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Which senior medical alert system is best?

Posted by subru (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 5, 08 at 23:56

Hi, we are in the beginning stages of trying to find a medical alert system that will allow my elderly mother to live alone but with some emergency help if needed. Our heads are spinning from reading the ads on the internet. Does anyone have an opinion about where to turn? Can you refer us to a site where they impartially review these systems? There's alot at stake and I'm not comfortable relying on the folks trying to make a buck.
I haven't been on gardenweb for 3 years but LOVED the intelligent feedback I got on the Kitchen site.
subru


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

LIFELINE is the doctor, hospital, caregivers recommended alert system here - monitor plus the bracelet or necklace is available through any local medical supply company.

Have personal experience with it with a 96 year old aunt who was still independent and in her own apartment. After going through a little rehab, one of the conditions of her being allowed to go back to her own home was to have Lifeline. In the two years it was in use - she managed to roll over on the necklace twice alerting the monitors who are on duty 24hrs. a day. The monitoring staff call the apartment/home first. If there's no answer, they contact whoever is on the client's contact list. In my case, I'd get the call, would run over and make sure everything was okay and reset the monitor which would let Lifeline know everything was okay. If a contact, etc. couldn't be reached, firemen or first responder team is sent to check things out.

There's quite a bit of info on the internet and doctors and nurses you might come into contact with would be familiar with the system.

Seems like the monthly fee was @$40 a couple of years ago. Well worth the peace of mind.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Talk to your Dr or medical supply center or even a pharmacist. Your social service department at the hospital may help. Be aware of sales personal coming to the house as they will sell you their product only. You might even talk to someone at different nursing homes/assisted living facilities. Senior centers may have additional help.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

And BE SURE to find out where the call center is located. One of the really large, well-advertised companies USED to have their emergency center in my neighborhood. Guess where your emergency alerts are now routed and handled? Yep--India. And I've heard they're not the only ones who have outsourced that important job.

I'm not sure I want to rely on someone in another country, who may have limited English, to get me the emergency help I, or a loved family member, need when seconds matter.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

We use ADT-- the security/alarm company. Mom and Dad's house is monitored with one of their alarms, so it was very easy to add this monitor too. So far Dad has fallen at least 3 times where he pushed the panic pendant around his neck and they sent the EMT's and called me immediately to tell me that he'd fallen. The negative- they can't communicate directly with the patient, definitely not like "On Star" where there's two way communication. Oh well, at least they're intelligent and speak perfect English. I'm sure that they're not located offshore.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

My clients who have Lifeline have Lifeline operators call them daily. It acts as a speaker phone, and if the button is activated, and the person does NOT reply, then emergency response is automatic. No batteries or recharging needed.

Hope your system works as well for your mother.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Not Recommended Connect America.

I am in the process of winding down my relationship with Connect America. It seems much has changed since I first entered into an agreement with them. The biggest surprise is I discovered they do not actually monitor their boxes but monitoring is subcontracted to a third party. At the time I was doing my initial investigation, this was the first question I asked "Who provides the monitoring service?" I was told we do this in-house.

Jumping through the hoops they set up to drain every nickel out of an account, I discovered they do NOT in fact perform monitoring. I would say at best these people are slimy. So be very aware of what you are getting involved with.

Unfortunately, I have recommend Connect America to several other people. I now view this as a disservice to them. I would not recommend this company to anyone. There are just too many better options


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I AM SO THOROUGHLY CONFUSED BY THE SCORES OF MEDICAL ALERT COMPANIES SOME OF WHICH APPEAR TO BE UNDER A HUGE UMBRELLA COMPANY THAT I SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW WHICH TO TRUST.ALSO THE THE COST RANGES FORM $49.00 TO AS LITTLE AS $13.00 HOW ON EARTH IS ONE TO JUDGE WHETHER A CHEAP PRICE GIVES CHEAP SERVICE EVEN THO A HIGH PRICE IS NO GUARANTEE OF BETTER SERVICE. MANY OFFER SAME PRICE (ABOUT $30.00)AND ALL OFFER SAME BUTTON/PENDANT & SAME FEATURES & RESPONSE SERVICE. PLEASE KINDLY ADVISE WITH PERSONAL RECOMMENDATIONS OR HELPFUL CRITICISMS. THANK YOU.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Sabina, please turn off the caps on your keyboard.... it's too hard to read your post.

