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Hands typing on keyboard for Beyond Expectations Home Health Care blog


  • Writer's pictureSonja Schreiner

The 101 on Medical Alerts

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

As your parent or grandparents age, many things happen. One of the big changes that can occur is the aging adult can no longer fulfill all their needs alone. Caring for a loved one when this happens is one of the most difficult jobs for any child or grandchild. Not only do you have to create a space in your life for your new role as a caretaker, but you also have to convince your relative to let you or someone else help care for them. In this situation, purchasing a medical alert system can be a real game-changer.

There are numerous options to consider when choosing medical alert equipment. But whatever shape the hardware takes--a bracelet, necklace, or button on the wall--a medical alert system can increase your loved one’s independence while also giving you more freedom to do things away from them. This personal liberty can result in noticeable improvements in both the caregiver’s and the senior’s quality of life.

The Caregiver’s Dilemma

When one becomes a caregiver to an aging parent or grandparent, a type of role-switching takes place. Caregivers have to help their loved ones perform typical activities of daily living like eating, dressing, and bathing. It can be an overwhelming and isolating experience. Many caregivers say they feel trapped by their circumstances because they are the only ones in their family who can provide this essential care.

Regaining Freedom and Peace of Mind

A medical alert system is an ideal way to preserve your freedom and peace of mind while also encouraging your loved one to be more independent. They allow older people the freedom to stay home alone or go outside (with the help of many GPS models that allow you to track the user’s location), while at the same time reassuring caregivers that their loved one is safe and secure.

How Can a Medical Alert System Help?

One of the major concerns of caregivers—and one of the most frequent reasons why someone purchases a medical alert system for themselves or for others—is the possibility of the care-recipient suffering a fall and not being able to get to a phone and call for help. It’s a real fear, with over one in four American seniors falling every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Nowadays, many medical alert systems feature automatic fall detection. Once the device senses that the user has fallen, a call is automatically placed to the monitoring center. If the user can’t communicate with the monitoring specialist, perhaps because they’re unable to speak after the fall, a specialist at the monitoring center will automatically call emergency services.

What to Watch Out for When Buying a Medical Alert System

Something consumers should be aware of regarding medical alerts is that the GPS on some devices are not always entirely accurate. Recently, Consumers’ CheckBook tested several medical alert devices over 200 times found the call centers sometimes had difficulty determining where the calls were coming from. Some even had a hard time finding users in high-rise buildings in urban areas because they couldn’t pinpoint the floor.

Medical alert monitoring involves an infrastructure of phone networks, operators, and emergency response systems. For the companies that sell monitored medical alert systems, subscriptions to the monitoring service are a greater source of revenue than selling the hardware. The ongoing charges, billed monthly, quarterly, or annually, can be a significant expense for consumers.

Also, beware of hidden language in contracts and read the fine print for activation and cancellation fees, lost or damaged fees and contract minimum length.

Further Testing

Consumers Advocate is a group that has a goal of being a comprehensive and honest resource to help consumers make informed decisions. They researched, tested, and put together a guide for some of the big brands of medical alert devices. For their complete guide on medical alerts, check out Consumers Advocate review here.

If you are needing more assistance than what a medical alert device can offer to reduce some of the caregiver role strain you may be experiencing near Minneapolis, MN, and the surrounding areas, contact Beyond Expectations Home Health Care. Our in-home care services enable clients to remain at home, worry free, and still receive the highest level of professional care. To learn more about the services that we provide, please click here. If you have any questions about in-home nursing care, feel free to get in touch with us by clicking here.

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