Elderly Medical Alert Systems http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com Honest advice on medical alerts Sat, 17 May 2014 04:30:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Medical Guardian company overview http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/reviews/medical-guardian-company-overview http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/reviews/medical-guardian-company-overview#respond Sun, 09 Feb 2014 16:58:21 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1413 Medical Alert Systems & Medical Alarms for Seniors in Emergencies | Medical GuardianThis is an overview of the products offered by Medical Guardian, one of the biggest medical alarm companies.

For reviews of specific Medical Guardian medical alerts, see the following links:

Company Overview: Medical Guardian is one of the long-term, established players in the medical alarm/PERS field. For a long time they provided only the “standard” medical alert systems with the basic speakerphone technology, but in 2014 they expanded to provide a fuller range of modern technology. They’re particularly strong with their automatic fall detection medical alert.

Equipment: Medical Guardian has the full range of medical alert equipment, from standard base station unit to mobile alert systems.

Price: Medical Guardian has competitive pricing, right on target with most other vendors of medical alarm products and monitoring.

Return and cancellation polices: Okay. There’s no Money Back Guarantee period, but the cancellation policy is decent. The terms and conditions page on the site says, “I understand there is a three month minimum for service and if I cancel afterwards, I am entitled to a full refund for any unused prepaid monitoring if all the equipment is returned in good working order.” (There’s a big charge if you don’t return the equipment.) So basically you’re committed for 3 months, which is actually a good length of time to test the system and know if you’re happy with it. Not risk-free, but not onerous, either.

Recommendation: Medical Guardian is a good provider with good products.

Click here to visit the Medical Guardian website.

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Medical Guardian automatic fall detection medical alert review http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/reviews/medical-guardian-automatic-fall-detection-medical-alert-review http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/reviews/medical-guardian-automatic-fall-detection-medical-alert-review#respond Sun, 09 Feb 2014 16:57:34 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1422 MG_falldetect-653-295Medical Guardian has a medical alert system with automatic fall detection. This means the pendant can detect a fall and contact the monitoring center on its own.

So if you fall and are knocked out or unable to press the panic button, you can still get help fast.

Medical Guardian bills this service as: “The latest, and most exclusive technology on the market, the FallAlert™ fall detection sensors can detect a fall as it is happening and signal our monitoring systems for help automatically. Proven to be the world’s most reliable fall detection solution, FallAlert™ can provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you will receive help should you be unconscious or unable to respond in a medical emergency.”

The pendant can be worn around the neck or clipped to your belt. You can wear it in the shower or the bath; it’s waterproof.

How the automatic fall alert system works: The system includes several accelerometers and a processor. (Accelerometers measure rates of acceleration.) The processor receives information from the accelerometers, and compares the acceleration measurements to a value range to determine if the device is currently falling.

Fall detection can reliably detect both linear and non-linear falls. Non-linear falls are when the fall is accompanied by device rotation or initiated by additional external force. To detect a non-linear fall, the processor compares combinations of acceleration measurements to a value range and further determines the smoothness of the acceleration measurement combinations. If the acceleration measurement combinations are within the value range and are smooth, then a non-linear fall is occurring.

When a fall is detected, the processor provides a fall detection signal to the base station.

Fall detection technology only needs to experience a drop of about 18 inches in order to sense that a fall has occurred, so whether you trip and fall over a buckled rug or fall out of a chair, the sensors will call for help.

What happens after the fall is automatically detected:

It takes about 20 to 30 seconds for FallAlert™ to interpret the data from the accelerometers and determine if an actual fall has occurred. If the processor determines that a fall has happened, it sends a signal to the in-home cellular base station, which will announce, “FALL DETECTED. Press and hold button to cancel.”

(False alarms are a big concern for many people, but as you can see, it’s not hard to cancel them. You just have to hold down the panic button for 5 seconds and the alarm will be cancelled. You’ll know the alarm has been stopped when you hear a series of beeps and the light on the pendant flashes green. You can also cancel the alert by pressing the blue cancel button on the base station.)

If it’s a real emergency and you do not cancel the alarm within 20 seconds, your base station will announce, “FALL DETECTED. Contacting emergency response center… Please stand by for operator.”

Once the system connects you to an operator, which often takes another 30 to 60 seconds, they will ask you if you are okay and if you need help.

If you’re able to speak the operator you can tell him or her what help you need. If you’re unconscious or unable to speak, the emergency operator will automatically send emergency support services to your home.

For best functioning, the pendant should be worn outside your clothes.

What about false alarms?

Medical Guardian reports that 80% of users have no false alarms each month. 10% of people have just one false alarm, and the final 10% experience two or more false alarms.

That’s pretty good.

Review:

The Medical Guardian FallAlert™ unit is a solid-performing automatic fall detection medical alert. It’s competitively priced with the few other fall alert systems available. It uses Medical Guardian’s cellular base station, which connects without needing a land line.

Keep in mind, this is still a “speakerphone” model of medical alert, so in order to be able to communicate with the monitoring center you’ll need to be in voice range of the base station. It’s not going to be as effective outside as something like the MediPendant (which doesn’t have fall detection).

