We’ve all seen the classic television commercial: a little old lady is lying on the floor, presses her emergency medical alert button and shouts that she can’t move or get up. It was great for spreading awareness of medical alert systems, but it also may have created a stigma.
“The 80-year-old woman lying on the ground, screaming for help — who wants to be that person?” Casey Pittock, CEO of medical alert provider Wellcore told AARP.com. Indeed, no one likes to think of themselves as a helpless old person, so getting a system made famous by the most helpless old person imaginable is not something many seniors will consider.
Often times children will force a medical alert system on their parents, but the parents simply will not use it. “It’s real easy to sabotage the value of these devices, said Dr. Bruce Kinosian, a geriatrician and associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s a great tool… but it really needs their participation.”
Indeed, studies show that the majority of people who own a medical alert system did not press their button after suffering a fall. The reasons might be innocent — they may have panicked or forgotten — but the fact remains that people are not using their medical alert systems, perhaps because they do not want to look like they need help.
Children should this before they go out and spend money on a medical alert system for their parents. “Will it work and will she wear it?” is the question to ask according to Andrew Carle, assistant professor at George Mason University and an expert on technology designed for seniors. “At the end of the day, it’s all any son or daughter should ask. Will it work when your parent is unconscious a mile away? Will she wear it or will she set it aside?”
Many seniors also think they will never be the ones who fall down. They should think again. Studies show a third of seniors will suffer a fall each year, resulting in two million visits to the emergency room. Some 23,000 death are attributed to falls annually.
The best way to minimize the damage from a fall is to get to the victim as quickly as possible, so every second counts after a tumble. Short of someone being in the room with a senior when they have fallen, a medical alert system is the best way for a person to get help when they are unable to help themselves.
Growing old is difficult, and admitting to yourself that you are not as young as you used to be and might need help every now and then is just has hard. Age sneaks up on people; one day you are a happy-go-lucky teenager, then suddenly you are a senior citizen. Time flies, and to make sure you have more time on this earth, do not be afraid to get a medical alert system. You probably will not be the “I’ve fallen” lady, but if you are, you will be happy that you sucked up your pride and are able to press that emergency alert button.