While there are many resources available to aid in choosing a medical alert system, not all of them are able to address your exact needs. Everybody has their own list of questions, and as such, it can be difficult to find one place that has a comprehensive list of all the information you need. This article doesn’t claim to be a comprehensive list, but it may be able to plant some seeds of thought to help you ask your own questions.
When trying to find a suitable medical alert device, it is important to bear in mind where you will be residing and whether you still leave the home or not. Are you living in your own home? Are you fixed in one address, or do you move around?
Are you homebound? This is a great starting point when asking questions, as the answer will greatly narrow down the suitable medical alert systems. If the answer to this question is “yes,” then there is another question to ask. Where are you homebound? Are you living in an apartment building? A house? These answers will also narrow the pool of medical alert devices that will work for you.
Are you mobile? If you aren’t homebound, are you mobile? Do you have a primary residence as well as other places you visit (cottage, your children’s homes, etc.)? If the answer to this is yes, then your options for medical alert systems may be limited to mobile device-based systems. Two such options are the Philips Lifeline Go Safe system and the Safety Labs Safety Anchor-PA system. Options that require you to be in one place won’t work if you have plans to move around outside a primary residence. Systems that can function even outside the home will be needed.
Monitoring, 911 and Family
Is the family interested in being active participants in the safety and monitoring of the individual? If the answer to this is yes, it needs to be understood that they are not responsible for the safety of the individual, but rather that they would like to be “in the know” and up to date with information regarding their loved one. If this is a priority, a couple of great options would be Safety Labs Safety Anchor-PA or MobileHelp. These systems permit chosen family members to log in and keep tabs on the safety of their loved one.
Who receives the medical alerts? This is an important consideration when choosing a system that is right for you. Would an alert to family, friends and 911 be sufficient, or would a monitoring service be a better choice? If you have special needs and require specialized interactions, a monitoring service may be a good fit. Otherwise, systems such as Safety Labs Safety Anchor-PA (for use anywhere) or Logic Mark Freedom Alert (for use around the home) would be sufficient choices.
Installation and Management
While it’s not a question that affects the quality of the safety device, it’s still important to ask whether installation and management of the system is something you can do on your own. Most medical alert systems are easy to install and maintain – such as Safety Labs Safety Anchor-PA, Logic Mark Freedom Alert and Freeus Belle 3G mPERS. For systems that require more involved installation and personalization, it may be necessary to call the company for help.
One-time and Ongoing Costs
Some financial considerations are necessary when looking at medical alert options. Should you rent the system or purchase it outright? Does the system have a monthly fee? Do you have to buy the hardware? Does it have a battery? If so, how long does it last before needing replacement?
Some systems have long-lasting batteries, but those batteries will need replacing once the charge runs out. Other systems, like the Freeus Belle 3G mPERS, have rechargeable batteries. This is a simple pendant that doesn’t need a base unit for use. It comes with a charger for the pendant and takes only about 3 hours for a full charge. It can last up to 30 days on a single charge, and when it runs out, you can just place it back in the charger until it is ready to go again – at no additional cost to you!
If the system is something that will be used short-term – for less than a year – it may be in your best interest, financially, to rent. However, if it will be used longer than a year, you may want to consider purchasing the system.
Most medical alert companies, such as Philips Lifeline Go Safe, offer their hardware for free but do require a monthly fee for use of the service. On the other hand, companies like Safety Labs Safety Anchor-PA and Logic Mark Freedom Alert require purchase of the system but have no monthly fees!
Additional Features You Should Look For
Fall Detection – This is a feature that some systems have. These systems claim to be able to identify if the individual has fallen. If the system believes a fall has taken place, an auto alert is sent. This may seem like an attractive feature, but it is important to keep in mind that this feature hasn’t been proven effective by any 3rd party labs, and relying on this feature can provide a false sense of security.
Health/Wellness Monitoring – Health monitoring looks at things like sleep quality, activity level, medication schedules, etc. Health and safety certainly go hand-in-hand, but as of now, there are not many systems which bridge the gap between health monitoring and safety. MobileHelp and GreatCall both merge medical alerts with special features to maintain wellness. MobileHelp allows for medication reminders on its base unit. GreatCall’s Lively Wearable watch allows for activity tracking via a step counter and also has accompanying software which provides fun mental challenges! Keep your eyes open in the coming years for new advancements that might make it easier for more companies to better link these two needs together.
Peace of mind is priceless. The cost of safety, the quality of safety, the look of safety and the function of safety are all important things to consider when looking at which medical alert system will work best for you. It’s not a decision you should jump into quickly, and hopefully this guide will provide you with some valuable information to help you inch closer to your safety goals.
Which Are Currently the Leading Medical Alert Systems?
Safety Labs Anchor-PA is a system that works with internet and Bluetooth and can work anywhere you have access to the internet and WiFi. Because the button links up with smart phones, the system will be able to help provide safety everywhere. It also allows loved ones to proactively check the safety status of the individual wearing the button. They can log in online (from a computer or an easy-to-use app) and check the individual’s location and even the time of the last update. In the case of an emergency, the individual would press their button. This would send an alert to the Safety Anchor, which would forward the alert to a “monitoring station/911” and to any pre-selected individuals. The system can even be personalized to include multiple people who would receive information should the button be pushed – including location information.
Features: Medical Alert Button, Home and On the Go, Family Monitoring and Alert Option, Easy Set Up, Monthly Fee $3.99, Start Up Cost $198, Battery Life up to 1 year, Wearable, Ability to Locate Individual.