The battery life is a terrific 18 months, so you don’t have to worry about recharging the unit.

The monthly charge is $44.95, and you can save an entire months’ fee every year by paying a year in advance. Remember, you’ll get back any unused months after 3 months.

Medical Guardian does not have a money back guarantee period, so when you buy you’re committing to at least 3 months of service. But you’re not locked in after that.

In summary, if you’re looking for a medical alert with fall detection, the Medical Guardian unit is a good choice. It’s roughly the same price as the Philips system (but they don’t reveal pricing online or even let you know the details of their terms and conditions, which is a strike against Philips in my book.

From here:

Visit Medical Guardian to check out the fall alert medical alarm system. (You might need to scroll to the bottom of the page and look for the link in the footer that says “fall detection.”)

Go back to the Medical Guardian overview page.

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What is a good return policy for a medical alert? http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/uncategorized/what-is-a-good-return-policy-for-a-medical-alert http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/uncategorized/what-is-a-good-return-policy-for-a-medical-alert#respond Wed, 05 Feb 2014 16:41:41 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1415 When you buy a medical alert, make sure you understand the return policy.

There’s a huge range of return policies for life alerts. Some are very restrictive and put most of the risk onto you, the purchaser. Others are much more fair and protect you much better.

You need to look at the guarantee period and also the cancellation policy, which are two very different things.

The 30-day money back guarantee:

It’s critical to get a good 30-day money back guarantee. First, the equipment or service might not be what was advertised. This is unlikely to happen with any reputable company, but sometimes strange things happen. Second, you want to make sure the equipment works well for the person you’re buying it for. As an example, your dad may seem willing to have a medical alert, but within a week of setting it up he’s decided he’s not going to use it. (This is a very unusual result, but since so many companies offer 30-day MBG periods, there’s no reason not to take advantage of it.

However, not all 30 day money back guarantee programs are the same.

To get your unit, you’ll usually pay for the first month or the first three months (first three is common), and sometimes you have to pay for shipping, activation, or some other setup fee. Some companies even charge for installation, though medical alerts are so easy to install that this isn’t necessary.

When you return the unit, you’ll almost always have to pay the return shipping cost. You could only expect to have this cost reimbursed if the unit was defective. Some companies will reduce your refund by the amount that they paid to ship the unit to you in the first place. Some will keep your activation fee, if there was one. There are even companies that will try to keep any monitoring fees you have paid in advance. (Stay away from companies like this.)

The best medical alert companies will sell you a unit without activation fees and will refund your total cost minus shipping costs (both ways). While this isn’t up to the customer service standards of a company like Zappos, it does put your total dollar amount at risk in the $30 range. And remember that it’s very rare for people to return their units.

Avoid companies that charge non-refundable activation or setup fees, and those that will not refund your advance monitoring fees.

I do not generally recommend or link to any companies that do this, and if I do so I make it clear right at the point where you click on the link.

So that covers the 30 day money back guarantee portion. But what about cancelling your service after the 30 day period?

Cancellation policy:

Cancellation policies, like guarantees, vary greatly.

For purposes of this article, by cancellation I mean stopping the service any time after the first 30 days. You might need to do this for various reasons. Usually it’s because the person with the alert moves into assisted living or passes away. But it could also be because you find a better system to use, or you find that the person simply won’t use the system.

Some cancellation policies are horrible. In fact, the reason I first started this website was that I was reading about a life alert company with a terrible cancellation policy and I couldn’t believe that so many people bought their service without understanding the contract they were making.

So, on the bad side you have companies that lock you into a 3-year contract and only cancel the contract if you show them a death certificate or something like notarized proof that the person has been relocated to an assisted living facility. You cannot cancel because the service isn’t good. You can’t cancel if better equipment comes on the market. You can’t cancel for any normal, natural reason that a consumer might want to stop using a service that isn’t as good as its competitors and is overpriced by a factor of at least 50%.

Most companies have reacted to this company by offering life alert services without a contract. In fact, it’s hard to find a company that makes you sign a contract for a specific term (though you usually do have to sign a contract setting out your relationship with the company and the monitoring service, but this is an agreement about what the service covers, not a lock-in to stay with the service).

But there’s still variation between companies as to what they mean by “no contract.”

The star player here is MediPendant, which will cancel your service anytime and refund any unused months of service that you might have paid for in advance. You don’t need a reason. All you have to do is call to cancel and return the equipment. When they get the equipment back, you’re done. With MediPendant, you can confidently choose a one year payment period and save a lot of money on your fees without putting too much at risk.

Most companies do not refund months that you might have paid in advance. This means that if you pay in advance for a year and need to cancel 3 months later, you risk losing 9 months of service. Sometimes these companies will give you a break, particularly if the person using the service has passed away, but they are under no obligation to do so. For my money, with a company like this I would be comfortable buying service 3 months at a time (quarterly) but I would be leery of going for the annual plan.