My advice is to call your local hospital, the doctor's office, the retirement homes in your area and ask when they recommend. In my area, the LifeLine system is installed and billed by the local hospital's volunteer auxiliary. Calls are serviced by a national group, but that doesn't matter. But in some other areas, other systems might be preferred.

Just do not get a system that's a one-time payment and only auto-dials 911. That's very limited servicing, and hardly helpful for many people.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

My 91 year old mother has AlertUSA. We're not happy with it. Their record keeping is poor, the system is mediocre, and problem resolution is impossible.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I feel the same as Sabina. There is often conflicting advice on which medical alert systems are the best. When I went to my doctor's office I asked for advice and they where not very knowledgeable. All I received where some glossy promotional items that I could have easily found on the Internet.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

The BBB is not a reliable source of information. Each community is run separately, and many are a joke. In some areas, a business can actually "buy" a good rating.

Here's a little info on BBB. You'll do better trying to get actual recommendations for your local friends, doctors and hospitals.

Here is a link that might be useful: How the BBB works


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I understand that the BBB is not perfect but I did not get any quality info from my doctors office either. So after doing a bunch of research I narrowed my search to either lifestation and lifealert. After reading the BBB report on both companies and all other things being equal I picked lifestation. Ill let you know how it works out when I get it.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I work as an RN and also take care of my 94 year old mom. I have researched these rescue devices and believe I have found the BEST one. Its called RESCUE ALERT....They call in on a box once a month to check the TWO buttons my mom was given. When my mom accidently has pressed it they are RIGHT THERE via the phone and you can hear them all over the house. Also it has a long range and my mom can go all over her very large yard outside. Its great. I know Life Alert is a popular brand but the salesmen harrassed my mother to no end to buy THEIR product. Kept calling and calling and even were very rude on the phone. Check Life Alert with the BB Bureau and you will find they have a D rating. RESCUE ALERT is the BEST...you will be very surprised and very happy with this device.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

In my opinion a cell phone is the best. After my fall I have a pay as you go cell in my pocket when I am awake. You have no idea the pain I went through walking 12 feet to a phone. someone told me "mom doesn't know how to use a cell phone". My reply was "then she shouldn't be living alone".


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I am impressed with the activity starting under this post. So that I am not a spammer I will not mention nor link to my company. I am one of the pioneers of the medical alarm industry since 1981.

I love the premise of this thread, "Our heads are spinning from reading the ads on the internet. Does anyone have an opinion about where to turn?"

May I share some knowledge and ideas that will help you discover which companies are the best? I too as a knowledgeable person have my head spin when I read all of the sites touting themselves on the web.

I also agree, even though we have an A+ rating with the BBB, that it is not a valid source to discover who is best. They will give most companies an A+ as long as you pay them and respond to your customer complaints. However, if someone has less than an "A rating" I would stay clear of that company. I can tell you that some of the most predatory marketing medical alarm companies on the web pay their dues and have an A+ rating too. Enough said!

Most of the companies I see mentioned here are companies that do a good job monitoring their clients.

I have personally tested all of the equipment being used by all of the companies and I have never found one not to be good. So don't worry about the equipment.

Prices vary widely among all of the companies. The largest of the companies charge the most due to their heavy television advertising. Their systems are good, but no better than any other out there.

Customer service is what really rules the land. But how can you know who is good? My advice is to talk to all of the representatives and order their brochures. If your gut tells you that you are being pressured by a salesman...steer clear of that company.

I've gone on too long here for my first post so here is my best tip:

Whether you like the company you are speaking to or not, don't order on the first call. Just tell them that you like what they have to say and that you will be calling a few more companies and call them back if they are the one you like. Those that are heavy sales oriented marketing companies will start to talk poorly of others or start to scare you about what can happen to your mother in the meantime. They will push you to sign up and give them your credit card. Beware! If they require your phone number or email address they will start to bother you with many calls.

Use your "gut instinct" and you will make a valid choice.

Oh, one more thing, in my 31 years in this industry I have never heard of one company that monitors their clients overseas or in India. One particular company likes to scare you that way...once again, beware.

I have noticed that a number of companies in this thread have anchor text pointing to their sites or good reviews that they have basically created themselves.

When you do call any of our companies decide if you like the attitude of the representative you are speaking with, was it difficult to get a brochure and did they pressure you.

I hope I have shed some light on the subject for your members.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Bravo, Jeff! Thanks so much for not spamming us and giving real valuable information. You've given more good info in one post than all the rest of the thread!

Thanks again!


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Thanks so much sushipup. I'll be glad to add more info from time to time should anyone have any questions.

