Is The Apple Watch Ready For Prime Time?

google.glass  Is The Apple Watch Ready For Prime Time?We had a great question from one of our community members that spurred some additional dialog about the the future of medical alert systems, and whether the Apple Watch might be in that future.

Susan asks resident tech expert TimOnTech: I was thinking along the same lines, Tim, but you expressed it much better than I….I don’t even know what an accelerormeter is. I used to joke if Tiffany made an alert pendant necklace, older women would love wearing it. The Apple watch looks cool.

I was thinking it probably also has a gps built in. (Do you know?) If so, help could be on the way very quickly even if the person couldn’t speak.

Thanks for the information and forward-thinking. possibilities.

Why is the Apple Watch receiving criticism in it’s first week of existence?

Unfortunately the Apple Watch needs some time to grow. Here are a list of why we don’t think its ready for seniors (or most consumers for that matter).

1. It’s not waterproof (no not even the sports edition). It is not even recommended to be worn in the shower.  This (to me) translates into “this Apple Watch isn’t even water resistant yet”.  This is a deal breaker for most of the sports nuts out there that expect to wear their watch wherever they go (including the pool).

2. It’s tethered to the iPhone. Hopefully it will have it’s own communication ability down the road so you don’t have to take your phone with you all the time. So now you have 2 devices that do largely the same thing.  One small… The other one SUPER SMALL.  As soon as we can take one or the other (or both) at our discretion, Apple will have a complete game changer.  For now it’s just a game changer. (Which isn’t so bad is it?)

3. Battery life of the Apple Watch is being called into question. They say you get a day’s worth of charge, but I suppose that the real numbers will become evident when they start shipping the Apple Watch (next year some time).  Again, let’s get to the point where we only need to plug these wearable gadgets in a couple times a week.  I know the brilliant engineers out there can do this!

4. The watch face is awfully small. Now my eyes are pretty good, but I don’t like reading on my iPhone 5S let alone a tiny watch… My iPad is about as small as I like to read on… So for the most rudimentary of tasks (like depressing an emergency call button) this might be just fine.  Replying to a text with a smiley face?  Probably fine too… but doing much more on the watch itself is going to be a struggle for most aging adults.

To read Susan’s original question and comment string click here on our article entitled; “The Next Best Medical Alert System”

apple watch 178x300 Is The Apple Watch Ready For Prime Time?

Apple Watch like Google Glass nice to have… Not need to have (yet)

So in summary, for now it’s probably a nice to have… Down the road (a couple years down the road) it may turn into a need to have. One nice wearable comparable is the Google Glass product. Even thought it’s not widely available, it’s been met with only mild enthusiasm. It’s a nice wearable comparable because it’s also an extension of one’s cell phone except plastered to ones face.

What’s your take on these exciting new wearable devices? Are they ready for prime-time? Are they following the typical evolutionary path to legendary gadget status?  Let us know your thoughts below!

The Next Best Medical Alert System

apple watch 178x300 The Next Best Medical Alert SystemIf you tuned into the Apple Live event yesterday you heard a lot about the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as Apple’s much anticipated wearable technology called the Apple Watch (nope it’s not called the iWatch).  The iPhones continue on their spectacular run of innovation including getting thinner, faster, stronger, and packed with new features like Apple Pay (think iWallet) and integrated health apps.  As you were watching the presentation I bet you weren’t thinking about the next best medical alert system! Well for good reason we were, and here are some thoughts on the future of this growing marketplace.

 

The Future of The Medical Alert System

As someone that follows the medical alert system industry closely, I can’t help but think that we might be seeing the future of medical alert systems before our very eyes.  The first thing I thought about when I saw the Apple Watch was that this is the first big innovation in medical alert systems we’ve seen in a long, long time.  How you ask?  Consider this: The Apple Watch already has build in sensors to tell you temperature, heart rate and a variety of other health related information.  There are already built in health apps that track daily activity which will be useful for family members to track how often their loved one’s are getting around.

iOS 8 Health App The Next Best Medical Alert System

This is the first big innovation in medical alert systems we’ve seen in a long, long time.

