Medical Alert Systems

Medical Alert Systems Reviews

Medical Alert Systems (also know as life alarms, personal alerts, alert pendants, alarm bracelets, elderly alarms) can help aging or physically disabled loved ones live independently with peace of mind. At the push of a button these systems can send help from emergency response services or nearby relatives and friends. Our buyers guide will help you choose the right senior medical alert system.

In today’s competitive market there are a number of companies offering different types of monitoring technology and service plans. The most important thing to consider is the reliability of the system and the quality of the monitoring call center.

How to Buy The Best Medical Alert System for a Senior Citizen

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries among senior citizens. Most people who purchase medical alarm services are the relatives or friends of elderly people who live alone. Very often after a surgery, medical procedure or diagnosis, medical staff will recommend that the patient purchase an alert system in case of sudden illness or a fall. If your hospital or medical professional recommends a particular brand, it is sometime because they are being compensated and not because it is the best system for you.

How Medical Alarms Work

The medical alert service company will typically provide you with a console, which acts as a receiver, and a help button that transmits a distress call. The panic button may be in the form of a neck pendant, belt clip or wristband. When the button is pressed the console is activated and calls the monitoring center. A trained care specialist will attempt to speak with the individual who pressed the call button. Based on what the care specialist learns from the call, he or she will get you the assistance you need immediately

Who Will Answer The Call For Help?

Where is the Monitoring Center located? Some service providers maintain call centers in India, which may be a concern. If your loved one is struggling to communicate, be sure they can speak to a person who speaks their language fluently and without a hard to understand accent.

Is the Monitoring Center UL listed? Underwriters Laboratory has strong standards that a monitoring center must follow. Be sure the service you choose has a UL Listed Monitoring Center. What type of training does the staff receive? Only choose a service that has top quality people who are well trained and supervised.

Some senior alert Systems companies outsource their monitoring services to other companies. As long as the outsourced company can provide excellent service this shouldn’t be a concern, but we like to work with companies that service what they sell.

Types of Medical Alarms

Medical Monitors, Fall Detection and Senior Alerts

Many concerned family members rely on these senior alarms to give aging relatives an extra level of safety. But are they really worth it? Some devices only work when the “panic button” is pressed. That’s fine if your mom or dad is conscious and remembers to push the button. Believe it or not, many elderly fall victims don’t push the button! A friend’s mom lay on the floor for five hours when she fell off the bed. “Why didn’t you use the button?” they asked. “I was afraid the police would break the front door,” she explained.

Of course, that’s not how they work, but you need to make sure that your mom or dad know that they’re always in control. The monitoring company will only send 911 responders if there’s a true emergency. Plus, there’s no need for anyone to knock down a door! With a lock-box (see below), emergency response workers can get access without force.

Personal Emergency Response Systems

You’ve seen the ads on TV which have helped popularize the use of senior alert systems. In their simplest form these devices act like a call button would in a hospital setting, only instead of a nurse speeding to your room you are connected to a call monitoring center.

The Monitoring Center is typically staffed by a trained response team who will attempt to speak to the caller. If the panic button is pushed and there is no response from the caller, a predetermined protocol is followed. You can typically tell the Monitoring Center who should be called in the event of an emergency.

Senior Citizens may be hesitant to push the panic button is they believe it will cause the Fire Department to break down the front door and take them away in an ambulance when all they want is some help back into a chair, for example. Therefore it would be wise to discuss how you want emergencies handled. Perhaps you want your next door neighbor called, not 911. Just let the monitoring company know what you want. However if the monitoring company receives a distress call and is unable to speak to the caller they will typically call your local 911 service.

Factors to Consider Before Buying

Before you buy a medical emergency system for a senior citizen, think about how your loved one will adapt to using it. Some of elderly people see the medical alert system as a life-saver and others may refuse to use it at all. Studies have shown that a good percentage of people who own a panic button for seniors are reluctant to use it to call for help.

If you care for a senior citizen who lives alone, both you and your elderly loved one will feel safer knowing that help can be reached with an emergency Medical Alert device. But not all senior safety systems on the market are right for your needs. Here are some features that you may want to consider when buying a system.

Additional Features

Lock Box. A lock box allows caregivers and emergency response workers access to the home when help is needed and you are not able to open the door. A house key is securely locked away in a locked box with a combination lock. The combination to the lock-box will only be given to emergency responders or other individuals you’ve authorized.

Bathroom / Hallway Help Buttons. Place several stationary help buttons in areas where accidents are likely. Many seniors slip when they try to walk down a dark hallway or use the bathroom in the middle of the night. If they are not wearing the system’s push-for-help button, these mounted help buttons can save the day.

Activity Assurance. For a small additional monthly fee your monitoring company will automatically check in with you every day. If you fail to respond the system will signal the monitoring station for investigation.

Additional User. Two people can share the same monitoring service for a small fee as long as they live in the same house. It’s a great way to save money and protect every at-risk family member.

Factors to Think About

Distance from Console. Most commercial systems for home use have a range of 300 to 400 feet from the pendant to the console. Some systems may work outside your home (perhaps on the porch or patio) but it is best to test the system to find out where it becomes ineffective.

Testing, Testing. Your monitoring company should perform automatic testing to ensure that your system is working well. Additionally, the user should check in once a month to make sure everything is working as needed. The more familiar you are with your system the more likely you are to think to use it in an emergency.

Whoops! What if you press the panic button by mistake? Don’t worry, the monitoring company will contact you before they send in the cavalry. As long as they can speak to you and confirm you are all right there’s no harm done.

Ease of Use. Be sure to pick the right system for yourself or a loved one. If the system is easy to use and doesn’t interfere with day to day activities it can operate in the background. But if the system is too complicated or uncomfortable to wear there is the risk that it will be rejected.

Contracts. Some medical monitoring companies offer a very low monthly rate, but they trap you into a long term contract. One very well know brand that advertises on TV and radio with a very famous spokesman has such a plan. Don’t be fooled by low priced come-ons!

Brands of Medical Alert Systems for Senior Citizens

Lifestation Offers dependable service, great technology, excellent customer service and good pricing. We give Lifestation high marks, and not just because we are an affiliate, they have a strong track record and have no hidden fees or long term contracts.

AlertOne. One of the largest wholesale medical alarm distributors in the nation. Offers a 30-day risk free trial as of this writing. No cancellation fees or long term contracts.

LogicMark Guardian Alert 911 Emergency Alert System. Don’t confuse 911 dialers with monitoring services. These systems are essentially pocket sized speed dialers that call 911 when you activate them. Carrying a cell phone may be more practical.

LifeLink is a remote control for your telephone. You can program it with emergency contact numbers. It can’t detect falls or check on your status but it has the advantage of being a one time purchase.

Philips Lifeline. Offers Auto-Alert which can automatically call for help if a fall is detected. Philips Lifeline is a leading provider of medical alert services, having served over 6 million subscribers during three decades of experience.

LifeFone provides personal medical emergency alarm devices that are monitored 24/7 to allow independence, security and fast response at the press of a panic button. The company has been around since 1976.

Life Alert is a Personal Emergency Response and Home Medical Alert System company founded in 1987. Life Alert provides its service to members nationwide. The company employs over 600 people, all in the United States.

If you need a simple to use, easy to wear affordable medical alarm system with no long term contracts, check out LifeStation.


Photo credit: KOMUnews / Foter / CC BY

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