In everyday life people are all liable to find themselves in an emergency situation and, more commonly, will require to be alerted to signals that give a warning or indication of action to be taken. This bring us to the topic of a Personal alarm for elderly people.
The means to access services and equipment to ensure safety and comfort are well known, readily available and usually at little or no cost.
One example of this is the access to the Fire, Police and Ambulance services by picking up the telephone and dialling 112, 999 etc. Another example is that people can go into a wide range of stores and buy a very effective smoke alarm for their homes which will probably cost less than ECU 10.
However a disabled person may not be able to use the services that are available because of a disability or find equipment, particularly at low cost that will ensure personal safety and comfort, but a Personal alarm for elderly people could help.
This chapter is in two parts: the first will deal with public emergency services and the second with alarm and Personal alarm for elderly people.
The most widely known emergency services are those of the Police, Fire and Ambulance; however, public utilities such as Gas and Electricity companies run their own services. Most motorways have emergency breakdown telephones and motoring organizations operate emergency breakdown services. In addition local authorities and other organizations operate personal alarms for elderly people to offer emergency services.
Social alarms, national alarms are types of personal alarms for elderly people to offer emergency services. Like social alarm services for elderly people which are very much part of the emergency service system.
In some countries national alarm services exist to broadcast to the country or area as a whole that a national disaster is taking place. There are therefore wide ranges of services, which in most cases have no common approach or policy to the problem of disabled people accessing their services.
Cognitive impairment may cause an inability to read, speak or understand and the ease of access to services will have a profound effect on the ease of use, or indeed the ability to use a service at all.
A very significant group in this category is that of elderly people with senile dementia, particularly those with the disease in its early stages who are still coping with their home environment. For people with mental disabilities simple key pads with standardized layouts and emergency buttons are crucial.
Social alarms are emergency services, often operated by local authorities, where an elderly person has a terminal in the home which is connected through the public telephone network to a service centre.
In an emergency the elderly person activates an alarm button, often worn as a pendant, which causes the terminal to auto-dial the service centre who have on record all relevant details of the individual. The control centre can talk to the caller and determine the problem and arrange for appropriate assistance.
In the event of no contact, the centre calls the police or ambulance service.
These services provide many elderly people who live on their own with the confidence to remain living at home with the knowledge that if there is an emergency they have the means to make contact to obtain immediate help.