As we get older, it’s a fact that our bodies start to become a little weaker. In particular, we lose some bone density which makes them more brittle, and we can have balance issues too.
That’s a pretty dangerous combination really since we’re more likely to fall over, and then more likely to break something when we do. Hip fractures in particular are pretty common among the over-60s.
And then these fractures can lead to other complications too – whether that’s an impact on walking ability for the rest of the person’s life, or an infection picked up while in hospital. The consequences of a fall are serious, which is where inflatable airbags can become a genuine lifesaver.
How do Inflatable Airbags for the Elderly Work?
Inflatable airbags use a combination of an accelerometer and a gyroscope to detect when a person wearing one falls over. They quickly inflate a large cushion to help soften the impact of the fall, protecting the wearer from serious injury.
In essence, inflatable airbags work in much the same way as car airbags, but with a few key tweaks to make them safer for personal use.
The gyroscope monitors your balance, understanding when you aren’t in an upright position. Meanwhile, the accelerometer detects the movement speed of the airbag cartridge.
Because they work in tandem, this stops the airbag from triggering for no reason. It’s only when both the gyroscope detects that you aren’t stood up, and the accelerometer detects you’re moving quickly, that it will inflate.
Inflatable airbags tend to be worn as a belt, or as a cartridge to add to your existing belt. And they’re super-fast too – they tend to take 0.2 seconds to fully inflate.
Are Inflatable Airbags Wearable?
Most inflatable airbag models are designed to be worn whenever you’re awake. They usually come either as a belt, or larger ones may come as a jacket. The belts are more common, as they’re easier to wear and they target the fragile hip and femur bones.
They’re super light and small, so that they aren’t intrusive. It’s not like the person wearing it has to feel uncomfortable and always be aware that they have it on. They can be worn under clothes as well, provided they’re loose enough to allow the airbag to inflate properly. It wouldn’t be good to wear one underneath a tight-fitting t-shirt.
What Are the Advantages of Inflatable Airbags?
Here’s why it’s worth considering an inflatable airbag for you or for your elderly relative:
The whole purpose of hip airbags for seniors is safety, and while they don’t guarantee you won’t be hurt, they do massively reduce the risk. It’s worth getting one if you’re concerned about falling and injuring yourself.
Inflatable airbags are made in such a way that they don’t interfere with your clothing. Once it’s on, you’ll barely notice it’s there – so you don’t have to make compromises between comfort and safety.
They’re easy to use
Inflatable airbags are extremely easy to use as they come assembled and ready to work. All you need to do is put it around your waist, adjust it for your size, and buckle up – it’s that simple.
Many inflatable airbags are reusable. They come with a pressurized air cartridge that inflates the airbag, but the actual airbag itself can deflate and be folded back into the device. It’s just the air cartridge that needs replacing, and you often get a few when you buy the airbag.
How much do inflatable airbags cost?
Inflatable airbags are pretty expensive – they aren’t super common and need to be bought from a specialist retailer. But for the value they bring, the cost is worth it. They tend to cost between $600 and $1000.
When you weigh that up against the potential hospital bills of a nasty fall, it’s a no-brainer. But that’s still a lot of money to find if you’re on a budget.
How Is A Hip Airbag Different To A Car Airbag?
Car airbags are well-known for their safety benefits, but there are some concerns about them too. Thankfully personal airbags for the elderly aren’t the same – there are a couple of key differences which make them even safer to use.
Because car crashes tend to happen at very high speeds, a car airbag has to unfurl and inflate even faster than a personal one.
To achieve that, it essentially uses a mini explosion, which causes a lot of heat. Some people get minor burns from their car airbag – a small sacrifice for it otherwise saving their life.
Personal airbags can afford to be a little slower, meaning there’s no explosion needed – and so they work cooler and won’t cause any burn injuries.
Car airbags prevent the most life-threatening injuries, but the speed at which they inflate means they can sometimes cause minor injuries as they impact with the passenger in the car.
Because personal airbags are firing away from you, instead of towards you, there’s no risk of that happening.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most inflatable airbags are reusable. Once they’ve been triggered, the airbag can be folded back away. You then replace the air cartridge, then reset the belt. You can use the airbag as many times as you want, provided you replace the air cartridge each time.
Inflatable airbags may not work 100% of the time. It depends on the angle of your fall, and how high you are when you fall. But in most cases, they will significantly reduce the impact, which could be the difference between a bruise and a severe fracture.
Nobody wants to live a life wrapped in protective cotton, where they feel like they can’t do anything. And nobody assumes they’re going to suffer a bad fall.
But the risk is there, and if you have the budget to pay for an inflatable airbag then you can definitely reduce the chances of a fall becoming a life-changing event. They’re expensive, but the price will be worth it both to avoid costly hospital bills and to maybe even save a life.