Current Fall Prevention and Fall Detection is not having the Intended Consequence

Quality of Life for Everyone

The rate of deaths from falls among persons aged ≥65 years increased 31% from 2007 to 20161

Clearly the methodologies we are using to lower the risks of death due to falling are not working.  There can be many factors that might be affecting the critical nature of a fall; one of which may be an increasing obese population.  

What methodologies are we currently using to mitigate the disastrous effects of falls on our seniors and society and how might we improve them?  One would have thought that with modern automated fall detection there would have been an improvement in the statistical data surrounding falls. In fact, there is a marked disimprovement.  There can be many reasons for more falls resulting in deaths in both at aging in place and in aging communities even with an increase in the use of technology. The following are potential reasons:

  1. Responses to falls has disimproved
  2. Automated fall detection does not work
  3. Automated fall detection has too many false positives
  4. Push button systems are not used
  5. Response times are insufficient
  6. Post fall responses are not helping
  7. Wearable fall detection equipment is not worn
  8. More risks are taken when equipment is present (false sense of security)
  9. Fall detection equipment is not working
  10. Lack of fall detection equipment
  11. Will not wear fall detection equipment
  12. Falls are happening in places where the equipment isn’t worn or  not working (showers)
  13. Responses to falls are poor
  14. There is no market saturation of fall notification equipment
  15. There are no good alternatives to prevent damage when someone does fall

No fall at all, is by far the best solution to the epidemic of falls in America.  Following no fall at all, preventing damage when a senior does fall is the next best thing.  Last on the list is effective fall response and damage mitigation. Prioritizing how we help our seniors is critical in order to be effective.  We must do the following in order of execution.

  1. Prevent damage when there is a fall
  2. Maximize effectiveness of the response and repair
  3. Build environments and lifestyles where there is no fall at all

Damage Prevention

No matter how well we secure our environment, falls will occur.  Our goal is to prevent catastrophic damage while respecting the dignity of our seniors.    Damage prevention relies on understanding the mechanics of the most damaging falls.

In general, fractures are the most common serious injury resulting from falls in older persons. Specifically, fractures of the hip, wrist, humerus, and pelvis in this age group result from the combined effects of falls, osteoporosis, and other factors that increase susceptibility to injury.2

The vast majority of serious injuries  in seniors are impact injuries causing breaks or hematomas.  Impact injuries are caused by peak forces.3  Peak force is dependent on the distribution of the force over an area and on the distribution of that force during impact.  Stylish clothing that distributes the force of impact over a larger area significantly reduces breaks and hematomas.   Companies like Zanthion are perfecting this technology by retrofitting clothes with unobservable comfortable elastomeric impact materials into the knees, coccyx, and hip locations.  You can help the industry design clothing to meet your needs by filling out the protective clothing questionnaire.

Effective Response and Repair

The evidence is in and 31% more seniors died from falls than in 2007.  This means we have to improve our response and resolution processes for falls.  In all situations, time to repair is critical for so many reasons. Blood loss, blood  flow and fear play a huge role in falls. The number one priority in a fall is immediate diagnosis and attention.  This is a lot more difficult than it sounds. Our nation does not have enough personnel and resources to handle the current fall volume meaning the time to resolution on falls has increased over the last 11 years to 30 minutes on average.  30 minutes is an immense amount of time to be lying on a shower floor with a serious break.

The very first thing we must do is recognize falls when they happen and deliver community services to them as soon as possible.  Current methodologies for recognizing falls simply are not working. The question is why? And the answer is, “They are not comprehensive and they are invasive.”  

What is Comprehensive?

Comprehensive means that we as users do not, and should not, have to understand nor take action in order for the recognition of a fall event to occur.  Many vendors claim this but it is simply untrue. It is untrue because they are relying on a single form factor to deliver results. Pendants, wristbands, motion detectors, and cameras all suffer from the same issue, they are not comprehensive.  Wearables can and are taken off. Cameras are affected by light. Motion detectors have a range and location. The solution to comprehensive fall detection is not in a single application but in an array of applications that cover a person and their location without their knowledge and without them taking special actions.  There must be multiple motion detectors (one in the shower), multiple cameras, multiple wearable sensors built into the clothes they choose to wear. Wearable sensors must be part of their clothing and lifestyle not something separate that is put on or worn in order to achieve fall notifications or calls for help. You can help choose the design direction taken for  wearable sensors by filling out this small survey.

