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Personal emergency response system (PERS) alarms may induce insecurity feelings

M. Boström, S. Kjellström, B. Malmberg, A. Björklund

Gerontechnology 2011; 10(3):140-145 doi:


Personal emergency response system (PERS) alarms have been used in Sweden since 1974 to enable older people to age safely at home. Despite this long use, we found no studies describing independent older users’ opinions of these devices. Aim Our aim was to describe how people living in Swedish independent senior housing perceive the alarms and to highlight their wishes for further developments and innovations. Methods We conducted four focus group interviews with residents of senior housing who used or had used a PERS alarm and analysed the data qualitatively for latent content. Results The data analysis revealed five themes in participants’ opinions and feelings about the PERS alarms: (i) safety, (ii) anxiety, (iii) satisfaction, (iv) being informed, and (v) older persons as active innovators. Conclusion The 40-year-old Swedish PERS used in senior housing seems to limit rather than liberate users in their daily lives and cause feelings of insecurity rather than security. Older Swedish people require a more personalized alarm with a built-in positioning system that would allow them a greater range of movement beyond their homes.

Keywords: focus groups; inclusive design; PERS; qualitative research

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Gerontechnology (ISSN/EISSN 1569-1101 1569-111X) is the official journal of the International Society for Gerontechnology