Caring for our active elders can at times be stressful. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as people are living longer, the population of people over 65 is expected to outnumber children under the age of 5 by 2030. As parents get older, adult children grapple with how to encourage their parents to stay active and yet remain safe at the same time. Older adults want to maintain their independence as long as possible. What are some steps adult children and families can take to ensure Mom and Dad’s safety without making them feel dependent?
Who Are Active Elders?
The new term is “active aging”. These older adults stay social by going to the gym or the pool, getting involved in their communities, and they enjoy traveling. They want to maintain their freedom and independence, and as a concerned child or family member, you want that for them as well, but you also want them to be safe.
Safety Issues for Active Elders
There are many issues adult children face in caring for seniors as they age. Seniors in their 60’s and 70’s are active and seem independent, but safety concerns still exist According to the CDC, one out of every four people age 65 and over suffer a fall, but only about half of them tell their doctor.
For adult children who are concerned about aging parents, there are several products that can help you keep an eye on them without making them feel dependent. If your parents have cell phones, encourage them to carry their phones. Cell phones are easy to carry and accessible if they need to call for help.
Medical Alert Systems
What if something terrible happens or one of your parents fall, and they’re unable to make a phone call for help? That’s where a medical alert system can be beneficial and provide you with more peace of mind.
When considering a medical alert system, there are several factors you need to keep in mind.
- Cellular connectivity
- GPS location tracking
- Automatic fall detection
- Long battery life
A medical alert pendant with cellular service will be able to connect the wearer with a representative for assistance. With some medical alert system providers, cellular service won’t need to be purchased separately.
GPS location tracking is particularly helpful for those seniors who like to go out and stay active. With GPS location tracking, should something happen, a family member or first responder would be more able to find the senior quickly. If your aging parent likes to walk outside or travel, GPS location tracking is especially valuable.
Automatic fall detection works in case someone takes a hard fall and becomes unconscious or otherwise unresponsive — a pendant can signal for assistance. As a child of an aging parent, you won’t have to worry about them falling and not being able to receive help.
A long battery life is essential because it’s easier to forget to change the batteries. Anyone can overlook this—not just seniors. A good reminder for relatives is to check the batteries in smoke detectors, medical devices, and carbon monoxide detectors during each Daylight Savings period.
Here are some of our favorite medical alert systems:
Medical Alert Systems for Seniors
GoSafe 2Starting at$49.95/mo
The GoSafe 2 Package is another strong contender for people who spend lots of time outside of the home. The main difference between GoSafe and GoSafe 2 is that the GoSafe 2 Package is an all-in-one system so it doesn’t come with an in-home communicator. The mobile button features two-way voice communication, AutoAlert fall detection, GPS functionality and more. The rechargeable battery lasts for about 2-3 days with one single charge.
The GoSafe 2 mobile button operates on a cellular connection through the AT&T cell tower network, so there is no landline option for this package.You can get the GoSafe 2 medical alert for $44.95/mo. plus a one-time $99.95 device fee.
- All-in-one water-resistant pendant with AutoAlert fall detection, two way voice communication and GPS location tracking
- 24/7 monitoring with personalized response plan
- Cellular connectivity
- Designed for use at home or away from home
The Active Guardian is Medical Guardian’s next-level mobile alert system. Like Mobile Guardian, you’ll receive a charging dock and mobile alert unit. Active Guardian includes several unique features like Wi-Fi capability to help pinpoint your location, a waterproof design so the device can be worn in the shower, and automatic fall detection. Fall detection can be added to your package for an additional $10 per month. Active Guardian can be worn while you’re on-the-go for access to help right away. You can purchase Active Guardian for $44.95 per month. Alternate payment plans are available.
- Active Guardian mobile alert unit
Bay Alarm On the GoStarting at$24.95/mo
Bay Alarm’s On the Go Package centers around its 4G LTE Mobile Help Button. This nifty water resistant device has a built-in cellular connection and GPS monitoring. If you wear it around your neck or keep it in your pocket, you will have push-button access to Bay Alarm’s monitoring centers, and your family or caregivers will have the option to check in on your whereabouts through the mobile app. This has obvious benefits for seniors, but it also represents a solid screen-free safety device for young kids. Monthly fees start at $39.95 per month, but caregiver mobile app access, automatic fall detection and any additional devices all increase your monthly bill.
- 24/7 monitoring
- Cellular connectivity
- 4G LTE GPS Mobile Button
- Option to add mobile app access, fall detection and in-home devices
MobileHelp SoloStarting at$37.95/mo
MobileHelp’s Solo package is a streamlined device bundle that works whether you’re at home or away. Instead of a base station, you get a Mobile Device with two-way communication, which you can bring with you wherever you go. Even better, the Mobile Device has built-in GPS location tracking so help can always find you.
Thanks to its cellular connectivity, the Solo package works anywhere that AT&T cell towers can reach. A wearable help button is also included; you can use it to call for help as long as you’re within range of the Mobile Device (approximately 350 feet). The MobileHelp Solo package starts at $37.95 per month; add an additional $10 per month if you want automatic fall detection.
- 24/7 monitoring
- Cellular connection
- Mobile Device with two-way communication & GPS tracking
- Neck pendant or wristband with help button
Designed for the mobile, independent user, the ADT On-the-Go Package is an all-in-one option for anyone who is active outside of the home. With this package, a wireless pocket-sized device replaces both the in-home communicator and the wearable pendant (though you can add on a pendant or wristband if you wish). The mobile device has two-way communication, so you can contact the ADT monitoring center whenever you need it, wherever you are.
The On-the-Go medical alert system has built-in GPS location tracking, which helps first responders find and assist you as quickly as possible. You can also add on fall detection capabilities for an additional cost.
- 24/7 professional monitoring
- Fully mobile device with two-way communication and GPS location tracking
- Fall detection option
Providing Support Without Creating Resentment
It’s important for your parents to know you’re not trying to meddle or control them—you just want to make sure they’re safe. State your feelings without being accusatory. Many seniors will be secretly relieved if they know someone is there “just in case”.
Encourage your elder parents to meet people and maintain friendships.
Most importantly, remember to check in with them. According to the National Institute on Aging (2019), research shows that social isolation exacerbates health problems, cognitive decline, and depression. A phone call doesn’t take much time—just a few minutes to say hello and catch up can make a big difference, and it’s beneficial for you both.
Home Security Systems
We live in uncertain times. Home security systems are a worthwhile investment when caring for seniors. A home security system typically comes with a control panel, door and window sensors, an alarm, and signs for the yard and windows. The elderly are often victims of crime due to social isolation and the fact that they tend to follow a predictable routine. If you consider getting a home security system, you can learn more about these providers and their solutions.
Here are some things you should look for in a home security system:
- 24/7 monitoring
- Security cameras
- Control panels
- Motion sensors
- A mobile app
When To Seek More Help
If your parents start to neglect activities of daily living (ADL’s) or have difficulty with basic tasks, it might be time to consider a higher level of care. Be sure to consider all your options and involve him or her in the decision-making process. Of course, your parents may insist that they’re fine. If you have siblings, be sure to share your concerns and feelings with them. Sometimes caring for seniors is difficult, but you don’t have to sort through it all on your own.
Aging can be difficult for both the elderly and their adult children, relatives, or friends who keep in touch or care for them. Fortunately, there are a lot of products that can help ease the stress and uncertainty. Cell phones, medical alert systems, and home security systems can all help active seniors stay independent and thrive.