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New Ulm Medical Center

Your home turf: Ground zero for falls prevention

Josh Paulson counts on his lift chair and crutches from Allina Health Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment.

Josh Paulson counts on his lift chair and crutches from Allina Health Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment to help him get around his home as he continues to recover from a diving accident in which he broke two cervical vertebrae.

Germain Rademacher says his Phillips Lifeline alert system from Allina Health Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment gives him peace of mind.

Germain Rademacher says his Phillips Lifeline alert system from Allina Health Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment gives him peace of mind as he ages but continues to live life to the fullest in his country home.

For more information, contact the HOME showroom in New Ulm at 507-217-5585. For information about products available through HOME, visit

At first glance, Josh Paulson and Germain Rademacher couldn’t be more different. Paulson, 30, spends most of his waking hours in an electric wheelchair. He also uses a walker, crutches and other equipment as he works to recover his mobility following a diving accident that injured his neck and spinal cord. Rademacher, 80, lives in a two-story country home five miles from New Ulm. He stays active working in his shop, hauling wood and gardening.

The two men actually have some important things in common. Both live on their own and want to stay independent. Both want to prevent dangerous falls and stay safe, so they purchased wearable alert systems from Allina Health Home Oxygen & Medical Equipment (HOME) in New Ulm.

“We are here to serve your safety needs, no matter what the age or scenario,” said Kris Guggisberg, manager of the HOME showroom, 1601 W. Broadway. “We work closely with medical professionals throughout the region.”

Fall statistics and causes

While falls prevention is not just an issue for older people, it is a bigger issue for them. One-third of the population over age 65 falls each year. Among people over 80 years old, half fall each year. A majority of falls happen inside the home.

You can be more prone to falling if you have a medical condition that affects your physical abilities, or if you have vision problems or mental confusion. The side effects of medications can also be a problem, especially dizziness and confusion. Lack of exercise can make you weaker and more prone to falls, while activities that help you maintain your balance, strength and reflexes can help prevent them.

Falls prevention focuses on assessing your risks, then considering exercise programs, equipment and home modifications that can make you safer.

Aging gracefully…and safely

Germain Rademacher said he hasn’t changed his routine since he purchased a Phillips Lifeline alert system late last year, but he feels much more secure.

“I had been thinking about it for some time and researching my options,” he said. “I’m getting to the age where I was thinking about what would happen if I had a problem. I live out in the country. I haul firewood in and work in my shop and garden quite a bit.”

Several sources recommended HOME in New Ulm, so after talking with the manufacturer Rademacher ordered the pendant style Lifeline alert from HOME. Before he received it, something happened that told him he had done the right thing.

“I was in bed and feeling sick to my stomach, so I got up, fell and hit my head on the door,” he said. “I got to the bathroom, but it wasn’t easy.”

Now he has the Lifeline pendant, which he wears during the day and hangs on a hook on the wall by his bed at night.

Rademacher has learned that the device is sensitive; a jarring motion has set it off, and he accidentally activated it himself when wearing it during the night. When the system is activated, typically by the push of a button, Lifeline calls to see if he is all right. If he doesn’t answer, the company calls his designated contacts so they can check on him. If that doesn’t work, they call 911 and a rescue squad is sent to the home.

“I wanted to be sure I had something that would work if I’m in my garden, which is about 150 feet from my house,” Rademacher said. “I think this is going to be really good for me.”

Working his way back

Josh Paulson was 27 years old when he dove into a pool on Sept. 4, 2010. He broke two cervical vertebrae and almost drowned, but was rescued. He was told he wouldn’t be able to walk again and wouldn’t have much movement or feeling below the shoulders, but Paulson has proven those predictions wrong.

Today, he lives with his daughter in a trailer home in New Ulm. He is working hard in physical therapy. He has learned how to walk with a walker and is moving on to crutches. His social worker helped him find equipment that he needed from several places. The products he relies on include a Life Alert® system and a lift chair, both from HOME.

“I wanted the chair so I could get up and out of the wheelchair more,” Paulson said. “And I know if I need assistance, the Life Alert® is there to help me when I’m alone.”

HOME’s role and products

People often are referred to HOME by their physical therapists when they are ready to return home after being in a nursing home for rehabilitation, Guggisberg said. Many people prefer to come to the showroom to talk with a representative and look around, she said, but the HOME staff also can make home visits, see what people need and make recommendations.

HOME products that can help prevent falls and get help if a fall occurs include:

  • five styles of transfer belts
  • canes and walkers, some of which feature colorful themes and designs
  • raised toilet seats with attached rails
  • bath chairs that help people move from outside to inside the tub while staying seated
  • handheld shower extensions
  • First Alert and Lifeline alert systems
  • bed canes that assist people with both rolling over and getting out of bed.
  • “Some of these things can truly change people’s lives,” Guggisberg said. “An example is a walker with a brake and seat that can be converted into a transport chair.”

    Some products are covered by insurance and many are not. But Guggisberg noted that a 30 percent discount is offered whenever someone pays with cash, check or credit card. “We come with a lot of experience and we’re here to serve the community,” she said.

Source: New Ulm Medical Center - Health Edition
Reviewed by: Kris Guggisberg, manager of HOME showroom
First Published: 02/25/2013
Last Reviewed: 02/25/2013