It’s always a good thing for seniors to stay active outside the home, but underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and heart problems put them at risk of falling or having another medical emergency. Since the National Council on Aging states that “falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans,” it’s important to know our loved ones can get help in critical situations away from home. Purchasing a mobile medical alert system can bring great peace of mind to caretakers of active seniors, so you may want to consider one of these products for your loved one.
Unlike home medical alert systems that typically require a landline, a mobile safety device operates on a cellular network. The customer receives a wearable pendant or wristband with a button that connects them to an emergency call center if they need help. Many buttons include GPS or Wi-Fi locator technology in case the customer is in distress and can’t speak, and some even have automatic fall-detection.
Stacy Zerban, administrator at Friendship Village Senior Living in St. Louis, says fall detection is an important feature when looking for a medical device— “Chances are if someone falls, they won’t be able to think clearly enough to push that button for help. An automatic notification to responders can make a big difference in how fast your loved one gets help.”
Unlike the Apple Watch, this portable device doesn’t need to be paired with a cell phone since it comes pre-installed with a 4G LTE sim card. If your loved one has an emergency while driving, shopping, or simply walking around the block, they just have to hold buttons on either side of the watch to be connected to a call center. And since it’s equipped with two-way communication capabilities and GPS tracking, responders can find the patient quickly and send help right away.
The Smartwatch does not come with fall detection, as Bay Alarm stated, “After years of research and testing, we've determined that automatic fall detection is simply not accurate enough when it comes to devices being worn on the wrist. Having fall detection on the watch would trigger numerous alarms throughout the day and felt that it wouldn't provide the right user experience.”
Cost: $179 to purchase; $24.95 per month fee. If a spouse purchases a Smartwatch, Bay Alarm will monitor it at no extra charge.
With two-way talk, GPS location services, and fall detection, this Alert1 service brings peace of mind to concerned caretakers. It comes with a waterproof neck pendant, but a belt loop adapter can be purchased for an additional $9.95. This mobile medical alert system operates on AT&T or Verizon cell service, so be sure to check service availability in your area before purchasing.
Cost: No equipment fee; $39.95 per month when purchasing 10 months.
In a single pendant, GoSafe2 provides fall detection and two-way communication as well as several advanced services to help find seniors in distress. It uses an Assisted Global Positioning System (A-GPS), which is a network of satellites, to locate callers faster than conventional GPS. It also uses Intelligent Location History to record snapshots or “breadcrumbs” that lead to your loved one’s location. And finally, if there’s a large crowd that makes it hard to find a person that has fallen, Philips activates a loud audio beacon from the pendant that leads responders to it.
Cost: $99.95 device fee; $49.95 per month.
This is a nice option for seniors who don’t like to wear a pendant around their neck. It operates on a 4G LTE network and has two-way communication. If the user is able to talk, they can request help from either a caregiver or emergency personnel, and if they aren’t able to speak, GPS services can lead responders to their location. The Freedom Guardian comes with a monitoring app that allows caregivers to track their loved one’s location and send medication reminders. The only downside is that it doesn’t provide fall detection.
Cost: $299 device fee; $44.95 per month.
Are both of your parents always on the go? This may be a good option for them. For one low monitoring price per month, the MobileHelp Duo will send two pendants that offer two-way communication and GPS location services with optional fall detection.
Cost: $44.99 per month to monitor both pendants; fall detection pendants are $10 extra each.