Georgia retirees should consider medical alert systems. Today’s offerings go way beyond the “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” device made popular with TV ads in the past. Many medical alert systems coordinate with wifi or cellular telephone giving you a wider range and the ability to send a distress call even when your phone land line or electricity is not working.
When picking a medical alert system you should consider the following.
- your medical condition(s)
- traveling outside of your home base
- total cost of the system
- ease of use
Medical Alert Systems and considerations
If you or a loved one lives has a medical condition that could leave them vulnerable you should consider an alert system. Clark Howard posted helpful information on his blog about medical alert systems. His mother is in her 90’s, lives in an assisted living facility and has a portable call button that only works inside her compound. Clark explores other options including one that does not require a monthly monitoring fee.
From the makers of the senior-friendly cell phone Jitterbug comes 5Star Urgent Response. The 5Star allows two-way communication over Verizon’s network with a response agent at the touch of a button. You can even be GPS tracked via triangulation if you’re not able to speak. Service is $14.99/month once you purchase the device. Visit GreatCall.com for more details.
If the retiree does not have a landline the Great Call medical alert system might be a good choice.
If you don’t want or need a monthly monitoring fee and have a reliable land line telephone system this device from Assistive Technologies is an option to consider.
For $279, you buy their device and it comes with free shipping right now. There is no monthly fee at all. You set up the device to call 4 numbers — typically that would be 3 relatives and the fourth number would be 911.
Medical Alert Systems reviewed by Consumer Reports
We found this information on the Consumer Reports website to be helpful in selecting an alert system when you are considering something other than price.
The experts we consulted recommend looking for a medical alert system that meets all or most of these criteria.
- It works for a user’s specific disability. For example, a stroke survivor may need a device he or she can activate with one hand.
- It offers a choice of a wristband and/or neck pendant. Cords worn around the neck can pose a strangulation risk; wristbands may irritate those with skin ailments.
- It includes help buttons that can be wall-mounted near the floor in multiple rooms in case the user falls and isn’t wearing the pendant.
- It offers multiple choices for whom to contact if you need help, from emergency services to a friend or relative who lives nearby.
- It has a battery backup in case of a power failure.
- The base station can be contacted from anywhere on your property—even in your yard or at your mailbox.
- The company has its own monitoring center, in the U.S., and employs its own trained emergency operators (rather than contracting that function out).
- The monitoring center has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a nonprofit safety and consulting company.
Monthly monitoring fees start at $26 and go up. Most offer you a choice of landline or cellular transmission services.
We found this comparison chart to be helpful
Medical alert systems comparison
|Facts to consider||Life Alert||LifeStation||Medical Alert||MobileHelp||Philips Lifeline||Rescue Alert|
|Monthly service cost|
|Range (in feet)||300||500||600||350 to600||400 to600||600|
|Mobile 911 phone2||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Automatic fall detection3||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Minimum obligation||36 months4||30 days||90 days||None||None||None|
|Activation||$95||None||None||None||$20 to $60||None|
|Cancellation||$90||None||None||None||None||$0 to $255|
|In-house or outsourced||In-house||In-house||Outsourced||Outsourced||In-house||In-house|
|UL-listed (or comparable)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes6|