The Apple Watch has an internal gyroscope and an accelerometer which could lend itself to any myriad of inactivity or fall detections too.  Built in messaging could serve as useful reminders notifying the user when it’s time to take their medications, and how they should take them (with food, or not).  The possibilities are endless.

Right now the Apple Watch solution isn’t optimal  for a variety of reasons.  It’s new, it’s complex, it’s tethered to an iPhone, it may not be waterproof yet, etc.  The biggest reason this technology won’t be replacing the traditional medical alert system is that there aren’t many medical alert system replacement apps that are ready for prime time on the Apple Watch.  Here’s one industry observer that’s betting on a new simple medical alert application to be integrated into the Apple Watch for seniors.  In short order this could become the next best medical alert system on the market.  I think that in 5 years you’ll see some very useful apps come to market to address health needs that we haven’t yet dreamed of.  Should be a fun ride!

Costco MediPendant Reviews

Costco MediPendant Review 150x150 Costco MediPendant ReviewsOur readers alerted us to the fact that the Costco MediPendant Medical Alert System is gaining in popularity, and asked us to look into this medical alert device for seniors.  The Costco MediPendant is a medical alert system that works best with a traditional telephone line.  This unit is water resistant, and although the promotional material maintains it can be worn in the shower or bath, we’d refrain from wearing it in the bath tub.

Costco MediPendant Battery Life

One interesting feature of the Costco MediPendant is the battery life.  The MediPendant comes with an internal battery that last 1-3 years on a single charge (so says the company representative I spoke with today).  The Costco package actually provides an additional battery, so theoretically you or your loved one should be set for 2-6 years on battery life.  We always error on the conservative side so count on 1 year of battery life… But hey, since they give you an extra – 2 years isn’t all bad!

Costco MediPendant Reviews

Costco MediPendant Reviews are actually quite good across the spectrum.  Here is a solid breakdown.

costco medipendant reviews Costco MediPendant Reviews From Costco.com:     As of 9/3/14 there are 28 reviews with a total of 4.5 out of 5 stars

Amazon MediPendant Reviews Costco MediPendant ReviewsFrom Amazon.com:  As of 9/3/14 there are 6 reviews with a total of 4 out of 5 stars

The Senior List® likes the MediPendant Medical Alert System from Costco. The only challenges at this point are that the MediPendant is water resistant (vs waterproof) and the size of the device is a bit large. We understand that for the speakerphone type medical alert pendants, they’re all big and bulky. Keep your eye on this market. With nano technology and nano coatings becoming more prevalent in so many market spaces, we expect that medical devices like medical alert systems and hearing aids will continue to get smaller, less intrusive, and more intuitive.  If you like the speakerphone type medical alert systems, this looks like a good bargain.  We were also impressed with their customer service representatives.  We spoke to them extensively prior to writing this review.

Costco MediPendant Monthly Fee

The MediPendant from Costco comes with 6 months of free service.  That means 6 months worth of access to the call center operators (they answer the phone when you press the emergency button, and dispatch help).  This savings equates to around $162 dollars (assuming an average call center rate of $27 per month).  The representatives at MediPendant gave me their rate breakdown today, and told me there are NO long-term contracts that lock consumers into paying for the service when not in use.  There are however, rates that are based on service terms.  The MediPendant representative assured me that no matter what term a consumer chose, they could opt out at any time and receive a prorated rebate.  Here are their rates and terms:

  • Month to Month (must be requested) – $26.95 per month
  • 3 Month Service Plan – $24.95 per month
  • 6 Month Service Plan – $22.95 per month
  • 12 Month Service Plan – $19.95 per month

