Medical alert systems are becoming more popular as modern medicine is breathing new and extended life into our beloved Golden Agers. With newfound independence and the energy (and vivacity!) to venture out into the world on their own, seniors are tackling the modern era like never before. Modern medical alerts are empowering them to do it all and more, safely.
Medical alert devices give peace of mind to both the elderly who are wearing the devices and their children, grandchildren, and caregivers, who only want what’s best for them.
You’ll find all sorts of medical alert devices out there, including wearable devices, wall-mounted units, and voice-controlled systems. But they all work under the same basic premise: when you need help, someone is there to respond. Here’s how it works in general:
Most medical alert services will allow you to create a hierarchy of who should be called in case of an emergency. So an elderly parent can have their son listed first, a friendly neighbor listed second, and their primary care physician listed third, for example. In case of a real emergency, the responder will dispatch police, fire, or medics to your home as well.
There are several different types of medical alerts that you can purchase for your parents, close seniors, or anyone else who has a medical condition that could benefit from an added layer of protection. These devices can generally be divided into two broad categories:
Each of these technologies has its own benefits and drawbacks, and you’ll need to consider what you are looking for as well as your own personal needs before making the final purchase. For seniors who are usually at home, living on their own, and don’t really get out much, an at-home medical alert system is the ideal solution to constant worrying. These medical alerts will allow the wearer to move about their home and even outdoor areas freely, secure in the knowledge that someone is just a button press away. These devices frequently have a far enough range (1300 ft. on average) so seniors can go anywhere in or around the house freely.
On the other hand, more active seniors aren’t satisfied staying put anymore. They want to be out and about, do their own shopping, run their own errands, hang out with friends, and take a brisk walk across the neighborhood. For these active go-getters, on-the-go medical alert devices are a must-have. These have unlimited range, work on a cellular data network, and usually have GPS tracking as well for instant location information in case of an emergency.
As with most things these days, med alerts are available in a wide range of styles, shapes, and sizes. The standard medical alert system comes with either a necklace pendant or wristband/watch-style alert button. This is the wearable device that you’ll have on you at all times. Press the button to call for help.
And lest you should fear the “you’re getting old” stigma, med alerts are even available in stylish finishes. Some medical pendants have designer faces so they appear like decorative necklaces. Medical bracelets and wristbands can be styled to look like an attractive piece of jewelry as well. And there are even companies that have created full-fledged smartwatches to allow for even more functionality and fun.
The various medical alert systems and services have a whole lineup of hot features and cool gadgets to attract you. But honestly, not all are necessary or even relevant for your parents. For example, a 1300 ft. range is irrelevant if you live in a 600 ft. apartment. So it’s important to look for the features that are important to YOU and your loved ones when investing in a medical alert system. That being said, here are a few of the features that most people look for when shopping around:
If you are a senior on-the-go, then GPS tracking is imperative. This feature can pinpoint your location and send it to the emergency monitoring center in the case of an emergency. Some med alert services also have a feature that lets you track the GPS location on a smartphone app. This allows you to check in on your loved ones periodically.
Older med alerts require you to speak to the monitoring center through a phone or other external device. But today, things have changed. Modern medical alert devices allow you to speak to a responder via the wearable device or base unit directly. When the elderly person presses the help button, the communication feature is automatically activated. This way they can speak to the responder and hear the responder easily and without delay.
There is a more advanced feature that a few medical alert systems have called voice-activated control. This allows you to speak directly to the system without having to push the help button first. This is a major benefit because seniors who are in an emergency situation often cannot press a button. This is not a must-have, but it is certainly an added benefit if one of the brands you are looking into has it.
Fall detection might be the most important feature of all. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an elderly person needs to be treated in the ER every 11 seconds due to a fall injury. Tragically, senior falls can and frequently are fatal if not attended to immediately. While fall detection is usually available for an added fee, it’s worth every penny.
Another important feature to look for is a fast, reliable, and reputable monitoring center. These should be staffed by trained responders, be quick to respond, and be based in the United States. Additionally, you want to look for a company that has at least two monitoring centers. This way, if one is ever shut down temporarily for whatever reason, the other one is still available.
Several brands offer additional features (usually at an additional cost) that can enhance the caregiver experience. Things like smartphone apps for managing the elderly’s daily life, daily check-in services, medication reminders, and a location tracker can certainly help someone better care for an elderly parent or patient.
Finally, you should do an appropriate amount of comparison shopping when buying a medical alert system. Med alerts have two costs: the equipment itself and the monitoring service. Good companies will waive the equipment fees when you sign up for a monitoring plan (many don’t even give you the option - which is actually a good thing). So be sure to take what you’re getting into consideration when making your comparisons. Ask what’s included in the price:
See what’s included before you make a judgment call on the price of a medical alert system.