Cheers


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Thank you, Jeff, for the excellent advice. I discovered this discussion while I was researching medical alert systems and your input really helped me. And I joined this forum to share my experience.

I was surprised at how many of these companies exist, but had narrowed it to a handful. The one I chose was Lifeline. We just received our system about a week ago so it's too early to know how it will all work out, but the marketing and early contacts were all clear, polite and professional. So far, so good.

On the other hand, I was surprised and disappointed by Life Alert. This is the one endorsed by C. Everett Koop, the former U.S. Surgeon General. I respect and admire Dr. Koop so his endorsement was one I considered. It's possible that the service itself is fine -- I really don't know. But I found the initial marketing approach inadequate -- the website gives you little "real" info like cost and the 800 number cannot help. Their only role is to mail you a brochure. You can't even download it online.

Worse yet, the representative who called me back was misleading, if not downright dishonest. During the course of the conversation, the representative pressured me with scare tactics ranging from calling other companies "substandard" to telling me almost all others farmed their call centers out to India and the Phillipines. Then he topped it off with a story about someone who wanted to get the service for their friend but waited just a little too long and, of course, the friend died. Several times he warned me about "risking your life" by using other companies.

The final straw, however, was when he told me that Life Alert was endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General's office. I immediately questioned that and he insisted it was true. I pressed him further and he admitted he was talking about Dr. Koop. A former SG, yes, but that's very different than being officially endorsed by the OFFICE of the CURRENT Surgeon General. When pressed further, he stuck to his story and told me Dr. Koop was "still affilated" with that office. The lie deteriorated to "he still has contacts", and finally to "he talks to people there sometimes." And all without ever backing off his insistence that "Life Alert is endorsed by the Surgeon General's Office." He finally got angry with me, got nasty, and hung up after huffing "Well, if you want to risk your life..." Sleazy, sleazy, sleazy.

Like I said, the service itself may be just fine. But anyone who uses this kind of sales approach will never get my business.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Another tip: When reading the posts on this thread, check to see when the poster joined GardenWeb. I am not saying that anyone on this thread is guilty, but if they joined the same day they posted, they could very well be working for the company that they are promoting. All they have to do is do a web search on "medical alert system" or something similar, and links to threads on different forums will pop up. (that's how I found this thread) They can then go and post praises of their own company to every thread/forum that they find.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I'm going to buy a system for my mother instead of going with the monitoring center and the monthly fee. I'm just wondering why there are no used systems for sale on ebay or amazon.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Because the systems that you purchase come with no support whatsoever. They auto-call 911. Period. Most seniors need more than that, such as daily check-ins, a real human at the end of the line, some flexibility to call you or someone else.

Of course, it might well depend on your mother's condition.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Yes there is a support system. When she hits the button the device automatically calls the numbers that we will put in which will be family members. If none of us answer then the device will call 911. I believe that probably 99% of these calls are for falls. Since we live approx 15 miles from the nearest ambulance service which only has 2 ambulances then I would rather family check her out first to see if she needs 911. 911 calls aren't free and might be better used for someone in a life threatening situation that someone who needs assistance getting up. Just my opinion.
Neither of the links in the above post were any good.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Just curious -- when you say there is a support system. Would your mother be able to speak (via extra strength speaker phone) to the family members who are called first? Would she be able to explain her situation? To me, that is one of the great advantages of the monthly monitoring systems.

My mother had something like Lifeline for a couple of years before moving into assisted living. She never had an emergency or needed to use their services. However, a couple of times, she accidentally set off the alarm. Immediately a voice came from the speaker attachment asking if she was OK. The monitor asked several questions to make sure she was fine before hanging up. Also, every month, a monitor would "call" my mom over the speaker attachment just to make sure everything was working correctly. If the alarm was triggered and the monitor could not speak to my mother, the company would immediately call 911.

At the time, I lived about 30 minutes away from my mom. So having that little bit of protection meant a lot to me. She lived in a senior mobile home park and was surrounded by concerned neighbors. But in the privacy of her home, she was alone and vulnerable.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I am new to GardenWeb and I am not with a medical alert company. I am a home maker in the midwest and recently had the need to get a system for my mother. I was very frustrated at how little unbiased info is out there and it took me a lot of time so I thought I'd share what I found in an effort to help others.

We could not find any reviews for these systems at Consumer Reports. I did however find what I think is a pretty comprehensive review and compilation of data at toptenreviews.com. Note - I found nothing to guarantee that this company is unbiased but they do have a LOT of factual data which is very helpful.

