Special Offer: FREE Lock Box, FREE Shipping, on ALL Plans* 1-844-253-7939
  • Holiday Special Offer

What Is An Automatic Fall Detection Device?

Medical alert industry professionals are being bombarded with news about “fall detection technology” from many sources and as a caregiver, you may be seeing this information as well. What this technology claims to do it be a failsafe for individuals who, even though they may be wearing medical alert pendants, might be unable to push the button. Fall detection technology claims it will call for help if it detects the senior has fallen and can’t push a button because he is incapacitated. This may sound ideal, but the technology has been shown to be less than reliable and also has limited functionality.

What Is An Automatic Fall Detection Device?

Medical alert industry professionals are being bombarded with news about “fall detection technology” from many sources and as a caregiver, you may be seeing this information as well. What this technology claims to do it be a failsafe for individuals who, even though they may be wearing medical alert pendants, might be unable to push the button. Fall detection technology claims it will  call for help if it detects the senior has fallen and can’t push a button because he is incapacitated. This may sound ideal, but the technology has been shown to be less than reliable and also has limited functionality.

Automatic fall detection works by analyzing the changes in the position of the wearer’s body, this is done through the use of gyroscopes and accelerometers that track and analyze any changes in the wearer’s position. For example, if the person is walking, the accelerometer measures that, if she suffers a fall, the accelerometer will capture the increase in speed and the gyroscope will capture the change in the body’s position, ie from upright to prone. It’s been noted that in order for the technology to be accurate and reliable, the wearer should wear more than one of the sensors because “the more sensors worn, the more accurate the system is.” Some of the technology also has the requirement of the wearer to be equipped with a cell phone, worn at his or her waist, at all times. Wearing the sensors, and having the phone, would be in addition to wearing a medical alert pendant.

What are the limitations?

It is difficult to monitor the movements of humans, bottom line. This technology has been used in electronic equipment for decades – for example if you have a space heater or fan that gets knocked over it is automatic fall detection that shuts it off. Because of the way humans move, it is necessary that any fall detection technology be able to detect the difference between every day activities and that of a true trip and fall incident.

  • One of the biggest limitations found were the “false alarm” calls. While LifeFone recommends that the wearers of its pendants test the devices at least monthly, with a fall detection system, the false alarm could be triggered by an everyday activity such as sitting on a chair or bending down.
  • These systems need to be charged which means the wearer will need to remove them to plug them in for charging. It also means that if the power goes out for any period of time, the wearer will have no protection.
  • Because of the need to wear multiple sensors and carry a cell phone at all times, it can be inconvenient and could be a large expense. Remember too, the more complicated a system is to use the less likely a senior will be to use it.
  • On the flipside, there are times, when the devices were tested, that they didn’t register when the wearer had truly fallen and that, in some cases, can be more harmful than multiple false alarms.
  • The cost of the device, coupled with home medical monitoring, could be cost prohibitive for many individuals. Cost alone may make the fall detection systems an option that is out of reach for those in fixed incomes.

Do you need a fall detection system for your loved one?

LifeFone is still looking for a reliable provider of fall detection systems, one that meets its standards for elder care; at this point, they have not found one on the market that meets its strict requirements. LifeFone still feels the best way to provide safe, reliable service in the event of a medical emergency or trip or fall accident is to make certain your loved ones are diligent in wearing their medical alert pendants with its easy to operate push button system.