connected to a base unit for speaking to emergency responders which includes 24hr monitoring by call centres or nurses. The pendants, which you always wear, are usually waterproof and when activated, contacts the monitoring centre who then determine whether it was accidentally activated. If there’s no response, they will act upon any previously agreed upon instructions such as contacting your emergency contacts or emergency services such as 000.
Non-monitored personal alarms are like the monitored system; however, they rely on someone on your pre-set numbers being able to answer the call from the system to deliver its pre-recorded message.
Which personal safety device should I get?
No matter your age, if you have a medical condition that could result in an emergency where you may not be able to advocate for yourself, having a medical identification bracelet, or alert bracelet, can help save your life. Reasons why you might need to wear an alert bracelet include:
- Medical conditions – diabetes, asthma, heart disease, epilepsy
- Allergies – chemicals, foods or drinks, medications, animals, insects, environmental
- Implants or devices – pacemakers, cochlear implants, stents
- Medical requirements – anticoagulants, insulin, steroid therapy
- Identification needs – dementia, autism, organ donor
Rather than seeing an alert bracelet as a convenience, think of it as a necessity for anyone living with any sort of underlying medical condition that gives you peace of mind in an emergency allowing you to communicate even when you can’t do it yourself.
The personal alarm route
If you’re after something more ‘high-tech’ then you’ll want to investigate personal alarms, which unfortunately are a bit pricey here in Australia. However, working with your NDIS provider you may be able to find a solution that won’t be so hard on your pocketbook. Whether you’re wanting a watch, or pendant, you’ll want to make sure that they are attached to local support and are easy to work with. If you’re like most Australians, you’ll also have a mobile phone where you can download a range of personal alarms that specialise in certain circumstances such as walking alone or medical emergencies.
Choice has found over the years that personal alarms can be somewhat expensive in Australia but have left many users feeling at ease with the peace of mind that they give. They are still a good option for someone wanting to maintain their independence and for children walking alone. When looking for a personal alarm you should take note of their safety features:
- Battery life
- Charging cradle or magnetic dock
- Fall detection
- Responsible supplier certification
- Geo-fencing – good for someone that may wander in case you need to know when they are outside of their known area
- GPS Location
- Non-movement alarm
- Number of contacts – the more you have, the better
- Ping frequency
- Speed alarm
- Water and dust resistance
Choosing the best one for you depends on your situation and we recommend you consult with your GP before purchasing one. In any case, you’ll want a device with a long battery life and is water/dust resistant so that you can keep it on you no matter what environment or situation you are in. If you’re after an app for your phone, there are a lot of options out there from Red Panic Button to bSafe, both great apps that can help save lives.
Maintaining your independence through alert bracelets and personal alarms
No matter your situation, it’s important for you to be able to maintain your independence and knowing that your parent or child has a device or bracelet on them can be a great relief for any caregiver. Having a personal alarm can help seniors living on their own relax knowing that help is only a push of a button, tap of a screen, or phone call away (fall or non-movement alarm activated). Knowing that your loved one with medical conditions has an alert bracelet may even make you feel better about them being out and about on their own and helps other careers easily identify what may be happening in case of an emergency. Here at ConnectAbility, we want our clients to be able to be independent and safe. If you’re not sure where to start, contact us today to find out how we can help you or your loved one maintain their independence and way of life. Call us today on (02) 4962 1000 or (02) 4349 3700.