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Fall icon Fall Alarms for the Elderly

An elderly personal alarm with automatic fall detection can detect a fall and call for help without you needing to push the button. This is vital is you are unconscious or immobile following a sudden illness or a fall. The call will automatically go through to either your nominated contacts or a SureSafe operator, depending on which service you have chosen. You will be able to get the help you need fast, even if you are unable to press the button.

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Fall Detection Devices – How They Work and What They do

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

As we age, our bodies become more susceptible to falls and other accidents. A fall can lead to a serious injury, such as a broken bone or a head injury. Sadly, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for elderly adults over the age of 65.

In addition, the consequences of falling can become more serious as we age, thanks to bones becoming more brittle.

For those who may be at risk of falling, whether due to a medical condition, or simply feeling more unsteady or unbalanced, opting to use a fall detection device can give them the confidence that, should they fall unexpectedly while alone, that help is on hand.

If you or a loved one is in any way worried about a fall or trip, consider investing in a fall detection device. These devices can help save lives and provide peace of mind.

What devices can detect falls?

There are several types of devices which can detect falls, but the most effective devices are personal alarms. These can take the form of a pendant alarm which is worn around the neck, clipped onto a belt, worn as a wrist alarm, or even in some cases you can get a smartwatch with fall detection built in.

How do fall detection devices work?

Fall detection devices can use a number of sensors to detect a fall. This can include a barometer, to measure changes in air pressure, and they usually include an accelerometer. This is a device that measures acceleration. Some fall detectors also include impact sensors, which can identify a heavy impact and decide if it is likely to have been as a result of a fall. When a fall occurs, for example, the accelerometer detects the sudden change in movement and sends an alert to a monitoring centre or a loved one. They can then take appropriate action such as calling the emergency services or raising the alarm with someone nearby.

Some fall detection devices also include GPS tracking. This can be used to help emergency services to locate the person who has fallen where necessary. This can be important if the alarm user still has an active lifestyle, for example, if they like to go for walks. The GPS means that they can be located wherever they have fallen.

SureSafe fall detectors offer two types of monitoring. You can opt to have your fall alarm monitored by friends and family, or by our expert monitoring centre who are on hand 24/7 to get you the help you may need.

What conditions can make an elderly person more at risk of falling?

There are many different conditions that can make someone more at risk of falling. Some of these include:

  • Age: As we get older, we become more at risk of falls due to a decline in muscle strength and balance.
  • Muscle weakness: This can be caused by a number of conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, a stroke or diabetes.
  • Poor vision: This can make it difficult to see obstacles in your path, which can lead to trips and falls.
  • Medications: Some medications can cause dizziness or drowsiness, which can increase the risk of falls.

If you have any of these risk factors, then you may want to consider using a fall detection device.

Do smartphones have fall detection?

Yes, some smartphones have fall detection, however, it is usually attached to a smartwatch. This feature is usually found in the health app. The fall detection feature uses the accelerometer to detect when a fall has occurred. If a fall is detected, the phone will sound an alarm and notify emergency contacts.

Not all smartphones have fall detection. Some phones that do have this feature are:

  • iPhone 8 and newer: To enable fall detection, go to the Health app and tap on “Medical ID”. Scroll down to “Emergency Contacts” and tap “Edit”. Tap the switch next to “Fall Detection” to turn it on.
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 and newer: To enable fall detection, go to the Settings app and tap on “Advanced features”. Scroll down to “Emergency contacts” and tap the switch next to “Send SOS messages” to turn it on.
  • Google Pixel: Fall detection is turned on by default. To change the settings, go to the Settings app and tap on “Personal safety”.

These are just a few of the phones that have fall detection. Check your phone’s user manual to see if your phone has this feature. Additionally, some smartwatches and phones will include a “fall risk” profile, to give you some idea as to your risk of falling.

However, unlike personal alarms, while a smartphone may have fall detection services inbuilt, they do not always have an effective way of contacting emergency services or getting help from a loved one. Set up can be difficult, especially for older people who find smartphones and watches difficult to use. Whereas a personal alarm is simple to use and wear.

The most important point to note though is that you do not typically carry your mobile phone around with you everywhere you go. For example, at home you typically do not walk around the house with it, and you definitely don’t take it in the shower with you! When out and about, mobile phones are often carried in a bag or pocket. This can significantly decrease the likelihood of the phone being able to accurately detect a fall. Fall detection devices are worn on the body at all times, wherever you go and including in the shower, and you don’t need to think about having them with you. A smartphone with fall detection is no substitute for a fall detection personal alarm if you or a loved one is at risk of a fall.

What are the best devices to detect a fall?

As mentioned above, while smartphones and smart watches may have some elements of fall detection – the best devices are wearable devices which are specifically designed to monitor for falls.

The best device for you or your loved one will completely depend on your personal preferences and lifestyle.

Some fall alarms are designed only to be used within the home, whereas others can work while out and about – so offer added peace of mind for those who want to stay active outside of the home.

Best fall alarms

Some of our bestselling fall alarms include:

The SureSafe Fall Alert

Designed to be worn when at home or in the garden, the SureSafe Fall Alert is lightweight and discrete. It’s also showerproof. This can be a literal lifesaver as the bathroom is one of the most likely places in the home for a fall to occur.

For those who prefer to wear a wrist alarm, our FallSafe device offers the same great benefits, but in a wristwatch format.


The perfect fall detection alarm for those who are more active – this complete mobile personal alarm can be worn around the neck and works when outside the home as well as inside it. No landline is required, and the SureSafeGO also includes features such as GPS tracking and a built-in microphone – so you can talk to the monitoring team directly through the pendant rather than a base unit (or your family if you have chosen the family monitored option).

Who might use a fall detection device?

While fall detection alarms are often thought of as something used by elderly people there are several instances in which having a fall detection device can be helpful

Fall detection devices for the elderly

The majority of users of personal alarms with fall detection are elderly. It may be that they have previously had a fall and want to regain their confidence, or that they have a condition which is causing them to be less steady on their feet.

One of the most overlooked benefits of having a fall detection alarm is the confidence it can give back to an older person who may feel a little nervous of movement due to a previous fall, or the fear of falling.

Fall detection devices for lone workers

While personal alarms are often used by older people, fall detection can be a great tool for those who work alone too.

Personal alarms with built in fall detection do not rely on someone pushing a button, and the alarm can be raised even if someone is unconscious – which can be especially important for workers who are in a vulnerable situation, or who suffer from a medical condition which may cause falling or fainting.

Fall detection devices for medical conditions

If you suffer from a medical condition which may make you prone to falling or losing consciousness, a fall detection alarm gives you the reassurance that you will not be left in a vulnerable condition. These medical conditions include, but are not limited to, epilepsy, brain conditions, Alzheimer’s and heart conditions.

What should I do if I fall as an elderly person?

If you fall and are unable to get up, stay calm and call for help. If you are wearing a fall detection device, it will automatically notify either your loved ones or our 24/7 response centre. If you are able to, you can also press the SOS button on your alarm. If your alarm includes two-way communication through the pendant, like the SureSafeGO, you will be able to talk to them through the alarm itself. This can bring peace of mind knowing that help is on the way.

If you are able to get up after a fall, sit or stand up slowly. Check for injuries and seek medical attention if necessary. If in any doubt, seek medical attention. It is far better to be safe than sorry.

If you or a loved one is at risk of falling, consider investing in a fall detection device. These devices can help save lives and provide peace of mind.

Call SureSafe's team of experts on 0800 112 3201 to learn more about our different fall detection devices.

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