Medical Alert Systems Reviews
Best Medical Alert Systems For Seniors
Medical Alert Systems Reviews
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Medical Alert Systems - Answers To Frequently Asked Questions

How do medical alert systems work?

Medical alert systems typically consist of 3 parts. Firstly, there is a base console unit that is connected to the phone line. The second part is a small emergency button (also called the panic or SOS button) that is worn by the user, usually as either a necklace or a bracelet. This emergency button is also a wireless transmitter that will activate an alert on the base console unit once the button is clicked on. The third part is an emergency response monitoring center that usually provides 24-hour monitoring every day of the year. When a user experiences an emergency, perhaps they have fallen and have difficulty getting up, they can click on the emergency button that they may be wearing on them as a bracelet.

At that point, a wireless signal is transmitted to the base console unit. Through the base console unit and phone line, the user is connected quickly to a trained emergency response agent at the monitoring center who can help them get the help they require. Depending on the type of emergency, this may include alerting family and friends, caregivers, neighbors, as well as local emergency services.

How are medical alert systems useful?

Medical alert systems are helpful for seniors who prefer to live on their own and maintain an independent lifestyle. It is common and understandable that seniors prefer to live in their own home rather than move into a nursing home or assisted living facility. We live in a culture that values independence and it's something we have worked hard for, for our entire lives. Yet as we get older and more frail, how can we easily access help in case of an emergency when living alone?

That's where medical alert systems come in. Seniors with existing medical conditions can be especially susceptible to medical emergencies. About 1 in 3 seniors over 65 suffer from falls each year according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), and having a system installed means that help is just a click (of the emergency button) away. Seniors have been known to fall and stay on the floor for hours and longer because they were unable to get up and summon help.

What is the difference between monitored and non-monitored medical alert systems?

Monitored medical alert systems include access to live monitoring center response agents who will oversee the process of calling for help for the elderly user. They will also stay on the line with the user until help arrives. Non-monitored systems are programmed to call a series of phone numbers in case of an emergency. The main similarity between these two systems is the use of an SOS or emergency button that is connected to a base console unit. The main benefit of having a monitoring alert is having access to trained live agents who will make sure that the user gets the help he or she needs. With a non-monitored system, the dialing is automated and pre-programmed, and there is no human help in between.

How much do medical alert systems cost?

Medical alert systems cost in the range of $25 - $40 a month. This includes use of the equipment like the base console unit, emergency button, as well as the live monitoring service. There is sometimes a discount when users pay on a quarterly or annual basis. Since these systems are typically easy to install, most systems do not charge additional set-up or installation fees. However, a few companies still require installation fees, or offer installation service as an option for users who need the help. That will bump the cost up an extra $70 - $100 in the beginning. There are also options for additional buttons, voice boxes, lockboxes and other accessories that will add to the cost.

Non-monitored medical alert systems that costs around $300. Since there is no live monitoring help, there are also no monthly fees associated with these systems.

What are the best medical alert systems for seniors?

There are a number of outstanding medical alert systems offered by various companies. It is difficult to pick a best one without also considering the needs and budget of the individual user. You can find a number of medical alert systems reviews on this website describing the background and offerings of top companies. We recommend narrowing down your choice to a few and then picking one with the features that meet you or your loved ones needs best. In general, the best systems have these factors in common:

1) Their equipment and service are reliable. The equipment offered by the company is UL listed, and their monitoring staff are well-trained to handle emergencies. They should offer monitoring 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even during busy holidays.
2) They offer a good wireless range. Most top systems have a range of 300 feet or more, between the emergency button and the base console unit. Once the system is installed, be sure to test it out from various parts of the user's home to make sure that everything is working as needed.
3) They have a good backup battery option. Sometimes, power failure can prevent a system from functioning. With a battery backup of a day or more, this ensures that a system will continue to work even in times of power failure.
4) The company will not tie users in to long term contracts. A few companies want customers to commit to multi-year contracts. However, there are many good ones which let you use their service on a month-to-month basis, and users do not need to be tethered to a contractual obligations.

If you are interested, check out this article with tips from the Federal Trade Commission on How To Shop For A Medical Alert System

Where are the best places to purchase medical alert systems?

If you are looking for the best selection and offers, the internet is probably the best place to do your research and shopping. Medical alert systems are sold in pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, doctor's offices and at offices of other healthcare providers. Some systems are also sold as an add-on to home security systems. In recent years, with the popularity of the internet, many users have been able to directly research and learn about various top companies. A good approach is to speak with a few local sellers and use the internet to scan the reviews and offers to verify that you are getting a good system. You can then place an order through a representative, over the phone, or submit an online order.

Will Medicare or Medicaid pay for these systems?

In most cases, Medicare or Medicaid will not pay for medical alert systems. In rare cases, it is possible with a doctor's recommendation. Some social service agencies may offer subsidies to users with low incomes.

Are there any top rated medical alert systems recommended by the AARP?

AARP does not officially recommend or endorse any particular medical alert system. However, they sometimes list medical alert systems in their bulletins as a courtesy and resource for their members. You can learn more in this AARP medical alert systems article.

Are there any long term contract requirements?

Most top medical alert systems do not require any long term contract requirements. Some may specify that a minimum of 3 months or a year of service is required. However, you can easily find many good companies that will let you keep the service on a month-to-month basis, without any multi-month or multi-year subscription contract requirements.

Why is a key lockbox recommended by some systems?

A key lockbox stores the keys to the user's home. It can be opened using a secret combination. In case of emergencies, the emergency responders need a quick way to get into the user's home. They can easily open the key lockbox and unlock the doors with the proper keys. This prevents unnecessary damage to the gates and doors of the home in an attempt to get to the user in distress as quickly as possible.

What additional features and options might be useful?

Most users are happy with a basic medical alert system consisting of the pendant or bracelet, base console unit and live monitoring service. However, there are some enhancements worth considering that could make the system even more helpful. Here are some add-ons to consider:

1) Key lockbox - This allows emergency responders to easily enter the user's home without having to break down doors.
2) Additional emergency buttons/bracelets/pendants - You may want to order additional buttons if there is more than one user in the household. An extra button is also useful as a spare or backup. Some services allow you to place satellite buttons in various parts of the home, so users can issue an emergency alert even without wearing their pendant on them. Note that this does not replace the recommendation to wear the button or have it within reach at all times.
3) Auto Alert detector - For medical alert systems with auto fall alert detection, an alert call is automatically placed when a fall is detected. The user does not need to press the button in order to issue an alert. This is especially useful should the user lose consciousness or the ability to press on the button after he or she falls. This is a relatively new option for medical alert systems and Philips Lifeline is the pioneer.
4) Carbon Monoxide, Smoke/Fire alarm - Seniors are especially susceptible to the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Situations of fire is another danger where a little help can go a long way. Some medical alert systems can be integrated with carbon monoxide (CO2), smoke and fire alarms. When the alarm goes off, an alert is automatically sent to the monitoring center so that live agents can call for help on behalf of the system user. Here are some top medical alert systems with carbon monoxide and fire protection.