A lot of people see popular medical alert commercials, and automatically think that a medical alert system with fall detection is automatic. The truth is, this is still a relatively new technology. Not all companies are offering fall detection, and the ones that do are still working on perfecting it.
In essence, a medical alert system with fall detection works like any other medical alert in the fact that you are connected to a live person who will assess the situation and determine if help should be sent to you. Unlike other devices though, you do not need to push a button to activate the alert. If the pendant detects that you have fallen, an alert will be sent to the call center automatically. A call center representative will then attempt to communicate with you through the communicator. If they are unable to get a response from you then they will send the appropriate emergency response team to you.
There are some things you should note about fall detection technology. The first thing is that it is not 100% accurate. These devices are designed to be able to tell the difference between normal activity and an actual fall. Sensors located in the unit constantly measure the speed of movement in all directions and compares your normal movements with what it considers to be a fall. Some movements can trick the device into thinking you have fallen when you haven’t, or prevent it from detecting a true fall. For example, if you slide when you fall, the movement may not be fast enough or may be too smooth for the unit to tell that you have fallen. On the flip side, if you accidentally make jerky movements prior to sitting or lying down, and then don’t move again once you are relaxed, the device may give a false alarm.
For the most part, fall detection technology has become fairly reliable. Some companies boast an accuracy of above 95%. According to a Medical Guardian technical bulletin, 80% of users report no false detections, and 90% report one or fewer false detections per month. While this may be an inconvenience, it is up to you to decide if it is worth it. Falling is the number one cause of injuries to seniors, and if you are unconscious, you won’t be able to press the button on a standard home medical alert or use your cell phone to call for help.