Daily call and/or "fallen and can't get up" system for senior
March 8, 2017 3:16 PM   Subscribe

I have an elderly parent living alone who has agreed that they are down with a) a daily phone call check-in service, and/or b) some kind of medical alert/emergency notification system (a la Lifeline). Does AskMe have personal recommendations for either? Otherwise I'm just Googling around.

I actually don't need advice on choosing between the two options. Rather, I'm looking for specific recommendations for companies/brands for either type of service.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My mom lives alone in a smallish town and this is a service that the police provide for her. Might be worth checking to see about that in her area.
posted by jessamyn at 3:21 PM on March 8, 2017

Have you seen this recent ask? There might be helpful hints in there.
posted by hydra77 at 3:23 PM on March 8, 2017

Great Call has a phone service that can include an emergency button (press one button, talk to an operator who can either call a family member or 911 depending on the situation) as well as a daily check-in that requires them to push a button acknowledge that they have seen it. The only limit is that they have to have the phone on them for it to be useful. Since it is set up for seniors, there is a nice ability for a family member to go online to set up things like the phone directory and it has very clear yes/no buttons that make it easy to use, particularly for people who struggle with the touch screen on the more modern phones.
posted by metahawk at 3:26 PM on March 8, 2017

I researched this issue twice in two years, and ended up with a huge list of options, plus questions to ask to hone down the best option depending on circumstance and personal criteria. Companies that sell security alarms tend toward the sleazy, advertising their wares with lots of fine print, hidden fees, and unequal technical options from one to another, all of which is to say these are services that should be regulated, but aren't. (And AARP should weigh in on best options, but as far as I could make out from their terrible Website, they don't.)

With all that said, it absolutely can be a lifesaver, technology has improved what's out there exponentially in just a couple of years, and a security alarm is definitely worth getting. It's also worth noting that companies are increasingly making "wearables" (typically in the form of watches) for those seniors who don't want to wander wearing the institutional ugly that is the traditional security alarm.

Anyway, the easy answer is my sibling who was en situ and needed to make a decision fast, went with Great Call, partly because they run on GPS and don't tie their security services to a small area around or within the house, and partly because it is part of the same company that produces Jitterbug (a phone for Seniors), which the elders in my family already own.

If you want to look at a wider array of options, however, memail me your private address, as I'd be happy to send you a recent PDF I updated during my last round of research, which was only a few weeks ago.
posted by Violet Blue at 6:41 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here to recommend DYI. We called every day at about the same time. If he didn't answer, we called the neighbors for a wellness check.

We also installed a webcam in a frequently used room.

LifeLine calls the neighbors first anyway.

Our DIY combo worked very well. We found our senior quickly after incidents.
posted by rw at 6:33 AM on March 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've combined methods for my elderly father. This is based on his limited mobility (i.e., he is in his house all the time because he's in a wheelchair and is unable to walk).
The first is the Philips Lifeline with AutoAlert: the pendant device contains an accelerometer in it that can detect falls. He wears this all the time. If it detects a fall, and he does not respond to the call-in from Philips support, the local rescue squad is sent over to investigate. There's a lockbox on the door; the rescue squad has the combination.
The second is the daily call I make to him every day at the same time (as rw wrote, above). He's supposed to call me but sometimes he forgets.
The third is the daily caregiver from Home Instead who is there from 5 pm to 7 pm.
I'd not thought of the webcam: I like that idea, too.
posted by apartment dweller at 12:41 PM on March 9, 2017

I was researching this about a year ago. I did VitalLink for my parents: http://www.vital-linkinc.com/. It's a medical alert company. I think the big think is figuring out your parents 'deal' about their health and willingness to ask for help, or be compliant to medical alert processes.

For example, my parents are mostly homebound, which is why I got service limited to the house.

They each wear a velcro bracelet with a button on it (you can also do a pendant). Occasionally, they accidentally hit the button and the system, set up through the phone, comes to life with someone from Vital Link saying "Jane, John, are you okay?". If they don't answer, a phone chain gets started which for us starts with 911, but could start with a neighbor for a wellness check, etc. - whatever you decide. My parents are the type that if there is an issue, they WILL push the button. (this is not the case for some of my friends' parents.)

They have multiple health problems, so a neighbor check would be a waste of time (which is why 911 is first and I'm second.) We didn't do a daily call because my parents have a habit of not answering their phone. My mom also has memory issues so she won't remember to push a button every day. It also gives them more power. If they feel something's wrong - they hit the button and someone talks them through the situation (rather than having to 'answer' to someone with a daily phone call.)

Weirdly, the beacon works through walls, because my parents have been in the back of a pretty big apartment and the phone's on the other side of your house and when they accidentally hit it, Someone from Vital link is yelling out, ""Jane, john, are you there?"

I think we pay about $25 a month for it. They were local (Northern California), and family owned which I liked, though I think they do nationwide. T

The set up was simple: a rep came by the house and helped set it up. No upselling, etc.
posted by anitanita at 6:06 PM on March 11, 2017

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