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Choosing the Right Medical Alert System For Yourself or a Loved One

Choosing the Right Medical Alert System For Yourself or a Loved One
(Copyright AP)

By    |   Thursday, 28 April 2016 05:18 PM

We all remember that TV commercial with the woman saying: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”  The phrase became a catch jingle with a comedic slant.

But falling and home accidents are no laughing matter. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), one-third of Americans aged 65 and older fall each year. Every 20 minutes an older adult dies from a fall.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal, trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. But falls aren’t the only reason millions of Americans depend upon medical alert systems, which offer security and peace of mind not only to seniors but their adult children and other family members.

“People choose a medical alert system for a variety of reasons,” Amie Clark, founder of The Senior List, tells Newsmax Health. “Medical alerts help healthy older adults maintain independence in their homes and offer life-saving help for those with serious medical conditions.”

Clark says she’d recommend a medical alert system for anyone who has had a recent fall, just returned from the hospital, or spends significant time alone day or night.

Currently, three options are available:
  • A traditional landline-based alert system that requires an in-home phone line to work. Such systems connect directly to the phone jack and make a call on your behalf if the pendant button is pressed.
  • A cellular-enabled base station option that doesn’t require a phone line with a range of between 600-1,200 feet from the base.
  • And for those who want coverage outside the home, several companies offer cellular systems that work in any area where major cell coverage (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) is available.
Clark says the most important feature to look for when buying a medical alert system is that it’s waterproof or at least water resistant since many falls occur in the bathroom.

“The other must-have feature is a long battery life. Make sure that the system has fall detection. Fall detection technology is fairly new in the medical alert world and it’s not perfect,” she says.

“We are also seeing more and more companies embracing GPS location technology and integrating this feature with cellular enabled devices. There are also a variety of form factors to choose from. Consumers can choose what’s best for their lifestyle so the systems come in different shapes and sizes, all of which can be worn around the neck, wrist or belt. Always ask about equipment warranties and especially return policies.”

Clark says that one of the most common complaints she hears from medical alert users is that they lock into long-term contracts and must continue paying for a system they no longer need, should they be transferred to a care facility or experience faulty equipment. She also notes there have been cases where individuals have been billed for such services after they have passed away.

“We advocate for month-to-month payments or a thorough understanding of the termination clause,” she says. “Many companies will provide discounts for paying quarterly, bi-annually or annually but you need to be able to terminate at the time of your choosing.”

The Senior List has investigated medical alert systems for years and found that many companies have poor or inconsistent service. Clark and her team have conveniently ferreted out the best choices.

“We have several favorites,” she says. “Bay Alarm Medical, Medical Guardian, and QMedic are all proven companies with excellent customer service and solid products.

For a recommended list of systems, along with brief descriptions, visit seniorlist.com or to check the organization’s convenient buyer’s guide,  click here.

“Doing your homework can save your life,” Clark says.

© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

Millions of older Americans — and their children and caregivers — rely on medical alert systems for safety, security, and peace of mind. But how do the various systems compare and what can consumers do to make a smart choice when buying one? Here's a primer.
medical, alert, system
Thursday, 28 April 2016 05:18 PM
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