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A Guide To Medical Alert Systems for Seniors [+ FAQs]

A Guide To Medical Alert Systems for Seniors [+ FAQs]

Medical alert systems for seniors offer many benefits, such as immediate access to emergency assistance while allowing elderly patients to maintain their independence to aging in place.

If you are looking to purchase a medical alert system for your loved one, our comprehensive guide can help. We’ll explain how a medical alert system works, breakdown five different types of systems and explain the benefits that these systems offer.

Plus, we’ll cover frequently asked questions and introduce you to our Personal Emergency Response System at Always Best Care — our medical alert system offering will provide your loved one with immediate help whenever they need it.

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What Is a Medical Alert System for Seniors?

A medical alert system for seniors, or a personal emergency response system (PERS), is an electronic device that is designed to notify a monitoring response center in case of an emergency. It consists of: 

  • A base unit that is located in the elderly patient’s home
  • A pendant or mounted call-button device that is equipped with a speaker and microphone, allowing the elderly patient to communicate directly with the operator

How Does a Medical Alert System Work?

Here’s a step-by-step process of how most medical alert systems work:

  1. The senior presses the help button on their wearable device (like a pendant or wristband).
  2. The system sends a wireless signal to a base unit in the senior’s home, which is typically connected to a telephone or cellular network. The base unit then dials the emergency response center within 30 seconds.
  3. The call is answered by an operator at the emergency response center. Most systems allow two-way communication between the senior and the operator via a speaker and microphone built into the base unit.
  4. The operator determines what kind of help is needed. If the elderly patient cannot respond, the operator will still initiate emergency procedures and contact the nearest health facility or the senior’s emergency contacts, such as their family member or caregiver.
  5. Depending on the medical emergency, the operator will dispatch the appropriate help needed.
At Always Best Care, we offer medical alert systems for seniors.
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Types of Medical Alert Systems

Different types of medical alert systems cater to various needs for elderly patients. The most common medical alert systems for seniors include:

1. Landline Medical Alert System

A landline medical alert system is connected to the senior’s home telephone line.

When the senior presses the emergency button on their medical alert system, the system dials a programmed number to contact the emergency response center.

The senior wears a device, like a wristband or necklace, which is equipped with an emergency button. The senior presses the button when they need help, then the system calls an emergency response center.

2. Cellular Medical Alert System

A cellular medical alert system is connected to a wireless network, like a mobile phone, which allows the senior to contact an emergency response center even when they are away from home.

This type of medical alert system is ideal for seniors who often leave their homes or who don’t have a telephone.

3. GPS Medical Alert System

A GPS medical alert system leverages global positioning system technology to track the senior’s location.

When the senior presses the emergency button or a fall is detected, the system contacts the emergency response center and provides the senior’s location.

This type of medical alert system can benefit seniors who usually travel, along with those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s and may be prone to wandering.

4. Medical Alert Smartwatch

A medical alert smartwatch is a wearable device that is equipped with an emergency call feature. This feature is set to contact predefined contacts or an emergency response center with the press of a button or through voice activation.

It is also equipped with sensors, such as heart rate monitors and electrocardiograms to monitor the senior’s heart rate and movement.

Medical smartwatches are designed to be user-friendly and convenient, while providing constant health monitoring.

5. Bluetooth Medical Alert System

A Bluetooth medical alert system utilizes Bluetooth technology to pair with the senior’s smartphone, enabling it to call an emergency response center, as long as the senior is within a 30 feet range of their phone.

When the senior presses the emergency button on their Bluetooth medical alert system, the device establishes a connection with their paired smartphone, immediately calling an emergency response system.

An elderly woman pressing the button of her medical alert smartwatch​
A medical alert smartwatch can contact an emergency response center while providing continuous health monitoring for the elderly

Benefits of Medical Alert Systems for Seniors

Medical alert systems can provide peace of mind for both you and your loved one. Your loved one can go on with their day-to-day life knowing that help is just a press of a button away, making them independent and improving their overall quality of life.

