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Finding a Sense of Relief
By Jude Roberts, Staff Writer

Technology and medicine have merged to create the PERS (personal emergency response system). There are several PERS on the market today that can help with reducing the amount of hospital stays a loved one may experience, along with a reduction in the amount of inpatient days (a 50% drop of inpatient days was noted in one study) when a loved one is hospitalized, and an ease in the concern and worry of caregivers. Since a PERS is designed to alert medical personal to a potential problem and has them respond directly to the home, caregivers can be relieved to know that the time their loved one might spend alone or injured after a fall or illness-related emergency is greatly reduced.

PERS are simple in how they work. When emergency help is needed, such as medical, fire, or police, the PERS user can press the transmitterís ďhelpĒ button, sending a radio signal to the console (connected to the userís telephone). This causes the console to automatically dial one or more pre-selected emergency telephone numbers. Most of the systems that exist have the capability of dialing out, even if the phone is in-use or off the hook, making this a crucially important feature. When an emergency response center is contacted, the caller is identified, allowing the center to determine the nature of the emergency, review the callerís medical history, and notify the appropriate medical professionals and/or family/caregiver. If the center cannot contact the caller or determine whether an actual emergency exists, they will notify emergency providers to go to the callerís home, monitoring the situation until the problem is resolved. Some PERS also offer an added feature that provides automated notification to a concerned third party, such as a healthcare provider, who receives immediate information via fax. This enables a loved oneís medical caregiving team to continually be kept abreast of a loved oneís progress, and to modify their plan of care according to the ever-changing needs of a loved one.

When considering a system for purchase, lease, or rent, remember to check the unit for possible defects, ask about warranty and service contracts and plans, and get any questions you may have answered before proceeding. Hereís a checklist of a few more things to keep in mind when considering one of these systems:

  • Make sure to look at several different systems before making a final decision.

  • Ask if the system can be used with other response centers, especially if you were to move to a different area.

  • The system should be light-weight and easy to use.

  • When testing the system, look for it to work from every point in and around your home, making sure that nothing is interfering with the transmission.

  • Find out if the monitoring center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • Itís important to know what the average response time is for the center.

  • Look into what kind of training the staff has received at the response center.

  • Know the procedures used by the response center to test the system in your home, and find out how often they plan to conduct these tests.

 



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