We recommend that you get the opt-out language (with rebate information) in writing before committing.  If you do, we see no reason not to go for the 12 month service plan.  It should be explicit in their Terms and Conditions documentation though.  If it’s not, request this information in writing.  If you’re new to the medical alert system industry, you’ll want to read our top 10 questions you should ask before buying a medical alert system.  It will save you some hassles down the road.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
If you've used this product (or service): Please RATE your experience and COMMENT below!
Rating: 3.5/5 (2 votes cast)

More Medical Alert System Questions

eCare+Voice More Medical Alert System QuestionsKathy G. asked some great medical alert system questions after reading our list of top questions you should ask before buying a medical alert system.  I thought they were worthy of their own post, so we’ve copied her medical alert system questions right here (along with the answers).  As always, if you have further clarifications based on your own experience or wish to continue the conversation, please engage in our comments section below.  A rich dialog about medical alert systems can end up benefiting a great many families in need.  Special thanks to Kathy G., and here you go!

1. Is there a detailed diagram of how the medical alert system is connected? I don’t have a diagram, but here is a nice tutorial on the typical components of a traditional (land-line based) medical alert system, and how they work: http://www.medicalalertadvice.com/buyers-guide-how-sys-works.php. This is NOT an endorsement of this provider or their products, but they provide a nice example.

2. How does the signal travel from the button to the call center? For a land-line based medical alert system, the pendant uses a specific communication frequency to the base unit. The base unit then dials the medical alert provider’s call center. The call center usually attempts to communicate (via the base unit) with the user, and if there is no response they dispatch a predetermined responder (ambulance or family member). For a cellular based medical alert system the mobile unit contacts the call center directly, and they dispatch as described above. The base units for the cellular based medical alert devices usually act as charging stations.

3. What is a DSL Filter and where is it placed? (per wikipedia) “A DSL filter or microfilter is an analog low-pass filter installed between analog devices (such as telephones or analog modems) and a plain old telephone service (POTS) line, in order to prevent interference between such devices and a digital subscriber line (DSL) service operating on the same line.” These accessories are very common since nearly every cable/phone company has moved from analogue to digital services. I believe these accessories (if needed) are inserted into the line prior to entering your land-line plugin area. Here is a picture of a DSL filter.

4. What is the difference between power cord and signal cord? I’m not sure what signal cord is referring to, but it may simply refer to the medical alert system’s antennae. The power cord connects your base unit to the wall socket.

5. What does “range” refer to? The typical range of a traditional medical alert system is around 600-800 feet. This is a radius around the base unit, and depends on a number of factors including penetration through walls, signal interference (with other gadgets), etc. This range issue has led to the growing popularity of cellular based medical alert systems which have no range issues (other than the wireless signal from the carrier).

6. Does a doctor have to sign for a medical alert system? No.  A doctor does not have to sign anything. If your insurance provider covers this type of thing, you may need a doctor’s order, but this is a rare exception.

What You Need to Know About Personal Sound Amplifiers

3911558890 0e07e371c4 m 150x150 What You Need to Know About Personal Sound AmplifiersCoping with hearing loss can be difficult. As we get older, losing our hearing sadly becomes inevitable. However, you don’t have to suffer in silence. There are a multitude of personal sound amplifiers available to you when it comes to your hearing. While you may not be able to fully restore your hearing, there are some great medical gadgets on the market that can help.

Personal Sound Amplifiers

Everyone is in the know when it comes to personal sound amplifiers. Personal sound amplifiers have proven to be an effective tool for those that are suffering from hearing loss. Selecting the appropriate amplifier that is suitable for you can be difficult.

Let’s take a look at hearing amplifiers in more depth:

As the name suggests, personal sound amplifiers can amplify the sound that you hear. For those that are suffering from minor hearing loss, this can prove to be a useful tool. What is more, it can assist people with their hearing problems. The sound is amplified where it was once not heard at all.

How Do Personal Sound Amplifiers Work?