I was surprised that Life Alert (what I would consider the most well known) was the most expensive and, in my experience, employed HARD SELL tactics when confronted with facts. It's debatable whether they are in fact the oldest company to provide this service. Most of the systems have pretty similar features so it seems to come down to reliability and cost. I checked with BBB & the top companies from the toptenreviews.com rated well (although I note the info in earlier posts about BBB by Janet).

We ultimately went with LifeStation. One of the other top companies we liked seemed to be a medical equipment company, not primarily a service provider as I think LifeStation is.
I HIGHLY recommend doing what JeffMiller recommended to call the companies you are considering. Don't just default to the best known Life Alert. Their costs are way out of line with the industry and, unfortunately, I think many elderly people don't research it a lot and just go with them because they see the commercials and their spokesman C Everret Koop - which doesn't hold much weight in my book.

Note - we never had an occasion to press that red button for my mom but I can tell you that the customer service was EXCELLENT.
Good luck!


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

We went with LifeStation and are VERY happy with it. Low monthly fee, cancel at any time, and most importantly, the people who answer the alerts/call 911 are in the USA.

My dad has fallen 3 times and used the alert button. It worked flawlessly. 911 was called as well as the family contact. Everything they say on their website is true to our experience. Highly recommended.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I would like to thank everyone for their postings here. I am currently looking for a system for my mother-in-law who is 93.

in reply to vala55, "really?"
my m-i-l has a masters in psychology, a masters in english, is a retired teacher, a member of the local lions club, the local womens club, and the librarian at church. She was recently interviewed by a rep from the state who spent 3 hours with her then left shaking his head, and told us later she definately doesn't need to be in a "home". she lives in an extra house next to ours, and we live in the cascade mountains in Washington state. She has told me several times how this is the happiest place she has ever lived, and ever been. She works in her yard consistently, and is always reading when she is indoors. But she has fallen and we are looking for a device for her. Both of us work, and even though everyone knows her, she is often alone for hours at a time. We really would like something that alerts when she takes a fall, but all the hype is like wading thru a swamp. I can not imagine telling her she has to move to a senior living place. how many companies offer a fall alert? After speaking with the Lifeline rep, I'm not comfortable with them.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I've been coming to this forum (GardenWeb) for a long time, and i only just registered :) Just wanted to say thank you for this thread, I am looking for my aunt (late 60s). I tried looking on my own, but I don't trust sales pitches or websites, I wanted to get others' opinions on what they've tried. This forum has had good posts and threads in the past on other topics, so I'm glad there's a thread here for this as well. Looking forward to more discussions :)


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

My concern about most of these systems is that they all require you to be close to the base station to talk to the person calling you in an emergency. I prefer to have a system that allows you to talk both ways through the emergency button around their neck. Additionally, I think my mom would prefer to talk to a family member instead of some stranger. I can call 911 on her behalf just as well as the monotoring company can. The system I am looking at can be programmed with up to 4 numbers. When the button is pressed, the system calls one number at a time until it reaches someone. 911 being the last number. I will have it call my cell, then my wife's cell, then my home number then 911 as a last resort if we cannot be reached. Then when we answer, my mom can speak to us directly through the emergency button around her neck as long as she is within 600 feet of the base. If she falls in the shower or the basement she can still contact and talk with us directly. Worse case, she gets 911. The best part is...no monitoring fee! I guess the only draw back is the device does not have a fall sensor.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

May I ask which system you're referring to? The one you describe makes a good deal of sense.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Sorry, I should have mentioned that. The unit is available through a variety of websites. You can check out the device and it's features at:

http://www.assistivetechnologyservices.com/twowaytalkthroughalertsystemwithnomonthlyfees.html


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Thank you. I'll check it out.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

In searching far and wide for a system for my elderly mother, I stumbled across a site that listed the top 10 systems (comparisons and reviews). They list Bay Medical Alarm as the #1 choice followed by LifePhone and LifeStation. I haven't seen Bay Med. in this thread, so has anyone heard or had any experience with this system?


