Things to Consider
In choosing a personal alarm system, you need to ask certain questions to ensure your needs are being properly met.
The following discussion will assist in making sure you have properly explored your options.
What do you need the system to do?
==> Call for help for any reason. Simple and Immediate. Our recommended system only needs a press of a button and the device will make an emergency call automatically.
Or, call after a fall. One out of 3 people over age 65 fall every year. If you feel that you have the awareness to press a button, then you do not need an expensive system. If, however, the following items are important to you, then this is an option you should consider:
- Monitoring health vital signs,
- GPS location, and
- Medication reminders.
This requires a specialized more expensive system that you can consider after discussion with your physician.
Considerations for all systems
- Can you wear it? The device should be comfortable and attractive enough so it is not distracting.
How about water? Can it be worn in the shower? Many falls happen in the bathroom and kitchen, so this is vital.
Is it high quality and use up-to-date technology?
What is the charge lifetime, and how easy is it to recharge the device? This may be one reason to obtain an extra monitor to swap out.
- Will it need technology updates? If so, ask how those are implemented (automatically or manually). Will you or your loved one have the ability to manage them?
How do you set up the unit? In the recommended unit, you may simply place the base station on a comfortable place within the home.
- Will the range cover the entire home?
- Is it mobile? If your loved ones move, can the system move with them?
- Do you have a lockbox? It may be best to install a lockbox on your front door so that emergency crews may be able to access the home at any time.
NOTE: recommended system attributes:
- No Monthly Fees, Bills or Contracts
- Two Panic Buttons Included – 1 Wrist Panic Button and 1 Necklace Panic Button
- Instantly calls up to 3 phone numbers & plays your personalized emergency message.
- Pacemaker Safe – 100 Foot Range –
- Water Resistant Wrist Panic Button (You can shower and bathe with it).
- Uses Normal Phone Line, Can also use Cell Phone with Bluetooth Adapter (sold separately)
- Lowest cost
Response center. Average response time should be a matter of seconds, not minutes. Does the company operate its own response center or contract externally? Is the response center certified? Are the dispatchers able to communicate in your loved one’s preferred language?
Can you designate how you want various types of alerts/calls (urgent, non-urgent, emergency) routed, including to a response center, family/friends or directly to emergency services (police, fire department)?
Quality customer relations are key. There should be a live person you can call 24/7 with questions about the service. Other options may include email, live chat, an easy-to-navigate website and a comprehensive FAQ section.
Cybersecurity. How does the company protect private information and prevent hackers from accessing your system
Fees. Beware of complicated pricing plans and hidden fees. Look for a company with no extra fees related to equipment, shipping, installation, activation, or service and repair. Don’t fall for scams that offer free service or “donated or used” equipment.
You should not have to enter into a long-term contract. You should only have to pay ongoing monthly fees, which should range between $25 and $45 a month (about $1 a day). Be careful about paying for service in advance, since you never know when you’ll need to stop the service temporarily (due to a hospitalization, for instance) or permanently.
Guarantee and cancellation policies. Look for a full money-back guarantee, or at least a trial period, in case you are not satisfied with the service. And you’ll want the ability to cancel at any time with no penalties (and a full refund if monthly fees have already been paid).
For the most part, Medicare and private insurance companies will not cover the costs of a medical alert. In some States Medicaid may cover all or part of the cost.
You may find the cost of a medical alert is tax deductible as a medically necessary expense.
Availability in your area
Many national companies offer medical alert services, but they may not all be available near you, so call and inquire about service areas. Local companies may be an option, as well. In addition to companies that have been in the medical alert business for decades, technology companies and home security companies are now increasingly offering these services, as well.
Contact your local area agency on aging. Ask if it has a list of companies offering medical alert services locally. (I contacted mine, and it immediately emailed me a list of 16 national and local companies, including one that is offered through the area agency on aging. Find yours at eldercare.gov.)
- Check with your senior facility. If you or your loved ones live in a senior community or facility, it may offer an in-house or external medical alert system as part of its overall services.
Investigate other options such as services or discounts offered through local or national membership organizations, veterans groups or community organizations.
- See if you can add medical alert services to a current home security system. Be sure to ask if there is an additional fee.
Check with the Better Business Bureau, local or national consumer reporting agencies and websites, the local Chamber of Commerce, your state attorney general and other organizations that monitor the quality of services and complaints.
- Ask friends and family members if they can recommend any medical alert systems they have used.
- Once you’ve selected a system, be sure to monitor how it is working for your loved ones.