A medical alert system is a device used by elderly and disabled patients that can be kept around the home and used to alert the emergency medical services when necessary. Often this will take the form of a device worn around the neck or wrist, that will call 911 or another emergency number if necessary. In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of a medical alert system as well as how to go about choosing one and ensuring you get the necessary features.
The Benefits of Medical Alert Systems
The main benefits of a medical alert system are obvious. By providing individuals with a device they can use to call for help, these gadgets ensure they are never left alone for long after an accident. If you have ever heard horror stories of people falling in the garden and then lying there for days before anyone came to their assistance, then you’ll appreciate why such insurance might be necessary. Potentially, a medical alert system could be life-saving if it allows you or a relative to call for help during a heart attack or when they’ve fallen. Even if it only means the difference of a few minutes, this can count for a lot in an emergency.
The other benefits of medical alert systems may be somewhat less obvious and more subtle. One example is the effect that this has on the patient’s confidence and freedom. If you are frail and in danger of falling or having an attack at any moment, then this can prevent you from wanting to travel far from the home. In extreme circumstances, you may not even want to travel as far as your own garden in case you should fall.
With a medical alert system though, you will have access to a device you can use to call for help wherever you are. In turn, this means you can confidently travel around the home and not need to worry that you may be caught out.
This also makes a big difference to the friends and family of that individual. For the family of someone with a disability or illness, life can often seem very stressful as they are left worrying that their loved one may have a fall at any moment without them knowing to help. If they know that that person has a medical alert system, this can give them the assurance to carry on with their own lives and not feel the need to call every few minutes.
Do You Really Need a Medical Alert System?
Some people will see owning a medical alert system as ‘admitting defeat’ and may be too proud to make the investment.
This is a big mistake, which can potentially be fatal. While you may not be constantly falling over, or in any immediate danger of an attack; it only has to happen once for you to be in serious danger. Instead of waiting until you need one and not having one, it is far more sensible to have one ready for when you eventually do need one. Speaking of loss of pride, it is much better to accept this small defeat, rather than to be found days later lying on your kitchen floor.
You may also think that you don’t need a medical alert system if you have a mobile phone. This too can be a mistake however, as mobile phones can often be difficult to operate in a crisis. Not only do people often leave phones in the house when they head out to the garden but if you’re having some kind of stroke then you will likely find it very difficult to operate a phone or to make sense of it. Most medical alert systems involve a single button that needs pressing, or a short piece of string that needs pulling – something that can be operated in a moment and with no need for manual dexterity.
Features to Look For
When choosing a medical alert system, there are a number of features you can look out for.
What’s very important is that your device is mobile and portable enough that you can carry it with you. Some older devices would be attached to the wall or kept on a table, which really wasn’t much good unless you were fortunate enough to have a fall in exactly the right place.
The best medical alert systems then will work either by connecting wirelessly to separate a device you plug into your landline, or they will use a mobile data network like a mobile phone. Some will use both. The latter will still work even if you are ‘out of range’.
When choosing your alarm, make sure that you won’t be tied into an expensive monthly contract that you can’t easily leave. Some of these devices come with the addition of a care plan, or require a mobile data plan. Others are completely free, thought they may not offer the same level of service – be sure to compare the options available before making a final decision.
Another key feature to look for is a button and/or light you can use to test the batteries and the connection. This is an important feature because it will allow you to ensure everything is in working order before you start your day. A long battery life is also important, as is water resistance to some degree if you want to take it out in the rain. If you plan on using it in the shower, then you will need it to be waterproof (rather than resistant). Check the packaging and ask in-store if you are unsure.
Some devices also come with other more advanced features. Some for instance will come with a carbon monoxide alarm, which can be useful in rare cases, though most people will be able to make do with a separate alarm in the home for this purpose. Other sensors and alarms can provide additional security too – for instance, gyroscopes and movement sensors can act as ‘fall detectors’ in order to automatically dial for help when they detect that you may have fallen.
While you won’t want to waste money on unnecessary features, you should also think carefully about every scenario in which you may find yourself needing an alarm. There’s no shame in being prepared and it could just save your life.