By Jude Roberts, Staff Writer
Technology and medicine
have merged to create the PERS (personal emergency
response system). There are several PERS on the market
today that can help with reducing the amount of hospital
stays a loved one may experience, along with a reduction
in the amount of inpatient days (a 50% drop of inpatient
days was noted in one study) when a loved one is
hospitalized, and an ease in the concern and worry of
caregivers. Since a PERS is designed to alert medical
personal to a potential problem and has them respond
directly to the home, caregivers can be relieved to know
that the time their loved one might spend alone or
injured after a fall or illness-related emergency is
PERS are simple in how they
work. When emergency help is needed, such as medical, fire, or
police, the PERS user can press the transmitterís ďhelpĒ button,
sending a radio signal to the console (connected to the userís
telephone). This causes the console to automatically dial one or
more pre-selected emergency telephone numbers. Most of the
systems that exist have the capability of dialing out, even if
the phone is in-use or off the hook, making this a crucially
important feature. When an emergency response center is
contacted, the caller is identified, allowing the center to
determine the nature of the emergency, review the callerís
medical history, and notify the appropriate medical
professionals and/or family/caregiver. If the center cannot
contact the caller or determine whether an actual emergency
exists, they will notify emergency providers to go to the
callerís home, monitoring the situation until the problem is
resolved. Some PERS also offer an added feature that provides
automated notification to a concerned third party, such as a
healthcare provider, who receives immediate information via fax.
This enables a loved oneís medical caregiving team to
continually be kept abreast of a loved oneís progress, and to
modify their plan of care according to the ever-changing needs
of a loved one.
When considering a system for
purchase, lease, or rent, remember to check the unit for
possible defects, ask about warranty and service contracts and
plans, and get any questions you may have answered before
proceeding. Hereís a checklist of a few more things to keep in
mind when considering one of these systems:
Make sure to look
at several different systems before making a final decision.
Ask if the system
can be used with other response centers, especially if you were
to move to a different area.
The system should
be light-weight and easy to use.
When testing the
system, look for it to work from every point in and around your
home, making sure that nothing is interfering with the
Find out if the
monitoring center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Itís important to
know what the average response time is for the center.
Look into what
kind of training the staff has received at the response center.
procedures used by the response center to test the system in
your home, and find out how often they plan to conduct these