Medical alert systems are a key strategy in reducing the risks associated with falling. A staggering 30% of adults aged 65 years and older fall each and every year, and falls account for more trips to the emergency room among seniors than any other cause!
But if you can get help within the first hour of a fall, the long term damage can be dramatically reduced. A medical alert system will send emergency responders to your location within minutes of a fall, advise them of any medical conditions and notify your family and listed caregivers.
However, there are many types of personal emergency response systems to choose from. Understanding the difference between an in-home system and a mobile system, is paramount to selecting the right medical alert device for your situation and lifestyle.
What's the Difference Between In-Home vs. Mobile Medical Alert Devices
An in-home, or at-home, medical alert system, only works in your home and its immediate surroundings. The average range is 400 ft to 1,200 ft from the base station.
An on-the-go, or mobile medical alert system, is functional both in and outside the home, however it's a little more expensive and requires more frequent recharging. We'll get into the pluses and minuses below.
How Does an In-Home Medical Alert Device Work?
The classic in-home medical alert device has a base station, which is plugged into a wall, and a phone jack. The user then wears an emergency button as a pendent around their neck, or as a watch on their wrist.
If a fall occurs, the monitoring center will be alerted either by you pressing an emergency button, or through automatic fall detection. A trained agent will try to contact the fall victim. If no contact with the fall victim can be made, emergency responders will be dispatched immediately and family members will be notified.
Do I Need A Landline?
There are two types of in-home medical alert systems. Both uses a base station and a pendent. One base station is plugged into a phone jack and requires a landline. The other uses a base station that connects to the monitoring center through a cellular network - no landline is needed.
How Does a Mobile Medical Alert Device Work?
A mobile, or on-the-go, medical alert device works no matter where you are. It uses cellular technology in the pendent, to contact and speak with the monitoring station, through a two way speaker phone - there is no base station. In the event you fall while you're out of the house, all mobile alert devices have some kind of GPS tracking technology to help responders find your location instantaneously.
Some medical alert companies allow family members and caregivers to use the GPS technology to track their loved one live online. This can be especially useful for older adults with memory loss, confusion or wandering issues.
Why Doesn't Everyone Get a Mobile Medical Alert Device?
If a mobile medical alert device works in and outside the home and doesn't require a base station, why doesn't everyone get it? There are four reasons you wouldn't:
First, if you don't venture outdoors much the extra cost may not be worth it. Even if you do go outdoors, if you're typically with someone when you're you're on-the-go, a mobile medical alert system may not be necessary.
Second is cellular coverage. You have to make sure you get good cell reception in your home. Many medical alert companies have their system tied to a cellular network such as AT&T or Verizon. You can usually type in your address and check in advance if your home or area gets good cellular coverage. Regardless, with most devices offering a 30 day money back guarantee, you can order the system, give it a shot and verify it meets your needs.
Third is cost. The average mobile medical alert device costs an extra $10 to $15 a month more than an at home system.
Fourth is battery recharging. Just like a phone, a mobile medical alert device requires recharging every 2-3 days or so. The pendent on an in home device can last for years. If you or your loved one find it cumbersome to remember to recharge your device, you may want to give it a mobile system a second thought.
What Type of Medical Alert System Is Best For You?
If you stay in your home most of the time, the cheaper alternative of an in-home medical alert device will do just fine. Even if you do leave your home often, if you do so accompanied by a friend, family member or caregiver, there's no need for a mobile medical alert system.
The Medical Guardian Classic is a great landline based system - it has the longest range of 1,300 feet in the industry, and the quickest response times as well. We also like the 30 day trial period, free shipping and free activation.
However, if you find that you do many outdoor activities on your own, an on-the-go medical alert system could be the perfect fit for you. Whether you go for walks, drive a car or do daily chores on your own, a mobile medical alert system will give you the security and peace of mind of knowing help is always available.
We recommend the Philips Lifeline GoSafe2 as the best mobile medical alert device. It's one of the only mobile systems that has two way speakers, GPS and the most accurate fall detection system on the market - all embedded in one small, sleek, nice looking device.
Use our medical alert comparison chart to find exactly what you're looking for, and get the security and peace of mind you deserve.