Roughly one-third of senior Americans aged 65 and older fall each year, and many of those mishaps result in moderate to severe injuries including broken bones. Elderly persons with dementia are even greater fall risks, and sometimes wander off from their homes. And, as a caregiver looking after a senior loved one still aging in place, all these troubling scenarios can keep you up at night.
The good news is that there are medical alert systems available that allow injured seniors to call for help with the push of a button. These alerts not only save lives, but have further been found to speed up medical care response times in cases of emergencies, significantly improving the odds that a senior can continue living at home after the accident occurs.
How Does a Medical Alert Systems Work?
Research has found that the first 60 minutes, or “Golden Hour”, right after a senior suffers an injury is critical in determining their fate later on. Data indicate that if they receive medical care within that hour, their odds for staying at home increase greatly. Usually, a medical alert system consists of a base unit plugged into a phone jack within a central area of the home, and then a 2-way communication pendant, bracelet or watch worn by the senior.
By pushing a button during an emergency, a trained response center team member is notified, and promptly sends medical assistance. Although system ranges (radius from base unit) vary by manufacturer, most are 600 to 1200 feet. But cellular alerts are now available with unlimited Wi-Fi range (with cell service) and GPS tracking, which are ideal for active seniors, or those with dementia. System subscribers are billed monthly, and many products now feature automatic fall detection alerts built in for added security.
Benefits of a Medical Alert System
A medical alert system, also known as personal emergency response system (PERS), can deliver these benefits to at-home seniors, their families and caregivers:
- Safety and security. Medical alert systems provide 24/7 peace-of-mind to the wearer, caregivers, and other family members.
- Easy-to-use. PERS units are simple for caregivers to initially set up, and some local dealers offer in-home installation for you. They are also easy-to-use for seniors.
- Privacy and comfort. They can be worn discreetly and privately within the comfort of the user’s home, or even on-the-go for cellular-based systems.
- Affordability. An alert system is much less-expensive than 24-hour continuous in-home care, an assisted living facility, or nursing home.
- Independence. Your senior loved one can continue aging comfortably at home, while enjoying their independent lifestyle.
Questions to Ask When Choosing a PERS
When doing your research to find the best PERS for your elderly loved one, make sure to ask the manufacturer these key questions:
What is the range of your system?
Who installs the system?
Does your device have built-in “fall detection”?
Where is your call center located, and what is the average response time?
Is your system waterproof?
How much does it cost to use?
To assist your efforts, there are also numerous online comparisons and reviews available.