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Options in PERS
By Emily Curtis, Staff Writer
(Page 1 of 3)

Since the 1990s, there have been a plethora of options on the market for personal emergency response systems (PERS). Since there are so many choices, the consumer can feel overwhelmed and make poor decisions without realizing it.

What is PERS?

PERS offer a choice for caregivers. Designed with primarily the elderly in mind, PERS can link the individual in need with a monitoring station to alert them of a problem in the home. In the case of an elderly woman who falls, she may not be able to reach a phone to notify her family. With a PERS, a simple button click can link her with someone who can get an ambulance or notify a family member almost immediately.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, falls rank as the leading cause of death for individuals age 65 and older, 32.7 in every 100,000 persons. For this reason alone, a PERS often provides peace of mind that their loved one is able to receive help when they need it.

PERS is not just for the homebound elderly person. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are an estimated 34 to 43 million Americans living with a chronic disability. Caregivers, even if they are not in the immediate area, can rely on PERS to help them provide services to disabled family members.

Assessing the Need

Before deciding what type of PERS to utilize, families need to step back and look at why they may need one. Senior Services of Seattle/King County, Washington developed these questions to ask when deciding whether or not a system can help in the household.

  • Are you in the home frequently?

  • Are you outside and need a system like a necklace or a bracelet?

  • Do you go to a specific hospital?

  • Who is your emergency contact person?

  • Are you on a Medicaid program that might pay for a system?

  • Is English your primary language?

  • Do you need medication reminders?

  • Do you have someone who checks on you now?

  • Are you concerned about falling or have fallen in the past?

Not only will answering these questions determine whether or not a PERS is needed. It can also help assess the type of PERS needed for someone.

What’s on the Market?

The Centers for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) brings together companies (both non-profit and for-profit) to help create technological advances to help the elderly. As technology advances at a rapid rate, CAST helps keep a firm grip on the types of technology developing and how it can benefit the elderly. Their vision is to create “the foundation that will ensure technology solutions attain their fullest potential to meet the needs of our aging society.”

The CAST Clearinghouse (http://www.agingtech.org/Browsemain.aspx) showcases many PERS products and can help with making the decision concerning which system will be most effective in a given household. Some of the products listed can be new to the market, while others have been available for some time. When deciding which products are needed, make sure you keep in mind the issues addressed previously.

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