Notification

Notifying people that seniors do not know and feel uncomfortable with is not always the best path to success.  Not everyone is interested in a stranger entering their life and helping them out. Many seniors have learned that a call for help equates to a thousand dollar ambulance ride and hospital visit for no reason.  For this reason it is critical to bring the familiar, or at the very least, the neighborhood into a cooperative service if possible. We will soon be at the point where government services are stretched to capacity when trying to deal with falls in the senior population.  Creating a multi level notification and resolution process resolves three major issues in our demographic shift by:

  1. Moving the potential help closer to the senior improving time to resolution
  2. Bringing familiarity to the senior and the empathy that comes with that
  3. Lowering the cost of resolution on non-critical events

Information is critical for rapid successful diagnosis and the establishment of proper protocols by medical staff.  Every fall event deserves to be surveyed based on standard established criteria such as this fall assessment.  

No Fall At All

If we are to prevent  falls from happening both the seniors and the environment will need to be monitored and repaired in real time.  Such things are cracked sidewalks, curled carpet corners, and wet surfaces would need to be removed from our environment.  This is a lofty, highly expensive impractical goal because of environmental diversity. A practical goal is to monitor seniors and prescribe protocols to maximize their health and minimize disasters.  Better than prescribing protocols is to build into our society an active lifestyle that provides value to them and our society. All facets of our society are benefiting from preventative maintenance; aging aircraft in our airlines,  supply chains, and manufacturing. In all cases real time data is collected and analyzed with scheduled, understood, frequent preventative maintenance cycles. The first step towards qualified preventative maintenance is scheduled and real time assessment based on monitored data.  Whenever the topic of real time monitoring comes up there is inevitably the roar of privacy. It astounds me personally that people feel privacy is a major issue or that technically the issue cannot be dealt with appropriately in our 65+ population when contrasted with the cost of a fall.  Falls on average, when individuals are admitted into a hospitals, cost $36,000.4  

Technical Capabilities

Technically we are well positioned to record human performance data, analyze it in real time for behavioral patterns, and recommend maintenance and improvements to lifestyle.  Zanthion currently has real time data collection and analysis environmental and wearable sensors.  Their sensors collect greater than 22 messages per second of anonymized data on gate, activity, location, heart rate, pulse, falls, and degradation in performance.  Analytics are run in real time on gateways near the person or on their phones producing activity analysis and stream events to crowdsourced family, friends, staff, or doctors depending on the person’s desire.

User Experience

User experience, or lack of experience, is a critical element of fall prevention.  We grow old in the same environments that we grew up in without modification to hall width, shower entry, chair height, toilet height, or sharp corners.  Environmental factors are a critical element in senior health. We are sorely lacking in solution based companies that are inexpensive one stop shops that modify a seniors environment to be stylish and safe.   It is incredibly important that sensors are not something that is purposefully worn or added to an environment requiring maintenance. They must be a part of daily life without a recognition as their existence or need for seniors to change behavior.  Accomplishing this requires that we integrate technology with our clothes and environment.

What is currently missing from all systems is the social integration, habit modification,  and activity recommendation functions that modify and improve the seniors lifestyle so that they do not fall or when they do fall they do not suffer from a catastrophic injury.

Measurement and Data

You won’t find a single scientific community today that does not realize that the better the data the better your results.  In the case of fall prevention and damage mitigation that means real time data and assessment. Real time data is not enough, there must be processes in place to ensure that our resolutions are measured and made more effective over time.  This means measuring response times and correlating the response times, post fall assessments, and the process improvements with results. As in all things, there are no magic bullets, but we can certainly do much better than we have been doing.   Here is how:

  1. Encourage solutions for environment modification to ensure safety
  2. Build measurement into our everyday lives
  3. Use the community to augment emergency services
  4. Measure the effectiveness of our responses and our solutions
  5. Respect the privacy and needs of the seniors being provided the service

 


1“Deaths from Falls Among Persons Aged ≥65 Years — United … – CDC.” 11 May. 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6718a1.htm. Accessed 12 May. 2018.

2 “Falls in Older Persons: Risk Factors and Prevention – The … – NCBI – NIH.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235613/. Accessed 12 May. 2018.

3“9146804 – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9146804. Accessed 12 May. 2018.

4 “ARTICLE: Falls Cost U.S. Hospitals $34 billion in Direct Medical Costs ….” 22 Apr. 2015, https://www.johnshopkinssolutions.com/newsletters/falls-cost-u-s-hospitals-30-billion-in-direct-medical-costs/. Accessed 12 May. 2018.

