Top 5 Features Of A Modern Medical Alert System

We’ve written extensively about medical alert systems here on The Senior List. We’ve done so in an attempt to educate the public on appropriateness of use, and to offer tips and advice on buying a medical alert system for your loved one (or yourself).

One of the things we haven’t focused on as much is what we think the perfect medical alert system consists of.  So with that as a backdrop, here is our wish list. Our top 5 features that would define the perfect (in-home) medical alert system:

The Best Medical Alert System: Top 5 Features


1.  The best medical alert system should be a small (discrete) waterproof form factor

I’m talking about a small pendant style medical alert system that doesn’t make you look like Flava Flave (of Public Enemy fame).  There should be options today on style, and there really aren’t many to choose from.  Our idea for best options include both the necklace style pendant alert button, as well as a small wristband type device.  Both should beflavor flav Top 5 Features Of A Modern Medical Alert System totally waterproof so they can be worn in the shower or the bathtub.  Not-so-fun-fact; Did you know that over 1 in 3 seniors fall every year, and according to to the National Institute on Aging, over 80 of those falls are in the bathroom.  This is why it’s so important for manufacturers to get this WATERPROOFING issue right now.  Most of the medical alert devices today are water resistant (not waterproof), leading many manufacturers to recommend that they not be worn in the bathtub or shower (at the very least not submerged).  This is a biggie folks, the best medical alert devices need to be waterproof.

2.  The best medical alert system providers should never ask you to sign a long term agreement

Our favorite providers out there have month-to-month options for families and they don’t gouge the customer for choosing this option.  Believe it or not, there are some medical alert system providers that have conned consumers into 3 year contract commitments, which is appalling.  Just sniff around The Senior List medical alert system articles and you’ll hear directly from consumers that got stuck… and aren’t happy!  Always, always make sure you’re signing up for a commitment that you are comfortable with, not something a sales person pushes you into signing.  In fact if you do get pressured like that, just walk away.  Tell them you’ll be sharing your story with us, and we’ll make sure to warn other consumers of nasty sales tactics.  Frankly, we’re tired of it.

3.  The best medical alert system should be comfortable and lightweight

One of the worst ttimex ironman Top 5 Features Of A Modern Medical Alert Systemhings that could happen after investing in life-saving technology like a medical alert system is that your loved one doesn’t wear it.  Our wish list includes something that looks fashionable or sporty, and isn’t bulky or hard edged.  If it’s as comfortable as my Timex Ironman watch band, it’s going to be worn all the time.  If it’s big, bulky and clunky like my Tissot dress watch… it’s only going to be worn for special occasions.  And that’s not good enough!  Many of the form factors (pendant or wrist style) all look alike today… but hey this is a wish list right?

4.  The best medical alert systems should have fall detection technology that works

We’ve heard from countless community members here on The Senior List that fall detection on the devices today stinks!  While we love and respect your feedback, we’re in the camp that believes it’s good… not great (yet).  Fall detection has been around for years in these devices.  A number of companies over the years have bit-the-big-one (read failed) trying to develop a fall detection device and stand on that leg alone (as a major differentiator).  Frankly, it’s tough to do for a huge number of reasons.  First, expectations of what fall detection devices should or shouldn’t do vary widely with both consumers and industry experts.  The algorithms that constitute what a fall is and what a fall isn’t are difficult to define and fine-tune.  Finally, we all fall a bit differently.  A fairly active adult may be doing exercises in the home and fall into the couch to catch a breather.  Is this a fall? Will this set off the device?  It’s a very tough thing to perfect.  But for our wish list, we’d like the option of fall detection that really works.

5.  The best medical alert systems should have communication options in the case of an emergency

What I mean is… Who do you want your PERS (personal emergency response system) to call if you depress the button?  Do you want this device to call a loved one?  Do you want it toOneCall speaker 150x150 Top 5 Features Of A Modern Medical Alert System ring a call center?  Do you want it to dial 911 directly?  These are all options of one or more of these medical alert systems.  We’d like to have the option to program this device to ring a family member AND a call center (in that order).  If it’s a minor emergency, I’d rather speak to a loved one.  If that loved one can’t be reached or they can’t reach me… It’s forwarded to the call center for possible dispatch.  Also, since this is a wish list we like the idea of a mini speaker phone built into our pendant or wristband.

