Medical alert devices can be expensive. To some, they’re essential, but to others, they might be an unnecessary expense.
That being said, where is the line? At what point should you consider purchasing an expensive medical alert system, and when are you better off with a basic system or a capable alternative?
When are Expensive Medical Alert Systems Worth It?
If you were to list the number 1 benefit of a medical alert system, you might point to its uptime or its two-way connectivity. Maybe you’ll focus on the finer details and highlight the obvious advantages provided by automatic fall detection and GPS support.
In truth, however, the number one benefit of a medical alert device is peace of mind.
At the end of the day, most of the calls you will make through the device will be false alarms that may occur when you knock it while getting into the shower, you drop it when you’re reaching for your cane, or your grandchild gets curious. You may never need to utilize the actual benefits of this system, but the fact that it’s there if you need it will make you feel better about living on your own.
It’s not only you, though. Your loved ones will probably feel a lot better about your circumstances if you have a medical alert system. If you ever try to convince stubborn children that you’re capable of living alone, only to find yourself repeatedly facing opposition, $29.99 a month will look like a bargain.
After a few weeks of those conversations, you’ll be ready to hand over your pension and take whatever they give you!
In that sense, a medical alert system is like an insurance policy—something that you probably won’t need but will make all the difference if you ever do.
Understanding whether it’s worth paying $30+ a month, along with potential activation costs and other fees, is about weighing the pros and cons.
Let’s use insurance as an example again. If you have a cheap car and are an experienced driver, you can probably skip out on comprehensive and collision insurance. The costs likely exceed the risks, and the odds of you being in an accident where you will benefit from complete coverage are pretty slim.
By the same token, if you’re young, relatively mobile, and don’t live alone, the odds of you being in an incident where you benefit from a medical alert system are slim. Sure, you could develop unexpected side effects from your medication, have a fall, and be too disorientated to call for help, all while your partner/family member is out of the house, but the odds of that happening are low.
On the flip side, if you live alone, have severe mobility problems, and have a history of falls, it would be reckless if you didn’t purchase a medical alert system.
When Are They Not Worth It?
Assuming that you are relatively healthy, fit, and mobile, and/or you just don’t have the funds to afford a medical alert system, there are some alternatives out there. Some of these will cost you more in the short-term, but none of them come with monthly charges and you don’t have to sign any contracts:
- Smartwatches: A smartwatch can connect to your phone to make calls and send messages directly from your wrist. You will get all the benefits of a smartphone and can also use it to send an SOS with a couple of pre-programmed clicks.
- Smart Home Devices: A smart home device like Alexa is always one voice command away from making a call, placing an online order, and even turning on the lights. Many seniors are averse to technology and are worried that these devices won’t heed their calls or even understand their accents, but while that might have been the case once upon a time, they are incredibly advanced now.
- Smartphones: If you take a phone with you wherever you go, you’ll always have the ability to contact someone in the event of an emergency. You can program the phone with the phone numbers of your neighbors, family members, and friends, and you can use the voice commands to make calls in the event of an emergency. You’ll also have a built-in GPS tracker, camera, video recorder, fitness tracker, and directory.
Why Aren’t These Devices Used Instead of Medical Alerts?
If you have a smartphone in your pocket, a smartwatch on your wrist, and a smart voice device in your home, why would you ever consider a medical alert device?
Well, for one thing, all these devices come at a sizeable cost. You can get a smart voice for a low price these days, but even if you opt for budget smartphones and watches, you could still find yourself with a total bill of $500.
It’s a single upfront payment, but you will also need to think about your cell phone contract.
More importantly, these devices are not specialized. They’re great if you have them and can provide services that are similar to those of a medical alert device, but they don’t have automatic fall detection. Additionally, while they can be used to make calls with your voice or hands, they won’t help you if you’re knocked unconscious, having a heart attack, or need assistance from an operator.
Choosing the Right Option
Your level of risk will dictate which medical alert system is right for you. Budget also plays a role, but if you are high-risk, you should try to make adjustments in your budget to allow for a medical alert system. It could save your life.
What’s more is that if you opt for a basic model, it may only cost you $19.99 to $29.99 per month.
Make sure you compare the many different options on the market, so you can find one that fits your needs and doesn’t leave you with a massive hole in your budget at the end of the month.
It’s important to do all this research in advance. Understand what you want, what’s available, how much it costs, and whether additional features and services are necessary or not. The best medical alert providers won’t pressure you to buy, but they will introduce alternative options that you might like.
$5 here and there doesn’t sound too bad, but before you know it, the $20 per month fee that you were expecting is costing you upwards of $40 and you’re not sure why. Being knowledgeable on the subject and deliberate in your decision-making will negate any such issues and ensure you only get what you absolutely need.