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

A spammer came along just recently and smeared the name of Bay Alarm. Can't say if the "review" you found was legit or not.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Thanks, sushipup. I found the info at medical-alert-systems-review.toptenreviews.com where they listed their top 12 rated systems. The 1st 3 they listed in the 'excellent' range and the next 9 were listed in the 'good' range. ADT and Life Alert were also on the list. Seems you could order info or the product itself right from that site if you wanted. It's so hard to decide since so many posts seem to have different opinions about the systems on the market.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I suggest talking to the local hospitals and the doctors and the senior residences in your area than to trust an unknown "review" site.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Curious to know if DSmallwood got the Touch N Talk unit. This one, to me, sounds the best to me. It goes outside....... and my mom spends most of the nice weather out there. As long as there is alert about the battery, calling a family member and talking to them directly, to me is the best for my mom. But wondering if anyone actually have this equipment?


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Clarification: It might indeed be a good company, but the spammer cited (and posted part of a chart from) that study, so by association, the study is suspect. Sorry.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I bought the medical alert system from ATS on EBAY and after going through 3 units I gave up. The issue is that the speakerphone didn't work. My Mom could hear me but I couldn't hear her even it she shouted from 10 feet away. The manufacturers rep had no explaination. The company (ATS) customer service deptartment was very cooperative .


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

This forum has been very helpful. One additional warning I might give is that many of the online "review" sites I found seem to just be the individual companies creating what look like reviews but they are actually promoting their brand and service as the best. I have been researching for around a month now for my mother and found this forum only just today.
The comments and advice have been most helpful.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I have been shadowing this forum because I have taken care of my 90 year-old father for the past three years. I live with him and he is my full-time job.

We just began our 2nd year with Life Station and I have nothing but good things to say. I did as much research as possible on these systems and chose LS because they didn't insist on a contract and the unit could be returned at any time. There was an additional discount for paying a year at a time but any unused time/amount would be refunded upon return.

I am glad my dad wears the necklace because there have been times when he was outside and the alarm went off because he was trying to overturn a large city trash can and he nearly fell and it happened to hit the alarm. I like the fact that "emergency ... emergency" is loudly broadcast as well as an alarm sound. A call came from the parent company immediately and they insisted on speaking to my dad.

I love the fact that when we got the system they walked me through all of it and we even placed it in the kitchen and he went into his master bath (totally at the other end of the house and around a corner) and the operator could hear him although my dad couldn't hear her. Another positive aspect of Life Station is the distance that my dad can be away from the base unit is about 600 feet and most other systems you have a shorter span. This means he can be up on a hill in the back yard or almost down the block and a signal will still be picked up. I have my cell phone number as the first line of calling and then the neighbor across the street. Be sure you have an extra key in a location only the alarm company knows of in case they need to send help to get into a locked house. The other option was to have a lock box on the from door and I didn't like that idea.

Whichever company you choose is a positive step in the direction of safety.

Robyn


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I have been shadowing this forum because I have taken care of my 90 year-old father for the past three years. I live with him and he is my full-time job.

We just began our 2nd year with Life Station and I have nothing but good things to say. I did as much research as possible on these systems and chose LS because they didn't insist on a contract and the unit could be returned at any time. There was an additional discount for paying a year at a time but any unused time/amount would be refunded upon return.

I am glad my dad wears the necklace because there have been times when he was outside and the alarm went off because he was trying to overturn a large city trash can and he nearly fell and it happened to hit the alarm. I like the fact that "emergency ... emergency" is loudly broadcast as well as an alarm sound. A call came from the parent company immediately and they insisted on speaking to my dad.

I love the fact that when we got the system they walked me through all of it and we even placed it in the kitchen and he went into his master bath (totally at the other end of the house and around a corner) and the operator could hear him although my dad couldn't hear her. Another positive aspect of Life Station is the distance that my dad can be away from the base unit is about 600 feet and most other systems you have a shorter span. This means he can be up on a hill in the back yard or almost down the block and a signal will still be picked up. I have my cell phone number as the first line of calling and then the neighbor across the street. Be sure you have an extra key in a location only the alarm company knows of in case they need to send help to get into a locked house. The other option was to have a lock box on the from door and I didn't like that idea.

Whichever company you choose is a positive step in the direction of safety.

Robyn


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I have been shadowing this forum because I have taken care of my 90 year-old father for the past three years. I live with him and he is my full-time job.

We just began our 2nd year with Life Station and I have nothing but good things to say. I did as much research as possible on these systems and chose LS because they didn't insist on a contract and the unit could be returned at any time. There was an additional discount for paying a year at a time but any unused time/amount would be refunded upon return.

I am glad my dad wears the necklace because there have been times when he was outside and the alarm went off because he was trying to overturn a large city trash can and he nearly fell and it happened to hit the alarm. I like the fact that "emergency ... emergency" is loudly broadcast as well as an alarm sound. A call came from the parent company immediately and they insisted on speaking to my dad.

