Fall Alert Your Guide to Medical Alerts

medical alert

Be involved in your mom’s medical alert search!

by admin on September 23, 2013

For many families, searching for an emergency service like this for mom is a family endeavor. Often the kids will share the responsibility of calling different medical alert companies, one will place the order, and they will make a plan to share the future bills. While this is nice, not every family is so involved. You know your mom best. You know her situation and you know whether she’s able to navigate the task of finding and ordering a great service. Many seniors are fully capable of getting information, ordering with a good, reliable company, and even setting up their own system. But I’m always surprised when I hear of families whose mother needed help, but had to do the online shopping all by herself. The medical alert market is an incredibly tricky one to navigate. There are a lot of good companies out there, and then there are those who prey on seniors with aggressive, unfair sales tactics. Many of these companies call you back again and again whether you asked them to follow up or not. I’ve heard of situations where a company calls, and the senior, who has decided on a company but not ordered, asks if the caller if from the company that they had liked. Rather than being honest, the aggressive salesperson says “yes, that’s us” and takes the order. If your mom is not used to shopping online, or has never encountered aggressive sales techniques like this, it may be a smart idea for you or one of your siblings to help her out. Again, there are a lot of good companies out there, and they are not that hard to find. But on the flip side, there are a number of aggressive companies to avoid. Trust me, you’ll know what I mean after you make a few calls!

Mobile medical alerts are an option for seniors who like to take road trips. In fact, aside from using a cell phone during an emergency, these mobile devices tend to be the only option. It is important to understand the limitations of these mobile GPS devices so that you have accurate expectations though. Using one of these devices is very similar to using a cell phone. You can actually program a cell phone’s speed dial to call 911 simply by pressing one button and the “talk” key. This tends to be an excellent alternative to mobile medical alert systems. GPS devices actually work off of a cell signal, provided by one of three major cell providers – so just like your cell phone, GPS devices DO NOT get coverage everywhere. Often, cell phones and GPS devices are not reliable options for getting help in isolated areas. When you are traveling by car, you may go miles at a time where you have no cell signal. If you are traveling the western half of the US, you could potentially drive for a hundred miles without a reliable signal. So it is important to understand, while GPS devices are an option – they are certainly not fail-proof. If you have serious health problems but still like to take road trips, consider traveling with a group or reconsider your travel plans altogether. Whether you plan on using your cell phone or a mobile medical alert to get help on the road, it is important to understand how these devices work!

Be proud of your medical alert button!

by admin on April 26, 2013

I don’t know if you have noticed, but more and more seniors are becoming comfortable with the idea of having a medical alert. And these are not just seniors who have had a fall or other emergency where they were unable to get help, these are seniors taking precautionary measures! That fact is so exciting to me. Let’s take a moment to celebrate that the stigma of wearing a medical alert button is going away. So many seniors wear their help button with such great pride. They tell all their friends about their medical alert service and about how they don’t have to worry about what would happen if they had an emergency while they were at home alone. It’s okay to admit that you might need a little help here and there, especially as you age. And it is so wonderful that you are taking steps towards protecting your health! Having a medical alert will allow you to stay in the home that you love longer and live a longer healthier life. So wear your medical alert necklace on the outside of your shirt! And tell all of your friends! Here’s to good health and happiness and to longer, more enjoyable golden years!

Lately, I hear a lot about seniors wanting or getting mobile medical alert systems so that they can be protected anywhere they go. I love hearing about seniors who are proactive about their safety and wellness. Your mom may have become interested in one because a lot of mom’s friends are getting the mobile devices now. Often times though, getting a mobile medical alert might not be exactly what mom needs for her situation, so it’s best to understand how these devices work before ordering them. Now, there are two main details that are important to know. These are details that a medical alert systems salesperson might not tell you up front. First off, mobile medical alert systems are not intended for use within your home. These devices work off of a cell signal. Much like a cell phone used in your home, these mobile devices can be unreliable. Maybe they work in one room and not the other or you could even just have bad reception on a given day. It is best to use a standard, primary medical alert within mom’s home. That is going to be the most bulletproof way for mom to reliably get help during an emergency in her home! Beyond that, it is important to know that mobile devices don’t work everywhere outside of the home either. There are limitations! Your mom’s mobile medical alert works off a cell signal that is associated with one of the major cell phone providers (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T). Depending on the cell service that the mobile medical alert works through and their coverage in your area, your mom may not have reliable coverage outside of the home. It’s best to ask what cell provider the mobile signal is through and understand their coverage in your area before ever ordering! Assuming that the mobile device gets good coverage in your mom’s area, it is fine for her to use one. But I’d recommend only using it as a secondary (outside the home) device. She still needs a primary medical alert to get reliable coverage inside her home or apartment!

Recently, seniors across the country have been plagued by unwanted robocalls that are selling one specific company’s medical alert systems. While annoying sales calls have long been an unfortunate part of the medical alert industry, this has reached another level. Many seniors have received up to 30 sales calls from the same company, and they tend to continue calling even after being told never to call back. Lots of seniors have become very frustrated, annoyed, and angry as a result. In this type of situation, what is the best response to help make sure that this company no longer calls you and, in the long-term, stops bothering seniors?