The amplifier is fitted with what is akin to a microphone. This means that the sound is picked up through the microphone-like device and is fed through a speaker. They have a superb range. This means that they can pick up noises from a considerable distance. For those who are suffering at the helm of hearing loss, this can provide a fantastic opportunity to hear once again. What is more, you will also be able to hear background noise once again. For some, this provides an excellent comfort.

Maintenance

Hearing amplifiers are subtle. In fact, they are discreet and fit neatly into the ear. They can be removed and inserted with ease. This means that they can be cleaned and properly cared for with minimum fuss. This often makes them an attractive device for many who are ready to tackle their hearing loss.

Who Can Use a Personal Sound Amplifier?

In the midst of losing your hearing, you may want to try a wide range of medical devices in order to restore your hearing. However, if you are suffering from chronic hearing loss, this device will not be able to assist you with your quest for full hearing. If you are suffering from minor hearing loss, the hearing amplifier may be able to help you. Take a look at the personal hearing amplifiers buyers guide to see if there is a suitable device for you.

Mild Hearing Disorders

For those that are suffering from mild hearing disorders, this device can help you as well, but it can also prove to be a burden. Due to the powerful amplifying nature of the hearing device, all background noise can be picked up. This means that when you are outside, wind and traffic noise can be heard distinctly. For some this is positive news, for others this can prove to be troublesome, depending on the setting you are in. If you have a mild hearing disorder and you want to be able to be able to hear in a social environment, this could be the right device for you.

Image is via Travis Isaacs

Home Security And Safety Tips For Seniors

canstockphoto16013381 150x150 Home Security And Safety Tips For SeniorsSeniors tend to be an easy target for criminals.  Scams, fraud, and financial abuse are the first things that come to mind when I think of crimes against seniors.  Unfortunately, seniors and their homes tend to be targeted as well.  Even though they are the least victimized population, seniors have a higher rate of fear of being victimized, which can lead to isolation and a sense of loneliness.

Seniors may be easily targeted by criminals for a variety of reasons:

  • Seniors who live on their own may be isolated and not communicating daily with the outside world
  • Decline in cognitive and physical function make seniors vulnerable
  • Older seniors often aren’t in touch with innovations, such as home security systems, which makes the home easily accessible to criminals

Property crime is the second most common type of crime against seniors.  Property crimes includes burglary, larceny, auto theft, and petty theft.   So, in order to prevent, or at least lower the number of personal property crimes against seniors, we have come up with some home rules that seniors (and every homeowner!) should implement as a part of their everyday life.

Basic Home Security Protection

  • Lock your doors, no matter how safe the neighborhood is:   Regardless of the type of neighborhood you live in, all doors should be locked. This doesn’t mean you should be paranoid and live in fear, but locking the doors falls into that old saying ‘better safe than sorry’.
  • Make sure your door has a peephole:  Decorative door glass looks great, but it isn’t really safe.  Anyone can see you moving inside and the glass is easily broken.  If installing a peephole isn’t possible, and you have decorative glass, use privacy film on the glass and replace your standard glass with unbreakable “safety” glass.
  • Solid Doors: If you are just installing your door, choose solid wood or metal for both your front and back door (and any other door that leads into the house). The frame of the door is the most important element of any door so have the current one reinforced or have a metal one installed.
  • Don’t neglect windows:  Plexiglass or security film should be placed on the inside for better protection; they increase safety and make it more difficult for the glass to be broken.
  • Do you have gates?:  Make sure all gates are locked when you are alone at the house; for all those who should enter – they can call to say they’re coming. Don’t buzz in anyone you don’t know.
  • Keep phone close by:  Whenever someone comes to the door, have a wireless phone with you so you can call 911 in case of an emergency
  • Keys:  No matter for how long you are leaving the house for, never leave the key under the mat or in a flower pot, or in an old shoe (or any other place of that matter).  Give a copy to a member of the family and a trustworthy neighbor to check in on your apartment/house from time to time.
  • Home Security System:  The foundation of any home safety plan is a good Home Security System. They are great as prevention from thieves, but an amazing support for medical emergencies and fires, too. If you live alone and/or plan on spending a period of your retirement traveling, then a home security system is a must.
  • Sensor Lighting:  Whenever someone is at the door or in the yard, you’ll know when the lights go on. They are also great prevention from vandalism, too.  If you live in a condo or apartment building, have sensor lighting installed in hallways and shared entry points.
  • Travel: Have a trusted neighbor or family member pick up newspapers and packages while you are away.
  • Security Survey:  Many police departments will perform a home security survey when requested by the homeowner.

