Fall Detection

How to improve care for people living with Alzheimer’s, Asperger’s, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (Part 2)

By Doug Moore

If you are caring for patients, residents, relatives, or a spouse, managing falls can be a major challenge to detect, react to, and perhaps lead to some sort of preventative care. In Part 1 of this post, I shared a story about my Uncle Mike, who was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago, and we were seeing it get worse. My Aunt Judy finally checked him into a senior care center and periodically received calls that Uncle Mike fell out of the bed. It was terrible. We were feeling his deterioration with each passing day. Unfortunately passed away in early April.

The care center’s solution was to put cushions on the floor to protect him from being hurt when he hit the ground. Uncle Mike wouldn’t stand for rails on the side of the bed. Nor did he want any buzzer to push or string to pull for help. In his mind, he was in control. When he fell out of the bed, he would just lie there. He was determined not to ask for help and would try to figure out how to get up and get back in bed. Sadly, he could not maneuver himself to even get up to his knees, so he would just lie there, sometimes hurt from the fall, waiting for a caregiver to come by and help. Depending on how busy the caregivers were, there would sometimes be a delay in scheduled rounds. The caregivers would find him on the floor–sometimes sleeping, occasionally unconscious, or wide awake but not able to move or call for help. The care givers would evaluate his current state, ensure he had not seriously hurt himself, and help him back to bed. 

It would have made all the difference to Uncle Mike’s care—and to Aunt Judy’s peace of mind—if his care team had been able to receive an immediate alert when Uncle Mike had fallen.

Fall detection: old and new

Fall detection is a major challenge in the public healthcare domain, and timely and reliable surveillance is necessary to mitigate the negative effects of falls. This article addresses a novel, nonintrusive fall detection system that monitors the movements of the human body, recognizes a fall from normal daily activities, and automatically sends request for help to the caregivers with the patient’s location. Before we talk about that, however, let’s consider the current mechanism for detecting falls.

The old way falls have been detected is by fitting residents living in memory care residences with wearable radio/telephone-connected alarms. When a fall occurs, the senior must be cognitively alert enough to press an alarm button on the wearable to alert the monitoring station that they need help. Of course, should the senior be unconscious or too injured or not aware enough to press the button, this device is of no use to them—and no help will be forthcoming.

There are wearables that detect falls on their own accord and send calls for help without the intervention of the wearer. Unfortunately, these devices still require clients to actively wear them and ensure the devices are kept charged and working. Unfortunately, many people living with cognitive issues can’t tolerate wearable devices or keep batteries charged.

The new way of fall detection is Xealei, which provides 100% contactless monitoring and real-time alerts to caregivers when a resident has fallen. To address the deficiencies of the old way of fall detection, Xealei provides a non-invasive device with no audio or visual intrusion which provides 24/7 fall detection and tracks patterns of behavior that can lead to prediction and possible prevention (still in research phase).

Fall detection is just one aspect of this contactless monitoring device, Xealei. In the rest of this blog series, we’ll focus on other contactless monitoring and alerting capabilities, including respiratory, seizures, and sleep monitoring—all of which are designed to help caregivers provide improved care for patients or residents living with Alzheimer’s, Asperger’s, or Autism Spectrum Disorder. I invite you to read the other blog posts related to this topic and investigate how Xealei can help provide an improved level of care for those who need it most, like my Uncle Mike.

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