I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up: Medical Alert Services
February 18, 2007 4:17 AM   Subscribe

Which medical alert service for independent seniors do you recommend, and why?

I am now assuming more responsibility for the care of my mother, who lives independently in her own home.

I want her to install a medical alert service, so that she can easily and automatically inform emergency services, our family's members and her friends if an accident occurs.

Several services are available, including ADT's Companion Services, Philips's Lifeline, and Lifefone. I believe they have comparable features, but different pricing structures.

Do you or a member of your family use such a service? If so, what has been your experience? Which would you recommend and why?
posted by NYCinephile to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My mom used to have the LifeLine service. Aside from the automated speakerphone option I didn't see much difference between it and a panic button attached to a standard alarm system. With a standard alarm, the user pushes the panic button, and the alarm company dispatches the fire department, then calls the user. (it can be set up to call police instead). With the Lifeline system the company first calls the user to determine what service is needed (Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!). So in cases when it is not an emergency a neighbor could be called. In many cases this is a better option. Any service would be better than none...For example my mother could not reach the controller for her lift chair, called a neighbor and said I can't reach the controller, The neighbor thought 'TV remote', and did not come quickly, leaving my Mom on the chair in an awkward semi-standing position. If she had the service she may have been able to push the panic button.
posted by Gungho at 5:50 AM on February 18, 2007

i don't know the name of the service, but one of my neighbors had one & used it successfully. she wore a necklace that had an alert button in it, and the service installed a lock box by the door that contained a key to the front door. when she fell, she simply pushed the button, which alerted the service, and the paramedics came to help her, letting themselves in through the front door.

the good news is that the response was quick & she's fine now. the not-so-good news is that she's no longer my neighbor--she's living with her daughter in the suburbs now.

good luck. it's tough when the roles are reversed & the child becomes parent.
posted by msconduct at 6:27 AM on February 18, 2007

my grandfather had one--i don't know which brand--and although he never had to use it, the peace of mind was priceless.

you may also want to find a cheap, easy-to-use cell phone with your numbers programmed into the speed dial that your mom can keep with her in an i-need-help-not-an-ambulance situation (can't open/find medication, light bulb is out in the stairwell and i can't see, etc). we also did this for my grandfather.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:29 AM on February 18, 2007

My boyfriend uses AlertOne (based in PA) for his elderly parents in NYC. So far so good after a year. There's been no real emergency, but whenever the system has gone off accidentally or been tested, there has always been an immediate response from the operator. $77 every three months. It comes with little remote controls that his parents can wear around their necks on a lanyard, a two way speaker base unit with one-touch buttons for fire, police, and ambulance, and there's a lock box on the front door with a key for emergency responders.
posted by kimdog at 9:06 AM on February 18, 2007

When my elderly grandmother lived with me, we had a similar device from Radio Shack. It's not affiliated with any service like the alert systems mentioned above. Pressing the button would send a wireless signal to the base unit, which would then call the number you programmed and say a recorded message like "Emergency at 123 Main Street".
Pros: No subscription needed, can call any numbers programmed (a neighbor as well as 911)
Cons: No speakerphone option to speak to an emergency operator
posted by dreaming in stereo at 9:46 AM on February 18, 2007

We're getting Mom a cell phone she can carry around in a pocket. Mom's a long ways off, and she won't make long distance calls on her land line (don't ask). We're hoping to encourage her to call us if she has a problem that doesn't require emergency response. Usually that's computer issues; she gets pretty pissy when she loses email.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 9:50 AM on February 18, 2007

you may also want to find a cheap, easy-to-use cell phone with your numbers programmed into the speed dial that your mom can keep with her in an i-need-help-not-an-ambulance situation

I think a cordless landline phone with speed dial would be better in this situation... a lot of times, the cell phone won't have good reception in the house, or in certain parts of the house, etc.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:13 PM on February 18, 2007

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