Most seniors strive to live as independently as possible for as long as possible. Medical alert systems can help them achieve this goal – even if they have mobility or medical issues.
If you’re considering a medical alert system for your loved one, it helps to know how these systems work, what their benefits are and how to choose one.
Medical Alert Systems
What is a Medic Alert System and How Does It Work?
A medical alert system is designed to send a signal to emergency personnel in the case of a medical emergency. Most systems include a necklace with a device that has a button.
When that button is pressed:
- It connects the user to an operator.
- The operator can communicate with the user using a 2-way voice intercom system.
Some systems can call a family member or a neighbor to come help. All systems can connect you to 911 or medical emergency personnel.
Different medical alert systems have different methods of communicating, but this is generally how an alert system works.
While these systems can benefit anyone, they’re most commonly used by seniors and disabled individuals who may need medical assistance following a fall or a life-threatening emergency.
One in four American seniors fall every year, according to the National Council on Aging. Falls are also the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among those aged 65 and older.
About 70% of all seniors between 60 and 79 years of age has cardiovascular disease. Heart attacks and strokes are common among seniors.
Medical alert systems were designed to help these issues. If a senior – living alone – falls or has a heart attack, he or she may not be able to get to the phone to call 911. The device included with the medical alert system makes it easy to contact emergency services and get the help that is needed as quickly as possible.
Benefits of A Medical Alert System
Why bother buying a medical alert system when most seniors have cell phones? There are several benefits to installing an alert system.
Peace of Mind
Most seniors have cell phones, but not all do. And those that do may not always have their phones at their sides. If an older woman falls in the hallway and her phone is in the kitchen, she wouldn’t be able to call 911.
Even if she did have her cell phone, she may be so shook-up by the incident that she has trouble dialing 911 or even using her phone.
Knowing that your loved one has a medical alert system will give you peace of mind. If something does happen, help is just a button-push away and within easy reach.
Ease of Use
Medical alert systems are designed to be simple and easy to use, so can get help even if they’re in shock. Systems typically come with a waterproof unit that’s worn around the neck or wrist. The unit usually has just one button, so there’s no guesswork when reaching out for help.
The main unit, which connects to the unit worn around the neck or wrist, will also have a help button. Pressing either button will connect the user to an operator or directly to a 911 agent.
The great thing about these systems is that users can talk directly to operators using the two-way communication feature. There’s no need for them to move from their current position, which can be dangerous in some situations.
Easy to Install
Most alert systems are easy to install. They can either be installed by the family, or by a professional. In many cases, companies that make these systems will include installation in the cost of the unit.
How to Choose the Right Medical Alert company
Making the decision to invest in a medical alert system is easy, but how do you choose one? There are many things that need to be considered when making your final decision. These include:
What Type of Alert System Do You Want?
There are several different types of medical alert systems, including:
- Speakerphone systems
- Pendant-style systems
- Cellular systems
- Activity trackers
- Combination systems
Most systems come with wearable components. Make sure that they are comfortable and attractive enough for your loved one to wear. You’ll also need to consider if:
- The unit is waterproof. Can it be worn in the shower or during a bath? Most falls happen in the bathroom, so having a waterproof alert unit is crucial.
- The unit has an adequate connection range. How far away can the device be from the main unit for it to work? Ideally, you want a unit with GPS function so that it can be used anywhere in the community.
- The unit is mobile. Most alert systems are mobile in nature, but it’s important to make sure your loved one can move with the unit.
What Functions Do You Want the System to Have?
All alert systems will be able to call for help, but most will also offer other helpful features, such as:
- Fall detection. Many units have sensors that can detect when a fall occurs and contact the authorities right away.
- Medication reminders and health vitals monitoring.
- Built-in step counters and other fitness tracking tools.
- Daily check-in services
- Monitoring for smoke, fire and carbon monoxide
- GPS tracking and location detecting
It’s also important to consider the quality of the response and monitoring service. Ideally, you want a system that has its own call center – not one that outsources this task to a third party.
3 Top-Rated Medical Alert Systems
There are several medical alert systems on the market today, but three in particular stand out in the crowd: Alert 1, LifeStation and LifeFone. These systems are consistently well-rated by users.
1. Alert 1
The company offers a few options when it comes to alert systems:
- Home Fall Detection
- Mobile Fall Detection
- Mobile and Home Fall Detection
All systems work the same; it’s the technology that differs from one unit to the next.
- Press the button on the alert pendant, room button, bracelet or base unit.
- Wait for an operator to respond (this takes moments).
- Get the help you need.
Alert 1 offers 24/7 monitoring, and all operators are U.S. based and highly trained. Operators will stay on the line until help arrives, and can provide a personalized emergency response.
The company’s service is available in all 50 states, and they have a 30-day refund policy.
Do you need a medical alert system? Take our quiz to find out.
These systems include:
- In Home Traditional. The company’s most popular system connects with your home phone, so you get help with just the push of a button.
- In Home Plus. This system offers everything the In Home Traditional system offers, but does not require a landline to work.
- Mobile with GPS. Allows users to get help when they’re away from home. This system identifies the user’s location in case of an emergency.
- Fall detection. An add-on sensor that’s available with all systems. This sensor detects when a fall occurs and alerts LifeStation.
With LifeStation, you don’t have to worry about long-term contract obligations, deposits, taxes, hidden fees or minimum payments. The company will even help you decide which system is the best fit for your needs and budget.
The company says it offers the quickest response time in the industry, and also offers around the clock customer service and monitoring.
There are two things that set LifeFone apart:
- Equipment range of 1500 ft.
- Fully waterproof wristband and pendant
LifeFone has no equipment fees, no activation fees, a 30-day money-back guarantee, and lifetime guarantees for fees and equipment.
Several systems are available, including:
- At-Home Landline w/fall detection (optional).
- At-Home Cellular with or without fall detection.
- At-Home and On the Go w/fall detection (optional).
- At-Home and On the Go Voice-in-Pendant system (fall detection available).
LifeFone is very transparent about what each system includes and the cost. They also offer flexible billing options to meet the needs of most users.