The benefits of monitored medical alert systems cannot be underscored enough, especially for the elderly who live alone, or spend a lot of time on their own at home. These benefits of these services are best felt during emergency situations.
Choosing the best system will give peace of mind to both the senior users and their children or loved ones. Read on to understand the basics of medical alert systems, and how these devices can help customers get the medical attention that they need when they can’t easily call for help.
Monitored Medical Alert Systems Overview
Medical alert systems easily connect senior citizens with trained monitoring personnel for help should they encounter emergencies and require assistance from another person. They are sometimes referred to as personal emergency response systems or home medical alarm systems.
During these times of emergencies, the alert system will allow the elderly user to connect with immediate assistance with just a press of a button. These alarm systems have literally save many lives over the years. Since there are no numbers to remember and key into the phone keypad, calling for help is more convenient. At first glance, they benefit most of those individuals who with unstable health conditions, or who may be susceptible to falling. However, there is no telling when a medical emergency can occur, even to the healthiest of us all.
These monitored senior alert systems are also preferred for use by elderly users who would want to live independently. At times, these seniors wouldn’t want to stay in a nursing facility or in a place where they are assisted most of the time. Their emotions tell them that they wouldn’t want to let go of their independence just yet. A good compromise is to opt for tools and devices that make asking for help more convenient for the elderly.
How Do Medical Alert Systems Work?
Parts Of The System
These systems basically consists of three parts:
1. The first part is the ‘base station’ or a ‘base console unit’, which is the part connected to the main phone line. This unit is equipped with a loud speaker and a highly sensitive microphone.
2. The second part of the system is a small emergency button which is also referred to as the panic, help or SOS button. This is worn by the user, either as a necklace or as a bracelet. What this emergency wireless transmitter does, once it’s clicked, is to activate alerts on the base station.
3. The third part is the emergency response monitoring center. This works literally all the time – it provides 24-hour monitoring 7 days a week, every day of the year.
Home medical alert systems work this way: if the user experiences an emergency – e.g. falls down the stairs or slips on the floor – all he or she needs to do is to simply press the alert button on his bracelet or necklace. The user does not need to reach for the nearest telephone to ask for help.
At that point, wireless signals will then be transmitted to the base station unit, and a call activated to the monitoring center. The user will afterwards be connected to a trained emergency response attendant who will provide the help over the phone line and base unit. After determining the situation, alerts may be sent out to the user’s loved ones, which could include family and friends, as well as his caregivers, neighbors, other health-related services, or local emergency services like 911.
Phone Line Options
Providers of these systems recommend that a standard landline phone is used for these devices. It is because landlines are known to be very reliable – this is an important factor in emergency cases.
That said, Voice over Internet Protocol or VOIP phone services may also be used, but its reliability and consistency may be slightly less than that of a standard landline. This is because the elderly user is dependent on the VoIP phone line service being in operation for the system to work. If the internet connection is down, emergency calls cannot be routed.
If the user has no landline, another recent development in the industry is the addition of a cellular network based base station. This means that the base station will connect to the monitoring center using a wireless cell phone connection. The base station is plugged in to a power supply all the time to ensure that the system is always working. The emergency alert process works the same. Not all companies offer this yet. If you are interested in this option, check out the LifeStation system.
Auto Fall Alert Detection?
Another recent development in the industry is the introduction of auto fall detection pendants. These pendants come with a sensor that allows an alert call to be automatically placed when a fall is detected. While a great idea in theory, the sensing mechanism is not perfect – not all falls can be detected, and users may have to deal with false alarms. For a more in-depth discussion, check out the Auto Fall Alerts article.
Mobile Medical Alert Systems?
Mobile medical alert systems with GPS provide seniors with the flexibility of using their medical alert pendants both in and out of their homes. These systems are cell phone based and usually contained within portable lightweight pendant devices. In addition, many mobile senior alert systems offer GPS locator tracking.
Although the concept sounds fabulous, in practice, mobile systems have technological limitations that curtail their effectiveness to operate as stand-alone 24/7 medical alert systems. These systems can be bought and used, but users should be aware of their limits. For a more in-depth discussion, check out the Mobile Medical Alert Systems Guide.
Benefits of Medical Alert Systems
What do the users get out of these home emergency alert systems?
First of which, the users get 24/7 monitoring. They could call for assistance whenever they require. This could be very reassuring for both the users and their loved ones because they know that whenever emergency situations arise, the system user has the means to send an alert out quickly. As we grow older, we have probably come across stories of seniors who have fallen and waited for hours before someone heard their cries.
Growing old and requiring extra care in old age is inevitable. But, it’s also a fact of life that many seniors like the independence of living on their own, and/or it’s not practical for their children to be monitoring them most of the time. Having a medical alert system can provide that extra unobtrusive monitoring.
This is also a great alternative to hiring a private nurse or sending your loved one to a nursing home. It has been reported that the average cost of nursing homes is about $40,000 per year and private home healthcare help can be costly as well. For some people, a medical alert system that costs less than $500 a year makes economic sense. More important than that, it allows for independence and provides a level of freedom and privacy that is only possible when living on one’s own in one’s own home.
For guidance on how to choose the system for you or your parents, check out the Home Medical Alert System – A Shopper’s Checklist article.
For a list of the best rated monitored medical alert systems, take a look at Medical Alert Systems Reviews section.
An alternative to regular medical alert systems are non-monitored medical alert systems. These are systems where the emergency is directly routed to 911 or else a list of pre-programmed phone numbers.
To understand how these two systems compared, check out out our Monitored vs. Non-Monitored Medical Alert Systems Comparison guide. To view non-monitored system reviews, see the No Monthly Fee Medical Alert Systems guide.