If you have an elderly loved one, you may be worried about them living on their own. Even if they’re healthy and fit, you do want to be prepared if there is an emergency. Instead of moving them into a retirement home, where they have to leave the home they’ve lived in for many years, you may be considering one of the medical alert systems that are available. This is a great way to help your family member continue to live in their home, but you’re going to want to know more about how these systems work before you try one.Medical Alert Systems Compare Chart
|Our Ranking||Company||Price||Standout Features|
(Best Of 2018)
|$29.99 Mth (Classic)·||- From $29.95/mo with no equipment fees|
- Free Shipping
- 30 Day Risk Free Trial
- Industry-leading hardware
- No Contract & Lifetime Warranty
- Offers Automatic Fall Detection Button
|$24.95 Mth||- Superior Choice of Equipment and Service Options|
- Consumer Friendly Policies
- At Home range up to 1,300 ft
- free shipping and a free month of service on all plans
|Medical Guardian||$27.49.99 Mth||- Best Monitoring Service|
- Reliable Hardware
- GPS and Fall Detection Standard
|Lively!||$19.99 Mth||- Fashionable|
- Excellent Service/Support
Buyers Guide On Medical Alert Systems For Seniors
Even if you’re in terrific shape, it may be getting more difficult for you to get around your home safely. Falling when you get out of the shower or because of a spill in the kitchen could leave you on the ground without a way to get up if you’ve broken a bone. You could also suffer a heart attack, stroke, or another sudden emergency while you’re home alone. If you’re living at home alone, you could have to wait quite awhile for help if you cannot reach a phone on your own. This can be incredibly scary, and it’s something no one should have to go through.
To protect yourself, you may be looking into the medical alert systems that are available. These systems typically come with a pendant or bracelet you can wear at all times so you can reach emergency help if you do fall, suffer from a heart attack or stroke, or any other emergency. Lively is a newcomer to the industry is offering fashionable ‘smart watch’ technology which not only looks good (compared to typical medical device hardware), but also has all the features you would expect from a top notch service provider. However, each system is different. You’re going to want to look for the right system for you so you know all of your needs will be taken care of. Some of the things you’re going to want to look for include the following.
A Base With an Extended Backup Battery
The base unit will plug into the wall and phone line. In the event of a power outage, however, the outlet will not be able to power the base. You’re going to want an extended backup battery to power the unit in case anything happens while you do not have electricity. You should never have to go without help.
Wide Range of Service
You’ll also want to look for a wide range of service. Some systems, like the Medical Guardian, offer up to 1300 feet ranges as part of their plan. This means you can call for help anywhere in your home or yard so you don’t have to worry about going out to the car or checking your mail.
Which Companies Offer A Medical Alert System With GPS Service?
If you like to get out of the house from time to time or you’re very active in your community, you’re going to want a system that moves with you. Look for a system that offers a mobile device you can take anywhere you go. This should come equipped with GPS services so the emergency personnel can find you quickly no matter where you are.
Live Monitoring Service
You also want to make sure the system has live monitoring service available at all times. If you speak a language other than English, you may feel more comfortable with a company that offers staff members who speak a variety of languages. You’ll also want to be sure the staff is 911 certified. This means they can call an ambulance themselves instead of needing to call the emergency line for you, which can save considerable time in an emergency.
Easy Access to Support
As with all technology, you may need help at times. Whether you need help getting everything set up or you have a question about your system, you should be able to easily contact a support team for assistance. This is an important feature and something you’re definitely going to want to look for so you can be sure your unit is working correctly at all times and you understand how to use in an emergency.
Here are the top FAQ’s regarding Medical Alert Setups:
How Do Medical Alert Systems Work?
