Medical Alert Systems
July 24, 2012
Medical alert systems are known to benefit the elderly, but they can also benefit anyone who lives alone. Before you decide on a particular device, the following things should be considered.
1) What type of monitoring center does your system have? Does it have its own personnel or does the emergency call go straight to 911? The systems with operators are more expensive, but they offer the advantage that some screening of calls will occur. Not all situations require medical intervention. Perhaps a family member or friend need only be notified.
2) If you decide on a system with a monitoring center, make sure the center is UL-listed. Underwriters Laboratories reviews equipment in addition to staffing issues. Also, make sure that they are certified by an outside agency such as the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA). Stations with Five Diamond ratings from CSAA are available atwww.csaaul.org/FiveDiamondsCentralStations.htm. There are many to choose from, and they are listed by state.
3) What is the cancellation policy? Is a long-term commitment contract required?
4) Consider the layout of the person’s residence where the medical alert system will be used. Different devices have different ranges of effectiveness.
5) Finally, how reliable is the equipment? Make sure it is UL certified for safety. Also, the best services offer free repair or replacement, if necessary. Also, make sure the battery system has a warning function, so that if battery power is low, it can be replaced before it completely malfunctions.
6) While most medical alert systems rely on a bracelet, necklace, or belt clip, another type of alert system was described in the December 2011 AARP Bulletin. It uses a GPS tracking system in specially-designed shoes. Manufactured by GTX Corporation, and selling for about $300, the shoes have the GPS system located in the heel and look like standard walking shoes. The system allows the target person to have a prescribed perimeter of movement called a ‘geo-fence.’ If the target ventures beyond the “fence,” a Google maps message appears on a computer or phone to notify caregivers. This type of system might be useful for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, for example.
In conclusion, medical alert systems can be an important adjunct in the care of anyone with special needs, no matter the age of the individual. They cannot eliminate the need for personal supervision, but they can certainly assist families when 24-hour monitoring is not possible.
(Information for this article was taken from the December 2011 AARP Bulletin, http://www.lifestation.com/, and http://www.ratinglab.com./)
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