Features Matter in a Medical Alert System
Have you been wondering if features matter when buying a medical alert system? And if so, which features matter in a medical alert system? You probably already know that a medical alert system comes with a help button, but for most people, that is the extent of their knowledge when it comes to the subject. However, there is so much more to learn before deciding on which system is right for you and when it comes to making sure you or your loved one is 100% covered in, around, and outside of the home at all times.
Having the right features could mean the difference between an accident and a tragedy. Therefore, it is well worth spending a little time learning the most important features for your particular situation.
So, yes, features matter when it comes to buying a medical alert system—they matter a lot!
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of medical alert devices and their vast array of necessary and not so necessary features. This will help you make an educated decision about which of those features are right for you or your loved one and which ones you never want to go without.
What Is the Right Fit for You and Your Family?
The best way to determine which medical alert device is the right fit for you and your family is by asking the right questions. But how do you know the right questions to ask if you don’t know much about how they all work? Well, that’s where a little research comes in handy.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you ultimately determine which features you need and which ones you don’t.
Should I have a cellular or landline system?
Well, that depends. They each have their own advantages, so it will pretty much depend on your home and preferences.
A landline option is connected directly to a phone line and in many cases will require a dedicated phone line for your medical alert system. The benefit of having a landline option is that they aren’t affected by the weather or power outages; however, the lines come with the vulnerability of being cut. But, overall, a landline system is more stable, is less prone to going down, you probably already have the wiring and technology in place, and they are generally more affordable.
A cellular system is wireless; therefore, it doesn’t need any additional connections and there are no lines that can be cut. Additionally, they are portable so they are easy to move around. The only real drawbacks of a cellular system are that you are dependent on the cell service being up and any possible disruptions due to the weather. But the biggest advantage with a cellular system is that it has more capabilities than a landline such as a broader range and the fact that you can use it anywhere versus having to stay within a certain range of the landline connected base unit for it to work.
Is it necessary to have 24/7 monitoring?
Yes, 24/7 medical emergency monitoring is necessary. The entire system is virtually useless unless you have someone monitoring it 24/7. You never know when an emergency will arise; therefore, 24/7 emergency monitoring is one feature you don’t ever want to skip.
Am I comfortable with the ongoing costs of a monitored medical alert system?
The answer to this question is a personal one. There is a broad range of emergency medical product and service options and the same goes for the cost of such. You first have to determine what your exact needs are, then ask yourself what your life and safety are worth to you and your family who needs you? So as long as you are not paying for features you don’t need, then the cost really isn’t a consideration other than comparing apples-to-apples features from different companies to make sure you are getting the best price and service available.
Do I need fall detection?
Fall detection is often sold as an add-on to an existing medical alert package; however, the fall detection feature is one of the most important—if not the most important features of a medical emergency response system. One of the most frequent accidents among seniors is falling. But if you opt for the fall detection feature, you or your loved one will have access to immediate help 24/7 should a fall occur. In fact, some fall detection devices will automatically detect a fall and contact the monitoring center even if you are not able to.
Should I consider GPS location tracking?
Whether you need a GPS location tracking option will depend on your particular situation. If you or your loved one is homebound, etc, then you might not need the GPS location tracking feature. Although it could still be used should your loved one wander away and not know how to get back home. However, if you or your loved one ever travel outside of the home, then yes, you should absolutely consider the GPS location tracking feature. Why? What if you experience a medical emergency or any other type of emergency for that matter, and you can’t speak, talk, or even think for yourself? Then all you would have to do is press the button for help and if you weren’t capable of doing so, your loved ones would have a means of finding you using the GPS location tracking feature to make sure you get back home safely.
Do I need a two-way talk feature?
The two-way talk feature is good to have but is it absolutely necessary—no. However, it does make the communication process much easier and will make sure you receive the proper help more quickly because you will be able to talk with someone at the monitoring center to convey the problem and they can send help, or not, depending on your needs. And, some of the two-way talk features also come with the capability of enabling you to answer your phone remotely using your device. This will keep you from having to physically get up and answer the door should a visitor stop by. Not all two-way talk devices have this capability though, so make sure you confirm this if that is a feature you would like to have.
Are medical alert devices available for non-English speakers?
Yes, medical alert devices are available for non-English speakers. However, not all services offer it. Therefore, if you are a non-English speaking person, look for a medical alert brand that offers their services in different languages. Then confirm they have people who can translate for you in the language of your choice. This will ensure that when you have the need to contact their emergency monitoring center, you will have immediate access to someone who can communicate with you in your first language.
