Families Crave Better Fall Prevention in Assisted Living

Adult children regularly worry about their parents falling in assisted living communities—though their high interest in fall-prevention technology may come as music to the ears of industry innovators.

Over half—54%—of the 1,900 U.S. adults recently surveyed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are worried about an older parent falling. Of those who are worried, 70% worry at least once weekly, if not every day, the research reveals.

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The amount and frequency people worry is not determined by whether their parent lives alone or not, the research shows. People are slightly less worried if their parent lives in a senior care or assisted living community, but 62% of people with parents in those communities still worry once a week or every day.

These worriers understandably want a solution—and a majority believe the solution could come in the form of sensor technology. In fact, 81% of survey respondents expressed an interest in new sensor technology that can anticipate and prevent falls.

Pei Zhang, an associate research professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Haeyoung Noh, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, are in the process of developing active fall-prevention sensors for both senior care communities and private homes that can determine who is in danger and their location, according to a press release from the Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering.

The technology monitors a person’s gait and can send mobile notifications to caregivers, nurses and the person being monitored if their gait changes. The technology is programmed to instantly alert someone, like an emergency responder, if an individual suddenly falls—even if that person is unconscious.

“Our sensors are designed to predict and anticipate falls so individuals can worry less about their parents with the knowledge that our technology will discover their parents are not walking the way they normally do, whether because of medication or because they’ve become fatigued,” Zhang said in a prepared statement. 

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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