| Health and Lifestyle
A panic button, otherwise referred to as a personal alarm, SOS alarm or safety alarm, is specifically designed for vulnerable or unwell people who live alone. If you’re elderly or have a long-term illness, you could benefit from one.
In this article, we outline the forms a panic button comes in and how it works.
Panic alarms usually come in the form of a pendant that can be worn around your neck or a bracelet that can be worn around your wrist. This means that it can be hidden under sleeves or shirts if you would prefer to keep the device out of sight. You may be worried about a panic button being bulky or uncomfortable to wear, however they are designed to be discreet. They won’t get in the way, so you can carry on with everyday tasks and forget that you’re even wearing one. However you choose to wear it, you should make sure that it’s on your person 24/7.
Age UK’s personal alarms are water resistant and can be submerged for up to 30 minutes, meaning they’re safe to wear in the bath or shower. It’s important to keep it on when you’re washing, as slips and falls are more likely to occur when you’re getting in or out of the bath or shower.
Your panic button can be used whenever you feel unwell or if you have an accident at home. You shouldn’t feel like you’re wasting anyone’s time - it’s important that you use your alarm when you need to so that someone can check that you’re okay. Unfortunately, Age UK data shows that falls are the most common cause of injury-related death in people aged 75 and over. If you experience a fall, an alarm could alert someone to an incident straight away, enabling you to get the help you need as soon as possible.
When you order a panic button, you don’t just receive the button that you wear. You’ll also get a base unit that should be plugged into the telephone wall socket. This is how the pendant is able to contact the emergency response unit should a problem occur. Your telephone then plugs into the base unit so that your phone still works alongside the alarm’s unit.
If you have an emergency while you’re at home alone, you can either push the button on your wearable pendant or you can push the large red button on the main unit. Either of these options will connect you to the 24-hour emergency response centre.
Once you’ve pushed the button, you’ll be connected to the response unit. Ninety eight per cent of Age UK’s calls are answered within 60 seconds, so you shouldn’t need to wait too long. Once an operator has answered, they’ll know who you are, where you live and your medical history, so you don’t have to explain any of this. Simply tell them why you’ve pushed the button and what the situation is. If, for any reason, the operator is unable to hear you, they’ll call your home telephone just in case there’s a problem with your base unit. If they still don’t get a response, they’ll get in touch with your pre-approved emergency contact or the emergency services to check on the house.
When you first get your panic button and you set the system up, you’ll be asked to provide the details of a couple of people who can be contacted in an emergency. This should be someone who is able to respond and get to your house to check on you. It might be a son, daughter, grandchild, friend or neighbour. Make sure that any emergency contacts are aware that they will be contacted when needed so it isn’t a surprise to them.
In order for your family to gain access to your house should they need to, you should always take your key out of the door when you’re at home. If you leave it in, your emergency contact might not be able to get in with their own key. If they don’t have a set, it may be worth having a key safe installed outside your home. As long as they have the code, they’ll be able to access the key stored inside to get in.
The base unit for your alarm can be used in the rare event that your pendant runs out of battery. If it does run out of battery, the pendant will automatically alert the response centre, who will issue you with a new one.
An Age UK personal alarm has a range of up to 75 metres from the base unit, which means that it will work even when you’re in the garden. If you accidentally press the button, you can press the green button on the base unit to cancel the call.
They’re designed to make you feel safe at home, whether you live alone or with a partner. Should anything happen, you know that help is never too far away.
Age UK Personal Alarms are provided by PPP Taking Care Limited and brought to you by Age UK Trading CIC.
PPP Taking Care Limited is a company registered in England and Wales (Number 01488490), it is a subsidiary of AXA PPP healthcare Group Limited. Registered address: 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD. VAT number 243674160. PPP Taking Care is the trading name and brand of PPP Taking Care Limited.
PPP Taking Care Limited works in association with Age UK Trading CIC, a commercial arm of Age UK (a charity registered in England and Wales number 1128267). Age UK Trading CIC is a community interest company registered in England and Wales number 01102972. Registered office address:Tavis House, 1-6 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9NA. Age UK Trading CIC donates its net profits to Age UK.
Age UK data shows that there are currently 3.6 million people over the age of 65 living alone in the UK. It’s likely that many of these people will regularly see their children and grandchildren, however some may not have any family to turn to for comfort and conversation.
There are gadgets out there that can help you carry out lots of everyday tasks, both around the home and related to personal care.
Falls expert Ashley Martin from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) gives his advice on elderly fall prevention, and on what makes falls so serious for older people.