Our parents brought us into this world (and sometimes considered taking us out of this world too!). They raised us, fed us, clothed us, and loved us unconditionally for decades. They stayed up late waiting for us, worried about us when we were out, when we went through struggles, and when we were living our lives. And now they’re in the prime of their life, and it’s our turn.
As 21st century seniors, the elderly are more independent than grandma and grandpa of yesteryear. Many people living in the Golden Era of their lives have their own lives, routines, and hobbies that they enjoy. And they’re not about to give that up just because of a few gray hairs. Seniors are running marathons, taking yoga classes, and traveling the world, taking on whatever life has to offer.
And while this newly discovered exuberance is emancipating, it can also leave both seniors and their loved ones in a state of perpetual fear. Fear of being lost somewhere; fear of not knowing where they are suddenly; fear of falling and not being able to get help when they need it. Which is why medical alert systems are becoming more and more popular among the senior community.
Ideal for those who live alone or love to get out and about, medical alert systems are the perfect solution. These small wearable devices allow you to ensure that your elderly loved ones are always within arm’s reach of immediate medical assistance. The press of a button and help is on its way in seconds.
There are certainly plenty of medical alert devices on the market to choose from. So how do you know which is the right one for your parents and loved ones? Here are a few of the top med alert features to look for when perusing the competition.
Today most medical alert systems come equipped with this feature, but make sure before you sign a contract. Two-way voice controls ensure that you can both speak and hear the monitoring center call agent in the event of an emergency. It allows you to speak directly to the agent without having to hold down a button or use a separate device. It also means that the monitoring center can hear you directly, a crucial feature in an emergency situation.
It goes without saying that a good medical alert system is connected to a reliable and fast monitoring center. These monitoring agents are available 24/7 and can be contacted instantly in the case of an emergency. Fast response time and reliable agents are key factors to look for in a monitoring center.
Next up, you need to make sure the system is very easy to use. In the event of an emergency, it is likely that the person will be disoriented, nervous, or agitated. That’s why the system needs to be super simple to use in a pinch. A good medical alert device has a basic (large) help button. The user should be able to press the button lightly and immediately be connected to a help agent.
Fall detection is probably one of the most crucial features for a med alert system. Whether you’re wearing a pendant, bracelet wristband, or watch, fall detection allows your wearable medical alert device to determine if you’ve fallen. It will then automatically contact the emergency monitoring center even if you haven’t pressed the help button. This is essential for seniors and others with health problems because in the event of a real fall, the user may not be able to press the help button on their own. Most medical alert systems offer fall detection as an add-on. In our opinion, it’s the most important feature you could include.
It’s statistically shown that thousands of seniors slip and fall each year in the shower or bathroom. For this reason, both at-home devices and on-the-go medical alert solutions should be waterproof. You want to have the user wearing their device at all times, even in the shower. This way, if someone slips and falls, they can reach out for help immediately and not have to wait for someone to find them in this life-threatening situation.
Before ordering a med alert system, you need to make sure that it is compatible with your lifestyle, needs, and technical setup. For example, if you order a landline-based medical alert system, but you aren’t connected to a landline, you’re going to have major problems. Luckily there are both cellular-based and landline models for most modern medical alert systems for seniors. Choose the one that works best for you.
Consider how active you (or your parents) are. If they are the type to go out of the house frequently, you’ll want to invest in an on-the-go medical alert device. This type of system will come equipped with GPS tracking capabilities, so you’ll always know where your loved one is, no matter where they go. There are even systems that’ll let you check their GPS location periodically throughout the day for added security.
On the other hand, if your parents rarely leave the house or only do so to check the mail or water their plants, a strong at-home medical alert device is a better choice. Make sure your system has a good range (systems range from 600-1300 ft generally). So the base unit will still receive a signal when the wearer is moving about the garden or around the house.
Additional features that aren’t essential but certainly add value to your overall medical alert system experience include activity monitoring and medication reminders. Medication reminders are helpful if you take pills regularly. Meanwhile, activity monitoring can digitally scan your daily activity level and make sure that the wearer is moving about at regular intervals. There is also a feature known as a daily call-in. This is when the monitoring center calls to check in with the device wearer each day to check that all is ok. And a long battery life certainly adds convenience to the package.
Medical alert systems are a personal healthcare item, one that will stay with you (or your parents or loved ones) constantly. As such, you want to make sure it’s a good fit for the wearer. Most med alert companies offer either a risk-free trial period or an easy return policy that lets you test out the system. Before you make a long-term commitment. Not all systems have this option, but if you can try it out for free, all the better.
When testing out medical alert devices, you want to make sure it is:
Seniors, even the most independent ones, experience a decline in bone and muscle density and strength. Therefore, a good wearable device will be lightweight, and not feel like a burden to the person wearing it. Remember, if it is unpleasant to wear, chances are your loved one will simply leave it on the nightstand, as useless as a paperweight in an emergency.
Many seniors are self-conscious about wearing medical devices. They understand their vulnerabilities but they are bashful about them nonetheless. The last thing these uneasy seniors need is to wear a bold sign blaring to the world about their feebleness. Fortunately, modern medical alert system companies are aware of this insecurity and are sensitive to the consumers’ needs for dignity. That’s why the newer systems come with discreet and even fashionable wearable devices. Most companies offer either a necklace pendant that you can wear around your neck or a wristband bracelet to be worn on the wrist. There are also smartwatch-style medical alert devices. And if your parent is truly concerned with their style, there are designer faces for the medical alert systems. So it looks like you are wearing a fashionable accessory and nothing more.
If it’s not comfortable, your loved one will not wear the device. No matter how fashionable it is. For this reason, you want to make sure that the wearable device is comfortable according to the wearer’s standards (not your own!). Have them try it on, walk around with it, wear it for a bit, and see how it feels. As mentioned there are both wristband and pendant options. So you can usually find one that works well with your parent.