First off, don’t hang up yet! Ask for information: Who is calling? What is the name of this medical alert company? What is their website? What is the name of the person you are speaking to? Where are they calling from? Write down the caller id that this call came from. Any and all information you can gather will help stop these robocalls. Next, ask the representative on the line to please put you on their Do Not Call List. All call centers have one, and the representative should be happy to do that for you. (For better or worse) Being polite will increase your chances of not being called ever again. Next, go to the company’s website and call the phone number listed there. Whether you reach a live person or a voice mail, please express your concern over these calls being made to vulnerable seniors everywhere! Next, you can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission if you see fit. Their website is: https://esupport.fcc.gov/ccmsforms/form1088.action?form_type=1088B

Taking action on this will help protect seniors throughout the country! There are a lot of great medical alert systems companies out there who treat seniors with the respect that they deserve. Don’t let one bad egg ruin your opinion about this entire industry!

The winter months are often the hardest for seniors using medical alert systems. Some seniors feel stiffer when it is cold out, and most have a tough time with ice and snow on the ground. If your mother has trouble walking or has balance issues, now is a perfect time to get a fall alert installed in her home. Aging seniors are much more susceptible to falls during harsh winter months. A good medical alert device will protect her while she is outside in her yard or garden as well. So if she were to have a bad fall while going out to her mailbox, all she’s have to do is press her fall alert button and help will be on its way! Her fall alert company will even notify you or other family members after dispatching the paramedics. A medical alert is a good way to keep mom safe when you or your siblings can’t be there. As always, there is no time like the present to get mom started on a dependable alert program!

Is fall detection good for all seniors?

by admin on December 10, 2012

Fall detection is a really neat step in the right direction for protecting seniors. Someday when the technology is perfected, this feature will be a part of every standard medical alert system. In the meantime, while it may be tempting to sign your mom up for the “very best” and spend a lot more on her medical alert service, in most cases fall detection is not necessary and in some cases it can be very counterproductive to mom’s long-term success. It just is not for all seniors! As you can imagine these devices that predict falls can’t get it right every time. Often, things like bending over or laying down can activate the medical alert! Having a button that keeps alerting by itself or having the paramedics show up at mom’s home without her pressing the button can certainly prove to be frustrating for her. So I only recommend these types of devices for seniors who have a specific type of medical condition. Maybe mom has a history of fainting or a history of strokes that makes you think she has a higher chance of having an emergency where she is not able to press the button. For long-term protection, most seniors do better with a standard medical alert – where they have to press the button to get help. These systems are easier to use and understand, and have fewer false alarms! So consider keeping mom’s medical alert protection simple, user-friendly, and affordable! I think you’ll be glad that you did…

Under no circumstance do I recommend mobile fall alert devices to be used instead of a standard medical alert in your home. I have heard of too many seniors who switch back to a standard medical alert because they learned the hard way that the cell signal that their mobile device uses is much less reliable than a standard phone line. But some families want to protect their parents even when they are outside the home, out in public. Mobile fall alert devices certainly are a reasonable solution, but many seniors do just as well with a cell phone. These mobile devices tend to be about the size of a cell phone, and the GPS inside them is actually no different from the GPS inside of a cell phone. In fact, because the GPS in mobile devices only can locate within 100 yards of an individual many agencies will not dispatch to a GPS signal alone. So your parent would have to be able to speak to the operator to let them know what is going on and where they are (exactly the same as using the speed dial in a cell phone). The main advantage to a cell phone is that it provides flexibility in a non-emergency situation. What if your mom just needs you or your brother called? The added benefit of a cell phone is that it is a cell phone! While many seniors want to be protected while they are out and about, there will be other people around if they were to experience a fall. Many seniors only use a fall alert inside their home for when they are alone for prolonged periods of time.

Using a Cable Phone or Standard Land Line

by admin on November 9, 2012

Often seniors are surprised to hear that what type of phone service they use in their home will effect their medical alert service. I always recommend a standard land line for seniors using a medical alert at home. The medical alert uses your home telephone service to connect you with an operator during an emergency, and standard land lines are the most reliable type of phone service that you can choose. They work during a power outage and they aren’t subject to random cable outages. If the power goes out in your home and you have a cable phone, the phone will be down too. This is because your phone works through the cable modem, which is directly ties into your electricity. Beyond that, sometimes your cable service in the area will be down. This is just not something you can plan for ever, and, therefore, it is not ideal for use with a medical alert. Of course, many seniors save money by getting their phone service through a cable provider, and most medical alert equipment does work with this type of phone service. But it is so very important to understand the limitations of a cable service. If you regularly have electrical or cable outages in your area, you should absolutely look into installing a standard land line in your home. You are taking an important step by getting a medical alert in your home, so consider going further to make sure your home phone and medical alert are working at all times.

I am aware of a growing number of seniors that are ditching their old home telephone service to just use their cell phone. They figure that the cell phone will work both while they are out and about and while they are at home, and they simply want to save some money each month as well. This is all fine and good except if these seniors decide to protect themselves with fall alert systems in their home, they will have to reinstate their home telephone service. This is because all standard home medical alert services require a home telephone and will not work with cell phones. Cell phone signals are often unreliable (especially in people’s homes) and should not be relied on for this type of emergency help service. For my personal purposes a cell phone is fine. When I am not getting a good signal at home I simply walk outside and talk there. But you would not be able to do that in an emergency situation! There are even some home telephone services now that are through cell signals. This is a very different type of phone connection, with the same issues that a cell phone has… So it is both not recommended for use with fall alert systems, and no companies currently offer equipment that is compatible with that type of service. So if mom or dad is considering getting rid of their phone service to save some money and considering a medical alert in their home, plan ahead! They need to keep that phone to have a fall alert in their home!