As Aging Life Care Managers ™, we complete an initial home assessment which guides us in outlining recommendations and Care Plans with our clients. One of the devices sometimes recommended for safety is a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS). These devices can be purchased through many companies, including as an add-on service through some home security companies.
The individual usually wears a small push-button transmitter as part of a necklace or wrist-worn unit, which is pressed to activate “24-7” communication, should a fall or other emergency occur and help is needed. With many systems, once activated, an agent from the call center will attempt a two-way conversation and get appropriate help sent on. Other systems may be set up to automatically call 911 to assist the individual.
There are a variety of PERS models available. Some require a landline phone, to which a base station receiver is connected. These PERS work mainly in or within a short distance of the home. There are also mobile or cellular PERS that allow for two-way communication with the call center, in or outside of the home, since both the transmitter and receiver are part of the unit worn “on your person”.
Some PERS can be purchased, others may be rented, and costs will vary. There often is a charge for installation of a PERS, plus monthly fees for the PERS service. Some companies offer additional services, including various reminder systems regarding medically-related tasks to be completed.
It is important to compare such things as costs, services, maintenance, and response type when looking for a PERS. You may wish to find a system that automatically activates even if the push-button transmitter is not pressed after a fall, should the person become confused or is unconscious. Consider talking with someone who may have information about PERS options in your area, such as your doctor or local Office on Aging. Or, your Aging Life Care Manager ™ may discuss this information with you as a Care Plan option following an initial home assessment, as part of the Care Management process.
by Elaine Wilson, LCSW, CCM