We do so many articles, posts, and reviews of the latest medical alert systems that we thought we’d take a step backwards and cover the basics. Many people don’t even understand what a medical alert system is, or what they’re designed for. So let’s cover this in a brief Q&A session.
What Is A Medical Alert System?
A medical alert system is a combination of hardware and software (usually in the form of a pendant button) that sends a signal to emergency personnel when attention is required. Medical alert systems, also known as personal emergency response systems (PERS) are most commonly worn by the elderly or disabled individuals who may need to summon emergency personnel following a fall or other life threatening occurrence
What Do Medical Alert Systems Look Like?
Here’s a typical combination of a pendant button (usually worn around the neck) and a corresponding base station (which communicates with the pendant). After the pendant button is pushed it sends a signal to the base station. When the base station receives the emergency signal from the pendant, it calls a pre-programmed number (usually a call-center) where emergency responders/operators are standing by to assess the situation. After receiving an emergency call, the operators in the call center usually call-out to the person in distress over the base station’s loud speaker. The base station also has a microphone inside that detects a response from within the home (if the person in distress can speak). The call center operator then sends emergency personnel if required, or calls a family member, or a neighbor depending on the situation.
Are There Different Shapes & Sizes?
Yes, medical alert systems come in all shapes and sizes. There are traditional pendant style medical alert systems, speakerphone medical alert systems, cellular medical alert systems (for the more mobile), activity tracker type systems, and combination phone/medical alert systems (like the Jitterbug). See above for a few of the different types out there.
How Do I Buy A Medical Alert?
For many, it’s hard to know where to start. We’ve published a lot of helpful articles here on The Senior List® to help guide you along the way. Here are 3 good rules to follow as you go down this path. First, after doing some research based on your individual needs, narrow down your choices to a top 3 list. Second, don’t make these mistakes when purchasing a medical alert system, we see these a lot. Third, make sure you ask these questions when speaking to each of your top 3 medical alert providers.
Finally, if you didn’t jump to any of the aforementioned posts, remember this: Do not sign a long-term contract that doesn’t allow you to exit the agreement with little or no penalty. You must understand the termination provisions explicitly (if nothing else) so you’re not stuck paying a monthly bill when you no longer need the service, or if you’ve chosen the wrong medical alert provider. If you want to short list, here is a recent recommended list of medical alert providers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow all of the rules I mentioned above.
Do you have any advice for somebody that’s just getting started? Let us know in the comment below!