How to Choose a Medical Alert System
A medical alert system is a device that can be used to signal for help. They are most often used by people who are elderly or have a disability. When such a person suffers a fall or otherwise needs medical assistance, they typically press a button that they may be wearing which then calls for help. Benefits of a medical alert system include allowing someone to stay independent in their own home instead of going to a nursing home, giving the person a sense of privacy that they may lose with having a live-in caretaker, and also saving money since nursing homes and private nurses are quite expensive. Given that a medical alert system plays such an important role and can be life-saving, you want to choose one that is high-quality and reliable. This guide will help you make an informed decision for a medical alert system that you can trust.
Mobile Versus At-Home Medical Alert Systems
There are both mobile and at-home medical alert systems available. A mobile medical alert is a wearable device that operates on a cell signal, so even if you fall when you’re out of the house, you can still signal for help. Some require you press a button whereas others may have automatic fall detection that then reaches out to the device’s associated call center. A mobile medical alert system may also include GPS so if you are confused about your whereabouts or knocked unconscious, you can still be located by emergency personnel.
An at-home medical alert system features a base station that connects to your landline or a cell service. Generally, they also come with a wearable button that can be pressed in times of need. These medical alert systems have a limited range and obviously cannot work for emergencies that occur outside the home. The wearable component for an at-home medical alert system tends to be smaller and therefore more comfortable to wear than the mobile medical alert system.
Because many falls happen in the bathroom, it’s a good idea to find out if the medical alert system of your choice is waterproof. You don’t want to slip and fall in the shower and find your medical alert system out of reach.
Range and Coverage
Range and coverage are important both for at-home and mobile medical alert systems. Depending on the size of your home, you may find that your at-home medical alert system doesn’t cover the whole area. Find out within how many feet of the base station you need to be for your medical-alert button to work. Additionally, different systems have different coverage areas and regions throughout the United States. Make sure your area is included before purchasing a medical alert system.
Because mobile-medical alert systems work with cell signals, make sure that the provider has good coverage in your area. For example, it may work with Verizon, but if you live in an area where Verizon coverage is patchy, this won’t be the ideal medical alert system for you.
Regarding battery, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. One is how long the battery life is? You also want to ask how you’ll be alerted that the battery needs to be changed or recharged. Finally, find out how easy it is to replace the battery. A medical alert system won’t be any good to you if the battery is dead.
A good response center is going to be crucial should you find yourself needing to press the medical alert system button. Obviously, there should be a live person available 24/7 and you want the average call pick-up time to be within seconds. Find out how the operators are trained and if the call center has any certifications. You may be able to designate that certain alerts go out to designated friends/family members as well.
Finally, you need to consider costs. In addition to the startup unit, you’ll also need to be aware of installation fees. There may be recurring monthly fees for different types of monitoring. For example, automatic fall detection may have an additional cost that you can subscribe to. How much does it cost to replace the battery? Are there any other associated maintenance costs? Some companies will want you to sign long-term contracts but others let you have a no-contract, month-to-month service.