How Technology Helps Our Residents Sleep Better

Hillside Haven Retirement Residence

How Technology Helps Our Residents Sleep Better

By Michael Gestetner, Director, Hillside Haven Retirement Residence

According to the National Sleep Foundation, seniors need the same amount of sleep as young and middle-aged adults. Unfortunately, many seniors have difficulties with sleep, struggling to fall asleep or remain sleeping long enough to satisfy their needs. There can be many causes, including medication influences or changes to their sleep architecture–the overall makeup of sleep rhythms. Lack of proper sleep can adversely affect a senior’s happiness, appetite and health.

Knowing all of this, at Hillside Haven we take rest very seriously. We ensure that the environment of the building is conducive to it between 8 pm and 8 am by turning common TVs low, avoiding congregation in common areas near suites and by not doing noisy activities that may disturb those that are asleep. There was one thing that we did in the past that wasn’t conducive to proper resident sleep but truly had no choice in the matter. This was our nightly wellbeing checks.

Wellbeing checks are exactly what they sound like. A staff member peeks into a suite to ensure that a resident is OK. They are usually done in the middle of the night on a regular basis for specific residents, although it can also be done for those that aren’t feeling well or upon a family’s request. Although the staff member is as quiet as possible, due to the changes in their sleep architecture, the simple act of opening the door and letting light in can easily disturb the resident’s sleep.

This necessary evil was unavoidable, then along came Zanthion — a 21st century medical alert system that uses IoT to build SMART Communities: those that improve Safety, Mental/physical health, Activity, Rest and Togetherness.

Now that we have a Zanthion system we no longer have a need for most wellbeing checks, especially those disturbing ones in middle of the night. Our staff are automatically alerted to incidents such as a resident falling out of bed, or inattentive wandering. They can now take decisive and immediate action to emergencies without interrupting our residents’ precious sleep.

This has had an immediate effect on the environment of our home. The chain-effect of proper sleep leads to happier residents which in turn makes it easier on staff, who then become happier themselves. This cycle has drastically improved life at Hillside Haven for our residents, their families and our staff.

The three ways Zanthion improved our resident’s rest and sleep are:

  1. Having a system that automatically detects emergencies eliminated the need for disturbing nighttime wellbeing checks
  2. Immediately responding to a sleepwalking resident prevents the possibility of them disturbing others
  3. Residents (and their families) can sleep easily knowing that staff will be instantaneously alerted in the case of an emergency

We are proud to be a SMART Community.

Passive Patient Monitoring with Medical Alert Systems

Modernizing Medical Alert Systems

Medical alert systems were initially created as a means to offer independence to elderly individuals while providing a level of safety and comfort to families and loved ones. Older medical alert systems possess limited capabilities, and rarely document what actually happened to the individual requiring assistance. With the emergence of new technologies, it is now possible to monitor the activities of your loved one in real time right from your tablet or smartphone. By adapting conventional methods of monitoring your family member’s activities, we’ve made it incredibly beneficial for both you and your elderly family member to implement a medical alert system into your daily lives.

In combining the limitless possibilities of modern-day technology with the functionality of traditional medical alert systems, Zanthion’s software is an essential tool for families looking to monitor and maintain the wellbeing of their loved ones. Below, we’ll outline a few of the countless reasons as to why Zanthion is the perfect medical alert software for your monitoring needs. By choosing our cutting-edge medical alert system, you can be confident that you’re receiving the safety and peace of mind your family deserves.

Passive Patient Monitoring with Sensors

Our flagship medical alert system utilizes passive remote patient monitoring sensors so that you can easily monitor your elderly family member for any unexpected falls or unusual activities. Our sensors can be placed around your family member’s home, so that you can track when your loved one is getting out of bed, when a window is opened or closed, when your family member has fallen over, and much more. Our sensors are both motion and light activated so that only the most precise data is collected for accurate viewing each time.

Benefits of Passive Patient Monitoring Sensors

  • Live updates frequently throughout the day
  • Automatic detection when a loved one falls
  • Light and motion sensitive sensors for ensured accuracy
  • Unusual activity alerts sent straight to you
  • Reduction in rate of hospitalization

Refining Medical Alert Systems

Thanks to years of research and development in designing it, with our state-of-the-art medical alert system you can now easily monitor your elderly family members from the comfort of your own home. If, for some reason, your complications or sudden accidents arise, Zanthion’s system will notify you as soon as they happen. Zanthion is designed to send personal notifications to your mobile device or tablet instantly, giving you live status updates of your loved one’s activities.

Unlike other medical alert systems, Zanthion compiles and organizes all the vital data you need to ensure the best care for your loved one. We provide users with critical information like how many times your family member has asked for assistance, how often they’ve fallen throughout the day, how active they are day-to-day, and much more. Aggregated data of your family member’s daily activities can be viewed with our easy-to-use app, which displays data in visually rich infographics.

