Don't Make These Errors When Considering A Medical Alert System


An older adults dies from a fall every 20 minutes in America. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) fall death rates increased 30% among seniors between 2007 and 2016 alone, so the problem is only getting larger, not smaller. With so many falls afflicting seniors, it's no wonder there are a host of new technologies tackling the issue.

That said, medical alerts remain one of the more proven, dependable and affordable ways to help seniors in medical emergency situations, giving around the clock protection, without the need for a live-in caregiver.

When doing your research to find the best medical alert systems, sometimes called life alert systems, we suggest you avoid the following mistakes:

  1. Wait Until an Emergency Happens
    Most people wait until a fall or medical emergency happens before frantically rushing to get a medical alert system. We don't recommend rolling the dice and waiting.
    help button necklace
    With over 25% of Americans aged over 65 falling every year, the chances are pretty high you or a loved one will have a fall. However, research shows that if you get medical help within the first hour of a fall, 90% of seniors will return home from the hospital.

    Why take the risk of a fall, with no one around to help you? If you've already noticed a physical decline in strength, balance or vision your risks are even greater. Being in good shape and getting help quickly are the two best predictors of your ability to recover from a fall.

    Getting a medical alert system is a cautionary decision, that will give you the peace of mind that in the event of a fall or medical emergency, help will be on it's way.

  2. Think Medical Alert Systems Are Only for People Who Live Alone
    You may think that because you live with your spouse, family member or have a daytime caregiver that you don't need a medical alert system. The problem is that family members have their own schedules. Caregivers may not be around 24 hours of the day. When they go to the grocery store, golf course, gym, office or a friend's house to play cards you're left alone.

    Rather than feeling insecure, or your family member feeling rushed to get home, medical alert systems are a great way to give you protection during those alone times. It also gives your family member the peace of mind that your protected while they're out and about, so they can do their business without feeling pulled to get back home.

  3. Think a Cell Phone Can Replace a Medical Alert System
    Many people have the misconception that a cell phone can replace the functionality of a medical alert system. That's not the case:
    • A medical alert system is accessible 24X7. It's worn on your wrist or around your neck as a pendent all the time. When help buttonyou fall on the floor in your own home, your phone or cell phone may not be handy.
    • If you lose consciousness due to your fall, a medical alert system will automatically detect the fall and send for help. A phone or cell phone can't do that, neither can the new smartwatches.
    • In the stress of a fall, it may be difficult for an older adult, confused, anxious, without glasses, to navigate their way to dial 911 using their cell phone. It's far easier to simply press one button, and help is on its way.
    • You can't bring your cell phone into the shower or bathtub, where most falls happen. Most medical alert devices are waterproof.

  4. Confuse A Low Price for Value
    It's unfortunate, but there are medical alert companies out there that overcharge - taking advantage of older adults responding to their fear based ads on TV. That said, there are also medical alert companies that advertise a super low life alert cost, but use inferior equipment and offer sub par service levels.

    Not all medical alert companies, products or services are created equal. When you compare medical alert systems, make sure they have fast response times to emergency situations, offer reliable equipment, have month to month contracts so you can cancel in the event your not happy with the equipment or service, and don't make up for their low monthly price with things like activation, shipping, cancellation or return processing fees.

  5. Sign a Long Term Contract
    Not all contracts with medical alert companies are the same. In fact, some are outright predatory in our view.

    When reviewing your contract, make sure you get one that is month to month (not 3 years), and allows you to cancel at ANY time for ANY reason.

    Some contracts will say they are cancellable, but in reality they only allow you to cancel if you die or move into a senior facility. They then make you or your family produce a death certificate or certified letter from your nursing home. If your bracelet is uncomfortable, you don't like the service or your circumstances change, your stuck with the system for 3 years paying a service fee every month!

    Those are onerous, offensive and unnecessary terms. The best medical alert companies will allow you to cancel any time, pay for your return shipment and refund your payment for any unused portion of your subscription.

  6. Understand Which System is Best For You
    There are more medical alert systems, addressing different needs, than ever. That's the good news. The bad news is, knowing which is the right system for you. In general here are your option, and who they are good for:

    • Landline in-home system: Only works in your home, and is connected via you landline telephone. Good if you only need your medical alert system when you're home and are typically surrounded by other people when you leave your home.

    • Cellular in-home system: Only works in your home, and is connected via mobile network. You don't have to subscribe for cellular service, it's included in the price. Necessary if you don't have a landline. Good if you only need your medical alert system when you're home and are typically surrounded by other people when you leave your home.

    • Mobile medical alert: Works in and outside your home. Benefit is you get protected no matter where you are. Great if you find yourself out of the house alone a lot i.e. walking the dog, in the park, etc... Press the button and responders can use GPS to locate you. Drawback is you need good cell coverage and some companies have outdated technologies requiring you to carry two to three bulky devices (not all mobile medical alert systems).

    • Smartwatch medical alert system: Smartwatch medical alerts, like the Freedom Guardian, are all the rage today, but we're not convinced they're for everybody. The advantage is they look good and have some cool technologies that allow caregivers to program alerts, reminders and live text. After testing, we were a little concerned that in the fluster of a fall, it would be hard for some to find the help button on the watch. Moreover, we didn't like that it didn't have a fall detection option.

    • Fall detection: If you're afraid of not being able to press the help button when you fall, either because you black out, got knocked unconscious during your fall, have seizures or a stroke then you might want to consider opting for a medical alert system with automatic fall detection. If you're getting a mobile system, we strongly urge you to get a 4 in 1 system, where the help button, fall detection, GPS and speaker are all in one pendent.

Summing It Up on Medical Alert Systems

There's a reason why medical alert systems are recommended by so many hospitals, geriatricians, doctors and nurses. They save lives. They're also a great way to provide protection, in a non-intrusive way. They give seniors more independence, while giving their family members peace of mind, all at a very affordable cost compared to paid caregivers or senior living communities.

But not all medical alert systems are created equal. Don't settle for anything less than the best medical alert system for your situation. Choose the right company, and the right equipment and you'll get the protection and peace of mind you're looking for! Let us know if you have any questions.