I love the fact that when we got the system they walked me through all of it and we even placed it in the kitchen and he went into his master bath (totally at the other end of the house and around a corner) and the operator could hear him although my dad couldn't hear her. Another positive aspect of Life Station is the distance that my dad can be away from the base unit is about 600 feet and most other systems you have a shorter span. This means he can be up on a hill in the back yard or almost down the block and a signal will still be picked up. I have my cell phone number as the first line of calling and then the neighbor across the street. Be sure you have an extra key in a location only the alarm company knows of in case they need to send help to get into a locked house. The other option was to have a lock box on the from door and I didn't like that idea.

Whichever company you choose is a positive step in the direction of safety.

Robyn


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

by azzalea-"And BE SURE to find out where the call center is located. Guess where your emergency alerts are now routed and handled? Yep--India."

Thanks for mentioning this. I wouldn't want a stranger in another country knowing I have a vulnerable elderly person living alone.

Perhaps that might explain the plethora of crank calls so many Americans are receiving from 'Rachel-at Card Services', as well as those idiots who try to scam people into buying security systems sold in New Jersey.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

This is a very helpful thread. I've been looking at and talking to some of these companies. I have a very active life, but sometimes get into predicaments. My horse knocked me over a couple years ago, and I spent a good 15 minutes laying on my back, wondering what did or did not still work. Fortunately, only severe whiplash, a concussion, and heavy bruising, and an injured shoulder. I got up and shuffled into the house. But I also go up ladders, etc., and live alone, so if I fell it might be quite a while until someone found me. I'm in touch with people every day but not the same people, so it might be days before anyone figured out there was a problem. So a couple things bother me - what if you've passed out completely, had a stroke or heart attack? Or are paralyzed and can't push a button? I see a couple of these systems include a signal if you accidentally hit the system, but what if you quietly have a heart attack in your sleep? I also was on some medication that made me wake up with chest pain and heart pounding. one more thing that made me think about this. And, my second worry is, you can't take it with you, right? Like on a hike in a park?


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I think that you should consider hiring a full-time body guard if you are so concerned. No, it won't work away from home or even X distance from your telephone. If you die during the night, I hope that you have friends or family who check on you on a regular basis.

My husband's uncle had a heart attack in Palm Springs in the summer and it took the mailman to report uncollected mail after a few days. Seems that his AC quit working too.

You live and you take precautions, Nothing with guarantee that you'll always be perfectly safe unless you hire 24/7 staff,and even then you might die or have a stroke.

That's life. Do the best you can.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

There are "check-up" services available. Someone will call you daily to "check-up" on you. Obviously, if you don't answer, they'll call for help. Sometimes the service is provided by county or city volunteers. Sometimes you hire a company that deals with elder care.

As Sushi, said, you might be dead when the "check-up" call comes. But you wouldn't be ignored for days on end.

As far as taking a medical alert system with you, you can always keep your cell phone with you. Some phones have a one-touch, special button that automatically dials 911.

My mother lived in a mobile home park for senior citizens. She and her next door neighbor had their own personalized "check-up" system. Every evening my mom would draw her kitchen window curtains and open them every morning. If the neighbor didn't see open curtains, she'd go over to see what the problem was. My mother trusted her neighbor with an extra key too.

There are no guarantees, but you can do research to find useful programs or products and develop systems to give you a better sense of security and safety.


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RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

With the wave of cellular phones that have taken over this country, are there any medical alert systems that do not require the use of a land line?
My dad lives alone and has a mobile phone, but does not want a land line too.
Any information would be appreciated.


 o
RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

There is one system offering out-of-home coverage. You wear the usual pendant around the neck, and when you leave your home you bring along a second monitoring device. That device works as a GPS and a two-way radio if you press your pendant button.

I am trying to find more information, particularly with regards to reliability, as one website I found had a couple reviews where people said it didn't work reliably.

Here is a link that might be useful: MobileHelp medical alert system


 o
RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

Lots of good information on this site. I have been doing a lot of research on this as my father has had some heart issue. I have been surprised at how hard it is to find any forums that discuss this, during my searches I ran across this thread. Here is what I have found out.

The prices of these devices vary widely and that is really determined by the quality of the device. The more features the more expensive they are. I think a lot of companies are offering a really cheap product, that gets peoples attention, but it really does not do much and the features you want cost considerably more. It also seems like there are a ton of addon services(They may charge extra for fall detection, cell service, and some are starting to offer telemedicine).

