Living Independently Longer

Elderly, single people living independently in their house or flat sometimes wonder what would happen if they were to suddenly need help from the outside. Getting sick or falling down, a fire in the kitchen or forgetting whether the green or the red pills need to be taken after breakfast: these things can happen to any of us. If we live alone, this increases the fear that no one will be able to help us. A simple Personal Alarm System (PAS) can help to relieve such worries.

The PAS

The basis of a PAS is a simple box containing a sensitive microphone and a speaker. It can be powered via a standard power socket. A fixed analogue telephone line can be used for communication, though an IP or GPRS connection will also work.

The device is usually equipped with a red button. When this is pushed, a two-way voice connection is established with an emergency centre. The centre can be located several kilometres from the home where the alarm is activated. The operator can immediately see who triggered the alarm on a screen in the emergency centre. He or she can then use the two-way voice connection to determine the problem.

After talking to the person, the operator can call the family, a caregiver, emergency service or a physician. The operator has a list of the people who can be called for a specific person. In most cases, he or she will also have access to medical information that can be used to help the person who needs assistance.

Expansions

The red button on the PAS box will obviously not suffice if the occupant has fallen or cannot get out of bed due to illness. In this case an additional alarm button in the form of a bracelet or necklace ensures the occupant will always be able to press the alarm. These are usually water-resistant, so that they can also be worn in the shower or bath.

The PAS also has a number of inputs which enable the connection of additional devices. One example would be a pull cord installed in the bathroom: one pull on the cord and the alarm is activated. The outputs for a smoke detector, CO detector or a burglar alarm can also be connected to the PAS.

An output for the IHS

If the home is equipped with an Integrated Home System (IHS), this can be linked to the PAS. This makes it possible to disconnect the television and radio from the network during an alarm in order to optimise the performance of the two-way voice connection. In addition, lights can be turned on in strategic locations and, if needed, the heat can be adjusted to a comfortable temperature. If desired, the exterior lighting can be made to flicker in order to alert emergency responders rushing to the scene. Everything can be reset once the alarm has been switched off.

Friends and family

A PAS can also benefit the elderly occupant’s circle of acquaintances. Friends, family and caregivers no longer need to continually wonder whether everything is OK with grandma or grandpa. Peace of mind prevails over constant anxiety.

In the next article, we will discuss access control. When a PAS is activated, emergency responders must after all be able to gain quick and easy access to the home.

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