Medical Alert Systems 101: How Do They Work?
Simply because your loved ones are growing old does not mean they should give up on their independent lifestyle. Most senior citizens today want to willingly continue staying at home and run errands like they always have, without having to depend on anyone. However, as people grow older, all kinds of risks associated with living independently also start to come to the surface. Every year, over two million people above 65 are treated for fall injuries in the ER in the United States alone. And out of these falls, almost 25,000 deaths were reported. Therefore, caregivers, whether loved ones or hired, often worry about the wellbeing of their older loved ones.
Medical alert systems are a great way to minimize these risks that older adults have to face when living alone. The device provides the peace of mind that caregivers need. A medical alert system allows your loved ones to get the necessary help they require in a fall or any other emergencies.
What are medical alert systems?
Fundamentally, medical alert systems offer people a direct line of communication, connecting users with a monitoring center professional. Upon receiving any alerts, these professionals contact necessary help, like a loved one, caregiver, neighbor, or an emergency responder, to help the device user. This life-saving device comes in various forms but with a few commonly standard features.
Help buttons allow people to send a distress signal to the monitoring center professionals. These buttons come in the form of a wristband or a pendant, but most come with an additional button mounted on a surface or a wall. Help buttons are usually water-resistant and can even be worn in the bathroom, which is often a frequent site of falling.
Behind all medical alert systems, there is a mechanism that helps people send distress calls. Most organizations have systems that tend to operate through cellular connections or a landline, but a few companies operate through WiFi.
When making a call, the medical system’s speakerphone allows people to communicate with monitoring professionals. With a speakerphone in your medical alert system as the base unit placed in your home, it is an essential device that saves millions of lives every year.
Medical alert systems are extremely simple in terms of approach and appearance. Over 50% of older adults own a smartphone, which can also serve similar functions; however, medical alert systems offer a streamlined approach to getting help. Typing out your phone number can often be difficult during a medical emergency, especially for people with manual dexterity issues. Medical alert systems require only a press of a button.
Medical Alert Systems Additional Features to Look For
Apart from emergency monitoring services, most medical alert systems offer multiple other features. All senior citizens might not require it, but the features add an extra layer of protection and help keep you and your family safe.
Automatic Fall Detection
Most medical alert systems offer automatic fall detection. This technology is wearable with your current medical alert device, fully equipped with sensors capable of detecting if a user has fallen down or is incapacitated. Instead of the user being able to press the button to call for help, the call is automatically triggered to the respective monitoring professionals.
The feature is best for seniors prone to falling down and who have a history of prior falls. If you or your loved one has troubles balancing themselves while walking or standing or any illness that has made them weaker, an automatic fall detector as a part of your medical alert system can help save your lives.
The feature can cost you an average of $10 extra every month.
This additional feature is equipped on wearable medical alert devices with a functioning GPS sensor. The device with these features can operate over WiFi or cellular networks. The technology helps people monitor their loved ones constantly, as and when an emergency occurs, no matter where they are located around the world. Most people wearing the device with this feature can also be tracked on-demand by their loved ones and caregivers, allowing loved ones to keep an eye on them on a real-time basis.
Location tracking is an ideal additional feature for senior citizens who are frequently away from their homes and want to lead an active lifestyle. In cases of emergencies, these people can get the help they need, even when they do not know where they are. It is also a great feature for senior citizens or anyone with memory problems and those who keep wandering away from their homes and can be disoriented or confused easily.
Most medical alert systems have this added feature to remind the wearer of such devices that it is now time to take their medication. Some medical alert systems can even automatically dispense the medication. Medication alerts are programmed through a different device or through the user’s at-home medical alert base station. However, the medication dispenser technology requires the user to get an additional device, either by purchasing it or leasing it.
Medication alerts are a great option for people who require medication during specific hours of the day and are prone to forgetting about it. It also helps senior citizens and people with a complex medication schedule that is hard to manage alone. The feature offers ease of mind to caregivers as well, knowing that their loved ones will have something reminding them constantly about their medication. With a dispenser, they will rest assured that they are going to consume the right dosage.