So that’s it… Not to much to ask is it?  What did we miss?  What do you want to see on your ideal medical alert system?  Let us know in your comments below!

Would You Like a Medical Alert Recommendation?

Medical Alert Buyers Guide

Happy Fathers Day 2014

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” ~Mark Twain, “Old Times on the Mississippi” Atlantic Monthly, 1874

fathers day1 Happy Fathers Day 2014Wishing all of the dad’s out there very special wishes on this fathers day!  Here’s hoping you have a great day surrounded by family, or hearing from those most special to you.  This isn’t the only day I think about my own father, but it does force me to reflect more than I normally do.  More than anything, I think about all of the lessons I learned from my dad without knowing they were lessons.  Maybe that’s the magic of fatherhood.

A Successful Man (author unknown)

That man is a success – who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of
children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.

Have a special memory of your father or father figure? Share it below!

 “He didn’t tell me how to live; He lived and let me watch him do it.” – Clarence Budington Kelland

best dad Happy Fathers Day 2014

Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

Purportedly, journalist Ken Griffiths of The Sunday Times took a photo of an elderly couple in the same place (outside their home), each season for 12 consecutive years.  There are many theories surrounding this series of photos.  Some say it’s Ken Griffiths’ parents and he chronicled their love for one another through their final 12 seasons together.  Others merely note the acclaimed photographer and journalist took the photos of some would be friends to be originally published in 1973.  The results no matter which way you cut it are amazing, and they are making their way around the web for all to ponder.

“When you’re young you prefer the vulgar months, the fullness of the seasons. As you grow older you learn to like the in-between times, the months that can’t make up their minds. Perhaps it’s a way of admitting that things can’t ever bear the same certainty again.”
― Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot

There is something magical about each season anew.  Each bring with it inevitable change, glory and even decay.  Spring brings with it eternal hope and each season unveils a new chapter.  The same holds true in our lives, and I love to think about the parallels between our mother earth… and each of us that share her for a brief moment in time.

KenGriffiths1b Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

KenGriffiths2b Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

KenGriffiths3 Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

KenGriffiths4 Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

KenGriffiths5 Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

KenGriffiths6 Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

KenGriffiths7 Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

KenGriffiths8 Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

KenGriffiths9 Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

KenGriffiths10 Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

KenGriffiths11 Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

KenGriffiths12 Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

Medical Alert Industry Going Digital

iWatch 300x249 Medical Alert Industry Going DigitalIf you or a family member is wearing a traditional (tethered to your land-line based telephone) medical alert system, you probably won’t be in a few years.  You see times they are a changing.  Traditional land-line based telephone systems are becoming a thing of the past… And those land-line based medical alert systems (think “I’ve fallen and I can’t  get up”) will be pushed out of the way by newer digital mobile devices.  It’s actually happening right now… The medical alert industry is changing before our very eyes! ResponseLink 150x150 Medical Alert Industry Going DigitalThe landscape in this market is changing at a rapid pace.  Traditional form factors like the iconic pendant buttons could also be replaced.  Did you know that there are medical alert apps out there for the iPhone and for Android devices?  Wearable digital devices are the new rage.  Think the new iWatch won’t have a medical alert app?  Think again… The innovators out there (the companies that will lead this space) have already begun to go mobile.  GreatCall, Philips and MobileHelp have already been leaning in this direction, and I’m guessing there are more innovators out there preparing to enter this space. The Senior List recently published a profile of 5 cellular based medical alert system providers currently on the market.  There are 2 additional cell based medical alert systems scheduled to launch this fall.  One from Philips Lifeline and from MobileHelp.  Further “change agents” will see this market as ripe for innovation, and it should prove very interesting to follow.

Would You Like a Medical Alert Recommendation?

