Medical Alerts: How They Work and How to Choose a Vendor
There are many options – here’s how to find the perfect match for your loved one.
When it comes to your senior loved one who has chosen to age in place, ensuring their safety is always top priority. And after you’ve gone through the home, eliminating dangers like loose rugs and clutter, installing grab bars and non-slip mats, putting a bedrail in the bedroom and taking other steps to reduce the risks, many folks invest in a medical alert system. Because even with safety features in place, there’s still a possibility that he or she may fall or be unable to call for help when they need it. Medical alert systems provide an added sense of security and peace of mind for you and your family member, simply by knowing that he or she will be able to get help when they need it.
To assist you in choosing the best system, we’ve put together this guide on how they work, what to look for, and what questions to ask potential vendors. Take a look:
What types of providers are out there?
As you can imagine, there are a variety of options when it comes to medical alert systems and the level of service that’s provided. Choosing the right one depends on where your senior lives and how independent he or she is. Some systems connect to a call center and dispatch emergency responders directly to the home, others can be preprogrammed with a list of family and/or friends’ phone numbers and will automatically call when activated.
How do they work?
Of course, it all depends on the type. But in general, a medical alert system allows the senior to call for help with just the touch of a button. They usually include a base unit that is connected to the main phone line or a cellular chip connected wirelessly to a tower. If your senior falls or is in need of help for any other reason, he or she pushes a panic button, which could be a bracelet or necklace, which then activates the base station. A monitoring station or call center is called, and help is immediately dispatched
What options are available?
With the constant advances in technology these days, it’s not surprising that medical alert systems continue to evolve. In addition to the traditional systems, many companies are providing added capabilities like GPS – which gives the senior who’s more active and mobile protection when they’re outside the home.
Auto fall detection, another fairly new option in the industry, is equipped with a sensor that can detect when your loved one falls and automatically send an alert without having to be activated by the wearer. Whether you choose a standard system or one with all the bells and whistles, it’s always good to know what’s available and how they can enhance safety.
Choosing the right one
Before deciding on a medical alert system, it’s always a good idea to ask each potential provider several questions to determine if their service is the right fit. Once you’ve got your list of questions and answers, you can then compare to determine the right level of service and equipment at the most affordable price. Here are the top questions you should be asking:
What kind of equipment do you provide?
Do they offer landline or celllar, and does their service include fall detection and GPS capabilities?
Where does the call go?
Does it automatically alert emergency responders, a call center, or friends and loved ones?
How long does it take to get it installed?
Some systems are easily installed and can be set up by a consumer. Others require installation, and the provider should tell you upfront how long it will take and if there is an installation fee.
Are they available evenings, weekends, and holidays?
You should be able to contact your provider 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including nights, weekends, and holidays.
Are there any long-term contracts?
Be sure to ask if you have to sign a contract, if they charge cancellation fees, and if there is a minimum amount of months that you have to pay for. Different providers have different options, so don’t be afraid to compare.
Is there pre-payment?
While it’s not required, some providers will offer pre-payment discounts, while others require you to make a payment upfront.
What do the fees include?
Is there a charge for equipment, installation, and activation? Are there monitoring or false alarm fees? Ask about any hidden charges that you may incur.
What about the call center?
How long has the call center been operating and where is it located?
Are they available 24/7?
What’s the average response time?
How much training does their staff receive?
What are testing procedures for the systems?
How often are tests performed?
Choosing the right medical alert system and provider can be daunting. After all, you’re trusting them with the safety of your loved one and with the task of responding appropriately to ensure that even if an emergency happens, your senior will get the help they need right away. Before making a decision, be sure you ask these questions and closely review the available options.
And for assistance, check out our website and view the various medical alert devices we offer at Caring Solutions, LLC!