Medical Alerts for senior citizens save lives and help the elderly live independently, but they’re not perfect. Each type of alert device has it’s ownÂ strengthsÂ and weaknesses. We’ll review and compare the best types emergency alert and medical monitoring devices for the elderly to help you choose the right one for your loved one.
Medical Alerts for The Elderly
One of the most common types of alert systems for the elderly is the push-button or panic button device. Typically the button triggers a wirelessÂ transmitterÂ Â that activates a speakerphone console which dials a call center. The trained personnel at the call center answer the call and attempt to speak with someone in the home. After speaking with the someone in the home (which could be the elderly person who pressed the call button or a caregiver) the call center will send theÂ appropriateÂ level of help. Sounds good – but is this type of service appropriate for your loved one?
For many senior citizens who live alone, a basic, push button only medical alert device gives them peace of mind and can help them out in many emergencies. But here are some problems; these basic devices are useless if the senior can’t or won’t use them to call for help. For example, if your aging parent or grandparent becomesÂ unconscious they won’t be able to push the panic button. If an elderly person is vulnerable to fainting spells these devices can only send help if and when the victim regainsÂ consciousnesses. Â A common househhold accident like a slip and fall in the bathroom can often knock the victim out. What then?
More advanced medical alert devices have “fall detection” that automatically dials the emergency response center if the sensor receives a heavy jolt. Â If the device automatically dials for help, the call center will attempt to speak with the person wearing the device. If all is well the call is simply logged but if the call center responder can’t verify that all is well they will follow a predetermined emergency protocol.
What Happens When The Panic Button is Pushed?
Most elder-alert companies are set up to follow the client’s customized emergency response plan. For example, if the senior is mentally alert and responsive, the call center will follow their directions. If the senior does not want 911 services or family members notified, they won’t be. They will follow the client’s orders. (Incidentally, if you, as the caregiver of an elderly person are paying for the service, you can make sure you are notified each time a call is logged).
It is very important that you speak with your aging loved one so that they understand exactly what happens when the call button is pushed. In fact, you should regularly have the senior push the button as a test drill every month or so. This will help them remember the service (believe it or not, people who are having a medical emergency can forget that they’re wearing the device in the stress of the situation) – it will also help them understand they will remain in control.
A friend of our’s mom was wearing one of these devices when she slid off her bed and on to the floor, where she lay for hours until her daughter dropped by. “Mom, why didn’t you push the button?” the daughter asked. Â The 97 year old mom said, “I didn’t want the firemen to break down the door.” Â That’s the thought process of a scared elderly person – it’s not always rational ( even us younger folks aren’t always rational).
What my friend needed to do was to talk to his mom and let her know that the cops and firemen won’t break down the door just because the panic button was pushed. Mom needed to understand that the first thing that would have happened was the call center would ask her what she wanted them to do. The call center had all the family andÂ neighbor’sÂ phone numbers and would have been able to call someone she knew to help.
It’s sad, but some elderly victims won’t push the panic button because they’re in their underwear and are embarrassed to have a stranger come into the house. Â That is why it is so important for you as an elder caregiver to talk about these possible scenarios before they become a reality.
Foreign Language and Emergency Response Â Centers
My friend’s mom is from Italy and her English is very poor. Ideally her family should find a multi-lingual call center where trained responders speak the same language as the patient. And while we’re on the subject – make sure that whichever emergency service company you choose that their call center is local, not overseas. You don’t want a thick accent or lack of fluency to complicate things.
Best Senior Alert System
We are happy to be affiliated with LifeStation. They’re an American company with a great reputation and they have a wonderful and affordable solution that works for most people who are caring for an elderly loved one who lives alone or is unattended for parts of the day. Check out Lifestation.