Fall Alert Your Guide to Medical Alerts

medical alert

Fads in fall alert devices

by admin on August 15, 2013

I’ve been writing about fall alert devices for a number of years now, and it’s been interesting to me to be able to have this unique view of this industry. I’ve seen a lot of medical alert fads come and go now. With so much change in the industry, one thing remains the same: These devices are so important for aging seniors who want to continue living independently.

When I first started, people looking into fall alert devices couldn’t get enough of the wall button. What tends to make a fad just a fad rather than a lasting development in medical alerts, is reliability. These wall buttons made seniors feel safe and secure even without them wearing their necklace or wrist band, and that proved to be a problem. There was no guarantee that mom would fall within reach of a wall button, so the wall button’s presence actually prevented the proper use of the medical alert. Similarly, a couple years back fall detection became the thing that certain companies really pushed. Eventually, consumers began to understand that fall detection could lead to many false alarms and a good amount of frustration. Fall detection was actually getting in the way of the intended long-term use of a medical alert. Seniors could become frustrated from the false alarms and even become scared of wearing their button! While both fall detection and wall buttons still exist, they both have proved to be useful in certain situations, but harmful in others. The current fad in fall alert devices is GPS mobile devices. While GPS devices are a nice way to help cover mom or dad outside of their home, they just don’t work as reliably as you’d need inside a home. Many seniors are using GPS devices as their only medical alert system right now. And many are learning the hard way why using GPS mobile devices instead of a standard in-home medical alert is just a fad.

The most important thing I can tell you, is that medical alerts have been around for a long time! Ignoring the fads and choosing standard reliable fall alert devices is easily your best bet for long-term success!

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!

With all the potential pit-falls of using a medical alert with fall detection, it can be a very useful service for seniors in specific situations or with certain medical conditions. Let’s say that your loved one has a history of having strokes. During the stroke they would not be able to press a button to get help and, of course, they still need emergency crews at their house immediately! The fall detection would activate when your loved one hits the ground and help would be on the way shortly. There are a number of different possible situations where seniors would certain benefit by using fall detection, but it is important to note that fall detection is not for everyone. If your mom is incorporating a medical alert into her life simply because she is getting a little older, fall detection is not for her. To increase long-term use of this type of service, it is important to keep mom’s medical alert easy to use and understand. It is a fact that fall detection leads to more false alarms. This can be frustrating for many seniors and most of whom did not need an auto-alert type system to begin with. Those seniors may decide to cancel their service or not wear their button. If your mom doesn’t have a special situation that requires fall detection, she will do best with a button that she has to press. As long as she wears the button at all times, she’ll be able to get help if she ever has a fall or other emergency! And you’ll even save some money by going with a reliable primary medical alert!

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!

How heavy is a medical alert button?

by admin on March 21, 2013

When you get your parents a medical alert for their home, there are a lot of different things to consider… You’d like your parents to wear this device at all times within their home – and you want them to do that for as long as they continue living in their home. With such a long-term goal in mind, it might not be surprising that the weight of a help button can effect the long-term use of a medical alert system. Most standard medical alert buttons are small and lightweight (many weigh less than an ounce). But some models aren’t that small. Some companies offer a button that has a speaker in the pendant. This can be useful for more tech-savvy seniors, but it is always important to consider the cons of such a button. Buttons with the speaker inside them are automatically heavier and larger. Some seniors might find it bothersome to wear that large of a button at all times, and that could result in them removing the button when they shouldn’t. Also, mobile medical alert devices, which are intended for use outside of a home but are sometimes mistakenly used as a primary home medical alert systems, are about the size of a cell phone. Carrying that button around all day sure could get tiresome. While I don’t recommend using a mobile medical alert in the home for a number of reasons, the weight of that button is the icing on the cake. It is important to think about the long-term usability of any medical alert before ordering for their parents. You want to have them around for a long time after all, and a medical alert is a great way to do that!

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!

What is Fall Detection?

by admin on January 28, 2013

Fall detection is an add-on feature that some medical alert companies offer. The difference between fall detection and a standard medical alert system is that fall detection is designed to activate on its own based on a seniors movement. If a senior has a fall the system automatically alerts their monitoring center. Sometimes the system might activate when a senior hasn’t fallen but was just laying down, bending over, or had dropped the button. It’s true, these fall detection systems lead to a higher rate of false alarms (which can be frustrating for some seniors). Most seniors do better with a standard medical alert system. With these standard systems, they will have to press the button in order to get help. But this prevents lots of false alarms from happening and still protects seniors in the vast majority of situations.

I recommend fall detection primarily for seniors who have a medical condition that will prevent them from pressing a button during an emergency. Maybe they have a history of strokes or fainting. Most seniors should consider sticking to a standard medical alert. These are better for their long term success because they are easier to use and understand as they age!

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…