Medical Alert Buyers Guide

Suicide Rate For Veterans Is Too High

American Veterans 300x199 Suicide Rate For Veterans Is Too HighI’m not writing a regular column anymore, but recent statistics released by the Department of Veterans Affairs were so shocking, I felt the need to address them in a public forum.  To put it simply, the suicide rate for veterans is too high.  The report entitled “Suicide Data Report: 2012” examined suicide among our veterans, and found some alarming trends.  Incredibly, the suicide rate among veterans in 2009 and 2010 (the latest year data was accumulated) stood at 22 per day.  That’s right… per day!  The rigors of war, and the toll that takes on a veteran and their families can be overwhelming at times.  Conforming to a normal life after living in a combat zone for a year (or longer) can be confusing and downright difficult.

“The suicide level for veterans is unacceptable, what we’re seeing  is an extraordinary tragedy which speaks to the horror of war and the need for  us to do a much better job assisting our soldiers and their families after they  return home.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders  (I-Vt.) Chairman: Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee

Estimated number of veteran suicides 1999-2010

Suicide Rate Vets 300x173 Suicide Rate For Veterans Is Too High

Suicide Data Report: 2012 –

There are some things that we all can do to be more aware AND to take action on if we suspect someone is in crisis.

If you suspect a veteran friend or loved one is at risk for suicide, you should take the following actions now:

  • Reach out to them today (don’t wait).  Let them know you are thinking about them and give them ample opportunity to talk to you.  Your goal here is to be a good listener.  Look for additional clues and/or at-risk behaviors, and more than anything make sure they know they can count on you if things escalate.  The Mayo Clinic offers a list of questions you can ask a suicidal person like “How are you coping with what’s been happening in your life?” and “Do you ever feel like just giving up?”  Interestingly, the Mayo Clinic notes that “Asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings won’t push someone into doing something self-destructive. In fact, offering an opportunity to talk about feelings may reduce the risk of acting on suicidal feelings.”
  • Make sure they know about resources like the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 & press 1 to talk to someone live).  Additionally there is a Crisis Text Line (text 838255), AND an interactive Confidential Veterans Chat Portal (you’ll find it online at  Another great resource for anyone (veteran or not) is The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  You can speak to someone now by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Look for the warning signs.  Did you know that the VA’s 2012 Suicide Report indicated that the methods for non-fatal (suicidal) events showed that 51% of (veteran) suicide attempts included poisoning/overdosing?  Look for the accumulation of pills etc. Do they have access to firearms?  This same report indicated firearms were used in 10.9% of non-fatal suicides.  How are they sleeping? Are they isolating themselves from friends and family? Are they talking about being a burden to others?
  • Help them get the help they need.  If your friend or family member is in crisis, you CAN help them get the assistance they need.  Do the heavy lifting for them if necessary… Offer to join them when calling one of the hot-lines mentioned above.  Offer to take them to the doctors office.. and sit-in with them if necessary.  A family physician is a great resource for identifying the severity of suicide risk, and finding the proper resources to help.
  • Finally, to avert a crisis… call 911.  If all else fails, you need to call 911.  It’s a difficult call to make but if it means the difference between life and death… you make the call!

Strategies from Guy Kawasaki – Enchantment Book Review

Book Review: Guy Kawasaki’s “Enchantment”

I had the pleasure of previewing Guy Kawasaki’s new book “Enchantment earlier this year.  Kawasaki’s Enchantment hit stores March 8th, and it provides a guide to creating the next irresistable company, brand or widget (think Google, Groupon, or the iPhone).

enchantment1 Strategies from Guy Kawasaki   Enchantment Book ReviewThis is a must-read for start-ups as well as established companies.  As consumers become more and more sophisticated, companies must do more to get their attention (and hold onto it).  Regular visitors to The Senior List know that our platform allows the best senior-service providers to shine, and the worst providers to shine (albeit in a different light).  I have little doubt that the providers with the best ratings and reviews here on The Senior List are practicing some of Guy Kawasaki’s strategies for Enchantment (whether they know it or not).

