Google Plus Logo
Home Nursing Services
At Home Therapies
Home Care FAQ
Bereavement & Grief
Hospice & Alzheimers
Hospice Pet Therapy
Special Care Programs
Your Care Team
Specialized Home Care
Patient-Centered Dementia Care
Congestive Heart Failure
Hypertension / Blood Pressure
Coronary Artery Disease
Mental Health and Depression
Home Care Support for Multiple Sclerosis
Paraplegia and Quadriplegia
Traumatic Brain Injury
Caring Brands International
Aging in Place
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Health Aide
8 Dietary Tips for Improving Senior Heart Health
Talking About Substance Abuse as a Caregiver
How to Take Care of Aging Hair
4 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality for Seniors
Designing Outdoor Living Areas for Seniors
Getting A Grip: How and Where to Install Bathroom Grab Bars
Keeping Active: Tips for Senior Gardening
Alzheimer's and Dementia
Calculating the Cost
Certified Senior Advisors
Consumer Health Care Education
Advisor Care Giving Guide
Care in a Residential Facility
Check Your Home Care IQ
Elder Care Communities
Medicare and Home Care
Senior Care Resources
Senior Care Scams
Signs That Care At Home is Needed
Long Term Care
Mobility in Seniors
Home Safety Checklist
Home Safety Tips
Medications and Fall Risk
Reduce the Risk of Falling
Risk of Falling
Visiting the Doctor and Discussing Falls
What to Do If Someone Falls
Elder Care Videos
Hiring Your Own Caregivers
Family Care Giving Facts
Information for Seniors
Long Distance Caregiving
Starting the Conversation
The Stress of Family Caregiving
Taking Care Of Yourself as a Family Caregiver
Home Care Technology
Hospice Fact or Myth
Exercise and Older Adults
Tips for Lowering Blood Pressure
Seniors and Zika Virus
Stories From Home
Transitioning from a Facility
Independent Living Assessment
Where are you looking for Care?
How to Pick a Medical Alert System
How to Pick a Medical Alert System
Posted: 4/6/2017 10:23 AM by
Dear Savvy Senior,
I would like to get my 82-year-old mother, who lives alone, a home medical alert system with a panic button that she can push in case she falls or needs help. Can you recommend some good options to help me choose?
A good medical alert system is an affordable and effective tool that can help keep your mother safe, but with all the choices available today choosing one can be quite confusing. Here are some tips that can help.
How They Work
Medical alert systems, which have been around for about 40 years, are popular products for elderly seniors who live alone. Leased for about $1 a day, these basic systems provide a wearable help button – usually in the form of a neck pendant or wristband – and a base station that connects to the home phone line, or to a cellular network if no landline is present.
At the press of a button, your mom could call and talk to a trained operator through the system’s base station receiver, which works like a powerful speakerphone. The operator will find out what’s wrong, and will notify family members, a friend, neighbor or emergency services as needed.
In addition to the basic home systems, many companies today (for an additional fee) are also offering motion sensitive pendants that can detect a fall and automatically call for help if your mom is unable to push the button. And mobile medical alerts that work when your mom is away from home. Mobile alerts work like cell phones with GPS tracking capabilities. They allow your mom to talk and listen to the operator directly through the pendant button, and because of the GPS, her general location would be known in order for help to be sent.
What to Consider
When shopping for a home medical alert system, here are some things to look for to help you choose a quality system:
Extra help buttons:
Most companies offer waterproof neck pendant and wristband help buttons, but some also offer wall-mounted buttons that can be placed near the floor in high fall risk areas like the bathroom or kitchen, in case your mom isn’t wearing her pendant.
The base station should have a range of at least 400 feet so it can be activated from anywhere on your mom’s property – even in the yard.
Make sure the system has a battery backup in case of a power failure.
Make sure the response center is staffed with trained emergency operators located in the U.S., are available on a 24-hour basis, and responds to calls promptly.
Choose a company that provides multiple contact choices – from emergency services, to a friend or family member who lives nearby – that they can contact if your mom needs help.
Find out if the monitoring center has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories, a nonprofit safety and consulting company.
Top Rated Companies
While there are dozens of companies that offer medical alert systems, here are some top options that offer both home and mobile alerts: Bay Alarm Medical (fees start at $30 per month for a home landline system,
, 877-522-9633); Life Station ($30/month,
, 800-554-4600); Medical Alert ($33/month,
, 800-800-2537); MobileHelp ($30/month,
, 800-992-0616); and Phillips Lifeline ($30/month plus a $50 activation fee,
Most of these companies offer discounts if you pay three to 12 months in advance.
For mobile medical alerts only, you should also see GreatCall’s Lively Mobile and Wearable (these cost $50 plus a $20 to $35 monthly service fee,
, 866-359-5606) and Consumer Cellular’s Ally ($150 plus $25 per month,
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit
. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC
show and author of
“The Savvy Senior”