Undiscovered Deaths Are Increasing

Old Fart News Author: W. Lewis

Heart Attack Grabbing Chest

Increasing numbers of people are dying alone at home and not being discovered for days, weeks, months, and even years without alarms being raised. And while exact numbers of undiscovered deaths are not available, even if a small percentage of the deaths at home are undiscovered deaths, that translates to thousands every year. For instance, Stats Canada reported there were 276,689 deaths 2017 in Canada*. If just 1% percent of those deaths were undiscovered for more than 24 hours, that’s 2,767 persons per year.

Most undiscovered deaths never make the news. Reasons include most never being reported to media, some simply aren’t sensational enough for media, reporting them may interfere with an investigation, and/or be contrary to family wishes. The exact number of deaths per year of people who become incapacitated and are unable to summon help isn’t known. However, it does happen, and because no one is alerted to their plight, many suffer helplessly for extended periods of time before passing.

Sad Young Man With Caregiver

Personal Home-Based Emergency Alert Systems

To provide a solution, reassurance telephone call software and systems were developed, and a personal emergency alert system company called LifeCall was created. In 1989 LifeCall launched a television advertising campaign that featured a scene where an elderly woman has fallen in her bathroom and uses the LifeCall medical alert pendant to call for help by pressing it and saying, “I’ve fallen and can’t get up!” The catchphrase soon appeared on t-shirts, novelty records, and even in stand-up comedy. But there’s nothing novel or comedic about someone becoming incapacitated and being unable to help themselves. Quite the contrary.

So since that first commercial there have many similar personal emergency alert services join the market. Today there are six primary kinds of home-based personal emergency alert systems; traditional emergency alert, those that detect falls, those that detect smoke, fire, or elevated carbon monoxide levels, those to assist with medication compliance, those that monitor fitness and activity (or inactivity), and those with GPS monitoring. Many of the providers are able to offer multiple services, including cellular.

The benefits that personal home-based emergency alert systems provide are:

  • Peace of mind
  • Simplicity
  • Quick response
  • Fall detection
  • Accurate GPS location
  • Increased independence
  • 24 hour service
  • Can be discreetly worn
  • Vocal interaction
  • Restricted signal area
  • Non-intrusive

The drawbacks that home-based emergency alert systems have include:

  • Requires signing a contract
  • Requires a landline phone
  • Additional fees
  • Additional equipment required
  • Requires device being worn – up to 50 percent are not
  • Requires a device to be activated to summon assistance
  • Requires maintenance and repair
  • Additional fees for accessories and other services
  • Does not detect 100 percent of falls
  • False alarms
  • Restricted area of coverage

In addition to home-based personal emergency alert systems and devices, there are also cellular-based personal emergency alert systems, and telephone reassurance call alert services. Cellular-based systems offer many of the same features that home-based systems offer, provide greater range of coverage, are just as easy to use, and require no special equipment.

The drawbacks that cellular-based systems have are:

  • May require signing a contract
  • Requires a cellular signal (service blind spots)
  • Requires being carried
  • Requires being activated to summon assistance
  • Requires maintenance and repair
  • Additional fees for accessories and other services
  • Emergency services (911) operators will not know who the person is (they see only a phone number), or where they are at
  • Emergency services can only identify the nearest cell tower last used by the person, not their current location
  • Even if the person’s phone has GPS, their location may still not be available to the dispatcher, and if it is, may not be reliable

(GPS systems are only required by law to be accurate within 900 feet – just under 300 meters – or the length of 3 football fields)

Both home-based personal emergency alert and cellular based emergency alert systems require a person to wear/carry a button device that must be pressed to be activated, or set offs an alarm upon violent movement to summon help. Therefore, if someone rarely has contact with others and becomes unconscious or separated from their alert device/phone and has a problem, no one will know. Possibly for a very long time. Examples of both home-based and cellular-based personal emergency alert systems include: Philips LifeLine , LiveLife , Direct Alert , Telus LivingWell Companion, and SecurMEDIC.

Telephone Reassurance Calls

The solution to these life-threatening situations are telephone reassurance calls. Telephone reassurance calls are made at a specified time on certain days to determine the well being of someone. Telephone reassurance call services require no special equipment to be purchased or leased, can be set up within minutes, and only need a touch tone phone or cell phone to receive calls. There are two basic types of telephone reassurance call services available; person to person and automated.

Person to person telephone reassurance calls in larger urban areas are often offered by volunteers, and tend to be made once a week. If there no volunteers are available, no calls are made. Those who live outside of a volunteer service’s area are ineligible. Luckily, there are professional live operator and automated telephone reassurance call services that serve most areas, and are more reliable than volunteer calls.

Professional person to person telephone reassurance calls provide the ‘human’ touch, but may be expensive and inflexible. These services have a company representative call a person at pre-arranged time and day to ask how they are. The representative provides brief conversation, and will usually summon emergency services if asked to, or if they determine they are needed. Examples of live operator call services include: OneCare and Sageminder.

Live Operator Reassurance Calls

Live Operator Telephone Reassurance Calls

The benefits that live operator reassurance calls provide are:

  • Simplicity
  • Peace of mind
  • Vocal interaction
  • Human assessment
  • No special equipment needed
  • Rapid set up
  • Available in remote areas
  • No device or alarm must be worn or carried
  • No device or alarm needs to be activated
  • Requires no maintenance and repair

The drawbacks that live operator telephone reassurance calls have are:

  • May require signing a contract
  • Calls may be restricted to certain hours of the day, and/or days of week
  • Resheduling calls may be restricted to certain hours of the day, and/or days of week
  • Staffing issues may affect call availability and reliability
  • Staff training and/or ability may vary widely
  • False alarms

Automated Telephone Reassurance Calls

Automated Telephone Reassurance Calls - Okay Today

Automated telephone reassurance calls usually play a pre-recorded message asking the person being called to press the number 1 on their phone if okay, or 3 to indicate that they require contact. There is no human to human interaction. Automated reassurance calls cost considerably less than live operator services, and are much more flexible. They can be managed 24/7 online, made daily if needed at desired times of the day, and made multiple times a day.

If the person being called does not respond to multiple calls within a small time frame, or indicates that they require assistance, help is alerted. Automated calls rarely alert emergency services, opting instead to alert designated ‘contacts’ to check on the person to determine the appropriate response. Examples of automated call services include: Okay Today Calls .

The benefits that automated telephone reassurance calls provide are:

  • Reliability
  • Simplicity
  • Peace of mind
  • No special equipment needed
  • Nothing has to be worn or carried
  • No device or alarm needs to be activated
  • No contracts
  • Rapid set up
  • Available in remote areas
  • Calls can be made at any hour, and on every day of the week
  • Calls can be managed 24/7 from anywhere with internet access
  • Requires no maintenance and repair

The drawbacks that automated reassurance calls have are:

  • Less personal
  • No vocal interaction

In Conclusion

Needless to say, there are now a large variety and number of marvelous ways that we can prevent needless suffering and undiscovered deaths from taking place. And that leaves me asking; “What value do we put upon human caring?”, and “What price do we set for peace of mind?” For all the latest news and reviews, and features found nowhere else, be sure to bookmark OldFartNews.com.

(*source: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1310071501)

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