Tracking Device Can Dispatch Emergency Services If Needed For Elderly

Diane Ragali is part of the "sandwich generation", planning her son's wedding, working part-time in a temp agency and taking care of her father-in-law, who is almost 90 and living alone. "He wants to be independent," says this Bristol woman who is primary caregiver to Bill, whose other children are located out-of-town. "It's really hard to find the time to devote to making sure he's taken care of and safe." He can be unsteady on his feet, causing concern over possible falls, in the street or shower. So, the Ragalis are turning to a Meriden business for new technology, the eResponder Mobile Personal Emergency Response System, a modern breakthrough in tracking, to make the situation less worrisome.

"We have a lot of solutions for people who like to get out and about but also want access to emergency help when they need it," says Mario D'Aquila, business developer for Assisted Living Technologies, as he holds a tracking device that looks like a small, black necklace. "Now they can feel safe going for walks in the park or going to visit the grandkids." The lightweight and waterproof eResponder, with a long battery life, acts like a phone. When a user needs assistance, he presses the SOS button for two seconds and a specialist responds via two-way voice communication. The system uses U-TDOA (Uplink-Time Difference of Arrival) technology, different than GPS, as it works inside or outside, using cell towers to find someone immediately. Emergency medical services are dispatched to the location and a contact is notified. The device is also available in a watch-style, enabling users to wear the device, inconspicuously on their wrists.

It is becoming more common for families to use technology to track children with special needs who tend to wander. "When a parent or someone needs to find their loved one, they can instantly go on an app and check and see them on the map that you have here on the smartphone," explains D'Aquila. After a New York teen, Avonte Oquendo, disappeared from his school and was found dead, government leaders announced federal funding for tracking devices for individuals with autism. Through a state program for the aged, Bill is entitled to partial funding of his eResponder, which costs about $40 per month.

Bill is never without his high-tech, life-saving gadget: "I really like having it and I feel comfortable with it," he says, noting that it also gives his daughter-in-law peace-of-mind. "She's been very good to me." Happy to lend a hand, Diane is glad technology is supporting Bill's unstoppable spirit: "I think it's really important that he have that mobility, that independence, that ability to feel like he still has a life."

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