Gadgets to help you stay safe
Most of us want to remain as independent as possible and to stay living in our own homes, even if we experience difficulties as the result of health problems or a disability. At the same time we want to know that we are safe, and can quickly call for help in an emergency.
If you are an older person and less mobile, or are over 18 and have a physical or learning disability, there are gadgets available that will allow you to quickly call for help in an emergency, particularly if you live on your own. Carers and relatives of people with dementia can be greatly reassured if they know that they can quietly keep an eye on the ones they love and ensure that they remain safe and well within their homes.
Modern technology means that there are now gadgets available to help provide this reassurance. These gadgets are often known as Telecare or assistive technology.
Falls and other emergencies at home
If you have suddenly become unwell at home, or have had a fall or accident and can't get up, it's reassuring to know that, by simply pressing a button on a pendant round your neck or wrist, help will quickly arrive. Many people may already be familiar with these types of lifeline alarms.
Depending on your circumstances there are also other gadgets available which can be used to help keep you safe or to summon assistance in an emergency.
Gadgets for people with dementia
Some gadgets have been designed especially for people with dementia. These gadgets can allow you to stay living safely in the privacy of your own home, whilst relatives or others can keep a regular eye on you and ensure that you do not come to any harm.
How it works
All the gadgets work to a similar principle whereby an alarm alerts a central team who will check that you are alright or (if you have requested it) contact named relatives or friends to check that you are okay. Either your named friends or relatives will hold a key for your property, or you can subscribe to the mobile response service and have a secure key-safe fitted outside your property with your key(s) inside so that they can come and help you if you trigger the alarm and are having problems.
The alarm is usually sent using your telephone landline. In some cases the gadgets available can now use mobile phone technology.
Many people find that this Telecare service gives them peace of mind and reassurance that help will arrive quickly if something goes wrong.
What equipment is available?
The types of equipment available include:
- an alarm pendant which you wear round your neck or on your wrist - if you have a an accident or are taken unwell you can press a button on the pendant to call for help
- a sensor which raises an alarm if it detects fire, smoke, gas, carbon monoxide, or an overflowing sink or bath
- burglar alarms and bogus caller alarms to enable you to get help if you are worried someone is trying to get into your home
- falls detectors, bed sensors and epilepsy sensors for people who may become ill suddenly, or fall - the sensors can tell if you have fallen suddenly, or are having a fit, and will automatically call for help
- memory aids such as memo minders which allow you to record messages with daily reminders, perhaps reminding you to take medication or to eat meals on a regular basis
- a device to switch the light on at night when you get out of bed
- a device to remind you to take your keys with you
- a tracker (also known as a GPS or satellite navigation - 'sat nav') device which alerts your carer that you are leaving the premises or have not returned within a certain time period
- a monitoring system to ensure your family know you are safe within your home - for example that you have got up in the morning, that you are going to bed safely, or that you have not fallen in the bathroom
How to get alarms and Telecare equipment
Equipment and related services can be bought directly from suppliers. There is usually a monthly service charge as well as the cost of the equipment. Find out what services are available locally in our Care Place directory.
There are a number of websites which provide information on who may be able to help and what they provide, including:
- Living Made Easy
- AT Dementia provides information on specialist products for people living with dementia
- AlzProducts provide specialist products for people living with dementia
- The Carephone (products for landlines and mobile phones)
- Age UK has a simple emergency personal alarm system
- Pathway for Care - a social care company owned by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council that supports customers to live as independently as possible in their own homes
Installing a key safe
If you or those around you are concerned about your safety when you are alone at home then you can consider installing a small, secure safe outside your home with a set of your keys in it. Anyone wanting to access the keys will need to know a code number; you can set the number, and can then give it only to people whom you know and trust.
This means that when you are in difficulty, and / or have triggered an alarm or the phone to call for help, someone will be able to gain access to your property.
The Key Safe Company is one of many that sells a range of secure key safes.
Seeing the equipment before you buy it
Before you buy any Telecare equipment you may find it useful to visit the Eldercare shop at 146 Stanley Park Road, Sutton SM5 3JG to see what is available and what works best for you. Contact to make an appointment 0345 603 4576 (9am - 5pm, Mon-Fri), email@example.com.
Telecare equipment from Sutton council
Depending on the overall level of support that you need you may be eligible for a pendant alarm or other Telecare equipment following an assessment from your local council. Not all of the devices listed above are currently provided by Sutton Council.
Other information and advice
Which? provides information on all aspects of Telecare/assistive technology, and advice on how to choose the best gadgets for you.
Independent for Longer showcases real examples of technology enabled care services in action.
Independent Age provides a guide on Telecare and Telehealth.
Alzheimer's Society has a factsheet called assistive technology - devices to help with everyday living.
The Disability Living Foundation has two factsheets called personal alarm systems and telecare and choosing equipment to help with memory and safety.
AT Dementia allows you to complete an online assessment of your situation and then suggests the kinds of equipment and other support which might be of use to you.
The BBC looks at the growing problem of dementia for an ageing population across the globe, and at how technology might support people with dementia to live independently and safely within their own homes.