A base unit will be put in the person’s home. This typically needs to be plugged into a power outlet and the phone line, although some units can work wirelessly. When an emergency occurs, the person can push the button on their pendant or necklace. This sends a signal to the base unit and emergency personnel are sent to the home to help the person. The medical alert systems consist of a bracelet or necklace the elderly person can wear. When something happens, such as a fall or a suspected heart attack, the person can press the button on their bracelet or necklace and get emergency help. Most of the time, the systems will give your loved one a choice of a necklace or a pendant, depending on their preferences. They can also include many different added features, which may be beneficial for your loved one depending on their situation. Read more about how medical systems work
Medical alert systems allow seniors to live autonomous lives without fear. They increase the user’s sense of freedom and provide loved ones with peace of mind. Understanding how these devices work helps users and their families feel more comfortable with the technology.
A medical alert system consists of three parts that work in synchronicity to detect problems and provide help when needed: the alert button, the base station, and the monitoring center. The user wears an alert button, usually in the form of a bracelet, that communicates wirelessly with the system’s base unit. This device connects to the home’s telephone line so the base can communicate with the monitoring center. If the user presses the alert button, the base station activates and “calls” the monitoring center. Since the base unit features a speaker and a microphone, two-way conversations can occur between the user and the representative at the monitoring center.
Other parts and features sometimes come with medical alert systems. For example, users can wear medical id bracelets to communicate important data about prescription medications or health conditions. If the user suffers from a particular allergy, this information becomes critical to emergency responders.
Additionally, more advanced medical alert systems might feature fall detection. This technology automatically notifies the base station when the user falls down. If the monitoring center cannot communicate with the user, they notify the family or emergency services.
How are Medical Alert Systems Installed?
Most medical alert systems feature step-by-step instructions for self-installation. Users simply plug the base unit into the phone jack and into a power outlet. Once installed, the system provides the user with protection immediately.
Some providers offer professional installation. However, this usually requires an extra fee and might take several days to schedule. If possible, users should attempt to install the system themselves or ask a friend or relative to help them.
How Do Users Operate Medical Alert Systems?
A medical alert system’s operation requires little attention. The user must wear the alert button at all times. Since most buttons are water-proof, this doesn’t pose a problem while taking a shower or bath. Some base units can be tested to determine whether they are still working properly.
If the user falls or suffers some other injury, he or she should press the alert button to notify the monitoring center. In this way, the base unit acts like a telephone without a receiver. Instead, the sensitive microphone picks up the user’s voice and transmits it to the monitoring center.
What Happens After a Fall?
Most medical alert systems allow the user to determine in advance how to handle an emergency. For example, some users request that the monitoring center call 911 immediately so they can send an ambulance. Others prefer the monitoring center to notify a particular relative or a close neighbor.
If the user cannot respond verbally to the attendant at the monitoring center, he or she will follow the protocol outlined in the user’s account. This might involve notifying emergency services or getting in contact with a family member, depending on the customer’s preferences. Some service providers will contact emergency personnel if the nature of the emergency cannot be ascertained.
Are Replacement Parts Necessary?
The batteries in the alert button could last only for a few months at a time, but many modern models feature batteries that last years. The alert button will notify the user when the batteries are running low so they can be charged or replaced.
Medical alert systems allow users to live their lives without in-home care or other forms of oversight. Now that you understand how they work, you can feel more comfortable in your purchase and confident in your ability to operate it successfully.
Do Medical Alert Systems Work When the Power Goes Out?
Since the base unit is plugged into the outlet, you may be concerned about a power failure. Most units have a backup battery just in case this happens. Before deciding on a unit, take a look at the length of time the backup battery will last while the power is out so you can be sure it will last long enough for your loved one to get help if they need it.
Investigate the Connectivity Options
Most medical alert systems require a connection to a landline telephone. This connection is much stronger than the connection achieved through a mobile phone or VOIP account. If the power goes out or interference gets in the way, your parent might not be able to activate the service in an emergency. Find out whether your phone line and provider are compatible with the system you’ve chosen.
Determine the Range of the System
Each medical alert system on the market comes with a different range of effectiveness. This refers to the distance the alert button can travel from the base before it is no longer effective. For example, if your parent steps outside to tend the garden, will he or she remain within range of the base? Systems with longer ranges sometimes cost more, but the additional expense is worth it if your parent spends time in the yard on a regular basis.
