More than 96% of people aged 65 and over live at home in Quebec. Several means and devices exist to allow them to live safely at home, for as long as possible.
In particular, it is appropriate to take precautions for seniors:
Recovering after a hospitalization;
With reduced mobility;
With impaired memory;
Who has difficulty getting around;
Who have a physical disability;
Who have an illness that could endanger their safety, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
For example, they may not be able to call for help if they become ill or fall while they are alone at home. In 2018, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) revealed that one out of five seniors living at home had fallen in the last 12 months.
Several processes and devices can improve the safety of seniors at home. The means identified below are simple to apply and will allow the senior to live at home longer. They can be implemented with the support of a family member, a community resource or a neighbour.
Daily automated call
Local or regional organizations offer a free automated calling service to seniors living at home. The call can be programmed once or several times a day. If the call is not answered, a health check-in on the senior is quickly performed.
A family member, neighbour, friend or organization can be asked to stay in touch with the senior. For example, a designated person will communicate regularly with the senior by telephone or through a messaging system (text, instant messages, etc.).
Solidarity between neighbours
A neighbour can offer help to a senior when he or she notices something unusual going on with the senior. For example, a senior who does not go out on his or her daily walk, an entrance that remains covered in snow, and lights out in the evening are all details that should alert a neighbour.
Specific signals could also be established between neighbours. For example, open curtains before 9:00 am at a senior’s home means everything is fine.
Safety mechanism or remote surveillance
There are also different types of paid systems that allow the senior to very easily send a request for assistance to the right recipient for the situation (caregiver, police, fire department or ambulance). The panic button, for example, is a discreet device that allows you to call emergency services at the touch of a button. It is available in many forms: wireless teleassistance button, medical alarm button (or bracelet), wireless medical alert system, emergency bracelet, safety bracelet, etc.
Other types of devices are available, with varying costs, such as geolocation devices, door sensors, smart power outlets, fall detection bracelets or watches, etc.
How to choose the best device
Before taking any steps, the needs, expectations and preferences of the senior or a family member need to be evaluated, while taking into account the allotted budget. For panic button type services, the purchasing, activation and monthly subscription need to be considered. It is therefore important to compare the costs of each option. Certain remote surveillance service expenses are eligible for the Independent Living Tax Credit for Seniors .
In a spirit of well-treatment, these processes and devices should be presented to the senior in a clear and simple way by a family member so that the individual checks their placement and understands what to do in an emergency situation.
Pilot projects in social geriatrics
The gouvernement du Québec is committed to pursuing its efforts to break the social isolation of seniors and improve accessibility to health and social services for these isolated and vulnerable people and improving their quality of life by acting as early as possible in their community. To do this, pilot projects have received financial support.
These projects tested out different measures such as identifying and accompanying isolated and vulnerable seniors in conjunction with services offered in their community, including those of health and social services institutions.
The Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux funded the following projects:
Social geriatrics teams in six regions in collaboration with the Fondation AGES:
The establishment of a caring community coordinated by the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-sud-de l’Île-de-Montréal (CCSMTL);
Bolstering the activities of the Little Brothers organization;
Establishing a path of community geriatrics initiated by the Domaine-du-Roy seniors working table in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region.