Cellular Panic Buttons?
June 3, 2007 4:36 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know if there is a medical alarm service (like LifeFone or MedicAlert) that works on a cellular network instead of old copper wire land-lines?

My mother and father have both recently had some pretty scary medical episodes (heart attack and a stroke, respectively). They're still pretty independent after all this. Both of them are mobile and they're working with their doctor to get in better shape. They own and operate a small bookstore in a small town several state-lines away from me (I'm in NYC).

In addition to a bevy of other things, we want to make sure they have some backup in case of another medical scare, so we've been looking into medical alarm systems. ("I've fallen and I can't get up" type gizmos).

There are some recommendations for services here, but I'm looking for something very specific.

My parents will still be putting in hours at their bookstore, as well as making the occasional trips to WalMart or spending an evening out having dinner or at the local community theater.

Their town is well covered with cellular service so I'm wondering if a medical alert "panic button" exists that uses cell networks. Preferably, it would have some sort of GSM locater in it that would give the responders an idea of where my parents were when they hit the button. A regular cell phone is way too complicated of an interface for my elderly parents if they're in the middle of a medical incident

VRI seems to offer the service, but their website make them seem sketchy (lots of talk of "low low prices", which is not my first concern in a parental medical emergency). I also found info on the Samsung Jitterbug A110, but CNet says they aren't made anymore, and most of the user reviews are crap.

So, does anyone know if a device like this exists that is reliable? (Or at least as reliable as the cell phone networks?) Does such a device exist?

(And if it doesn't, are there any VCs reading this post?)
posted by lucidreamstate to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I see the jitterbug advertised in Smithsonian magazine by a company called FirstStreet. www.jitterbugdirect.com
posted by Gungho at 5:24 AM on June 3, 2007

would it make sense to program 911 as the first speed dial option on their phone?
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:52 AM on June 3, 2007

thinkingwoman, I believe the OP is looking for small devices that can be worn around the neck, fastened to a wrist, worn as a ring, devices such as these. A cell phone is not very practical unless it is very, very simple to use and extremely small. Which brings me to the Jitterbug....it is being made in an even more basic version. See it at:
They are having a father's day special on the phones.

Hope you find something suitable - and good luck to you and your parents!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 12:32 PM on June 3, 2007

You may want to look into an LG Migo from Verizon. It's got 6 buttons -- send/end, 1-4 speed dial, and an emergency button right in the middle. It's designed for kids and needs to be attached to a Family Share plan (I think), but various reviews mention that's also a good solution for people like your parents as well.
posted by natabat at 10:13 AM on June 4, 2007

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