Find Out How Long the Battery Lasts
For most systems, the base unit plugs into an electrical outlet just like any other electronic device. The alert button, however, is worn by the user and requires a battery for power. Additionally, the base unit requires a backup battery in case the electricity service fails. Find out how long both batteries last to determine whether the system aligns well with your parent’s lifestyle.
Learn How the Monitoring Center Operates
A medical alert system loses its appeal if the monitoring system doesn’t provide reliable, 24/7 support. Larger companies feature multiple locations that serve as redundant security for each other. If one loses power or other services, another takes over to ensure customers never go without protection. Ask about the training for the attendants at the monitoring system and read reviews to determine whether you should trust your parent’s care to them.
Evaluate the Features Offered by the System
Some systems come with additional features beyond the alert button and base station. For example, a system with fall detection technology alerts the monitoring center if your parent falls down. That way, if your parent is rendered unconscious or otherwise cannot hit the alert button, the monitoring center can react.
You might want a choice in alert buttons for your parent. For instance, if your parent cannot easily reach his or her neck, a bracelet might work better than a neck pendant. You might want to use a system that offers alternative alert buttons, as well, such as wall-mounted panic buttons.
Finally, consider the pricing features of each medical alert system. Most provide the equipment free of charge, but you might have to sign a contract that binds you to the service for a specific period of time. Contracts can last anywhere from 90 days to more than one year. Some services also charge activation, installation, or cancellation fees.
A medical alert system takes on a watchdog role in your parent’s life. When you aren’t around, it ensures that your loved one has access to emergency assistance if it is ever required.
What Are The Best Medical Alert Systems With Fall Detection?
Sometimes, a person will be unable to press the button when they fall. They may be unconscious or suffering from a heart attack or stroke. In these cases, they’re still going to need emergency help as quickly as possible. Many units now come with fall detection and will automatically send a signal for emergency assistance if a fall is detected. It doesn’t work all of the time, but this is a feature you may want to consider.
Fall Detection Software
Some pendants and bracelets include fall detection. This software is included in your unit and lets the unit detect when you fall. Since falls can mean you’re unconscious or unable to press the button yourself, this could be an important feature. The unit will automatically call for emergency services if you have fallen and cannot use the button to call for help. There are also fall detection apps that can be used on mobile devices.
What About Falling in the Shower?
According to many sources, most falls occur in the shower or when getting out of the shower. While you can place handles to help your loved one navigate the slippery floors, you may want to consider medical id bracelets that are waterproof. This means they can be worn in the shower so your loved on can still contact someone for help if they fall while they are taking a shower or as they’re leaving the bathroom.
Can You Leave the Home Safely?
If your loved one is living alone and still in good shape, they may want to get out of the house once in awhile. They may need to pick up groceries or they may just want to see a movie. You’re going to want to be sure they’re protected anytime they leave the house. A unit that includes gps capable bracelets is a fantastic idea. If anything happens while they’re out, they can press the button just like they would if they were home. The GPS in the device will give emergency personnel their exact location so help can arrive quickly.
Our Top Pick goes To Lifefone. See the full review here.
Consider Smoke & CO Protection When Evaluating Medical Alert Systems
Did you know that there are more than 350,000 house fires in the United States on an annual basis? Of these fires, sadly 2,000 deaths occur from carbon monoxide poisoning and an additional 10,000 are injured from carbon monoxide in the home. While these are sad facts that no one wants to dwell on, it’s important to consider the safety of your home and of your parents or aging loved ones.
Some medical alert system providers offer safety products such as smoke & CO protection. When looking for a PERS (Personal Emergency Response System) you should consider this protection as well. These help provide peace of mind and make it easier than systems you might buy from a hardware store because instead of having to worry about checking the batteries in the fire and CO detectors, using this whole home package relieves that worry and also assures that in the event of an emergency, help will be available.
