If you are looking for a medical alert system to protect an elderly loved one, be sure to do your homework. There are a lot of companies out there that offer personal emergency response systems with a number of features and benefits that are very useful and others with serious limitations. For example medical alert phones may be a practical solution for your elderly loved one if they are comfortable with the technology and you believe that they are not in a great risk of falling in becoming incapacitated. A medical alert phone is more or less a wireless phone that you can program with an auto dial feature. It allows the user to carry the telephone around and be able to present auto dial button and be connected with friends, relatives or emergency response professionals but it does require them to be able to access the telephone, operate the telephone and communicate with the person that they’re calling.
The trouble with these medical alert phones is that in the event of a sudden illness, fainting or slip and fall the elderly user may not be able to find, use or even remember that they have the phone. On the plus side, these systems are cheaper than medical monitoring systems as there is no monthly monitoring service to pay for. By getting your senior citizen a reliable mobile phone and preprogramming personal contact numbers into autodial you pretty much accomplish the same effect. We’re not knocking these phones we just want to point out that while they give the user access to a telephone service remotely the system is only as strong as its weakest link.
When an elderly person falls chances are they are going to be disoriented. If they are too confused to find and operate a remote medical alert phones they will not be able to use this system to summon help.
A more practical solution is a medical alert system that can be activated using a pushbutton that is worn around the neck as a pendant or on the wrist like a watch. These medical alarm systems will allow your parent to maintain an independent lifestyle because you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that they can get help simply by pushing a button.
A typical medical alert system has a transmitter which is worn by the user and receiver located somewhere in the house. The range on these devices generally will cover the interior of an average home but they will not provide any protection once you go outside their radio range. Some systems will alert the monitoring station when the signal is lost in the call will be placed to the home to determine if everything is all right.
The basic system operates under the scenario that the elderly person falls and is unable to get up to reach a phone to call for help. By pushing the panic button on the pendant or wristwatch transmitter a coal box is activated in the house which connects the caller to the monitoring station. The monitoring agent speaks with the user to determine how to best help remedy the situation. If the user is coherent and able to give instructions to the monitoring station those instructions will typically be followed. If the caller can’t be reached or understood, the monitoring station will then follow a predetermined emergency call protocol which may include calling 911 responders, relatives, friends and next-door neighbors.
The worst-case scenario is that an elderly person falls and becomes unconscious, or they suffer a stroke. In this state they are unable to push a panic button. That’s where an auto fall detector can be the difference between life and death. A senior monitoring system with a fall-alert feature should, in theory, create an alarm at the monitoring station which will prompt an operator to contact the user to see if everything is all right.
Other more elaborate monitoring systems can actually provide richer detail and true fault detection. Sometimes when people fall they don’t fold face down and make a loud thump on the ground. Sometimes they simply slumped down slowly to the floor or chair. Most fall detection systems are only activated if the device is violently jarred. A more subtle and advanced system will be able to detect the positioning and inactivity as well as changes in body functions to alert the monitoring station.
These more advanced monitoring systems that are able to monitor heart rate, skin temperature and mobility are slightly more expensive but offer much more protection. The downside is that the device that monitors bodily functions must be worn around the chest and some users may find this too invasive.
There are no simple solutions to providing total safety to a senior citizen living at home. All medical monitoring and emergency response systems for aging people have their pluses and minuses. A system that may be right for your grandmother may not work for your grandfather. It’s important that you study the features and benefits of all the top brands to decide which features you can live with and which ones are not worth paying for.
If you’ve had personal experience with a monitoring service that you’d like to recommend or suggest that we take a critical look at please get in touch by leaving a comment below.
Lifestation – Senior Monitoring Service
myHalo – Medical Monitoring – True Fall Detection and Medical Monitor
VRI Medical Alert Systems
Freedom Alert – Medical Alert Phone
Wellcore Personal Emergency Response
Philips Lifeline with AutoAlert
Brickhouse Alert Fall Detection Device
Response Link Medical Alert
Life Guardian Medical Alarm System
Connect America Medical Alert