Fall Alarms for the Elderly

Fall alarms
for the elderly

  • Get 24/7 emergency help, at home and outside
  • Discreet and easy to use fall alert watch
  • Trusted by thousands of happy customers
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Do you need a fall alarm?

Take our quick and easy fall risk assessment test

One of the more common life events leading to the use of a personal alarm is a fall. Luckily, there is a simple test designed for those aged 65 and up that can calculate your risk of falling before it occurs. It is regularly used by the NHS and can be a real life-saver, so take your time and go through each step carefully. You can find the test further down the page, but firstly…

What is a fall alarm?

A fall alarm is a device that alerts emergency services when a fall has occurred. These can either be manually controlled or feature automatic fall detection. A manual fall alarm requests help once the wearer of the alarm has raised the SOS (typically by pressing a button), whereas an automatic fall alarm will request help automatically once the technology has detected a fall.

We’ve all heard the horrid stories of elderly people waiting for an extremely lengthy period of time for help. A fall alarm can prevent this by ensuring that the person who has fallen is able to communicate their situation as soon as possible. This is extremely important as the seriousness of an injury tends to increase if help does not arrive in a timely fashion.

Who needs a fall alarm?

If you scored two or more in our fall risk assessment test (below), then you may want to consider a fall alarm. It shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes. Those with a history of falling, with particular attention paid to falls which have occured recently, should also consider a fall alarm. It’s important to consider the long-term effects of a bad fall which can be greatly reduced if emergency assistance is available promptly.

Generally speaking, the elderly are at most risk of falling. In fact, falling is the most common reason for hospital admissions in seniors. If you’re over 65, your chance of suffering a fall in the next twelve months is about 1 in 3. This chance rapidly increases to about 1 in 2 for those aged 80 and above.

Those with long term conditions, such as diabetes or epilepsy, should also consider a fall alarm. You should also look into a fall alarm if your job is particularly high-risk for a bad fall.

Do you need a fall alarm?

Take our fall risk assessment

Let’s begin with some easy questions:

  1. Have you had a fall in the last 12 months?
  2. Are you on four or more medications a day?
  3. Do you have Parkinson's disease or have you had a stroke?
  4. Do you stop walking when answering someone else's questions?
  5. Do you sway significantly while standing?
  6. Do you struggle to balance with one foot an inch off the ground?
  7. Do you struggle to get up from a chair?

If you answered ‘yes’ to two or more of the questions above, then you should discuss the result with your GP. It may mean that you are at a higher risk of a fall, so early, preventative action may be recommended.

Once you’ve completed the short questionnaire above, you should try the test below. It’s known as the "timed up and go" test, and all you need to get started is a chair with 3 metres (10ft) of clear floor space ahead of it, and a way of timing yourself. Sit down on the chair, and follow the sequence below. Remember to time yourself.

  1. Stand up from the chair
  2. Walk 3 metres (10ft) in a straight line at your normal walking pace
  3. Turn 180 degrees
  4. Walk back to the chair at your normal walking pace
  5. Sit back down in the chair

Stop your timer, and note the duration taken to complete the test. If it has taken you more than 12 seconds, then you should add another yes to your total from the questionnaire. If this figure is equal to, or greater than, two, you should discuss your fall risk with your GP. They may be able to recommend exercises, specialist falls services or aids to reduce your risk. For our guide to preventing and handling falls, please continue reading.

If you are at risk of falling you should also think about getting a personal alarm. A personal alarm offers you quick access to emergency support should you require it. To find out more about staying safe in a fall with a personal alarm, you can continue reading below:

How does automatic fall detection work?

Some personal alarms include automatic fall detection. These devices are able to detect when a wearer has fallen by monitoring any rapid changes in acceleration or movement. Some alarms are also able to monitor for any heavy impacts experienced. Once this alert has been triggered, the personal alarm will request help from its emergency monitoring team, and/or contacts that the wearer has chosen.

