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Home Alone but Not Alone: Aging in Place with Peace of Mind in San Diego County with the new PERS
The newest medical equipment recommended for seniors by nurses at Home Health Care agencies is not new. Wilhelm Hormann invented it in the 1970s in Germany for people who were home alone, and he was awarded the Frankfort Innovation Prize in 1982.
Today, the modern version of his device is known as a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS). It enables seniors to continue living at home safely, empowering them with the freedom, confidence and independence to age in place safely with peace of mind.
People say they do not want to move into nursing homes or assisted living facilities because of the cost, the stigma of getting old and helpless, and the fear of losing their freedom. AARP surveyed the 50-plus population and found that 86% of them want to stay in their homes.
From anywhere in their home, with the push of a water-proof button worn as a wristband or pendant, a PERS base unit speed dials a specially trained senior-friendly professional at customer monitoring centers in the US who quickly answers via two-way speaker phone, stays on the line and will call an emergency contact list including a Home Health Care provider or the paramedics. The base unit also may have a temperature sensor that sends the monitoring center an alert in the event of unsafe heat or cold.
According to studies, seniors who have a PERS live in their homes two to six times longer compared to those who don’t have this medical equipment, sometimes called a Companion Service or panic button.
“But it’s far more than just those extra years,” said Phil Doyle, a Home Health Specialist in San Diego. “It’s a 24-hour connection to peace of mind and security that comes with knowing you’re never alone, even though you are home alone.”
Phil offers free Fall Prevention In-service for nurses and care givers, educational brochures, and a Fall Prevention Assessment in the patient’s home. He explains the need for providing safety equipment for the patient beyond the traditional scope.
Phil Doyle recently found his true calling in the Home Health Care industry after selling his Internet video company which produced and sold the first-ever online video rental in 2001. Phil’s company produced thousands of online videos for workplace safety and business skills training with customers in over 80 countries.
After a 1,600 mile solo bicycle tour from Canada to San Diego to raise awareness for the Ocean Health Action Plan signed by the Governors of California, Oregon and Washington, Phil lived on his sailboat for a year and became obsessed with finding a way to help millions of people live better. He discovered Home Health Care, and now he is dedicated to providing peace of mind to seniors and their care givers by making sure that seniors who are home alone are not all alone.
“I love the PERS because it is such an elegant solution to a massive social problem that affects everyone,” said Mr. Doyle. “When seniors age at home safely with security and peace of mind, not only does everybody win but also everyone in the system saves money.”
Nearly three quarters of those who live to 85 will eventually need health assistance ranging from simple help around the house to 24-hour skilled nursing care. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, a week in a private nursing home room costs about $1,500 while a week of home health care costs considerably less.
Rates vary, but assisted living facilities often charge $3,000 per month and up, while skilled nursing facilities can cost $6,000 per month and even higher. The average cost of assisted living now tops $50,000 a year.
A PERS costs about a dollar a day.
Many elderly admissions to a nursing home or assisted living facility occur not because of deterioration of the senior’s condition but because of care giver burnout.
National Alliance for Care Giving reported that 30% of Americans are care givers, spending about 20 hours a week providing care for an elderly parent or a loved one. In addition, the fastest growing segment of the population is aged 65 and over. With the recent financial crisis and recession, much of the elderly population plan to stay in their homes longer, making 'aging in place' a major trend that is creating high demand for solutions to meet their needs. A Companion Service solves the concerns of care givers who are not able to check on aging family members but are worried about their safety and well being.
Care givers’ concerns are real.
- 36.3 million adults 65 and over reside in the United States
- 10 million live alone
- 1 in every 3 seniors will fall this year
- When injured the average time it takes to be found is 15 hours
- Average hospital stay is 8 days ($9,985 average cost)
- For people who live alone, becoming incapacitated and unable to get help usually marks the end of their ability of live independently
There’s no place like home, but this doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 234,000 people go to the emergency department each year because they got hurt in the bathroom.
Dr. Judy Stevens says two thirds of the injuries were women. ``The injury rate increased with age, so people over 65 were more likely to be injured – and also to have a more serious injury, like a fracture,’’ she said.
The study found two thirds of injuries happened in a shower or tub.
After a fall or other emergency, 90% of the people who get help within one hour will continue independent living. Because the odds of survival are proportionate to the speed of response, the first hour window after a fall is known as the “Golden Hour.”
“Education is the key,” said Mr. Doyle. “We’re getting the word out to seniors through Home Care Agencies, Home Health Agencies, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Hospitals and other organizations who work with seniors every day. A big part of our message is how a PERS provides an unique source of patient retention for Home Health Care companies – because enabling patients to stay in their homes two to six years longer is good for their business.”
Many home health care agencies are governed by CMS (Medicare) & DHS (Dept of Health Services) who grant and revoke certification based on physical audits or surveys. Some Home Health Care agencies will be required to establish a Fall Prevention Program for their patients, and they must show that they are taking steps to arrange for all equipment and services necessary for a patient’s care and safety.
A PERS is not just for seniors. It is a personal security system for anyone who is home alone or at risk with a health condition. Customers also include physical rehabilitation patients, adults living with disabilities and children with special needs.
While Medicare does not currently pay for PERS, some Medicare Advantage programs and supplemental policies have provisions for coverage including Humana, SCAN (Medicare HMO plans), retirement plans, supplemental or tertiary plans, long-term care policies, Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Savings Plans – and it is a 2011 IRS tax deductible item.
“The potential growth of the Home Health Care industry is astounding,”
While only 9% of individuals aged 65-69 need everyday assistance, that number rises dramatically to 50% for individuals aged 85. And 78 million Baby Boomers are poised to enter this senior (65+) segment already responsible for over 34% of all health care.
The global home health care market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.4% between 2009 and 2014 – worth US$207 billion by 2014. The most important trend in healthcare is the focus shift from hospitals to home care, moving from treatment to proactive monitoring which opens new gates of opportunities for home health care.
Phil Doyle 619-252-