According to the American Academy of Orthopedics, “falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in people aged 65 and older.” Additionally, the National Center for Biotechnology Information notes that, “75% of Americans have trouble taking their medicine as directed,” and that “33%-69% of medication-related hospital admissions are due to poor adherence.”
Examples of medical emergencies, like the scenarios described above, can happen—and often do happen—when someone is home alone. Being unable to access emergency services quickly during a medical emergency can increase the likelihood of an extended hospital stay or even death. In fact, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, the mortality rate for those who lay incapacitated for up to 72 hours sits at 67% while for those who receive immediate help, the mortality rate was 12%. In situations like these, having an in-home emergency response system like LifeAssist, can make the difference between extended hospital stays and returning home quickly.
“I was having my hip replaced,” Michael Anderson recalls. “I live alone, and I thought it made sense to be able to reach out in case I had a problem—at that point I was primarily concerned about a slip and fall. So, I contacted Door County Medical Center and they recommended LifeAssist and put me in contact with Sandy Sievert, the Life-Assist Program Coordinator.”
“Sandy and I discussed the LifeAssist program over the phone,” he recalls, adding “she walked me through pricing, how LifeAssist worked, and its limitations regarding distance. By the time we had finished our call, it seemed like a great idea and I completely agreed to have a LifeAssist unit installed. Sandy came to my home a few days before my surgery. She set up the system and performed a quick test with the dispatch service so I could see and hear exactly what happens when they need to use the service. It’s been sitting on my coffee table ever since.”
How LifeAssist works
LifeAssist provides the user with a personal emergency response system that connects the user with a Care Center representative at the push of a button. In the event that the Care Center receives a call, the representative will always try to first contact the client over a two-way speaker. If the client does not reply to the representative, they will contact a responder, which could be a nearby relative, neighbor, or Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
There are several options when it comes to LifeAssist units:
- Traditional PERS Units: these units connect to a landline phone.
- Cellular PERS Units: these units are for members that do not have a traditional landline.
- Mobile PERS Units with GPS: these units allow users to bring their LifeAssist devices anywhere in the United States.
- All LifeAssist units come with a personal help button that can be worn around the neck on a lanyard or as a wristband.
“The company we partner with is Critical Signal Technologies (CST),” says Sievert, adding, “The unit Michael has is a 7600 cellular device. Like other units, this model has a personal help button that can be worn around the neck or as a wristband. There is also a help button located on the actual base unit, which makes a cellular phone call. The base isn’t actually a phone,” Sievert continues, “rather, when you push the button on the pendant or base unit, LifeAssist makes a phone call to the CST Care Center. This is where all the help calls are answered.”
Michael’s story continued
“Following my hip replacement surgery, everything regarding my rehabilitation was going perfectly—in fact, my recovery was ahead of schedule. Shortly before I was to be released back to work, I was standing in my kitchen reheating some spaghetti for dinner and I had this ‘whooshing’ noise or sensation flow through my head. I knew something was wrong, but initially, I didn’t put two and two together. A short time later, there was a jarring noise in my head, which was gradually replaced by the sound of static. As the static got louder—to the point where it was overpowering—I passed out on my kitchen floor. In short, I had a pretty severe stroke.
“I have no idea how long I was out, but luckily I came to, and was able to hit the button on the base unit. I apparently spoke to an operator (I don’t remember), and then was able to get to the front door and wait for an ambulance. The ambulance arrived within minutes, I was stabilized at Door County Medical Center, and then medivaced to Green Bay, where I spent nearly a week in intensive care.”
LifeAssist can work for anyone, at any time, and at any age
“I think there is a misconception that systems like LifeAssist are only for people in their 70s, 80s or 90s,” Michael comments. “I’m 64,” he remarks, “and I would recommend it to anybody who is having major surgery regardless of their age, and especially if you don’t have people taking care of you.”
Indeed, LifeAssist should be considered if you, or someone you know:
- Has vision problems.
- Experiences muscle weakness or mobility problems when walking or climbing stairs.
- Has difficulty climbing in or out of the tub.
- Gets out of bed several times during the night to use the bathroom.
- Takes multiple medications or have complicated dosage instructions.
- Has a history of falling or dizziness.
- Has any chronic illness such as diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, congestive heart failure, COPD, kidney failure, stroke, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis or incontinence.
Sievert adds, “Anyone who lives alone or is home alone for long periods of time can benefit from this added security. And,” she continues, “LifeAssist can also provide security for people with physical disabilities or medical issues who have a higher risk for a medical emergency.”
“I would recommend LifeAssist wholeheartedly,” Michael says, “I didn’t have my cellphone on me when I had the stroke, but I probably couldn’t have dialed 911 anyway. “Now,” he adds, “I’ve extended my LifeAssist rental by 2 months because the LifeAssist wristband has become more important to me than it was after my hip replacement surgery—who knows when I could have another stroke? And, for a minimal cost—roughly a dollar a day—I have the peace of mind that if something does happen, I can have EMS at my house in about 7 minutes. Looking back on it, there is no doubt in my mind that LifeAssist literally saved my life—I cannot emphasize that enough.”
Life-Assist has helped hundreds of Door County residents remain independent in their own homes, offering immediate assistance at the push of a button. For more information on LifeAssist, please click here. If you are interested in getting a LifeAssist Unit, please call (920) 746-3578.