Most medical alert systems can monitor all kinds of activity. If no movement is detected for a certain amount of time, the device can trigger calls to the monitoring center and ensure that the user is okay.
The activity tracking feature is an essential component for senior citizens recovering from injuries or who are prone to falling. Through the feature, caregivers know if their loved ones are active or require any form of help.
Another great additional feature, a spouse monitoring feature, requires the click of a button to send medical alerts to professional monitoring centers or receive alerts about one’s partner, no matter where they are. Some home security companies offer spouse monitoring coverage for no extra charge.
Features of Medical Alert Systems
If you are looking for medical alert systems that are operative on the go, GPS technology features can help you take care of yourself and your loved ones. The responders will know where to find you or your loved ones as soon as a distress call is triggered with the help of this technology.
Most in-home medical alert systems can be powered through wall outlets. However, it is extremely important to have backup batteries as well to ensure your medical systems still get power backup during power outages. Some medical alert systems like the Medical Guardian come with a battery backup of at least 32 hours.
Water-resistant help buttons
Bathrooms are one of the most common sites when it comes to people falling down. It is extremely important that a medical alert system has water-resistant help buttons which can be taken into the shower. Most companies offer such buttons that can be used during emergencies, no matter the environment.
Medical alert systems rely actively on pushing buttons to make emergency calls, but a few systems also support voice commands, which come in handy for people in various emergencies. Upon saying the word “emergency,” the voice command technology will send help to you or your loved ones.
Most medical alert systems work combined with smartphones today. Users may or may not have a smartphone, but even if any loved one or caregiver has a smartphone, the applications can be downloaded, and help can be received by the seniors or anyone who needs it. Push notifications, care schedule alerts, and even alerts to track the medical system’s battery life can be used through the app.
Motion sensors can help track users’ movements and alert the professionals at the monitoring centers when the system cannot detect movement for a longer period. These detectors are an additional part of your medical alert systems and can be tucked away in the base of the stations or can be built into your help buttons.
With so many options available in the market, it is difficult to choose a particular medical alert system that suits your needs. If one does not help you, you should be able to choose another one. So, choose a system that offers risk-free trials as their primary feature. The trial period should be at least 30 days long for you to determine if you want to go ahead with such equipment or require a refund.
Tips for choosing the right medical alert system
There are multiple kinds of medical alert systems available in the market, each one of them is different from the other. Therefore, it is extremely important to think about certain features you will require for either yourself or your loved ones. You must focus on finding a medical system with all the features you need and desire. Before you choose any company or system, ensure you consider the following factors:
Important questions to consider
- Will you require a medical alert system that offers help in-home or a mobile device to protect and assist on the go?
- Will you require the user to be constantly monitored or an easier, unmonitored device? It is an important decision to make when it comes to emergencies.
- Will you require medical alert systems with cellular connections or an in-home landline connected system? This depends on the ease of use for the users.
- Will you require additional features like motion detection or fall detection for your loved ones?
- Will you require a system that can track the location and activity of your loved ones? This comes in handy in cases where users are in a delirious state of mind or prone to get lost when traveling independently.
- Will you require a medical alert system that reminds your loved ones about their medication? One can benefit a lot when they are reminded to take scheduled medication. Or will you be comfortable with medication reminders on an on-call or check-in basis?
- Will you require a medical system with other accessories like a lockbox or a wall button?
- Do you require a system with a backup battery system for loved ones living away from you? Or do you require a system that can be charged again if you live with your loved ones?
- Will you require a better range in terms of connectivity for your in-home base station?
- Do you require constant caregiver support through portals and tools?
- Do you require water-resistant help or panic buttons in the bathrooms? Or do you want a device that can be worn by the users in all places?
- Will you require a monitoring system based out of the US or globally? It comes in handy when caregivers/family members are staying in a different location than the users.