There’s an alarming (excuse the pun!) news item this week regarding what was believed to be Tokyo’s oldest citizen – Sogen Kato. Authorities believed he was 111 years old but when they gained access to his home they found a mummified body – he had been dead for an estimated 30 years! Whilst the family are now being investigated for fraud it does highlight a very interesting point. We often hear of reports in this country where an elderly person has been found dead in their home and had been in this state for an extensive period of time. No one had reported it, neighbours raised no concerns and local authorities remained totally unaware of the situation. It’s a sad reflection on our society that this can happen, but there are practical things we can do to help prevent such an event happening to one of our loved ones. Technology has moved on significantly in recent years with many services available to help keep an eye on our elderly relatives. Many are very cost effective but incredibly reliable – so it gives everyone involved in the welfare of elderly people some peace of mind.
Careline Alarms are a progression from the reminder calls, where a higher level of response is required for your elderly relatives. These work simply by a base unit that plugs into the phone line at home. The user wears a pendant that’s connected wirelessly to the base unit. They can press the pendent if they need help. You can purchase a very basic system yourself from Amazon but you have to program the box to alert someone who is willing to be available. For total peace of mind you should opt for a fully monitored service whereby the call is put through to a 24/7 operator who is trained to provide assistance. When the call is answered, the operator prioritises which course of action is most appropriate – either contacting a family member or the emergency services. The market leader is TeleCare24 – it costs about £2.30 a week.
Dr Hilary Jones Careline Guide
Warden Response ServiceIf you find yourself living a long distance away from your elderly loved ones and there is no one else to provide assistance in an emergency then you can opt for a careline alarm but with the added option of a warden response service. These are generally only available through your Local Authority. Prices and levels of service vary greatly so it’s best to contact the Local Authority in your relatives area for specific information.
These alarms are ideal if your relative has a tendency to wander due to the onset of dementia. These alarms can trace the exact location of where the person is so they can be safely returned to their home. The downside of this technology at the moment is that battery life is somewhat short, typically less than a day. The issue of being able to rely on someone with dementia to always carry the device also proves problematic. New developments are on the way to address some of these and we will no doubt keep you abreast of these in the blog. Whilst the experience of Sogen Kato is an extreme case, its clear that technology can play a vital role to ensure the welfare or our elderly relatives in the future. There’s a range of products and services, you have to decide which suit your family’s needs the most.