If you have experience with a home security system, we would love to hear about it in the comments section below!

Medical Alert Scam Calls Recorded

After receiving several medical alert scam calls this week from fraudulent medical alert scam robo-callers, we decided to do some hunting around to capture audio from the call.  Perhaps this captured medical alert scam recording will help educate the public (including national/local agencies) to put an end to this madness.  These sickos are targeting seniors with an offer of a “personal medical alert system at no cost to you”.  The call goes on “Since you’ve already been referred by a medical professional, your package is ready to be shipped”.  The scam doesn’t end there… “By receiving the package today” the recording states, “you’re now eligible to receive $1000 dollars in grocery saving coupons that can be used for products you already buy and use”. This scam has been going on for over a year now.  Federal and state agencies need to get a better handle on these calls targeting aging adults, kids, and the unsuspecting public in general.  Our advice is to hang up immediately (do not press any key), note the number you received the call from, and notify the appropriate authorities.  Your notification should include the FCC complaint page, as well as the Do Not Call Registry.

Medical Alert Scam Call Recording

Ironically The Senior List received has received callsl from these medical alert fraudsters, the latest coming just this week.  The numbers that were captured through our caller ID was 212-660-5351 and the other number we captured was 516-435-7389.  The script went just as the recorded call noted, but one of the calls also added a 75% prescription discount card.  If you’re interested in what the FTC says about robo calls, see the video below. Have you received a robo call for a free medical alert system?  What did you do?  How do you feel about these kind of calls being directed into people’s homes?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Special thanks to John’s recorded SPAM calls for the original audio feed

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!

How Do They Make Custom Fitted Hearing Aids?

If you’ve ever shopped for custom fitted hearing aids, you know there are many hearing aid options to choose from.  Depending on you or your family member’s needs, you may need an in-the-canal fit, or an in-ear fit, a behind-the-ear hearing aid, and so on… and so on… and so on!  Now that you know what configurations are out there, it’s interesting to see how these custom fitted hearing aids are made.  Many of you know how expensive hearing aids can be, but did you know what goes into making the custom fitted hearing aids?  The guys at How Its Made (a very popular YouTube channel) put together a video to answer the question; How do they make custom hearing aids?  Enjoy!

How Custom Fitted Hearing Aids Are Made

Top Websites For Medical Information And Advice

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to medical advice.  Recently, MarketingCharts.com put together a nice analysis of the top websites for medical information and advice.  They interpreted data from Experian Marketing Services which audited U.S. household desktop and personal computer Hitwise visits from 5 million internet visitors.  The data is very interesting noting that WebMD has almost 3 times the traffic of its nearest competitor Drugs.com.  Admittedly, there were a couple sites on here I’d never visited, but are nice nonetheless.  Sites like Everyday Health and HealthGuru are great if you haven’t visited, and they provide a lot of great information and advice.

experian desktop health information sites Top Websites For Medical Information And Advice

It would be interesting to see if the chart changes at all when taking into account mobile (phone, tablet, etc.) visitors, but I’m guessing the trend stays aligned for the most part.  Also, there are a number of folks that use a good ole fashion search engine to lead them directly to what they’re looking for.  This is likely the case given that less than 40% of web traffic comes from humans.  (The rest comes from good and bad bots according to a number of sources out there.)  What websites do you use for medical information and advice?  Do you have a favorite or a top 3?  Let us know in the comments below!