A medical alert is a wearable device that connects you to an operator in an emergency. You wear a “call button” on a pendant or your wrist. You can also put one of these buttons in your pocket or a purse. But the idea is to have it on you should an emergency occur.
You setup a medical alert profile with the service. Your profile instructs the operatorwho to call for help. You can have friends, relatives and caretakers on your list of people to call. You can opt to always request emergency services when you need help. The operator follows your pre-filed instructions.
This guide clears up the confusion about medical alerts. Learn:
- how a medical alert devices connect you with caregivers and emergency services
- what you have to carry to make the alert system work
- where medical alerts work and where they don’t work
- what is fall detection, and does it work?
All alert companies have a failsafe should you call but then not join the conversation. If the operator cannot hear you, he or she will assume an emergency and call your care circle or emergency services.
The advantage of a medical alert over using the phone is that you wear the alert button. If you are on the floor, the phone will be too far away. But your pendant or wrist button will be within reach.
How to Choose a Medical Alert
The easiest method to choosing a medical alert system is to use our Senior Home Central medical alert quiz that you can access here (opens in a new window):
Medical Alert Coverage Areas
Some alerts work only at home. Others are mobile, meaning they work wherever you have cellular network reception.
Home Only Coverage
A home alert comes with a “call box” that hooks to your landline or the alert company’s cellular phone service.
You activate the call box with your pendant or wrist button. Once you activate the call box, the button’s work is done. The call box takes over.
You can communicate with the alert company over the call box even if you are hundreds of feet away. All alert company call boxes have extremely sensitive microphones and loud speakers.
You can activate a call box from your yard, but the box will not pick up your voice. In this case, the operator will assume you are in an emergency. The alert company’s always assume the worst case when they can’t hear you.
Once you go past the call box range, you lose medical alert coverage.
Mobile Alerts for Home and Away Coverage
Mobile coverage works both at home and when away from home. It uses the alert company’s cellular service to connect anywhere there’s cellular service.
A mobile wearable button acts as a dedicated phone line to the medical alert company. When you press the button, the device calls the alert company for help.
The Ups and Downs of Home-Only and Mobile Coverages
Whether you choose home or mobile, you will need to carry or wear a button.
Home-only call box systems usually cost less per month than systems that work outside the home. The wearable button is usually lighter and smaller than a mobile wearable button. The home call box downside is that you have coverage within a few hundred feet of that call box.
Mobile systems usually cost a little more per month. The wearable button is a bit heavier and bulkier than the home-only button. With a mobile device, you have coverage so long as you are in the cell phone signal range.
Wearing a Button or Communicator
Whether you get a “home call box” or a “mobile” system, you’re going to have to carry or wear a medical alert device.
Home system buttons merely activate the call box. They send a one-way signal to the box to activate the call to the alert company.
Mobile alerts are two-way communication devices. The pendant or watch will have a microphone and speaker.
Choosing Landline or Mobile Phone Service
All alerts need a phone connection to the alert company.
A home call box can use your home’s landline service or the alert company’s cellular service. The choice will depend on the model you choose.
Mobile alerts use the alert company’s cellular service.
Home Only Phone Service
If you do not get mobile coverage, and you have a home landline, then get a home call box system that uses a landline. The landline will be cheaper than the cellular communication option.
Home and Mobile Phone Service
There are two configurations that give you home and mobile service.
First, you can get a mobile device that you use both home and away from home.
Or second, you can get a home call box for home, and a mobile device for away from home.
The first option is the simplest. Get a mobile device. Use the mobile device both at home and away from home. The device will use the cellular phone service the alert company supplies you.
If you get a home call box, you might have the choice of using landline or cellular service for this box. The mobile coverage will always use cellular service.
The Fall Detection Option
A fall detection alert automatically calls for help if it senses that you have fallen down. Fall detection devices are a safety net, but not 100% accurate.
As of 2020, fall detection software is good, but not perfect. It will occassionally ask if you’ve fallen when you haven’t fallen. It is also possible it won’t call for help if you do fall.
The fall detection feature is a good safety net. It can save your life. Just remember that if you do fall, it is always a good idea to push the “help” button. If the detector thinks you have fallen when you have not, it will ask your permission to call for help. Just tell it “no,” you don’t need help.
Fall detection has saved countless lives. Compensate for its weaknesses and it can save your life, too.
Senior Home Central Medical Alert Guides
The medical alert guides teach you everything you need to know about how to choose a medical alert.
These guides will give you valuable advice so that you make the right medical alert choices.
Alerts with Complete Coverage
To get coverage both home and away, you can either:
- use a mobile device at home and away, or
- get a home device or home, and a mobile device for away
Here are the combined home and away medical alert packages:
Call Box Home Alerts
These medical alert systems include call boxes dedicated to home-only use. They work inside the home, but not away from home.
Here are the systems with home call boxes.
Mobile Only Alerts
Use a mobile-only alert at home or away from home. Here are the alerts that have a mobile communication device but not a home call box. Use the mobile device both at home and away.