Balancing trigger sensitivity is one of the issues commonly faced by automatic fall detection devices. It’s fairly common for an alert to be triggered despite no fall having taken place. As you can imagine, this causes undue concern for all involved (particularly if the family is notified). Thankfully, some fall detectors allow you to cancel the alarm before an SOS call is made, and others allow you to adjust the sensitivity to suit your needs.

This sensitivity issue can also have the reverse effect, with a fall not being detected at all. For this reason, many decide to forego fall detection technology altogether and instead rely on a simpler, more reliable alternative (such as manually controlled personal fall alarm).

Is a fall detector the same as a personal alarm?

Yes and no. Most fall detectors are also personal alarms, but not all personal alarms are fall detectors. Whilst personal alarms give you access to emergency help, not all feature an automatic fall detection sensor. They can of course be used to assist following a fall, but this will need to be activated manually by the wearer.

As mentioned previously, fall detection technology isn’t yet perfectly reliable, so many personal alarm providers choose not to include the feature on their device.

What to consider when ordering a fall alarm?

Whilst most fall alarms use similar technology, there are some other things you should consider before ordering.

What is the range of the fall alarm? Some fall alarms will require the wearer to be within a certain distance of its accompanying box to work. Other fall alarms will work anywhere in the UK, usually by connecting to a mobile network. These standalone alarms are typically preferable to those that require a link to a mobile phone, wifi, box, or other connection.

The benefit of a short range personal fall alarm is that the battery typically lasts longer, and may be the right option for those who are housebound or who rarely leave home for whatever reason.

Some fall alarms have a more traditional appearance, drawing comparisons to the big, red buttons commonly found on personal alarms in the early 1980s. Other alarms have a more discreet appearance. The design also affects how and where the alarm is worn, with some alarms having a bracelet design and others being made to be worn around the neck like a necklace.

As we’ve discussed, the sensitivity of fall alarms can vary, and an overly sensitive alarm trigger can quickly become a nuisance. It’s important that your order includes a trial period and/or money back guarantee. This will allow you to test the device’s sensitivity, the compatibility of its design and build, and whether or not it’s the right fall alarm for you.

Some fall alarms will connect you to a 24/7, emergency monitoring team. Other fall alarms will connect you to a selected group of contacts, typically family, friends, and even neighbours. We would recommend that you opt for an alarm with a dedicated monitoring team. This will ensure that help is always available. It’s also important to note that a monitoring team is likely to have a lot more experience and expertise in dealing with emergency situations than your family and friends, despite their best intentions.

Standalone fall alarms will typically work straight out of the box. Other alarms, especially those linked to a box, will require some kind of installation and you may be charged a fee for this. It’s important to consider this cost when comparing the prices of fall alarms.

When it comes to price, you should also consider the initial fee along with the service cost. Some providers charge a higher upfront cost but a smaller monthly fee for monitoring. The reverse is also true. It’s best to sit down and calculate all the costs before deciding upon the right fall alarm for you.

So which is the best fall alarm for the elderly?

As much as we wish we could answer this question, there are simply too many variables involved. Whilst some will prefer automatic fall detection, others prefer a manual alternative as they wish to avoid false SOS calls. Some will prefer a bracelet design, and others a pendant.

The YourStride personal alarm watch is the UK’s highest rated. It features a manual fall alarm, with a dedicated monitoring team. It works anywhere in the UK, with a long battery life and a discreet appearance. We offer a 30 day money back guarantee and you can cancel the service at any time and at no cost. If this sounds like something that could help you, order online today, or give us a call on 020 3868 5575.

YourStride’s guide to preventing and dealing with a fall

How to reduce your risk of falling

You need two things: Calcium, and vitamin D to help your body absorb the calcium.

Good sources of calcium include dairy, green leafy vegetables, nuts, soya, tofu, bread and the edible bones of fish such as sardines and pilchards.

Top Tip: avoid spinach as it has a chemical that reduces the absorption of calcium.

