Recommendations for a mobile Life-Alert type system?
February 2, 2017 6:37 AM   Subscribe

My father is agreeing to get a Life-Alert type device or medical-alert system. He would like it to work when he is out of his home as well. My main concern is him falling, as he will now be using a walker and is so far refusing the level of in-home help that I think he needs (he lives alone, and very far from family). Any recommendations, or suggestions for features? Google is turning up a rather dizzying array of choices, and previous AskMes are many years old. He's in southern Florida, in case that matters.
posted by lazuli to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How far out of his home? Like, out working in the front yard, or out at the grocery store shopping?
posted by Lokheed at 6:41 AM on February 2, 2017

My parents recently went through some health crises (separate issues at the same time, yay) and my sister paid for a Life Alert system (the original one) that had a mobile component. Basically they wore a little button thing either on a pendant (my mom) or like a watch (my dad). If they were out and about and they pushed it, a Life Alert rep would be able to speak to them through the device and get help to them. If they weren't able to speak, they were trackable via GPS.

In the home, the unit looked like an answering machine. They kept it in the most central place in the house. Their house is fairly small; I wouldn't trust a single unit to have a good range in a large or two-story house. But anyway, when we tested it, they had my mom go to the farthest room in the house from the unit and it worked great. She was able to hear them and they were able to hear her.

Once my mom thought maybe the unit wasn't working so she called me to figure out what to do. Life Alert had told us that my parents could test the unit any time they wanted, but she was afraid to "bother them." I made her test the unit with me on the phone and they were so very kind to her. I piped up and let them know that she was afraid to bother them and they were lovely and let her know any time she thought the unit wasn't working, she should definitely test it just to give her peace of mind.

Anyway, the crises are over and they're now moving states to be closer to me, but we had a really positive experience with Life Alert.
posted by cooker girl at 7:33 AM on February 2, 2017

How far out of his home? Like, out working in the front yard, or out at the grocery store shopping?

Like out shopping.
posted by lazuli at 9:06 AM on February 2, 2017

Philips Lifeline has one that works outside your home, although I didn't upgrade to that option when I bought one for my mom. Their customer service people are very nice, even when you accidentally push the button while trying to set the table.
posted by interplanetjanet at 2:56 PM on February 2, 2017

I know this isn't an answer to your question, but I've got a bit of a personal obsession about falls in the elderly so I hope you'll indulge me! I'd advise you encourage your father to discuss these issues with his physician, perhaps a geriatrician (old age physician). Things that the doctor might be able to address could include

* Assessing for reversible causes of increased falling (of which there are numerous)
* Rationalizing your father's medications to reduce risk of falls and consequences thereof
* Assessing for conditions that could increase your father's risk of injury following a fall (ie weak bones, etc) and treat them as required

(you might have already done this, but for anyone else searching for this topic, the risk of falls in elderly can often be reduced, and the adverse consequences can be mitigated)
posted by DrRotcod at 5:34 AM on February 11, 2017

Thank you all! I ended up going with LifeStation. I was about to sign up for Life Alert based on cooker girl's rec, but it looks like they don't have the mobile option. My father's various physical limitations (arthritis plus some loss of control in his hands due to stroke) make a cell phone a bit difficult, so the mobile "Push a button, get 911" option was important to me.

DrRotcod, thanks for that reminder, too. He's actually about to be discharged from a post-acute rehab facility where they've been doing physical therapy with him, and he will have some in-home outpatient physical and occupational therapy after discharge, so my hope is that they will address any environmental issues that might increase his fall risk. He'll also be using a walker, which I assume will help. It's a completely uphill battle trying to get him to follow up with medical providers, but I will keep trying.
posted by lazuli at 3:16 PM on February 11, 2017

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