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Technology for independent living

If you are elderly, disabled or have an illness, technology can help you stay independent in your home and better connected with your community. 

There are alarms, sensors, monitors and detectors, that can be placed around your home or worn. They can keep you safe and help make life easier for you and those that care for you. 

Preventing falls at home

Falls, trips and slips in or around the home are the most common types of accident for older people. Read NHS Choices guidance on preventing falls at home.

If you are at risk of falling at home, here are the devices that can help you stay safe.

Telecare, alarms, sensors and detectors

Alarms and sensors, also known as telecare, Careline or community alarms, can be fitted all round the home. When they are triggered, it will alert your carer, family members or a monitoring centre. This can be done automatically by telephone.

You may use some of the following:

  • chair or bed sensors linked to a pager - these make an alarm call if you are out of bed for longer than a preset time
  • pressure mats with sensors and placed beside a bed, chair or by a door - these send an alert to a monitoring centre if you get out of bed and don't return
  • a wearable alarm, on a pendant, belt or a watch

Memory aids and tools

If you are finding memory loss a problem, these devices can help you remember to do things:

  • alarm medication reminders
  • sensors to switch off the gas
  • digital personal assistants - set verbal reminders, like a timer to take medications at certain times during the day

If you or your loved one's memory is getting worse, it doesn't mean they're developing dementia. Read Concerned about your memory or early signs of dementia? for information and advice.

Property exit sensors and personal locators

If you are at risk of wandering and getting lost, these products can help you stay safe. They can give your relatives and carers reassurance that they can find you if you wander off and get lost.

Property sensors are fitted to a door frame can detect if someone leaves the property and doesn't return within a certain period of time. An alarm call is made to your relatives or carer who will come and help you.

Personal locators allow you to share your location with your relatives or carers. They come in different forms such as a pendant, a watch, a bracelet or carried in a pocket.

Home environmental controls

If you are having problems moving around because of disability or an illness, you can use remote controls to open doors, answer the telephone, operate domestic appliances and set your home temperature.

Communication tools

If you have a sensory impairment, these devices and tools can help you:

  • portable electronic communicators which allow you to record words or phrases that play back at the touch of a button
  • talking photo albums

Inclusive Communication Essex (ICE) is an Essex-wide training package for families and carers of adults with learning disabilities on how to use a variety of different forms of communication. ICE offers advice and loan of communication tools and aids free of charge.

How to get these devices

Paying for yourself

You can buy your own alarms, sensors and monitors. Here's where you can find more information and advice. 

The Disabled Living Foundation's Ask SARA tool gives advice on the different types of devices and where to get them from.

Visit Living made easy for information on devices that can help you stay safe at home.

Contact your local council

You may be eligible for a pendant alarm or other telecare equipment from your local council. Contact your local council to discuss your care and support needs. 

More information

The Directors of adult social services has guidance on technology solutions to support carers.

Age UK gives information and advice on using technology for independence.

The Alzheimer's Society has a guide on 'Assistive technology - devices to help with everyday living'.

AT Dementia has guidance on assistive technology for people with dementia.

Visit Independent for longer for real-life stories of how technology-enabled care services have made a difference to people needing different types of care and support.

Related content

Paying for care 

Equipment and daily living aids

Maintaining or adapting your home 

Safety in the home 

 

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