Some of the comments that I have read talk about outsourcing the call center, from what I have learned as long as they are US based, it really does not matter. Actually having a company that handles lots of medical calls and knows how to work with healthcare providers and 911 is better than someone locally(My opinion).

Someone also posted about units that had cell components built in to the device. Yes, there are few devices with the cell phone cards and service built in.

Finally, there are some things that can cause the price of the device and monthly service go up, but I think they are important features. Here is what I have found:

Home Based vs Cell: The cheapest devices are units that are hooked up to a phone line in your house, and there is a basic panic button that will call help These typically have couple hundred foot radias, but if you go out you have no coverage.. Versus a cell based that you can go anywhere and have connectivity all the time.

GPS/Location Services: It is important to be able to locate the person with the device. Having the call center be able to locate where they are, or where they have been is important.

Waterproof: Is the device waterproof? How waterproof? Meaning can they take a shower with it? A bath? What happens if it falls into the sink?

Two way communication: Some devices are just panic buttons, some have speakers and Mics that allow two way communication with the call center. That way if it is accidently pressed then the call center can talk to the patient.

Fall Detection: Some devices offer fall detection, this is great if you fall and maybe can't get to a phone or talk to the call center. There seems to be lots of fall detection devices out there. Some just look if the device drops quickly, which is good unless they just drop the device. Some are more sophisticated and can tell the difference between a drop and a fall. You also want to find out how the fall detection gets updated if it can be updated.

TeleHealth: A new thing that is coming out with these devices is the ability to connect to healthcare devices(Glucose Monitors, Pulse Oximeters, scales, blood pressure cuffs) that can send that data to healthcare professionals or family members.

The net that it seems like there is a lot of differences in the devices and the add on services, as usual you get what you pay for. Hopefully if you are looking for one you can pick and choose the things above that may fit your needs.


 o
RE: Which senior medical alert system is best?

I'm severely disabled, but so far have managed to stay in my own home, and want to keep it that way. (How disabled am I? Social Security's own doctors declared me eligible for disability right away--no lawyers, no court battles, no nuthin'. I'm told that's quite rare.)

This thread has been really helpful. I think that that having an inexpensive cell phone PLUS a monitoring system of some type might be the way to go. Redundancy can be good.

I've done a ton of research, and have my nice cheap little cell phone. But I'm still looking at monitoring options.

Here's something kind of scary that I think should be more widely known. My ex-husband has a friend who is developing a new product in this area (don't worry, I'm not pitching it, it's not even available for sale yet and I'm not going to say the name of the company) and the guy knows a whole lot about the field that isn't generally known. The average FAILURE rate for PERS--Personal Emergency Response Systems--that's the industry term for the things; is : 85%

That's right. Those lanyard systems fail and Grandma dies or is simply found later EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT of the time. That is the industry average across the board, including the top of the line products.

I didn't much like that.

So, I asked my ex to find out more, and it turns out there are two main reasons for this very high failure rate:
1. Grandma can't push the button--paralysis, dementia, position, incapacitated by fall, etc.
2. Grandma hates wearing that ugly lanyard thing, and after politely thanking her loving concerned kin, she puts the dang thing away in a drawer as soon as they leave.

There can be other failure causes, but those are the two biggies.

It's not easy to verify that info., but it can be done. Pubmed, technical research journals. Here's one example link:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20814795

I have to admit, I myself don't much care for the lanyards I've seen. Do they really have to be that ugly?

Also, I should mention that RIGHT NOW there is a concentrated spamming scam of fraudulent medical alert scam robo-callers targeting seniors with an offer of a “personal medical alert system at no cost to you”. So, TANSTAAFL. For more details, see: http://www.theseniorlist.com/2014/08/medical-alert-scam-recording-captured/

Some of the monitoring devices are now starting to incorporate automatic fall detection. This link isn't too bad, though I think it might be somewhat biased: http://www.medicalalertadvice.com/fall-detection.php

Automatic fall detection is a really good and useful feature, but currently quite overpriced, considering the tech is pretty simple, often based on how your iPhone rotates its screen when you flip the phone. Prices should drop...soon? I think?

This field is probably about to rapidly change. Wikipedia has some good info. in the part called PERS 2.0: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_alarm

So I think what I really want is PERS 2.0, but I don't want to pay a ton for it, and I want it in a small, attractive jewelry-like wristband.