Benefits of Zanthion

  • Easy-to-use features
  • User updates in real time
  • Rich visuals of aggregated data
  • Provides elderly with safety in their own home
  • Nurse calling system for emergency situations

Individual and Community Plans

Zanthion is not only perfect for individuals wishing to monitor their loved one’s health, it’s also a comprehensive solution for senior communities as well. Assisted living facilities often comment on how easy they can monitor large groups of individuals at one time with Zanthion. Our intuitive app allows users to group elderly individuals by neighborhood, room number, and much more, making it easier to view data of multiple individuals throughout different locations. After you’ve grouped users into categories, you can analyze useful information like the total amount of falls, average response time, and average resolution time for all your collective groups. It’s never been easier to monitor large groups and individuals alike to provide a safer community and sense of well-being.

See Why Zanthion Will Work for You

With Zanthion, there’s a plan that will fit the needs of all individuals as well as assisted living centers and communities. If you’re searching for a medical alert system that doesn’t compromise on the most important data and constant monitoring of your loved one, choose Zanthion as your all-inclusive medical alert system. We’ve made it easier than ever for family members to experience the peace of mind knowing that they’re loved one can be both safe and comfortable in their own home, and offer the quickest notification and live update system available.

If you’d like to experience how easy it is to receive live updates and real-time alerts of your loved one, visit our homepage today. We offer leading technology from our passive patient monitoring sensors, so that you’ll never have to worry again about the status of your elderly family member. To get started today, simply click the “order your free system” button located on our homepage!

How to Talk to Seniors About The Benefits of Technology

These days, technology is everywhere; even babies are using iPads now! Yet many seniors resist using modern technology in their daily lives. Whether it is because of a fear of the unknown or a lack of education, it is possible for your technophobic parent to start taking advantage of the innovations of the internet and technology in general. There are so many ways that seniors can benefit from technology that opening their minds to the possibilities is worth the effort. Some of the areas in which seniors can benefit from technology are:

Keeping Connected

One of the most important ways technology has improved all of our lives is by giving us the ability to talk to and even see our loved ones, even when they are across the globe. For seniors, staying socially connected in essential for their quality of life and health. Yet many seniors find themselves increasingly isolated as they get older. In-person human connection will obviously never be replaced, but using technology to better connect seniors to others is a wonderful way of keeping them connected to the outside world. Seniors can video-chat their friends and family via services like Skype or FaceTime, stay in the loop via social media platforms like Facebook, and instantly connect with their loved ones via email. The Internet and the devices with which seniors can use it may intimidate them at first, but once they realize how much better connected they can be, they will love it.

Keeping Safe

It is understandable by the majority of seniors wish to stay at their home as they age. While this is not realistic for all seniors, technology enables certain seniors to stay at home while still remaining safe. Seniors living alone would benefit from Zanthion, which is a medical alert system that uses wearable technology and the Internet of Things (IOT) to detect falls, track behavior like walking, anticipate the future with the use of big data, and allow seniors to instantly get help in the event of an emergency. This allows both seniors and their loved ones to feel at ease with them staying at home for longer.

An additional safety concern for seniors that can be aided by technology is for those who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Even seniors with Alzheimer’s who live in assisted living facilities or with family have unique safety concerns, namely wandering. In a previous blog, we went over why wandering is such a problem for Alzheimer’s patients, and what tools you can use to help prevent this dangerous behavior. One we went over is GPS technology, which is allowing caregivers the ability to geofence seniors, alerting them when they get outside of a certain boundary. Clearly, taking advantage of this innovative technology offers unique safety benefits that we have not been able to access before.

Keeping Healthy

There is an abundance of ways that seniors can use technology to improve, monitor, and maintain their health. First, staying active is an essential part of everyone’s health but it is especially important for seniors. A great way to provide seniors an outlet for exercise is through technology. For example, some assisted living communities have already starting using Nintendo Wii’s sports games, which use motion control and virtual reality to give users a workout. This way, seniors can participate in moderate physical activity without leaving their living room. Additionally, using a streaming device such as Apple TV or Roku can allow seniors to access YouTube on their TVs, where they can play thousands of free exercise videos. As far as mental exercise goes, technology also has much to offer seniors. Playing trivia, memory, or word games on their smartphone or tablet is a great way for seniors to keep sharp.

