OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – One of the biggest concerns among families that have an elderly parent living alone is them falling and needing help or needing medical emergency services in the event of a heart attack, stroke or seizure. The solution: A medical alert system, which is essentially a wireless hotline to help.
Medical alert systems, which have been around since the 1980s, provide a wearable help button – usually in the form of a neck pendant or wristband – that would put your parent in touch with a dispatcher who could summon emergency help or contact a friend or family member as needed.
To help you narrow down your options and choose a system that best fits your parent’s needs, here are three key questions you’ll need to ask:
- Does your parent want a home-based or mobile system?
Medical alert systems were originally designed to work inside the home with a landline telephone, which is still an option. But since fewer and fewer households have landlines these days, most companies today also offer home-based systems that work over a cellular network. With these systems, pressing the wearable help button allows you to speak to a dispatcher through a base unit located in your home.
In addition, many companies offer mobile medical alert options, too. You can use these systems at home, but they’ll also allow you to call for help while you’re out and about.
Mobile alerts operate over cellular networks and incorporate GPS technology. They allow you to talk and listen to the operator directly through the pendant button, and because of the GPS, your location would be known in order for help to be sent.
If your parent doesn’t leave the house very often, he or she may not need a mobile system, but if they’re still active, they may want added protection outside the home.
- Should their system be monitored or not?
Most medical alert systems are monitored, meaning that the help button connects you with a trained operator at a 24/7 dispatching center.
But you also have the option to choose a system that isn’t monitored. With these, when you press the help button, the device automatically dials a friend or family member on your programmed emergency call list.
These products can often be set up to call multiple people and to contact emergency services if you don’t get an answer from someone on your list.
- Should you add a fall-detection feature?
Most medical alert companies today now offer the option of an automatic fall detection pendant for an additional fee of $10 to $15 per month. These pendants sense falls when they occur and automatically contact the dispatch center, just as they would if you had pressed the call button.
Top Rated System
While there are dozens of different medical alert companies offering an array of products and services today, Consumer Reports, which reviews medical alert systems, rates Bay Alarm Medical (BayAlarmMedical.com, 877-522-9633) as the No. 1 option.
They offer a range of reliable home and mobile equipment with fast response times and affordable fees, starting at $22 per month.