The medical alert industry is huge, and as the country's aging population grows and technology improves, the variety of systems, brands, and features grows, too. If you're in the market for a new alert system, you might be a little confused as to which one is best for you. That's what we will address in this guide.
The Best Alert System for You or a Loved One
Whether you're buying for yourself or a loved one, if you want the best medical alert system for your situation, keep the following in mind.
Do You Need a Mobile or In-Home Medical Alert?
An in-home system is often the cheapest option and simply connects through your landline. If you need assistance, simply press the button to get the help you need. The range is limited, but it's usually enough to cover your house and yard.
These systems are best for people who live alone and are worried about trips, falls, and serious health issues.
If the concern is that these things will happen outside of the home, you can opt for a mobile device, which connects through a cellular network.
GPS tracking should also be considered. It finds the user's exact location and sends this information to the emergency response center, ensuring they can be found quickly and easily.
Do You Need Fall Detection?
Medical alert systems come with wearable help buttons that can be tied around your neck or wrist. If you fall, simply press the big button and get help. However, what if the fall incapacitates you? That's where automatic fall detection comes in.
Automatic fall detection is made possible via accelerometers. They know the difference between someone climbing into bed and someone tripping or falling.
The problem is that this technology isn’t cheap, and some companies charge an additional $10 a month for the service.
Additional Features to Consider
Medical alert systems can be made more powerful with the addition of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and even motion detectors, which identify when the owner is climbing out of bed or leaving their house. These features will significantly increase the price, but they can greatly boost the system’s benefits and are very helpful to people suffering from severe memory impairment.
Do You Need an Operations Center?
One of the biggest questions to consider is whether or not you need to be connected to an emergency response system. Some cheaper units will simply connect you to your loved ones or make a call to emergency services, but the more expensive options have operations teams on hand to provide an extra level of care.
Not only can they deal with your call and transfer you as needed, but some services will even monitor your home in the event of a break-in and scare the burglars away by triggering an alarm.
What's your Budget?
The cost of medical alert systems differs considerably. Some of them will charge you an initial $100 to $150 for a wearable button and base that connect to preset phone numbers during an emergency. Others come with base units that go directly to emergency operations teams and charge you upwards of $25 a month.
The highest prices come from companies that offer fall detection and emergency response teams, and you'll always pay a lot more money for mobile services than you will for in-home ones.
Compare, contrast, make sure the features are suitable for you or your loved one, and make sure the price is within your budget.
How to Buy a Medical Alert System
There are a couple of ways that you can purchase medical alert systems. The first is to purchase a system from a retailer like Walmart. You can browse options on the shelf in the store, find the best one, and make a purchase. Some of them are available without a monthly charge, while others will give you a free month and then require you to pay for all additional months.
The benefit of shopping this way is that you can see and touch the products before you buy and, in some cases, you don't need to pay a subscription. The downside is that it's rarely the cheapest option for subscription services, as you'll need to pay for the initial product and the subsequent subscription.
The other option, and often the better one, is to go directly through the company. Many of them will give you the initial product for free, leaving you to pay a subscription fee to keep it and continue using the service.
Make some comparisons, take a look at the reviews on this site, and if you're dealing directly with the company, don't let them pressure you into getting something you don't want or need.
If they insist that you need to buy now or you'll miss out on a discount or special feature, hang up. These tactics usually spiral into pressure selling and that's not the sort of company you want to deal with.