Posted December 24, 2014
Fear of falling is a primary worry for people as they age. The concern is real reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with 1 in 3 people ages 65 and older falling each year. Thankfully, researchers are exploring ways to ease these fears by designing systems to prevent the elderly from falling and injuring themselves at home.
Aging and home safety
Falling is the leading cause of death by injury for the elderly, due to hip fractures and head wounds. Researchers studying these issues classify their work under the concept of “aging in place,” with the goal of helping older persons stay in their homes as long as possible. AARP emphasizes the need for systems and services that enable aging Americans to live independently. The CDC projects that in the next 25 years the number of Americans age 65 and older will double, far surpassing the number of available caregivers who can provide assistance.
Several new non-invasive monitoring tools and sensors are available to assist family members and friends in tracking activities of older people. Scientists also are exploring ways to use urban radar technology to detect when people have fallen in their homes. Here are a few ideas:
- Wireless monitoring – Several products are available to help track activities of the elderly. One features sensors that, when placed on furniture, key chains or cabinets, allow family members to monitor activities online, such as ensuring that prescribed medicines are taken or identifying whether a fall has occurred. Other ideas include a watch with GPS tracking (especially helpful to determine whether someone with Alzheimer’s has wondered off) mobile push-button personal emergency response systems and glow caps that fit on medicine bottles to alert people when it’s time to take prescribed medications.
- Radar technology – Based on military systems for tracking activity within a building, urban radar detects the elderly who have fallen. The system sends electromagnetic waves that reflect off the person and determine whether he or she is sitting, standing or lying on the floor.
- Other innovations – Recently, scientists in Japan introduced a chair that takes blood pressure and vital signs. Researchers also are working on ideas for carpets that track walking patterns.
Read more about new technological advancements that can help keep elders safe at home.