Caring for an aging parent is a daunting responsibility that no one is ever fully prepared to handle.

It’s hard enough conceptualizing the people that were responsible for raising you are now the ones needing care themselves. However, the painful reality of caregiving for parents is often unavoidable. The numbers are increasing every year, and as 2011 officially begins the “aging tsunami” those numbers have no place to go but up.

Adult Children Adjust to New Roles

An estimated 34 million adults provide unpaid care to an adult family member or friend over 50 – that’s roughly 20% of all American adults, a number that will climb as more baby-boomers age.  Those adult children spend roughly 21 hours/week caregiving.  While 89% call those caregiving duties a “minor sacrifice”, they still worry if they can keep up as parents are aging. (AARP, National Alliance for Caregiving survey)

John Hanafee and his siblings live with their families near Sacramento, CA. Their parents, James and Doris, both 75 years old, still live in their own house in a community near their children. James has been Doris’ caregiver for several years since she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The children have helped in that care when their parents asked, but now James has slowed down after several strokes and more help is needed. The parents want to remain in their house.

“The biggest challenge for everyone is acceptance,” says John Hanafee. “Parents must accept they have arrived at a certain stage in life where they need help and children must be firm and honest in talking with their parents.  We ultimately convinced Mom and Dad to get medical alarms by saying it would help us to help them. In addition, we would be able to respect their privacy but still be able to check on them.”

So, John turned to technology to help keep an eye on his aging parent’s safety when he can’t.

There are several systems available. Hanafee chose the myHalo system developed by Halo Monitoring. MyHalo automatically calls for help in the event of a fall.  There is no need for the senior to push a button.

Doris and James are both wearing separate advanced medical alarms that automatically call for help in the event of a fall. There’s no need to push a button. James’ alarm also monitors heart rate and temperature, an added benefit for care since he has heart issues and cares for Doris.

“The alarms have provided peace of mind for everyone,” admits James. “Our children feel better knowing if anything happens they’ll be notified right away, and we feel better knowing our children are close by and can help but we’re still independent.”

“Every family’s needs are different and there are many tools available to help care for elderly loved ones while maintaining their independence,” says Chris Otto, CEO of Halo Monitoring and a senior care expert. “An advanced monitoring system with automatic fall detection is a critical part of any complete care plan.”

New Technology Available

Besides Halo Monitoring’s myHalo device, which can be worn on a belt clip or around the chest under clothing with a chest strap, monitors with fall detection technology have also been developed by Phillips, maker of Lifeline.  The new AutoAlert option is still a pendant-style system but it automatically calls for help.

Wellcore has also unveiled an alert system featuring automatic fall detection and a text-to-speech messaging system. The Wellcore system is worn on a belt clip.

Medical alarm systems are also making the jump to the internet, allowing families and caregivers to remotely monitor a senior’s health and physical activity.  The myHalo chest strap model and Wellcore both feature secure web portals to allow family members or designated caregivers the ability to check on an elderly loved ones situation without invading a senior’s privacy.

Besides the population demographics, statistics on the elderly and the frequency of falls explains the  push for automatic fall detection?

Fall Statistics

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports:

  • One out of three senior adults fall each year.
  • In 2007, 18,000 older Americans died from fall related injuries.
  • In 2008, 2.1 million older Americans were injured in falls.

“Families do all they can to protect seniors, but the new technology in advanced fall detection systems such as myHalo is an assurance for family and friends that help will be there 24/7 if they can’t,”  adds Otto.

To learn more about automatic fall detection system and myHalo, visit www.halomonitoring.com or 888-971-4256.


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agingChris A. Otto – Chairman and CEO

Chris was a pioneer in wireless sensor networks for ambulatory health monitoring; he published a number of related articles in peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and he published a Master’s thesis on this subject. His work has been recognized as a leading effort in the field of Wireless Body Area Networks (WBANs) for health monitoring. He has roughly ten years in real-time embedded design experience, and an extensive telecommunications background. He has nine pending patents in the fields of ambulatory health monitoring, telecommunications and wireless networks. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Engineering from University of Alabama in Huntsville. Chris A. Otto co-founded Halo Monitoring after examining the state of tools available for his own mother, who was providing care for his aging grandmother.