The traditional PERS as ‘ancient history’

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]Something to think about. How many families and older adults are aware that the traditional PERS emergency pendant, which has been around for at least 40 years, is sadly outdated and in fact inadequate for those at greatest risk? While major advertisers on US media such as Life Alert, Life Call, ADT and Philips Lifeline present crisis situations where the older person is on the floor and is rescued after pressing the pendant button, they barely advertise their other available products that incorporate passive fall detection and cellular, even if somewhat inadequate for soft falls or unconsciousness. Families unwisely feel ‘protected’ when paying for traditional PERS, not realizing that more advanced technology is readily available and not that much more expensive. Moreover, and only mentioned in the context of his grandmother’s fall while in senior housing, there is a distinct recalcitrance of senior housing executives to rid their apartments of the (cheap) old pendants and replace them with (pricier) passive/cellular assistance systems, much less more advanced wearables/RFID systems or mobile/watch combinations. This Editor also notes that the major drugstore chains also sell PERS; while they trumpet wellness in their advertising, they are as behind the curve in this area as senior housing. Neil Versel in MedCityNews.

For our Readers: can we compare/contrast how the UK, EU and US are still wedded to traditional PERS after 40 years, and if more advanced forms are starting to take hold? Click on the headline to see comments, including this Editor’s opining on traditional PERS as ‘cash cow’.

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  1. David Albert

    As I tweeted, “new tech is not better tech until proven!” I have not seen where passive fall detection or cellular (read- more expensive) features have shown improved senior outcomes. I respect Neil but he always calls for proof. What seems obvious often turns out to be false when science is applied.

  2. Donna Cusano

    I agree with you, Dr. Albert, on the premise and thank you for your thoughts. It was an unusual article from Neil because he didn’t cite any studies.

    Yet without studies, can we propose that the benefits of upgrading the technology are 1) self-evident and 2) reasonably cost effective when we are dealing with injury and life?

    I don’t think any studies have been done because there’s simply no incentive for these multiple companies (including the white labels) to kill off the cash cow of the alert industry. I no longer have access to the figures, but it was extremely profitable some years back and this was for a major provider.

    Given that traditional PERS is, though a commodity, a profitable one, I don’t find it odd that these same companies do not put the vigor into marketing their passive and mPERS that they do into the traditional, home restricted PERS. Yet, the price differential is not much anymore (especially passive).There are also people who wear the pendants outside not realizing that the units are not effective beyond a few feet or perhaps 100 if you live in a frame (non masonry) home.

    What I don’t know is if these companies then try to upsell an individual client into the passive PERS once they have the person on the phone. If someone who is in this industry can enlighten us, it would be most valuable.

    In senior housing, depending on the type of housing and the acuity of the residents, it may not make a difference–but the more mobile and independent the resident (in AL and IL), logically I would think the greater need for passive and mPERS. But here is where your cost tradeoff will reside, especially in for-profit or thinly funded non-profit residences.