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18 February 2018 13:1

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Automatic Rescue System for seniors

Any form of support for dependent persons is desirable. There are many proposals in this regard. The simplest form of an emergency system is one that allows the possibility of telephonic contact with a loved one. The widespread use of mobile phones has made this the most convenient solution for fully functional and independent people. Unfortunately, with age come more and more situations in which a senior would benefit from someone who could relieve them for performing more demanding tasks. During situation when someone needs to clean up, do the shopping, cook or perform other task, the help of a caregiver certainly proves useful.

The elderly primarily suffer from loneliness. This contributes to a growing sense of rejection, depression and even a progressive development of dementia. An effective solution lies in stimulating physical and mental activity, which consequently increases the person’s will to live. Unfortunately, this usually requires the introduction of an animating factor which will spur the need for action.

There is a relatively wide range of paging devices which are on offer. The rescue system is based on alarm buttons, SOS, GPS locators, bands and medical devices. All these elements complement each other perfectly and increase the level of security. Inconvenience is a necessity in order to perform a certain action in order to attain a particular result. The measuring of temperature and pressure, the necessity to put on the band as well as the frequent obligation to charge the device in order for it to operate for the next few days and even the act of remembering to always bring a device along. A dependant person often forgets, is not mindful and does not call. This causes the theoretically high level of security to suddenly and significantly drop, causing the rescue system to simply not work. Unless not performing some measurement of a medical parameter causes loss to the continuity of information, then not taking a GPS tracker or an emergency button with you may result in a critical situation.

The level of uncertainty is furthermore increased by the awareness that by using solutions that require a particular action to be taken, the decision remains in the subjective hands of the patient. Senior citizens, despite their bad state of well-being, may mistakenly assess that the situation is not yet bad enough in order to worry anyone about it.

However, the biggest problem is when a person requiring help cannot report an emergency due to the fact that they are unconscious or unable to reach the emergency button or telephone.

While the second example can be easily solved by introducing hands-free kits, the first issue is the real challenge. A person, who is not aware of what can happen at any given moment, will not take any action. How can such a situation be remedied?

Imagine a patient who is visited by a caregiver at 16:00, on a daily basis. After completing all the tasks, the caregiver leaves after an hour and does not return until the following day at 16:00.  What would happen if the patient loses consciousness at around 19:00? According to a normal scenario help only arrives after 20 hours. During such long periods of time, many things can happen and the consequences, in extreme cases, can prove to be critical.

How to protect one’s self from such a scenario?

How to avoid such a serious threat to one’s health and life?

What sort of alarm system would be optimal?

Every one of us operates according to a fixed circadian rhythm. We fall asleep and wake up at similar times of the day. We also eat meals and go for walks with regularity. Older people usually do not work and as a result their daily rhythm is much more regulated. A daily ritual is a typical characteristic of ordinary weekdays. On Saturdays, a senior goes to the marketplace while on Sunday to church. These repetitions depend on the seasons, weather conditions and even the days of the month. The interaction of multiple layers of information form a multi-layered set of information from which it is possible to build a model of behaviour. The more stable life is, the more accurate a description of behaviour.

Thanks to artificial intelligence systems, an effective and efficient model can be created, a model which includes the history of activities, health status, and responses of the patient. These solutions have the additional advantage of the ability to learn and improve the inference system.

Let’s use some simple examples.

A senior gets up between 7:00 and 7:45 on weekdays, while on Saturdays and Sundays, between 8:00 and 8:30. It’s Wednesday, 8:30. The senior has not yet risen. The system can automatically inform the caregiver, who will attempt to make contact by phone. This means that aid can arrive after 1 hour.

The senior takes the dog for a walk twice a day at 8:00 and at 19:00. He is not at home for an hour. The system registered the patient’s and dog’s departure at 8:15. They have not returned home by 10:00. As a result, an SMS message is sent to the caregiver who then checks the location of the senior and after a quarter of an hour is able to be with him.

The senior spends time at home and falls over. The system recognises the nature of the fall as being a threat to the senior’s health. A message is immediately sent to the emergency centre, from where the operator tried to call the patient. Due to the fact that the phone was not picked up, a rescue team is sent out with keys to the apartment. Help arrives after a quarter of an hour.

A senior eats his lunch on a daily basis between 15:00 and 16:00. On Thursday, the system registers that despite the presence of the patient at home, the preparations for eating have not started. At 16:30 the caregiver calls to find out what is going on.

These seemingly simple situations are examples of some of the hundreds or even thousands of emergencies or uncertain scenarios. The systematic collection of information from discrete identifiers enables the building of a behavioural model of the senior. When current behaviours begin to diverge from previous ones, a signal is sent to the relevant services.

An example of such an advanced IT solution is the Silver Care and Rescue System – SilverCRS. It is a futuristic product which aims at increasing the standard of life of both dependent people and their families.

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