First up, prepare for emergencies. Stuff happens and when it does, it will be easier for you and those around you, if you have planned ahead.
For example, write up an emergency card. This will have key contacts, the doctor’s details and a list of medications. Place the card on the fridge and another copy in your wallet or handbag.
Do not rely on someone getting your ICE (In Case of Emergency) number from your mobile phone. If you are out cold, you are not in a position to tell them your password. Use the old-fashioned contact card instead.
There are a range of personal alarms on the market. They must be worn to be effective and you need to be able to activate the alarm by pressing it. This may work for a fall, but it won’t work if you pass out. That said, they are a valuable tool.
Another safety option is an Apple i-Watch. These have a fall alert. The watch notes when you have fallen and if you don’t get up within a set time, it sends a message to your chosen contact.
Amazon has a program called Alexa Care Hub which allows you to check in with someone in another home via your phone.
Say “Hi Mum, are you up yet?” and she will hear it through her Alexa device.
It acts like an intercom. If you are in trouble you can ask Alexa to make a phone call. This is handy if you have fallen and can’t reach your phone.
The Alexa Care Hub also notes when someone has not been active. For instance, if your mum’s routine is to listen to the radio each morning via Alexa but she hasn’t done so, you may be alerted.
Google Home is a voice-activated virtual assistant with multiple uses. You can ask it to switch on the lights so you don’t have to walk down a dark hallway to reach the light switch. Google Home can also contact someone if you fall or injure yourself.
A Gold Coast company Home Guardian uses artificial intelligence in its home safety device for seniors.
Known as Home Guardian Model II, this device does not have to be worn. It comes as a pack of three units with built-in cameras and sound sensors. The units are usually placed in the living area, the bathroom and the bedroom.
The AI units have been trained to identify “normal” human activity. If they detect something different, they alert up to five chosen emergency contacts.
The Home Guardian II can advise your contacts of many situations such as a likely fall, wandering, excessive coughing and when someone is absent.
The AI is built into each device. No images are sent to the cloud or a central point for processing. The processing all happens at your place. The information it shares, with your approval, is just the health and safety alerts.
The Home Guardian II has been approved as an assistive technology for people on Home Care Packages, CHSP programs and NDIS.
Nothing replaces human contact, as we have found from our year of on-again off-again COVID restrictions. But it’s easy to let time slip away and friends, family and neighbours become more remote.
Make some simple social plans. Perhaps you could call a family member every Sunday or have your neighbour in for a cuppa once a week. This way you can be a valuable part of each other’s social safety net.
Kendall Morton is Director of Home Care Assistance Sunshine Coast to Wide Bay. Call 5491 6888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org