According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12 million people over the age of 40 have a severe visual impairment, including 1 million people who live with total blindness. Seniors who are blind or visually impaired face unique challenges in their daily lives, and these extend to their needs when it comes to medical alert systems.
An older adult who’s visually impaired might struggle to find their alert button or to press it, even while wearing it. The same is true of the base station since locating it could prove challenging, as well as finding the proper button to press.
There’s no doubt that a medical alert system is an excellent idea for seniors who are visually impaired, especially those who live alone. In the event that there is a fall or the user is injured or becomes ill, being able to get help quickly is a must.
Having a medical alert system gives caregivers additional peace of mind, as well. They know that their loved one can get help easily if something happens. Here’s what to look for when it comes to medical alert systems for the visually impaired.
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While there are dozens of medical alert systems available for all types of uses, those who are visually impaired have particular needs. When considering which medical alert system is best for blind people, we looked for a few key criteria:
Medical Guardian is another popular medical alert company with a range of in-home and cellular systems. The Active Guardian is a particularly good choice for visually impaired seniors. This lightweight device works on both GPS and Wi-Fi networks, offering a full range of protection at home and away.
The Active Guardian is an all-in-one mobile system that features GPS tracking and optional fall detection, for an additional $10 per month. This medical alert system is also safe to wear in both the shower and bath, something not common for all-in-one units. The battery also lasts for up to seven days on a single charge, making it one of the longest-lasting mobile units I’ve tried. Medical Guardian even allows you to purchase a lockbox or protection plan for an additional charge.
The one downside to Active Guardian is the cost. Starting at $44.95 per month (not to mention an extra monthly $10 for fall detection), this system is definitely on the more pricey end for medical alerts. With that said, I think the price of this system is justified. Active Guardian has everything you could want to keep your loved one safe both in their home and outside.
To learn more about Medical Guardian, check out my Medical Guardian review.
QMedic was designed with blind or disabled seniors in mind, and it shows, with each of their systems being incredibly intuitive and easy to use. QMedic also offers impressive tracking functions, which give caregivers additional peace of mind.
QMedic offers a range of systems, which includes a traditional base station and wearable alert button units that work either on a landline or via a cellular connection. It also offers a mobile unit for use out of the house. Both in-home systems come with a base station and a button. The mobile system comes with a mobile unit and a charging cradle. In our experience, both types of systems offer buttons with both a tactile feel and textured surfaces. They’re also completely waterproof, so they can be worn in the bath or shower with no worries.
Rather than offering a huge amount of add-on features at different price tiers, QMedic includes the same powerful tracking features with every plan. Caregivers have access to a portal, where they can see 24/7 device usage monitoring and call history. Caregivers can be alerted when the device is not being worn. QMedic also monitors sleep and activity, and if something seems wrong, they initiate a wellness call to check in on the user.
The only downside of QMedic is that they don’t currently offer automatic fall detection with their systems; however, their impressive array of wellness tracking metrics make them a solid choice for anyone caring for a loved one who’s visually impaired.
To learn more about QMedic, check out my hands-on QMedic review.
Aloe Care Health offers systems for both in-home and mobile use. In particular, I think their Total Care package is particularly useful for those who are visually impaired. This system includes a base unit, a help button, two motion sensors, a mobile unit with GPS, and a wall-mounted fall detection unit. For those who need protection in multiple rooms, this system has got you covered.
What’s more, Aloe Care Health’s systems feature an extensive list of voice commands. When testing my system, I could make emergency calls, contact loved ones directly, and even check the temperature all through the sound of my voice. This is a feature that would be particularly useful for those prone to misplacing small help buttons.
Another helpful feature –– available on Aloe Care’s systems –– is their smartphone app. When you connect your smartphone to an Aloe Care system, you can make check-in calls to the base unit, receive activity notifications, and even get notified when your loved one makes an emergency call. Unlike the apps of other systems, Aloe Care allows you to add as many caregivers to a system as you like, making it a great system for multiple caregivers.
To learn more about Aloe Care Health’s systems, check out my review of Aloe Care Health.
I’d recommend you first take a look at my rundown of this year’s best medical alert systems. Here, you’ll find detailed reviews of my favorite medical alert providers, including their systems, their pricing, and their overall strengths when compared to other companies.
Additionally, when looking to purchase a medical alert system for a blind or visually impaired person, you should look for the following:
Check the base unit on the system you’re considering. Most medical alert systems worth their salt have large, oversized buttons for easy use. Additionally, textured buttons and bright colors can help those with limited sight.
If in doubt, we recommend calling the medical alert company and asking some questions. Any good medical alert service will be delighted to help, and you’ll get a taste of their customer service too.
Think carefully about wearable buttons. The wearable button is vital because it ensures seniors can summon help even when they’re not near the base station. Make sure the button is large enough to find and press easily, and that it’s comfortable enough to wear around-the-clock.
Medical alert systems with fall detection are a great tool to keep people safe. Although fall detection isn’t perfect, and false alarms do happen, we still recommend it as it helps more often than it hinders, and medical alert providers are used to the occasional false alarm.
For visually-impaired seniors, trying to distinguish between their medical alert and the fall detection pendant could lead to a delay in pressing the button to get help.
For some companies, fall detection comes as a separate pendant that must be worn alongside the existing alert button. For seniors who are visually impaired, we recommend looking for an integrated fall detection option, like that of the Lively Mobile Plus.
This means the existing medical alert button has fall detection capabilities that can be activated for a fee, with no need to wear a second pendant.
Medical alerts with GPS work outside the home, using a cellular network. These are ideal for seniors who still live active lifestyles, but who would like some added protection throughout their day. Some GPS alerts feature the mobile device itself, plus a separate button to wear to summon help. The user and operator then talk via the two-way speaker in the mobile device.
With two-way voice integrated pendants, everything is in one unit. In the event of an emergency, seniors simply press their button and then talk to the call center via the same device.
GPS voice-in pendants are ideal for active seniors who are visually impaired. However, in some cases, they are appropriate for less active seniors, too. The two-way speaker function means they can carry it with them wherever they go in the home or garden. This can offer aging adults great peace of mind in knowing that they can always talk to someone without the need to be in the range of a base station.
Most medical alert companies don’t require you to purchase their equipment; rather, the equipment is leased through your monthly service agreement. Because of this, I always recommend medical alert companies that don’t lock you into long-term contracts.
Additionally, you could consider an unmonitored medical alert system.