Your Guide to Medical Alert Systems
Medical alert systems are a relatively new invention. If you had an elderly relative living in a home in the 1980's you may recall the cords that came from the wall in the bathroom, kitchen and bedroom that your relative could pull in case they fell.
From the wall device, medical alert systems grew to include the pendant that one would wear around their neck. These pendants were not waterproof and therefore not very effective if there was a slip and fall in the shower.
You may recall the ad from 1989 where the elderly woman falls and screams out, "I've fallen and I can't get up." This phrase was patented as it was from a commercial from a company called LifeCall. The company was selling their pendant that an elderly person would wear and could activate if they had fallen.
From cords in the wall to waterproof pendants with two way communication, medical alert systems have come a long way in a short period of time. Thanks in part to an increase in technology and thanks in part to the drive to keep our independent seniors safe.
What is a Medical Alert System?
A medical alert system is a senior's connection to a call center in case there's a home emergency. Many times a senior is required to wear a pendant or watch that has a monitoring device in it. Some of the pendants have two way communication in them and some will be linked to a call center device that is mounted somewhere in the home, but can be heard from anywhere in the home. When the wearer has an accident they can simply press the call button and an operator will answer, asses the situation and dispatch the right service be it an ambulance, police or a call to a relative.
What Makes a Good Medical Alert System?
When you're looking for a medical alert system there are several questions that you will want to ask a provider. Not all services are the same or have the same reach. Which service you choose will depend on the level of need that is required. Some people simply want the peace of mind in case of an accident, whereas others appreciate the daily check in call and reminder that it is time to take ones meds. When shopping around for a medical alert service you should ask the following:
- Does the medical alert system work with the current internet or phone plan
- How far is the range of the system
- Will the system work if the wearer falls outside in the yard
- Who installs the system
- Do I need a landline
- What is the average call center response time
- Who staffs the call center
- Does the call go right to the police or can a relative be contacted
- What happens if something breaks
- What happens if there is a power outage
- Is there automatic fall detection
- Is the equipment purchased or rented
How Much Does a Medical Alert System Cost?
Back when the medical alert systems were first invented and included the string coming from the bathroom wall, systems were about $2,000 for installation and cost about $50 a month for service. Today systems may or may not have a setup fee, depending on the call box mechanism. There will be a monthly fee for basic service which should range around $30. The thing to watch out for in pricing is when you begin to add features such as a daily call and medicine reminders to the plan.
When assessing the cost of the medical alert system be sure that you determine if the equipment is rented or owned. If the service has to be canceled for any reason is there a cancelation fee? Are you in a yearly contract? No one wants to think about this, but there may be a time when you are through with the service. If the senior moves for instance, to a home, they may not wait until the end of the year; will there be a penalty for canceling the service?
Why Would I Need a Medical Alert System?
Though seniors make up the largest group that would use a medical alert system they are not the only group that will use this system. Many people can benefit from a medical alert system such as:
- People with disability
- People who suffer from seizures
- Pregnant women
- People who live alone
Medical alert systems provide those who are on their own peace of mind that they're not alone. The whole family can be sure that if there is ever an issue, they're safe.