Last Sunday, my husband and I had friends over for lunch. It had been a year since we had last seen these friends so we had a lot of catching up to do. We talked about what is happening in our respective careers, our adult children and our lives. Eventually, the conversation turned to our aging parents.
As Baby Boomers, we ponder how long our parents can maintain their independence and we worry about their safety–no matter how independent they seen to be at the moment. One of our friends mentioned that her father was still active and driving at age 87. But, of course, she worries about him out alone.
I recently discovered an innovative technology company that can help Baby Boomers gain greater peace of mind while allowing active seniors the freedom they want to shop, take the grandchildren on outings and generally enjoy life.
MobileHelp products allow active seniors to go out and about anywhere while having access to help on a moment’s notice. In addition to the physical product, the company offers Caregiver Tools that utilize the GPS in the mobile unit to let you see where your loved one is when you can’t reach her directly.
This brief news clip explains the basic product
MobileHelp has recently released a new product that can actually detect when a senior has fallen and call for help even if the senior can’t press the button. I had the opportunity to interview MobileHelp’s CEO, Robert Flippo about his team’s vision for their products. Here’s what he had to say about their mission and their newest product, myHalo .
CK: Staying active and mobile is incredibly important to Baby Boomers, isn’t it? Can you comment on this trend? Robert: The Baby Boomer generation is active and health conscious. And they would like to keep their aging parents that way as well. Just as our parents used to worry about us as children, we as caregivers worry about them as they age. Baby Boomers are busier than ever with careers, children, aging parents and their own aging and retirement on the horizon. While trying to stay active and healthy themselves, worrying about the rest of the family can become a daily habit. They certainly want their parents to stay healthy, and independent for as long as possible without having to worry about their safety. MobileHelp’s products are perfect for active seniors and can help alleviate some of the stress on the Boomer generation by helping to give them peace of mind about their parents well being and safety. This serves as a win-win situation for both the Boomers and their parents. The longer the parents have the confidence to stay active, the longer they will be healthy, and Boomers will have more peace of mind and be able to focus on their own goals.
CK: Another major trend has to do with family caregivers wanting better technology to help keep elders safe. But, traditional Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) and monitoring systems don’t go beyond the residence, do they?Robert: Traditional medical alert systems do not work beyond the user’s home, and for the most part don’t work beyond 300 feet. MobileHelp understands that it is important to have protection anywhere you go. Traditional systems may help you if you have an emergency at home, but as we all know, emergencies can happen anywhere. It is imperative to know that if you need help, you can press your button at anytime, anywhere. When your life is on the line, you want to trust the most advanced system with GPS location. Our operators know who you are and where you are and can get help to you quickly. MobileHelp offers the only FDA registered mobile medical alert system. But know that we never rest. Every day we continue our research and development to deliver enhancements to our product offering to keep you and your loved ones safe. We know that families have a choice when selecting a medical alert system and we strive to earn their trust and business every day. CK: Your new product, myHalo, seems ideally matched to both mobility for seniors and technology for caregivers. What was your biggest challenge (technological or otherwise) in creating this great product?Robert: Our goal when developing myHalo was to create a product that would accurately detect a fall and automatically send an alarm without the user having to push the button. The challenge was making the pendant smart enough to also detect when the user is okay and is still up and moving about so that it doesn’t send an alarm. The result is fewer false alarms. Customers really appreciate that. It is imperative to ensure that actual hard falls trigger the alarm, but also important to detect when not to alarm, for example if you trip. We also designed the pendant with the ability for the user to cancel an auto alarm. For example, let’s say you are walking to your couch and when you reach it, you sit down suddenly causing the fall detect sensor to send an alarm. The myHalo pendant will sound several beeps to let the user know it is about to send an emergency alarm. If you are ok, you simply press and hold the pendant button to cancel the emergency call. Automation is great but it’s important to keep the user in control at all times. And we don’t just protect in the home, the myHalo Automatic Fall Detect Pendant works with our Mobile Device to protect you anywhere you go. More than one-third of seniors will fall in a given year —that’s 12 million in the US alone. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, falls account for 70 percent of accidental deaths in the elderly population. Over 40 percent of these falls occur outside of the home, which emphasizes the importance of having a wireless personal emergency response system with fall detect.
CK: Your Caregiver Tools are unique for PERS, aren’t they? Describe them please? Robert: We have created this suite of online tools to help you actively participate in the care of your loved one. Features include automatic email and text message notifications and the ability to send a location request that searches for the Mobile Device’s current location and displays it on a map, making it easier to care for your loved one no matter how far away from them you are. Our new Caregiver tools portal will allow you to be notified when an event happens, whether it is a system test or an actual emergency event where help has been dispatched. You can customize your settings to choose which notifications you prefer to receive and how you want to receive them, via email, text message or both.
CK: What do you think are future trends in Mobile Personal Emergency Response System or technology for seniors and caregivers?Robert: MobileHelp is committed to staying on the leading edge of technology that enhances the well being of seniors and others who desire to live an active, independent lifestyle. We will continue to provide caregivers with more options in activity monitoring. Imagine in the future being able to predict an event rather than just react to it. By detecting changes in gait, balance and general activity, you have the ability to move beyond the reactionary based medical alert systems to be more proactive and actually predict an event before it happens. That’s delivering true safety. MobileHelp is the first to deliver a mobile automatic fall detect system. Our plan is to continue this leadership position in delivering meaningful, state of the art technology to improve people’s lifestyle as they age.
CK: Do you have other tips for mobility while aging or engaging in activities alone or with grandchildren?Robert: We recommend educating the children so if you are in an emergency situation and are unable to speak they know to press the button for help. Imagine the unthinkable, that you’re spending time with your grandchildren and you have a major medical event. Aside from getting medical attention as quickly as possible, who will take care of the children? With MobileHelp you give us all the important people to contact in the event the button is pressed. Your adult children will be alerted and can get to the scene to keep the children safe. You will always have that safety net wherever you go, and having a system so easy a child can use it gives you more confidence to go out and enjoy time with your grandchildren.
I especially appreciate that last comment. It is so important to help children and grandchildren prepare for emergency situations. Most young children are naturally curious and will ask about that button around your neck or on your wrist. It’s easy to explain that the button calls for help and show them how to use it.
By the way, I didn’t receive any form of compensation for this blog post. I think this is a really cool product that you would be interested in hearing about. Let me know if you have a MobileHelp system and how it works for you.