The government recommends everyone takes a supplement of 10mg of vitamin D every day. Getting out in the sun is always more fun than a tablet but make sure you never burn!

If you are taking 4 or more medications, or your medications have not been reviewed for over a year, it can be worth checking with your GP or pharmacist. They can tell you if a review can cut your fall risk.

Take advantage of your free yearly eye test to make sure your eyesight is not getting worse. Trips and falls happen when you cannot see.

Try being active for around 30 minutes, 5 days a week. That could be gardening, going for a walk or even just popping to the shops. If you worry about not being safe when you go out, a YourStride Alarm Watch works everywhere in the UK rather than just at home.

You can also try the following home exercises. They improve strength and balance, which will help you channel your inner Jane Fonda and keep you from falling! All you need is a sturdy chair.

  1. Heel Raises

    Stand tall, holding the back of a sturdy chair or the kitchen sink.
    Lift your heels off the floor, taking your weight onto your big toes.
    Hold for three seconds, then lower with control. Repeat 10 times.

  2. Toe Raises

    Stand tall holding the chair, then raise your toes – taking your weight on your heels.
    Don’t stick your bottom out. Hold for three seconds, then lower with control.
    Repeat 10 times.

  3. Sit to stand

    Sit tall near the front of a chair.
    Lean forwards slightly and stand up (with hands on the chair if needed).
    Step back until your legs touch the chair then slowly lower yourself back into the chair.
    Repeat 10 times.

  4. Heel - Toe Stand

    Stand tall with one hand on the chair.
    Put one foot directly in front of the other and look ahead.
    Take your hand off the chair and balance for 10 seconds.
    Swap your feet and do the same for the other front foot.

  5. Heel - Toe Walking

    Stand tall with one hand on your kitchen worktop.
    Walk 10 paces placing one foot directly in front of the other so the feet form a straight line try to be as steady as you can.
    Turn around and repeat.

  6. One Leg Stand

    Stand close to the chair holding it with one hand.
    Balance on one leg, keeping the support knee soft and making sure you are standing upright and hold for 10 seconds.
    Repeat for the other leg.

If this all seems too much, walking is also great for you. You can use a wearable device like the YourStride Alarm Watch to track your steps and heart rate, to help you stay motivated day to day.

Remember, even small changes to your lifestyle can make big differences over the long term so do give at least one of these a try.

Worried about falling?

Here’s how to make your home safer…

I know with this one you’re going to think we’re teaching you how to suck eggs, but it’s amazing how we all get so used to the setup of our homes without thinking about it.

Firstly, you can request a home hazard assessment for yourself or for someone you are worried about falling through your GP or local council. A professional can help identify simple changes to make your home safer.

Alternatively, there are a few things you can think about yourself;

Many people use a personal alarm to make sure they can get help while they are at home. If you are interested, you can read our guide to choosing the best personal alarm.

What to do if you have a fall

  1. Stay calm and lie still for a minute, and check that you are not injured.
  2. Getting up
    • Roll onto your side and push up onto your elbows
    • Get onto your hands and knees
    • Crawl to a stable piece of furniture to use it for support
    • Slide or raise the foot of your stronger leg so it is flat to the floor
    • Push up using your arms and front leg until you are standing
    • Sit down and rest for a while
  3. Getting help - if you can’t get up or feel pain in your hips or back you should try to get help

If you have a personal alarm, you can press the button to raise the alarm and speak to someone who can help .If you have your mobile phone with you, you can call for help.

If you can’t get to a phone, you should try banging on the floor, radiators or wall so that a neighbour might hear you

Make sure you are warm and comfortable as you wait for help to arrive.

If you need more advice then our team is very happy to help, you can also get more information from the NHS. Do give us a call on 020 3868 5575 with any questions.

Please be aware, this is just general advice not given in a health professional capacity.
Don’t forget to consult with your doctor before embarking on any type of new exercise regime just as a safety precaution.