Another significant health concern that can be addressed through the use of technology is medication management. As seniors get older, they often have more medication to take while remembering to take it gets harder. There is only so much that pill boxes can do to serve as a reminder to seniors to take their medication. This is where technology comes in! There are many medication management apps for seniors on the market that serve to remind seniors to take their meds, as well as when they need to refill their prescriptions. These types of apps reduce missed medication incidents to ensure seniors stay healthy.

How to Talk to Your Senior Parent About Technology

So now you know the abundance of reasons why seniors should get on board with technology, how exactly do you approach these conversations? For some seniors, they are afraid of embracing technology because they worry that they won’t be able to use it. We often take for granted that certain aspects of technology may seem intuitive to us, but is actually difficult for anyone who lacks any technological experience to learn. For example, double-clicking, tapping on icons, and swiping may all be difficult for seniors to master, particularly if they have arthritis. Some seniors may get frustrated or lose interest if you simply show them how to use the technology. To get them to engage with it, try keeping their interest with these tips.

Make it Relevant to Them

For your senior parent to adopt technology, it is important for them to care about it. While they may not see the point of switching from paper to electronic news, they may be motivated to get on Facebook if it helps them stay connected to their grandchildren. Think about what your parent cares about, and that will be their source of motivation for using technology.

Emphasize Functionality

Preteens may be all about getting the latest technology, but chances are, your parent has very little interest in the status associated with having the latest iPhone. Seniors are more interested in tangible, practical benefits. Emphasize the way that technology can be used to improve their day-to-day lives, such as through medication management or step counters. When you make sure they understand the practical benefits of technology, they will be more open to using it.

Keep it Visually Appealing and Simple

Many products for seniors are boring and clunky, making them unappealing to anyone. Look for devices for your senior parent that are both aesthetically pleasing and easy to use to engage their interest. AARP has recently introduced a tablet called the RealPad, a device specifically designed with seniors in mind. With better readability, a simpler interface, and video tutorials, the RealPad can be a great way to introduce your senior parent to technology.

Your senior parent may initially be hesitant to dive into the technology pool, but with your help, they can soon take advantage of all that it has to offer. For more information on this issue, please check out some resources below.

Resources

Zanthion Store
Medication Management Apps for Seniors
Online Games for Seniors
Stitch – A Social Media App for Seniors
AARP RealPad

The Importance of Independence for Seniors

For the first half of your life, your parent cared for you. Now that they are aging, it is time for you to take care of them. However, it is important to do so while respecting their independence. As your parent becomes more dependent on your care, their autonomy will become more and more important to them. When seniors are independent, they are happier, healthier, and more fulfilled. Prioritizing their independence will ensure their mental and physical health.

Mental Health

Put yourself in your parent’s shoes: for the last several decades, they have taken care of themselves. Now, their body and mind is aging, and tasks that were once simple now require much more of their energy, or they may not be able to do them at all. They are no longer able to rely solely on themselves; they must now depend on their child for care. For some seniors, this can be depressing, disheartening, and humiliating. They may feel a loss of purpose. In extreme cases, they may lose the desire to live. However, when their independence is retained as much as possible, it gives them a greater sense of agency over their own lives. With more control of what they do, seniors don’t feel as helpless in the face of aging and they can maintain their dignity. This means that their mental health is more sound and they are happier with life and themselves.

Physical Health

Independence is also important for seniors’ physical health. As your parent becomes more dependent on you, if their independence is not maintained in some other way, they may lower their expectations of themselves. This lower expectation causes them to spend less time participating in physical activity, which leds to a decline in health. However, if steps are taken to ensure that they are more independent, they will be more active. Active seniors are healthy seniors, so when you are caring for your parent, do what you can to encourage independence.

Independent Activities for Seniors

There are certain activities your senior parent can participate in that allows them to be independent. Here are some ideas that you can encourage:

  • Light household tasks
  • Attending social events
  • Personal hygiene
  • Keeping in touch with loved ones — phone calls, writing letters and emails, etc.
  • Playing games
  • Joining a group fitness class
  • Volunteer work
  • Going for walks
  • Using the computer

While some seniors meet the suggestion of more independence with anxiety or hesitance, if you consistently encourage and support their efforts, they can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment from participating in independent activities.

While it is important to encourage independent activities, that does not mean that your senior parent does not require some supervision. However, having someone hover around them at all times will only serve to make them feel more restricted. In this case, our medical alert system with fall detection provides the ideal solution. With wearable technology that not only monitors falls but analyzes data related to walking, sitting, standing, and gait, you can rest assured that you are on top of your parent’s care while still keeping their dignity intact. Learn more about our medical alert systems with fall detection here today.