Lying on the floor or ground for some time can lead to additional problems, such as pressure sores, dehydration or going without usual medicines. An experience like this can also be quite distressing, both at the time and afterwards.
If you live alone, or are alone for long periods, you need a plan to get help quickly.
Having a good plan will also be reassuring to your family and friends. Involve them in your plans so that they know what you have done, how they can help, and what they may need to do for you in the event of an emergency.
What you can do:Make a plan of what to do in the event of a fall or another emergency.
A good plan will involve how to call help (see ‘Raising the alarm’ on this page) and how the help will get to you (see ‘Letting help in’ on the next page).
1) Raising the alarmThere are many ways to raise the alarm.
- Cordless and mobile phones – carried on a belt clip or in a pocket, with pre-programmed numbers.
- Autodiallers – pendant worn around the neck, and linked to the telephone. When activated, it automatically dials certain pre-programmed numbers until it gets an answer.
- Intercom systems – baby monitors or two-way intercoms between houses/flats.
- Neighbour-to-neighbour alarms – sirens and flashing lights outside the house or in a neighbour’s home, activated by a pendant or wristband transmitter.
- Telstra Delayed Hotline – automatic connection to a relative’s or friend’s number when the telephone receiver is removed.
- Telecross – a daily phone call from a Red Cross volunteer.
- Person-to-person alarms – one person carries the transmitter and the other carries the receiver.
- Portable alarms – anything that makes a noise, for example a whistle, bell or battery-operated alarm.
- Monitored emergency call system – the most common system is a 24-hour monitored response service or personal alarm.
As you cannot anticipate a fall, people who have these alarms should wear them at all times, including when getting up at night, or when showering.
- You might also have an arrangement with a neighbour/friend/family member to contact them at a certain time each day to ensure all is well.
2) Letting the help inThe person who comes to help you needs to be able to get in. Leave a spare key with a friend, neighbour or relative who lives nearby.
Some people leave a spare key in a box outside with a combination lock.
It is also a good idea to make contact with someone daily.
Where you can find help or advice:
- Independent Living Centre
- Commonwealth Carelink
- Seniors Information Service
- Information on where to buy personal alarms can be found in Yellow Pages under 'Alerting systems'.
See page 29 for a list of support services for older people.