Tips for Finding the Best Medical Alert Device When 24/7 Care Isn’t Available

Many people are familiar with medical alert devices because of the advertisements featuring an elderly person on the floor, saying: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

While some people think these ads are funny, a fall for an elderly person is serious business. Being rescued can be a life-saving experience for many elderly folks, especially those who live alone or have health conditions, such as uncontrolled diabetes, Alzheimer’s or epilepsy.

At Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, we offer this assistance with the constant quality care we provide our residents 24/7. But for those elderly individuals who still live in their homes, here is some information about these devices.

They’ve come a long way since they were first introduced in the 1970s. For example, they now offer GPS to locate the individual outside the home, automate fall detection and provide two-way communication with call centers.

And there are a lot of options on the market, so I highly recommend you do thorough research before deciding which device would work best for your situation or loved one.

To help, here are a few questions to ask:

  1. Does your alert device work outside of the home?
  2. Do you provide a choice of wristband and neck pendant?
  3. Do you have help buttons that can be wall-mounted near the floor in multiple rooms in case a customer falls and isn’t wearing the pendant?
  4. Are you willing to contact multiple people in case the user needs help? This can include emergency services, a friend that lives nearby or a family member.
  5. Does your device work for our specific needs? For example, a stroke survivor may need a device that can be activated with one hand.
  6. Do you have a battery backup in the event of a power failure?
  7. Where is your monitoring center located? Is it in the United States? Do you employ trained emergency operators instead of contracting out that function?
  8. Is your monitoring center certified by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a nonprofit safety and consulting company?

In addition to these questions, there are additional issues you need to look at, such as cost, effectiveness, portability, required equipment and maintenance.

Cost – This is often a major factor when looking at medical alert device and systems. Key questions to ask are whether prices are fixed and if installment plans are available. It’s also important to know if there is a contract term that has a penalty if it is broken early and if there are installation costs.

Effectiveness – The most effective systems offer two-way communication. You need to know if there is a dispatcher at the other end of the device, who will talk with the user and decide on the best course of action. You need to know if an ambulance will be dispatched automatically or if the alert provider will first try to make contact via phone or another communication method?

Portability – You probably want a system that works inside and outside the home. While the home is where seniors spent most of their time, a device that can travel with them offers added protection. Accidents can happen while shopping, walking down the street, etc.

Equipment requirements – Some medical alert systems need specialized equipment and a landline telephone. If special equipment is needed, most companies will provide it and help you install it.

Maintenance – There are a couple of issues here, including the task of replacing batteries from time to time. Repairs or maintenance also might be needed. Check to see if the company provides notification when batteries are running low, as well as free maintenance services or replacements.

I hope that helps you get started in your search for a medical alert device. You might also want to look for more information from Consumer Reports and AARP.

If you live in the Denver metro area and you’d rather have your loved one receive personal assistance, come visit us at Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, where our staff provides 24/7 care. We might be the perfect answer for your situation.