Having worked in the field and corporate offices of muti-national AND small companies, one chapter really struck a chord.  Chapter 10 is titled; How to Enchant Your Employees.  The heart and sole of any organization is it’s dedicated employees.  Enchanting your customers is a no brainer, but I’d argue that it’s equally important to enchant your employees as well.  Keeping and motivating employees is no easy task, and losing your best employees is a recipe for disaster.  Let me share with you Strategies from Guy Kawasaki – Enchantment Book Review:

  • Provide a MAP:  “Providing an opportunity for employees to achieve mastery, autonomy, and purpost (MAP) is more important than money.”
  • Empower Them to Do the Right Thing:  “Bottom line:  Let your employees do the right thing, and you’ll enchant them.  And then they will enchant your customers.”
  • Judge Your Results and Others’ Intentions:  “Judge yourself by what you’ve accomplished and others by what they intended.  This means you are harsher on yourself than others”.
  • Address Your Shortcomings First:  “People who adopt this self-criticism strategy will improve managers because they take responsibility for lousy outcomes.”
  • Suck It Up:  (One of my personal favorites)  “Sometimes you should suck it up and deal with adversity, because that’s what great people do.”
  • Don’t Ask Employees to Do What You Wouldn’t Do:  “Nothing will increase your credibility and loyalty better than this.”
  • Celebrate Success:  “One win can overcome a hundred losses, so celebrating success is a powerful way to enchant employees.”

(There’s more to the list in Chapter 10, but you’ll need to buy the book to experience the full effect.)

“Enchantment transforms situations and relationships.  It converts hostility into civility.  It reshapes civility into affinity.  It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.”

-Guy Kawasaki from his new best seller,  Enchantment

Lifelines Academy – Connecting People Serving Seniors

Lifelines Academy: What is it?

If you don’t know about Lifelines Academy yet, it’s time you did.  Lifelines Academy is an online community for educating and connecting people serving seniors.  The mission is to “prepare businesses, professionals and families to meet the challenges of – and to realize the opportunities associated with – the aging of America”.  With over 500 online (interactive) courses, we think they do “education” quite well.

The more businesses that collaborate, the better things can get for the seniors and their family caregivers” says Sheryl Hunter, CEO of Lifelines Academy.  She learned this lesson first hand over many years of caring for her grandmother and an aunt, both suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.  Sheryl, an attorney, co-founded Lifelines Academy in 2009 with business partner Beth Farrell.  Together their goal remains educating and connecting people serving seniors nationwide.  Lifelines Academy offers online courses for geriatric care managers, senior move managers, healthcare providers, designers and other professionals serving seniors.  They also have a growning network of providers of goods and services to this marketplace.Lifelines Academy1 Lifelines Academy   Connecting People Serving Seniors

The majority of courses offered by Lifelines Academy provide either continuing education credits or a specialty certification.  This online educator is unique because the focus is on the entrepreneur.  It’s focused on the entrepreneur who is seeking an innovative (turn-key) business solution to meet the needs of the growing aging market.  Co-founder Beth Farrell explains, “people today have limited resources, one of which is time.  Our courses are designed to enable people to take classes conveniently and cost effectively.  They can do this online and receive valuable information, the right business forms, checklists, and marketing materials.  These items allow for an immediate implementation of the course curriculum“.  Both founders know that people serving seniors need to meet the needs of their clients AND be able to run a business.

Click through to review the online education offerings from Lifelines Academy… You’ll be glad you did!

Nurse Job Satisfaction Survey

health affairs Nurse Job Satisfaction SurveyJob Satisfaction Levels: Nursing

A new nurse job satisfaction study appearing in the February issue of “HealthAffairs” concludes that satisfaction levels among nurses providing patient care (in hospitals AND in nursing homes) doesn’t bode well for the 78 million baby boomers entering the system.  Keep this statistic in mind as you consider the results of the study… The oldest baby boomers just turned 65 in January, and 10,000 boomers per day will turn 65 for the next 19 years!  The study surveyed over 95,000 nurses, and uncovered some troubling statistics:

Job Satisfaction among nurses with direct patient care:

 Hospital StaffNursing Home Staff
Those that reported dissatisfaction in their job24%27%
Those that reported feeling burned out34%37%
Reported dissatisfaction with healthcare benefits41%51%
Reported dissatisfaction with retirement benefits50%60%

Finally, this stat is a scary one… 36% of hospital nurses and 47% of nursing home nurses mentioned “workload” contributed to missing important changes in patient conditions.  Interestingly, nurses in other (non patient care related) settings reported higher satisfaction levels in all of the relevant satisfaction areas mentioned above.  Understanding just how these nurse job satisfaction survey results are affecting patient care is important, because you can be sure it’s having a negative impact.

