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New Technology Could Allow You or Your Parents to Age at Home

Devices give older people the opportunity to avoid or delay the nursing-home decision

5. GreatCall 5Star Urgent Response

Who uses it: Faith Simon's father started falling, and her mother has vision problems and can't use the phone. They were an hour away in Auburn, Calif. So she signed them up for an urgent response system. Her dad, now deceased, "pressed it a dozen times," says Simon. Her 96-year-old mother has yet to trigger it, but Simon says "it gives me peace of mind."

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What it is: A mobile personal emergency response system for use at home or while traveling.

How it works: GPS technology allows CPR-trained agents to find location and assess the situation.

6. MobileHelp

This company has an on-the-go mobile PERS device with GPS satellite location tracking as well as an in-home base station. Press the help button and, after the response team seeks medical help, it calls and emails your family and tells them where you are, including the hospital. In January, MobileHelp unveiled a fall-detection system that gets you help even if you're unable to push a button or speak.

7. Connect America

Through a base station in the house, this PERS summons help from a monitoring team, informing EMTs of existing medical conditions. The company also offers a mobile PERS that travels with you outside your home, connecting your SOS to 911 or a family member.

8. Life Alert

Remember "I've fallen and I can't get up?" This is that company. You wear a pendant or wristband that has a help button. An interesting feature: Life Alert will program your own cellphone so that it speed-dials the monitoring center. There's a special app for smartphones.

Sally Abrahms writes about boomers and aging. She is based in Boston.

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