As America's aging population increases alongside its need for home security, the medical alert industry is huge and it's getting bigger every year. In an attempt to convince you to buy their system and to improve the lives of their customers, manufacturers are getting more and more creative. New features are being added to medical alert devices all the time and if you're on a budget, it can all seem a bit unnecessary and needlessly expensive.
However, many of these features are meant for the minority and not the majority. In other words, while they are nice to have, they aren't required and if you focus on the basic and most necessary features, you could save yourself a fortune every month.
The Most Important Features on Medical Alert Systems
The features that are right for you will depend on what you're using the device for. For instance, we haven't included medication reminders on our list below, and for most consumers, these are not necessary. After all, there are other ways to remember, including smart home devices, watches, and alarms. That being said, if you have memory problems and often forget to wear a watch or set an alarm, it's beneficial to have a reminder feature built into a base unit.
So, keep this in mind as you browse through the following essential features for most home medical alert system users.
Automatic Fall Detection
Medical alert devices come with a help button that you can press in the event of an emergency, including a fall or medical episode. It's an essential feature and the only reason we haven't included it is that it’s a standard on most home and mobile GPS units, but what happens if you fall and suffer from an accident that prevents you from pressing the button?
What happens if it knocks you unconscious or causes you to break an arm? That's where automatic fall detection comes in.
Many of these devices are available as add-ons to standard home and mobile GPS units and typically cost around $10 per month extra. They will connect you to a monitoring center when you have a fall, but they can also be programmed to dial a loved one.
The best medical alert systems charge you a high monthly cost to connect you to an emergency monitoring center. It's a good feature to have if you live alone and don't have anyone to contact in an emergency, but most users can get by with a device that contacts their loved ones.
You won't pay a high monthly cost as you won't need that always-connected service. If you have a fall, simply press the help button and your base unit or mobile device will dial a pre-programmed number. It can be a friend, family member, neighbor, caregiver, or even emergency services.
If you have automatic fall detection, you won't even need to press the help button because it will make that call automatically.
GPS Location Tracking
A home system works by connecting a help button to a base unit to ensure that help is just a button push away, but it doesn't work outside of the house. That's where a mobile unit or personal emergency response unit comes in. These units can be taken with you anywhere you go and will provide the same protection as the base unit.
They are more expensive, but they also offer much more coverage and peace of mind.
Mobile GPS units come with advanced location tracking and the best ones also have automatic fall detection. That way, if you fall when you're out and about or you have a medical episode, a loved one or an emergency responder will be alerted and directed to your location.
Most medical alert companies provide mobile units, including Bay Alarm, Medical Guardian, and Philips Lifeline, and many of them are water-resistant, light, and compact. In addition to helping the average user in the event of an accident, these units can keep track of patients with dementia and ensure they are found whenever they wander off.