How to pick a medical alert system
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to medical alert systems. We all have different needs and risk factors that need to be considered. To help you find your ideal emergency response match, we’ve outlined the different factors you should examine before making a decision.
Some medical alert systems are designed with specific needs in mind. There are voice-activated alarms for people with dexterity challenges and other medical alerts that use motion detectors to automatically request assistance in the event of a fall.
Not all medical alert devices offer two-way talk. If the added comfort of speaking with an operator is important to you, choose a medical alert system that has this feature. Two-way communication can be available through the base unit or a help button.
You don’t want to worry about a dead battery when you need help. Make sure the medical alarm system you rely on has battery backup so that it can work even during a power outage.
Range and GPS
Some medical alert buttons will work only in your home, providing coverage for a 600-foot radius on average. If you want to be covered for shopping trips—or even when you’re out in your yard—look for a system with broader range. An alert system that uses GPS can increase mobility and make it easier for emergency services to pinpoint your location when it counts.
You don’t want emergency responders to show up at your house with no way to get inside. Many medical alert systems offer lockboxes where you can keep a spare key to help emergency personnel get to you as quickly as possible.
There can be a difference between companies that operate their own monitoring center and those that outsource support to a generalized call center. Companies with their own monitoring centers have faster access to customer records and emergency responders who are specially trained to address the needs of medical alert system clients.
Medical alert buttons are typically worn in a wristband or as a pendant around the neck. Which style you choose can be more than a matter of personal preference. Consider the strangulation risk of a neck pendant—although it’s a small risk, it can still be worrisome if you use a walker, wheelchair, or bed guardrails.
Many emergency response systems come with monthly service or usage fees in addition to the initial cost of the device. Be sure you understand the monthly cost before committing to a medical alert system—and ask if the company offers any specials or discounts on equipment when you sign up for monthly monitoring. You may also be able to save by paying for your service a year in advance instead of month to month.