Here is how your loved one can benefit from a medical alert system:

  • Immediate assistance: With the press of a button, your loved one can instantly contact an operator who can evaluate their medical situation and send the help needed. This can be important whenever severe injuries occur, such as choking, falls, strokes and heart attacks, where every second counts.
  • 24/7 monitoring: Emergency response centers provide monitoring around the clock, allowing your loved one to be to get the help they need, day or night.
  • Location tracking: Medical alert systems with GPS tracking can locate your loved one in case of an emergency. This is particularly useful for seniors who are diagnosed with cognitive impairments, making them prone to wandering or becoming disoriented.
  • Fall detection: Some medical alert systems are equipped with fall detection capabilities, enabling the emergency response center to receive a notification even if the elderly patient is unable to press the button.
  • Medication reminders: Some medical alert systems — like medical smartwatches — can notify your loved one to take their medications at the right time, thanks to medication tracking apps and custom alarms.
  • Easy access to help: Most medical alert systems are designed to be user-friendly, with simple buttons to press in case of an emergency.
A caregiver and elderly man laughing
A medical alert system offers the peace of mind for both you and loved one whenever an emergency occurs​

Medical Alert System for Seniors at Always Best Care Senior Services

Always Best Care Senior Services was founded in 1996 to help alleviate the stress and confusion often associated with finding suitable senior care resources.

Our caring and skilled team is here to offer dependable senior care to support you and your loved one.

We create a tailored care plan for every client, including personal emergency response systems, to offer immediate medical help to elderly patients, regardless of their location.

The Always Best Care recommended PERS device is a user-friendly medical alert system that provides immediate help to seniors during medical emergencies.

In collaboration with Total Remote Health and ADT, they provide mobile medical alerts with GPS and home-based cellular alerts, which can provide instant help when needed.

We provide two solutions for immediate medical response:

  • In-home solution: Medical Alert Plus is a home system that utilizes a cellular connection. It allows mobility within a 600-foot range in the home and includes temperature monitoring for safety.
  • Mobile solution: On-The-Go Emergency Response is a light, portable system convenient for active seniors. It uses GPS to find your loved one, wherever they are, at any time.

Our services at Always Best Care include:

  • Respite care: We offer short-term care to give you a break for rest, family time, or errands.
  • In-home care services: We provide full-time care, meal prep, companionship, and more, all in your loved one’s home. 
  • Skilled home health care: At some of our locations, we provide specialized care plans for specific needs like personal care services and chronic diseases.
  • Specialized home care: Using advanced methods and technology, such as remote patient monitoring and digital balance checks, we keep a close eye on your loved one’s health. 
  • Senior living referral services: We help you choose the right assisted living community for your loved one, offering around-the-clock emergency care, medical services, personal care, housekeeping, and social activities. 
  • Veterans assistance program: We help veterans secure financial resources for top-quality care, while making sure they get the respect and attention they deserve. 

FAQS About Medical Alert Systems for Seniors

Still have questions we didn’t cover above? Find more information below on medical alert systems for your senior loved one.

  1. How reliable are medical alerts systems for seniors?

Most medical alert systems for seniors are highly reliable, as they can often function even with low battery life, thanks to a built-in backup power supply. Typically, backup batteries can last from 24 to 72 hours.

  1. What happens if my loved one accidentally presses their medical alert system?

If your loved one accidentally presses the emergency button on their medical alert device, a trained operator will still answer the distress call.

The operator will communicate with your loved one through the system’s speaker and confirm if help is needed. Once it’s clear that it was an accidental press and no assistance is needed, the operator will end the call.

  1. Can medical alert systems be customized?

Yes, medical alert systems can be customized to meet the specific needs of your loved one.

Here’s how you can personalize your loved one’s medical alert system:

  • Geofencing: Geofencing creates a virtual boundary that notifies you when your loved one moves beyond a specific area. This is ideal for elderly patients with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia who might wander off.
  • Contact preferences: You can customize the list of emergency contacts to include family, friends or caregivers who should be alerted in case of an emergency.
  • Health monitoring: Some medical alert systems, like a medical alert smartwatch, monitor specific health parameters like heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, based on your loved one’s health conditions.
  • Medication reminders: You can set up reminders for medication times to help your loved one stay on track with their medication schedule.
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