Working within community aged care I see many examples of technology designed to assist the elderly. Some products are simple and effective, while others give their users no more than a false sense of security. However, the most important aspect for care providers, family members and their older loved ones is that the technology is simple and easy to use. Anyone who remembers teaching their parents or grandparents how to send a text message will be nodding their head at this point.
A simple technology aimed at supporting the independent elderly came across my desk recently. The Safe-Life Pendant is a small, water-resistant device that is worn around the neck, wrist or even attached to a key ring. The device advertises its capacity to locate your loved ones when required, or in real-time, and allows the wearer to press the large single button on the device to send a ‘Help Me’ text message to five, pre-programmed ‘helper’ numbers simultaneously.
The Safe-Life Pendant is best described as a very small, cut-down mobile phone. The device’s battery is small by mobile phone standards although without a screen and only one button, the pendant achieves around 100 hours of stand-by time and can be quickly charged in around 30 minutes. This means ensuring that it is charged and worn by the more ‘technology challenged’ requires a check-in visit every three to four days.
When the wearer presses the single button on the easily held rubberised pendent, a text message is sent to all the helper numbers pre-programed into the device. The text asking for assistance includes a Google Maps link that shows the helper the current location of the wearer seeking assistance. The helper is also able to call the pendant, which automatically answers via an inbuilt loudspeaker.
The Safe-Life Pendant requires an active SIM card to operate and will not function in areas that carry no mobile service. Programming the pendant’s many functions is easily achieved by sending text messages directly to the device. An important feature is the Geo-fence setting that automatically alerts the helpers when the pendant wearer travels further than a pre-set distance from their home location. There are also falls, speed and movement detection functions that can be programmed.
As with all things there are limitations of which to be aware. During my testing using the Telstra network, the device correctly located the wearer more often than not, however, when the pendant was triggered from an underground car park, or in areas where GPS and mobile signal was poor, the Google Maps reference was not sent with the alert. The pendent is also not the best falls detector, in truth any falls detection device that is not strapped directly to the wearer’s chest has the potential to false alarm or worse, not report an actual fall.
For the right person, say someone for whom using a standard mobile phone is difficult, or for those who have lost confidence getting about on their own in the community, the device can be life changing. The Safe-Life Pendant can be called like a regular mobile phone and is answered by pushing the single button on the device that initiates a speakerphone conversation with the wearer.
The Safe-Life Pendant is priced at around $200. The price, size and weatherproof nature of the pendant give it a multitude of applications beyond its primary use, for example, monitoring children or locating your pesky ‘fence jumping’ dog. For more information on the Safe-Life Pendant, you can visit the Safe Life website.
Product review contributed by: David Jukes, RN ME-Health(HI)_________________________________________________________________________________________Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual contributor alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Care Compare Pty Ltd or any subscribed care service providers. comparemycare.com.au is an online directory where consumers can find and compare care services. It is free for care service providers (excluding private carers) to list their service/s, however paid subscriptions are available which offer additional online functionality and support. To register your care services in our directory please visit our provider sign up page.
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