Older people’s use of personal call alarms

This source preferred by Samuel Nyman

Authors: Nyman, S.R., Victor, C.R. and Catling, C.


Start date: 20 September 2010

Introduction Falls are more likely to lead to serious injury and admission to hospital and long-term care if the faller is left lying on the floor for an hour or more (a ‘long lie’). As personal call alarms can be used to summon help when an individual has fallen to reduce the risk of long lies, we estimated the use of personal call alarms among community-dwelling older people and investigated which factors predict their use.

Methodology We performed a secondary analysis on cross-sectional survey data from the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing collected during 2006 - 2007. From this representative sample of adults aged 50+ dwelling in England, we included in our analysis adults aged 65+ who provided data for our dependent variable of use of a personal call alarm (n = 3091). Using a series of logistic regressions, we predicted use of a personal call alarm from 16 independent variables that represented sociodemographics, health, psychosocial wellbeing, and environmental control.

Results Only 180 (5.8%) adults aged 65+ were users of a personal call alarm. Multivariate logistic regression identified the following as significant predictors of use of a personal call alarm: being aged 75-84 vs. 65-74 (odds ratio [OR] = 2.57), female (OR = 2.27), a history of falls in the past two years (OR = 2.11), absence of a long-standing illness (OR = 1.56), and possessing approximately >£4000 in savings (OR = 1.53). The largest predictor was being aged 85+ vs. 65-74 (OR = 7.16), with 19.2% of women aged 85+ using a personal call alarm. Conclusion Personal call alarms are under-used among community-dwelling older people in England, and so promotional effort is required to increase usage to help reduce the risk of long-lie related injuries.

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