One of the providers of this system is LifeFone. They provide 24/7 protection including the medical alert system and Fire/Smoke, CO protection. LifeFone’s CO detection system monitors the levels of the CO in the home and if dangerous levels are detected, the system will sound an alarm and notify the Care Agents who will then provide assistance. Also, because statistics show that more than one third of the house fire deaths that occur are because there are no smoke alarms in the house, the whole house protection package is complete with a smoke detection system. If fire or smoke is detected the alarm will sound and notify the monitoring center and again, Care Agents will respond and dispatch emergency personnel if needed.
How Will Emergency Personnel Enter the Home?
You may prefer your loved one locks the door whenever they are home. This can help prevent intruders that may choose their home because they are elderly and can’t fight back. However, a locked door can mean that emergency personnel cannot get in to offer assistance. Instead, you may want to consider using a unit that offers a lockbox. This box is placed near your front door and holds a spare key. If emergency personnel are called, they’ll be given the code to the lockbox. This allows them to open it and get a spare key to enter the home, saving quite a bit of time over trying to figure out how to enter the home quickly.
How Does Pricing Work With Medical Alert Services?
Pricing varies by company, and you may or may not have a monthly contract. The ones that do have a monthly contract typically renew the contract every month, although some may have a longer contract. In these cases, the contract will expire if the person dies before the contract is over so you don’t have to worry about paying for the plan if the unit is no longer needed. Shorter contracts or those without a contract can simply not be renewed if this occurs. Some plans may be covered by insurance.
If your loved one is living on their own, make sure they have a way to contact emergency personnel in case anything happens. The best way to do this is to get a pendant or bracelet from one of the medical alert systems currently available. Take a look at the features discussed here to make sure the system you invest in has all of the features you want. Some may be an added expense, but it will be well worth the peace of mind offered when your loved one can request help no matter where they are.
Contracts and Fees
Some systems come with contracts while others do not. You’re probably going to want to look for a company that does not lock you into a contract so your family members can easily cancel the service if you pass. You also want to make sure you won’t be paying large connection or disconnection charges and that the monthly fees for the service is a reasonable amount. This way, you can get the assistance you need without spending too much money.
Not all medical alert systems offer all of these features, so you’re going to want to look for one that does. One option that does include everything listed here, and more, is the Medical Guardian system. This is one of the top-rated systems right now. Most likely, you’ll find that this system offers everything you’re going to need to be able to feel safe in your own home. No longer will you need to worry about falling or having a medical emergency when you’re home alone.
Are Medical Alert Systems Covered By Insurance?
Medical alert services such as Lively have proven to be lifesavers for many people. This constant access to emergency medical assistance is what has enabled numerous people to remain independent and stay in their own homes. Many people are interested in learning more about what these devices have to offer. However, the question asked most often is, Are medical alert systems covered by insurance?
There is no simple answer, except to say that they can be covered, sometimes, but only in rare instances. There are some state-run programs that assist in paying for them or offer the services at a discounted rate and in some cases the premiums people pay towards the product are tax deductible.
Is There a Deductible?
The medical alert deductible is usually only applicable under a law allowing a deduction for the cost of saving medical information. This means that only those plans that store your medical information will qualify. Since laws change rapidly, always consult with a tax expert before claiming any deduction.
Some insurance companies will cover the cost, but these are often private insurances or supplemental policies, like Medicare Part C plans. Never assume that your private insurance will not cover the service. Contact the insurance company helpline or your insurance agent directly to ask what coverage may be available.
Senior Organization Coverage?
Some organizations have also partnered with Medic Alert to provide discounts to the members of that organization. If you are a member of any senior organization or consumer discount company, contact them to see if there are any benefits available to you. Community service organizations that cater to the needs of seniors often have some funds designated to help those in need pay for these types of services. Check with local agencies to see if anything is available in your area.
You can also make the cost more affordable by tailoring what types of assistance you get to only exactly what you need. Talk to the companies that offer this service, compare prices as well as what you get for those prices. You may be surprised at how much a few unnecessary extras can add to your bill.
