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Planning Retirement Online

Safe and smart at home in later life


Safe and smart at home 

Helen Franks reports on sensors that help elderly people stay in their own homes 

‘In an emergency, just press the button, and we’ll answer any time.’ The standard call alarms available from local authorities and charities are very useful for elderly relatives living alone, as well as for those of us who worry about their welfare. Nowadays, however, there’s a whole new range of sensors that can create peace of mind and allow people to remain independent for longer.  

Gadgets that monitor movement and room temperature, flood and fall detectors, even a button to alert when there is a bogus caller are part of a range of sensors that can be installed in private homes. Tunstall, makers of such products, provide a lifeline to susbcribers who range from young people living alone with illnesses like epilepsy and diabetes to others who are well over 100.   


Even people with dementia can live independently, with a little help from detectors that show if they leave the property unsupervised or inadvertently cause a flood or fire. Sensors are plugged-in or battery operated, and  alarm buttons can be worn round the neck, on the wrist or clipped to a belt or lapel.   

Lifeline operations supervisor, Ruth Duckels of Tunstall, says that users often fear accidentally setting off the alarm button, but no one else minds. ‘We give 24 hour coverage, and an accidental call is the easiest to handle.’ Anything that merits further investigation could mean alerting emergency services or getting in touch with an authorised key holder. ‘Our sensors can show if someone is not back from the toilet after a certain amount of time. When this happens, we ring to find out, and if there’s no answer we take further action.’ 

The ‘bogus caller’ button is designed to help protect against people who ring the bell with a view to gaining entry for theft. Everyone, older and younger, should put a chain on the door when greeting unexpected and unfamiliar callers. A bogus alert button, situated inside the door, alerts the lifeline operator. ‘Sometimes, when they hear us on the ‘phone, they go away very smartly,’ says Ruth. 

How do you select the right kinds of sensors for personal needs? Sometimes social workers or physiotherapists will advise, or the companies who install the sensors will make an assessment by telephone and then call personally. It’s always a good idea to talk to a social worker or physiotherapist first. 

If you want to know more, visit the Home Security section on laterlife where you will find information and online enquiry form to request further details or a free home demonstration.



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