Rescue Me (Ma)
February 23, 2012 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone offer me recommendations, guidance or personal experiences in choosing a "Rescue Alert"-like service? TL;DR inside. (I will never, ever use the term "snowflake" that way.)

I'm concerned about my mother living alone. She is prone to tripping and falling. Injury is a concern of course, but so far it has most often meant just bruising and difficulty getting up. I have managed to beat into her (...metaphorically) the importance of carrying her cell phone, but I'd like a backup layer, something unobtrusive for the shower and nighttime bathroom trips.

Rescue Alert was recommended to me as having excellent responsiveness and customer service. I like that they can call neighbors/me before alerting paramedics. (Meaning she might actually use it. She has a handicap pass and only uses it when she's driving my grandparents around... that type of lady.)

Problem is, it's a Dumb-Alert-Button/Stationary-Microphone system. Communication happens via a stationary base unit when the pendant is pushed. She's supposed to shower with the door open so they can hear her if she falls? (In that case, default is alert the paramedics.) This is for the home-bound, but I'd prefer something that can be helpful if she slips on some ice in a parking lot, too. (Rescue Alert offers a cellular device, but this one only connects to 911.)

This leads me to consider less established, but more modern services. Similar to this one. (Cellular based, self contained, ideally with GPS too. Advanced features, like drop sensing, are nice but may eliminate too many options if mandatory.)

Can anyone share advice, recommendations, experiences on these services/technologies, old OR new?
posted by BleachBypass to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When I worked with the elderly many of them used Lifeline

They have really good responsiveness also, but works just like what you describe above. If she lives in a small apartment (like an elderly housing complex), you just put the stationary alert box in a central area or get an additional box for the bathroom.

I don't know of anything that alerts when she's outside - but if Rescue Alert does, I'd go for that. But really, most falls are going to occur at home, so focus on getting something that works well in her house and MAKE SURE she agrees to wear the bracelet or pendant.
posted by Sal and Richard at 12:23 PM on February 23, 2012

We use Lifeline for my grandmother and have been very happy with the service. They do the same phone tree system that you describe and the people who answer the alert calls have been extremely kind and understanding with my grandmother when she tests the system (sometimes unintentionally). We recently added an "auto-alert" pendant that detects falls on its own through an accelerometer and pressure detector, in the event that she can't press the button.

She lives in an area with limited cellular coverage, so we weren't confident with the cell based services. We got her a cell phone service (Jitterbug) that has a database of all her friends and family and she can just press the green button and it will connect her to an operator who will dial for her. We have her main contacts on speed dial and that works most of the time. They offer an emergency response / GPS locator service as well marketed as 5 star urgent response or something like. We have less confidence in that system because she has to remember to charge it and bring it with her, whereas she is accustomed to the Lifeline pendant and more receptive to the idea generally.

We've been very pleased with the Lifeline folks. We had a false alarm where she pressed the alert on her way out of the house and never heard the call. As luck would have it, the lifelline folks had to get to the third person on their call roster before they reached anyone, but they got it done very rapidly and professionally. Scared the hell out of all of us, but makes an amusing story when the local sheriff broke into her house and then tracked her down at the senior center, oblivious to all the excitement (and not carrying her cell phone)
posted by Lame_username at 12:44 PM on February 23, 2012

My dad used Walgreens' service, it saved his bacon a couple times. I'm mentioning this because they provide an extra wall-mountable button. We put it by the shower door about a foot off the floor.

If she's out of speaking range or can't speak, then yes the default is to send paramedics immediately.
posted by wallabear at 4:55 PM on February 23, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. Insightful answers all - I really like the idea of fall alerts on Phillips Lifeline - but I have gone with MobileHelp for the 30 day. The mobility factor decided it for me.

If I remember, I will post back with opinions.
posted by BleachBypass at 2:12 PM on March 5, 2012

Response by poster: So far, the MobileHelp unit was having trouble locking on to a GPS, so we were shipped a new unit. Have to try that one out.
posted by BleachBypass at 11:19 AM on March 30, 2012

Response by poster: So my mom fell yesterday. Long story short (say, did you know adding a tag deletes all unsubmitted form data?), head, blood, stitches. She didn't have her MobileHelp with her but did have her cell.

I'm starting to think the mobilehelp unit is redundant. She's very good with keeping her cell on her (and though she swears she will be religious about the MobileHelp) it made me realize she could have easily lost consciousness and the MobileHelp and cell would've been useless anyway. I just wish to hell that Phillips would either bring out a cellular-based version of Lifeline, or MobileHelp would hurry up and add a fall sensor.
posted by BleachBypass at 10:57 AM on August 13, 2012

Response by poster: OTOH, having a single button emergency alert might be handy in the area between navigating a cell phone and unconsciousness.

Bottom line, watching your parents age fucking sucks.
posted by BleachBypass at 10:58 AM on August 13, 2012

Response by poster: Next thing to look into - getting my mom an android phone and an app like iFall, Fall Detector, Smart Fall Detection, Cradar etc. They are all free, but seem green from a software development perspective, but at least that's one way to get the complete GPS/Cell/Fall Detection package.
posted by BleachBypass at 11:37 AM on August 13, 2012

Response by poster: I sure hope this is useful to ~somebody~
posted by BleachBypass at 11:44 AM on August 13, 2012

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