OK, now here's the details of my successful and hopefully informative search for a good, cheap senior type cell phone:
The Howard forum devoted to cell phones was the most unbiased source I found. Here's 2 links:

http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php/1703556-Want-Dumb-Verizon-Good-Camera-w-Flash-don-t-care-about-email-web-qwerty-touch

http://www.howardforums.com/showthread.php/1811145-Best-basic-dumb-phones-for-Page-Plus

Overall, the Howard folks recommended several old Motorolas and a couple LG's:
Motorola E815 (this one's so popular, it was selling for ridiculous amounts. Cult following.)
Motorola W755
Motorola Razr V3
LG VX8370
LG 440G IF you can get it for $5 at Best Buy (which Howard says you can, though I would call first.)

There were a few others, but this list is long enough, and people can research other phones themselves. Howard forum has a decent search function and you don't have to join it--I haven't.

The following are probably the two cheapest and most reliable cell phone companies at this time. Both offer plans that do not lock you into anything.
1. PagePlus: I think their best deal is a flat $86 bucks which gives you minutes that last for an entire year. At .04/min for local calls, that's about 2,000 minutes. No contract, no nuthin. They have Lots of different plans. Link to $86 plan ($80 year plus .50/month):
https://www.pagepluscellular.com/plans/80-standard-pin/
Their other amount non-contract minutes only last 3 months.
2. Tracfone: Their prices are pretty good too. Can be a bit confusing to figure out:
a. link to their pay as you go site:
https://www.tracfone.com/direct/Purchase?payGo=true&app=TRACFONE&lang=en
b. link to their phones--they have a couple clamshell phones with big numbers and MUCH better reception than an iPhone which my loving and well meaning sister got me. (oh I hate the iPhone. It does everything EXCEPT work like a good phone. Lousy reception and it's ALWAYS dropping my calls, which my old Nokia never did back in the day. I have a laptop. I need a phone that IS a phone.)
You have to put your zip code in to get to Tracfone's phone page:
http://www.tracfone.com/jsplib/verify_zipTech.jsp?__utma=18401020.1295621332.1407982002.1408043523.1411941328.3&__utmb =18401020.2.10.1411941328&__utmc=18401020&__utmx=-&__utmz=18401020.1411941328.3.3.utmcsr=tracfone-orders.com:utmccn=(referral):utmcmd=referral:utmcct=/bpdirect/tracfone/PhoneDetails.do&__utmv=-&__utmk=24431162

Now, I don't talk on the phone a whole lot. So, someone who uses lots of minutes might want something else. Also, someone who hardly ever uses the cell phone could spend only $30 a year and keep their PagePlus minutes current--which one guy DID on Howard.

I learned from the Howard Forums that:
1. You can get your phone activated FREE if you find the right dealer (many charge a high fee) Activation is a different thing from buying and loading in minutes.
2. Only certain phones work with certain carriers. For example, a *prepaid* Verizon phone WON'T work with PagePlus; even though the exact same non-pre-paid model WILL work. Whacky. Best to buy from an established seller who explicitly states the phone will work with your carrier of choice.

This source was REAL helpful for me in finding a cheap refurb:
http://www.cheap-phones.com/

And this site lets you get specs on phones from new to old, and compare them side by side!
http://www.phonearena.com/phones/compare/Motorola-MOTO-W755,Motorola-RAZR-V3,Motorola RAZR V3m/phones/2567,893,1566

This is the phone I got, and I really like the little thing! Especially for 25 bucks! It's small and light, has great big buttons and IT's A PHONE! Really good reception, and I haven't been dropped yet. Whereas the iPhone dropped me 80% of the time. No. Joke. So much hate for that thing.

I think a refurb with a guarantee is a safer way to go than buying used. It arrived in like-new condition. So far so good... we'll see if it explodes after the 30 day guarantee... ;)

http://www.cheap-phones.com/ads/motorola-w755-refurbished-phone-for-verizon-page-plus-black/

This isn't spam, I have no connection with any of the above. (If only! My disability income is below the poverty line.)

I just don't have much money, and thought maybe sharing my lengthy research on finding a cheap, reliable, easy to use cell phone might help. Especially for others in similar straits. Plus, the whole thing was kind of complicated to figure out.

If anyone can do better, I'd be very pleased to hear about it! :)

As far as PERS monitoring--I'm still looking. I'm just not thrilled with anything I've come across yet. Admittedly, I'm fussier than the norm, because I have some idea of what is possible.

Cheers


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