Nursing staff play an integral role in our current healthcare system, and those involved in patient care can count on INCREASED workload as retiring baby boomers place more pressure on the system.  Finding ways to recruit more candidates into the system, and working to improve job satisfaction levels is more important than ever before.

The Senior List is an eldercare directory focused on consumer reviews.  If you have something to say about senior-service providers in your local community please visit our senior care directory, and provide a review!  Word of Mouth… It Works!

Just5 Cell Phone Winner

Just5 Winner: Karen Bazan Consulting:

The Senior List recently performed an in depth review of the Just 5 cell phone for seniors.  If your familiar with The Senior List, you know that we’ve also reviewed 8 other manufacturers of cell phones for seniors.  The good folks at Just5 provided The Senior List with a brand new Just5 phone (in the box) for our review.  Just5 also allowed us to randomly draw a winner from our readers, to receive this great phone and its accessories (at no charge). 

I’m very happy to announce that the winner of the Just5 cell phone is Karen Bazan of Karen Bazan Consulting Services.  Karen Bazan joined The Senior List on Facebook, and told us she was interested in being eligible for the phone.  Lucky for Karen, her name was first out of the hat and I know that phone will go to good home.  Karen just5a 150x150 Just5 Cell Phone Winnerhas over 18 years working with seniors and family caregivers, and has earned her CSA distinction (Certified Senior Advisor) from the Society of Certified Senior Advisors.  Karen, your new Just5 phone is on its way… Enjoy!

Visit The Senior List Eldercare Directory to view ratings and reviews for senior services in your local community.

The Senior List also reviews key technologies that help boomers and seniors remain active and independent.  Click here to see a review of popular medical alert systems for seniors.

Copy of 300 x 250 Just5 Cell Phone Winner

Technology Trends For Seniors

computer1 Technology Trends For SeniorsA post in The New Old Age Blog (NY Times) entitled “Elder Tech: What’s Important” (by Karen Stabiner) prompted me to write a brief post about future trending in technology for seniors.  As we get closer to the launch of CES 2011 (The Consumer Electronics Show produced by the Consumer Electronics Association), I’m hoping we get some answers to some looming questions. Technology Trends For Seniors is a hot topic these days…

Tech Trends: Boomers & Seniors

There is a buzz in the air about the impact of technology on aging adults today.  Perhaps it’s brought on by the recent baby boomer milestone… Where the oldest of the Baby Boomers just turned 65 (as of January 1st, 2011).  We’ve written at length about Senior-Friendly Cell Phones and Medical Alert Systems here on The Senior  Boomers and Seniors (like everybody else) are interested in keeping in touch with loved ones, remaining independent in their own homes, and taking advantage of the many conveniences the new gadgets provide us today.

I’ll be following CES closely this year from Oregon, as my schedule won’t allow me to be in Vegas this week.  Among other things, I’m interested in the following areas as it relates to seniors:

    • Medical Alert Systems and PERS (personal emergency response systems) –  Have these devices taken the next step in mobility?  Until now, most of these devices require the user to be  “tethered” to a 600 ft. radius (of a base unit).  Though there are a few exceptions, we should be beyond this limitation by now.  The future of medical alert systems will include; mobility beyond the home, fall detection, an extra long battery life, and GPS location services (for emergency personnel and families).
    • Senior Friendly Cell Phones – Will senior-friendly cell phones adapt beyond 2 or 3 leading brands aimed at seniors?  Necessary features must include big buttons, ease of use, an emergency button, compatibility with hearing devices, and easy volume controls.
    • Senior Friendly Computers – There’s a bit of chatter out there about computers with a streamlined OS (operating systems), that will enable easy email,  social sharing (like facebook, etc.), integrated web cams, and more.  If you read the comments in the above noted article (from the NY Times) you’ll see that most seniors today have been around advances in technology their entire lives.  They’re not scared of technology, they just want technology to be intuitive (as it should be).

Other areas we’ll be watching include advances in hearing aid technology, smart TV (internet ready), total home monitoring, and tele-health.  (More on these items at a later date.)  If you’re at CES, or just returning, please let us know what you were looking for… and what you found!