Medical-alert systems can be helpful, especially for older people living alone

Since the release of medical-alert systems in the 1970s, this technology's have continued to become more and more sophisticated. Medical-alert systems are evolving into a system that can now passively capture and transmit information about activities taking place in a home without an individual being held responsible to press a pendant to call for help. This eliminates the worry of the individual not being able to access their pendant after a fall or a similar incident.

With this technology and the continual emergence of new technologies all the time, the medical-alert systems are continuing to grow in their capabilities while they shrink in their size and their cost.

Take a look at what the Washington Post and Consumer Reports have to say about emergency response systems:


Medical-alert systems can be helpful, especially for older people living alone

By Consumer Reports October 27

You’ve probably seen the ads on TV and in magazines — especially that iconic “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up” commercial that, yes, is still running. The makers of medical-alert systems promise swift help in the event that you have a medical emergency while home alone, whether it’s a fall or a heart attack, stroke or seizure. The ads are reaching a receptive audience: Sales of med-alert services are growing and are expected to continue doing so as the baby boom generation ages.

Should you consider buying one, for either yourself or an aging parent who spends time alone? Here’s a quick guide on what the systems offer and what to look for when you shop:

Who needs one?

Most buyers purchase a system for an aging parent who lives alone and might have difficulty getting help quickly. That person might be at a heightened risk for falls because of poor eyesight or memory changes, says Barbara Resnick, a professor of nursing at the University of Maryland and a past president of the American Geriatrics Society. The systems can also be useful in a non-emergency situation where a person doesn’t need an ambulance but does need help. The call center will alert a pre-selected relative or friend who can assist.

What to look for:

If you’re in the market for a medical alert system (expect to pay around $30 a month for the basic service), the experts consulted by Consumer Reports said the best ones meet all or most of the following criteria:

● It works for a user’s specific disability. For example, a stroke survivor may need a device he or she can activate with one hand.

● It offers a choice of a wristband and/or neck pendant. Cords worn around the neck can pose a strangulation risk; wristbands might irritate people with skin conditions.

● It includes help buttons that can be wall-mounted near the floor in multiple rooms in case the user falls and isn’t wearing the pendant.

● It offers multiple choices for whom to contact if the user needs help, from emergency services to a friend or relative who lives nearby.

● It has a battery backup in case of a power failure.

● The base station can be contacted from anywhere on the user’s property — even in the yard or at the mailbox.

● The company has its own monitoring center, located in the United States, and employs its own trained emergency operators (rather than contracting that function out).

● The monitoring center has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a nonprofit safety and consulting company.

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