Philips Lifeline Go Safe is a system with a wearable medical alert necklace which (when home) connects to an In-Home-Communicator called a Lifestation, and when outside the home, connects wirelessly to a Lifeline response center. It uses “Assisted GPS, Wi-Fi Enhanced Locating and Intelligent Bread Crumbs” to give information about location to the Lifeline response center. The pendant is also equipped with a two-way voice function. This allows the individual to communicate directly with the Lifeline alert responder. Another feature it provides is Fall Detection with Auto Alert. This means that the device attempts to predict if the individual has fallen and will alert the Lifeline response center with location information. From there, the response center makes a call to emergency services. The responder will also send a signal to the pendant to emit a loud alarm so that if the person is out of sight, emergency responders will easily be able to find them.
Features: Medical Alert Button, Home and On the Go, Easy Set Up, Monthly Fee $54.95 – $64.95, Start Up Cost $149, Battery Life up to 7 days – Rechargeable (can charge while worn), Wearable, Ability to Locate Individual, Fall Detection, Two Way Voice Feature.
Logic Mark Freedom Alert is a system which uses a two-way pendant communicator on a medical alert necklace. It has three distinct settings which allow for personalized options as to whom the alert is sent to. The first setting sends the alert directly to 911. The second setting allows you to call up to four different contacts of your choice. The third and final option allows for both things to happen simultaneously. The system will call your desired contacts, but even if none of them are available, you still have the assurance that 911 has been notified. This system does have a wide connectivity range, but it is not suitable for use while out and about. Its intended application is in and around the house.
Features: Medical Alert Button, Home Use Only, Family Monitoring and Alert Option, Easy Set Up, No Monthly Fee, Start Up Cost $180 – $270, Battery Life up to 6 months – Rechargeable, Wearable, Two Way Voice Feature
Freeus Belle 3G mPERS is a system which uses a two-way pendant communicator. It doesn’t require the use of a base station or a landline and comes with a charger for the pendant. It takes about 3 hours to charge, and once it is charged it will last up to 30 days. It can be used both inside and outside the home (in the United States), wherever there is cellular service. Upon pushing the alert button on the pendant, a call will be sent to a care specialist – the specialists are available 24/7. Once the call has been placed, the care specialist has access to the individual’s name as well as information as to if they are at home or not. From there, the situation will be assessed and the care specialist will either send family or emergency service providers (ambulance, fire fighters, etc.).
Features: Medical Alert Button, Home and On the Go, Family Alert Option, Easy Set Up, Monthly Fee $25 – $35, Start Up Cost $229, Battery Life up to 1 month – Rechargeable, Wearable, Two Way Voice Feature
MobileHelp is a company that gives you options. MobileHelp Classic is a system that gives you in-home protection. It’s a simple medical alert system that doesn’t require the use of a landline phone. It comes with a base station and either a wrist button or a neck pendant. Upon pushing the button, the MobileHelp team will notify emergency services as well as pre-selected loved ones. MobileHelp Solo is an option which works both at home and away from home. It is similar to the Classic option in that it can be worn as either a medical alert necklace or a medical alert bracelet. But, the difference is that there is no main home base. You have the freedom to go where you’d like, and with the system’s GPS technology, responders can find exactly where you are once the alert has been sent. Both of these options are compatible with the MobileHelp Fall Button, which is an “automatic fall detection” button. There are no hardware costs, but there are fees for use. MobileHelp also offers the option of using their MobileHelp Connect feature. This allows for loved ones to have access to information (alerts, location etc.). For additional fees, you can also add on medication reminders (which require the use of the home base unit) and activity tracking!
Features on Classic option: Medical Alert Button, Home Use Only, Family Monitoring and Alert Option, Easy Set Up, Monthly Fee $29.95, No Start Up Cost, Battery Life up to 5 years, Wearable, Wellness Features Available
Features on Solo option: Medical Alert Button, Home and On the Go, Family Monitoring and Alert Option, Easy Set Up, Monthly Fee $37.95, No Start Up Cost, Battery Life up to 5 years, Wearable, Ability to Locate Individual, Wellness Features Available.
GreatCall is another company that gives you options. There are two available models for safety medical alert systems from GreatCall. They offer one called the Lively Urgent Response Device and another called Lively Wearable. Lively Wearable works through your smart phone and is mainly a fitness device. However, it also comes equipped with a built-in emergency alert system. In the case of an emergency, you would push the button. From there one of GreatCall’s agents will respond through your smart phone. Your location will be confirmed, and if the situation calls for it, emergency services will be sent. The button can be worn either in a wrist band or as a pendant. The product is accompanied by a free app which provides a daily step count and fun mental challenges. Lively Wearable also has a fall detector. There is both a fee for the hardware and a monthly usage fee. Then there’s the Lively Urgent Response Device. Similar to Lively Wearable, this product is a wearable button (medical alert jewelry). The difference is that this device is a two-way pendant communicator (meaning no smart phone is needed for contact). Once you push the button in an emergency situation, you will be connected to an agent who can identify your location (through the built-in GPS) and send help accordingly. There is also software which allows loved ones to keep tabs on what is going on. It is a rechargeable unit which lasts approximately one day, so it’s suggested that you charge it every night.
Features on Lively Urgent Response Device: Medical Alert Button, Home and On the Go, Family Monitoring and Alert Option, Easy Set Up, Monthly Fee $19.99 – $34.99, Start Up Cost $49.99, Battery Life up to 1 day – Rechargeable, Wearable, Ability to Locate Individual, Fall Detection Option, Two Way Voice Feature
Features on Lively Wearable: Medical Alert Button, Home and On the Go, Family Alert Option, Easy Set Up, Monthly Fee $14.99, Start Up Cost $49.99, Battery Life up to 6 months, Wearable, Ability to Locate Individual, Fall Detection, Wellness Features Available.