Medical alarm monitoring systems are designed to summon help with the push of a button. Also known as personal emergency response systems (PERS), these systems can allow a person who is older, disabled, or recovering from an illness or injury to feel safe living independently.
For many seniors, these emergency medical alert systems can help avoid or delay the need for an assisted care facility or nursing home by allowing them to continue to live at home.
For non-medical systems, see home alarm system monitoring.
Medical alert equipment has come a long way in the last few decades. Today, there are entire companies dedicated to supplying medical alarm monitoring devices and services with many enhanced features.
When comparing products, keep in mind the difference between a portable medical alarm and a mobile medical alarm.
Almost all medical alert monitoring systems offer portable protection, meaning the transmitters can be carried anywhere inside the home and for a short distance outside. But, they transmit signals only to the wireless base unit, so they will not work if you travel away from the house.
Mobile medical alert systems, like MobileHelp and some others, use a cellular network to transmit signals. This allows them to protect the user while they are almost anywhere away from home: taking a walk, shopping, or even out of town on vacation.
If your lifestyle involves frequent trips away from home like doctor visits, shopping, seeing friends, etc., be sure any system you are considering offers a mobile option.
After buying and installing any personal medical alert system, follow the manufacturer’s recommended testing and maintenance instructions.
When I started in the home security business in the
1970’s, there were few choices for medical alert systems. The most
common solution was to add wireless receivers and portable transmitters
to standard home security systems.
While this can still be done today, add-on equipment like this has several drawbacks:
Even if you’re on a limited budget, these disadvantages make add-on wireless devices a poor choice for medical alarm monitoring. Though not cheap, today’s best technology and latest equipment can be had at reasonable cost (most start at about $25-36 per month after initial purchase). This is especially true when you consider what you’re trying to protect - the safety of a loved one.
Also, having the home medical alert system report to a central monitoring station is mandatory, in my opinion. While self-monitoring can be a good option for security/burglar alarm systems, I don’t recommend ANY form of self-monitoring for medical alert services.
As with the dedicated medical alarm monitoring systems mentioned earlier, always test your system at least once a week to make sure all devices are working correctly.
If your loved one suffers from memory issues like dementia or
Alzheimer's disease, give careful consideration before choosing a home
medical alert system. Memory problems may cause (s)he to forget to put
on a wearable pendant or wristband unit, or fail to take it with them
when leaving home (for mobile-enabled systems).
He or she may even forget entirely what the medical alarm monitoring device is for, which could result in false-alarm button presses, or worse, failing to push the button when it is really needed.
For those with moderate to severe memory issues, senior medical alert systems may not be the safest solution.
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