Should my spouse be covered as well?
Yes, you should always consider service for your spouse, partner, roommate, etc. for many reasons. You and your spouse might not always be together when an emergency arises and it won’t help him/her if you are the only one with a help button and you’re not with them when they need it. Also, what if you get into an accident when both of you are together, but only one of you has a help button and that person is not able to push that button for help and the other person can’t get to it? Or, what if you or your partner falls in the shower and the other partner isn’t near enough to hear the cries for help?
There are plenty of reasons to consider coverage for each individual in the household. Additionally, most medical alert systems offer coverage for a spouse or other household occupant at a greatly reduced price. And, sometimes they will even offer additional coverage for free. So there is no reason not to make sure each person in the household has their own coverage.
Do I need a waterproof medical alert device?
Yes, most professionals agree that you do need a waterproof or water-resistant medical alert device. A good majority of accidents occur in the bathtub or shower. If you don’t have a waterproof device, your service won’t do you any good if you are in the bathtub or shower and your medical alert device isn’t with you. With that being said, you are probably wondering what the difference is between a waterproof medical alert button and a water-resistant medical alert button.
You will see these terms used often when looking for a medical alert device so you need to make sure you know the difference before making any final decisions.
Waterproof Medical Alert Devices
A waterproof medical alert device is one that can be fully submerged in water, such as when you are bathing, showering, or doing anything else where your device will be submerged in water for more than a few minutes and the device will still function as it should without being affected by that water.
Water Resistant Medical Alert Devices
Water resistant medical alert devices are able to resist some water so you won’t have to worry about them being accidentally exposed to water. However, most water-resistant medical alert devices can’t handle being submerged in water for long periods of time, if at all. So some of these can’t be worn in the bathtub or shower. It’s best to check with the manufacturer to clarify the capabilities of their particular medical devices before deciding on which one is right for you.
Is a Home or Portable Medical Alert Device Right for You?
There are different ways a medical alert device can communicate with the monitoring center such as via a landline, wireless, or cellular connection. So you will first need to determine which type of system you want to go with, then you will need to decide what type of device you need such as an at-home only system or an on-the-go (portable/mobile) device.
Here are the different ways your medical alert devices can communicate with a monitoring center.
A landline option is one that communicates with the monitoring center through your home phone line. Some landline options will require you to have a dedicated line for your medical alert system, so make sure you confirm whether or not this is a requirement before deciding on this option.
A wireless option is one that communicates with the monitoring center through your home’s Wi-Fi internet connection. And sometimes the phrasing wireless connection also refers to a cellular connection (which we’ll talk about in a minute) because neither option requires any type of wiring. Additionally, many medical alert systems come as Wi-Fi connections with a cellular backup option which means you can use your internet’s Wi-Fi connection and if you ever lose power or your internet goes down, or, if you go outside of the Wi-Fi’s range, the cellular connection will take over. So as you can see, there’s plenty to consider when deciding on which type of wireless connection you want.
A cellular option is 100% wireless and uses a cell tower signal to communicate with the monitoring center. This is a great option for those who are active, mobile, and are often away from their at-home medical alert system’s base unit. These also frequently come with a GPS location tracking feature so help can be sent to you whenever and wherever you need it and so you can be easily found regardless of where you are.
Here are the different types of portable medical alert devices.
A medical alert bracelet is portable because it is worn on your wrist just like a bracelet. Sometimes a medical alert bracelet has a two-way talk feature and sometimes they only come with a non-communicative help button.
Necklaces & Pendants
A medical alert necklace and/or pendant (you will hear these terms used interchangeably) are both portable and can be worn around your neck just like any other necklace. Some of these are made in a variety of styles and colors. Additionally, some medical alert necklaces and pendants have a two-way talk feature and some only come with a non-communicative help button.
Medical alert watches are portable and can be worn anywhere, just like any other watch. These are also frequently designed to be discreet so it’s not obvious that they are a medical alert device. And, some of these are smart watches with other helpful functions than just being a medical alert device. Some of their other functions might include a fitness tracker, health reminders and other helpful information and can be used in conjunction with your mobile phone. Additionally, some medical alert watches have a two-way talk feature and some only come with a non-communicative help button.
Are Medical Alert Systems Worth the Price?
How do you put a price on something that can save your life and in most cases only costs pennies a day? Now that you know all about medical alert systems, what do you think a medical alert system is worth to you? Yep! They truly are priceless!