Systems for Safe Living
When learning about the origins of many of the devices designed to enable aging in place, you often find that there’s a personal story involved. That’s certainly the case with Glenn Maxwell. “In 1991 my grandmother fell in her driveway,” he says. “She thought the mailman would be there shortly to help, but he was off that day, so she lay there for about seven hours before his substitute arrived. All she suffered was a little exposure and dehydration, but when we brought her home from the hospital the next day I literally built an alarm for her and told her that she absolutely had to use it.
“She lived at home for six more years, and she used the alarm button three times, but any one of those events would’ve meant the end of her independence if she hadn’t gotten help,” he says. “So yeah, this is personal for me.”
Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS)
As founder and president of Alert Sentry—located in Lakeville, Mass.—Maxwell has leveraged three decades of experience in the security industry in developing the company’s line of medical alert devices, sold through dealers. The standard system consists of a main console to be centrally placed in the home and a personal help button for the user to wear. “The button can be a necklace or a wrist band,” he explains, “but I’ll be the first to tell you that the necklace is safer because the button can be reached with either hand.”
Once the button is pressed the user communicates directly with a trained Alert Sentry operator via the main console. The button still activates the console if the person is beyond speaking range, and help will be sent even if contact isn’t made. Communication can be further enabled with the use of the enhanced system, which allows the user to speak with an operator directly through the pendant. “We also have a belt clip for that model, or a strap to attach it to a walker or wheelchair,” Maxwell says. “You can even answer your phone through the enhanced pendant. It’s really great for active people.”
Some people can be too active, however, and that’s where the Direct Link Care Watch comes in. “We have a standard PERS device that consists of a home base unit and a pendant, and it can be matched with a landline, cell or Internet-based phone system,” according to Kiki Schockling, director of marketing at Cincinnati-based Direct Link, which sells its products through a network of dealers. “Then we have the Care Watch, which provides greater range and is GPS equipped so that help can be obtained while you’re out mowing the grass, for instance. It can also be programmed to alert our Care Center should the user range beyond a programmed perimeter, for those who tend to wander.”
Direct Link also offers a line of both wired and wireless vital sign monitoring devices, such as a weight scale and blood pressure, blood glucose and pulse oximeter monitors. “If a reading is abnormal or exceeds a set threshold, our Care Center operators will call to make sure that everything’s okay,” Schockling explains. “They can also call a designated caregiver based on instructions given when the account is established.”
The company also offers an automated medication dispenser that can be preloaded and set to sound an alarm when it’s time for particular medicines to be taken. Not only does this keep the patient on schedule, it also prevents him or her from taking medications at the wrong time with a handy lockout feature that opens at the prescribed hour. And if the medications are not taken, the Care Center is automatically notified.