Whatever you do, do not just assume the program is too expensive and you will never be able to afford it. The majority of the people who use these services survive on a fixed income, so it is possible to find solutions that can fit within even the tightest budgets.
Are There Any Cheap Medical Alert Services?
Sudden illness or accidents are a common occurrence in elderly individuals. This is partially due to the fact that as a person ages they are much more likely to experience a fall or other accident that results in injury. Many times these falls can be due weakness as a result of an underlying illness that has yet to be diagnosed. Keeping senior safe can be quite a challenge. This is especially true when it is not possible to provide them with constant care and supervision. One way to solve this problem is to consider purchasing one of inexpensive medical alert systems. Before choosing a monitoring company there will be several considerations that must be made. Here is an overview of these systems along with some basic facts.
The cost of cheap systems will vary. With each system there are various levels of monitoring available. Most often you will find that each level will include unlimited monitoring 24 hours a day, seven days per week. Most of the command centers for these monitoring services are based in the United States. The price will generally range anywhere from right around $25 per month on up to right around $40 per month. Sometimes you may find a promotional offer that will include a month or two free as long as you make a commitment to use their service for a specified period of time. Always make sure you gather all of the financial facts about the monitoring company before you sign up. Some of these companies may require a contract before monitoring can begin.
Besides the monthly monitoring fee, users will likely need to pay an activation fee before the alert system can be used. This fee will range anywhere from zero dollars on up close to $100. The cost will vary depending upon which company you choose for the monitoring. In addition to those costs there will sometimes be a cancellation fee. Some of the monitoring companies require an obligation ranging anywhere from 30 days on up to 36 months. There are a few that do not require a minimum obligation. Make sure you verify whether or not the monitoring company you choose will require you keep their service for a specific amount of time. Cancellation fees can range anywhere from $20 on up to a couple hundred. More information about the inexpensive medical alert systems can be found online.
How To Convince a Loved One to Use a Medical Alert Device
Aging in place is one of the last bastions of independence for many seniors. If your aging loved ones have been determined to hold onto their independence equipping them with a medical alert system can help them achieve this goal. Investing in a personal medical alert device is a way to let your loved one maintain independence!
Many individuals will say they don’t want to wear a personal medical device because they believe it will mean they are “unfit” or “not healthy enough” to live alone. If you share with them that these devices are worn as a preventative measure in the event they suffer a medical emergency or a trip or fall (which is a very real and startling statistic for individuals aged 65 and older) they may see the benefit of wearing one.
How can you appeal to the emotional side of this conversation? Here are some tips:
- “It’s a fact of life, Mom and Dad, that people over the age of 65 are more likely to experience a trip or fall”. Let them know that if they have a personal medical alert device, a simple push of the button will provide access to medical care and treatment. Statistics show that fast response during an emergency helps create a better chance at recovery.
- “We worry about you.” This statement could be especially true if your parent is widowed or lives alone. Even if both parents are still living, each of them can have a personal medical alert pendant and this will provide peace of mind for the family.
- “It’s for peace of mind.” If you let your aging loved ones know it’s as much for your peace of mind as it is for them, they may agree to the device as a way to not only allow them to remain independent in their own home, but as a way to provide you peace of mind. It’s a win-win.
If your loved ones are more logical than emotional, here are some logical arguments you can share with them for the importance of having a personal medical device in their home (and on their person):
- One out of three individuals aged 65 and older will fall in the home. The longer they lie there without receiving medical care, the more serious the medical complications could become.
- A personal medical alert device will allow you to age in place. These devices offer you the ability to remain independent while providing access to medical care if needed. In the event of a medical emergency, you may not be able to reach a phone and with one of these devices, you won’t have to worry.
- If your parents do not want to move into an assisted living facility, you should stress to them that one of these devices may mean they won’t have to. A personal medical device can perhaps delay that move for years, or perhaps for the duration of their lives.
If you can explain the viability of a personal medical alert device and equate it to an insurance policy – it’s something you pay for and hope you never need to use, but you are grateful it’s there if the time arises that you need it – your loved ones may see the benefit.