The consequence of this factor is that when you’re comparing the “monthly cost” of a plan, you need to be comparing not the lowest advertised monthly fee, but the lowest fee you’re comfortable paying. This may mean you’re comparing one company’s “annual” plan to another company’s “quarterly” or “monthly” fee.

Does this post help answer your questions about guarantee and cancellation policies for life alerts? Let me know in the comments.

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Is there a bracelet-style automatic fall detection pendant? http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/fall-detection/is-there-a-bracelet-style-automatic-fall-detection-pendant http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/fall-detection/is-there-a-bracelet-style-automatic-fall-detection-pendant#respond Mon, 27 Jan 2014 17:43:24 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1407 A lot of people want a medical alert device with automatic fall detection, and they want it to be small enough to wear on their wrist like an old-fashioned medical alarm with a lightweight wrist-worn button.

As of this writing, this doesn’t exist.

Frustrating, right?

If you’re paying attention to technology news, you see all these amazing products coming out like the FitBit, which can track pretty much every move you make and even assess the quality of your sleep, or so I’ve heard, but medical alarm systems are still stuck in some past decade.

Fall detection systems work with a panic button that’s about the size of an egg (but flatter). For an illustration, see this image from Medical Guardian:

fall-detectionbutton

I suspect there are two reasons that the emergency fall alert pendants are still so large.

First, it’s more expensive to make sophisticated electronics tiny. By doing it in this form factor, the companies can use commonly available components and save manufacturing costs while possibly increasing reliability.

Second, an always-on automatic fall detection system requires power. This means you’ve got to have a good battery in the system, which take space.

Third, (bonus), is that there’s probably something about the detection algorithms that has an impact. Think about how much your wrist moves around during the day as opposed to your belly. A pendant hanging around your neck will be very stable except for situations where you are falling. The device can learn how fast you move when you are walking in your house, settling into your favorite chair, etc. It can then detect sudden acceleration and deceleration that’s out of this pattern. With a wrist unit, there’s a lot more “noise” in the system.

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Mom needs a fall detection medical alert bracelet that will send help and stay on the line http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/questions-from-real-people/fall-detection-medical-alert-bracelet http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/questions-from-real-people/fall-detection-medical-alert-bracelet#respond Sun, 26 Jan 2014 17:28:20 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1403 Reba wrote:

Hello my mom needs a bracelet alert that will automatically detect the fall and send help and contact a family member as well and possibly stay on the monitor with her till help arrives thanks so much.

My response:

If your mom truly needs a medical alert that will detect a fall, there are a few available.

The first place to check is Medical Guardian. They recently started selling a fall detection system. It’s an in-home system and it works without a land line (the base station uses a cell signal). To see it on the web, click the link above and then scroll all the way to the bottom and look for the “fall detection” link in the footer area. You can’t buy it online yet, but it would be worth a call to them to discuss the features.

The system from Philips LifeLine is similarly priced, but see below for one potential difference between these systems that gives Medical Guardian the advantage.

I’ve recently heard of a small mobile medical alert with fall detection, but I’m not ready to recommend it until I can actually see one for myself.

Keep in mind that as of yet there’s no bracelet or wristwatch version with fall detection. All of the fall detection medical alerts I know of are pendant style units that are usually worn around the neck (though most can also be clipped to your belt).

For any of these units, you’ll be signing up for monitoring, which means the emergency call will be answered by a professional monitoring center. The operator can assess your mom’s situation and send the appropriate help. For example, if she’s just fallen without getting injured, they can call you or a neighbor to help her out.

Medical Guardian definitely stays on the phone until help arrives. It’s not clear whether Phillips does. Their site says, “After assessing the situation, our Associate will contact a neighbor, family member, or emergency services based on your specific situation, and follow up to confirm help has arrived.” That makes me think they don’t.

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Disaster preparedness for seniors http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/senior-home-safety-tips/disaster-preparedness-for-seniors http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/senior-home-safety-tips/disaster-preparedness-for-seniors#respond Wed, 22 Jan 2014 23:32:37 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1399 disaster_guide.pdf (page 13 of 24)When we think of home safety for seniors, we’re usually talking about everyday safety. Preventing falls, preventing fires, preventing accidents.

But there’s a different level of home safety preparedness.

It’s important to be prepared for natural disasters, as well.

Seniors are particularly vulnerable in cataclysms because they may be less mobile and less able to operate normally in bad conditions.

The State of Florida has a great disaster preparedness PDF you can download. I particularly liked page 13, which has a detailed checklist of things you need to pull together to be prepared in an emergency.

The guide contains instructions for all different natural disasters (but only the ones that strike Florida, naturally). It has special information directed at seniors.

No matter where you live, whether you’re across town or across the country, you can take some simple steps to make sure a senior you love is safe in a natural disaster.

It starts with making sure they have a network of people who can look after them. If phones and roads are down, they’ll be depending on their neighbors. It’s important you know who these people are.

Also you can stock up on a few simple things to make sure the person can take care of themselves.

For example, make sure they have access to water, food, first aid supplies, sanitation gear, and whatever they need to take care of their pet.

Here are some ideas:

A 5-gallon or 7-gallon water jug is plenty of water for a senior to be able to survive for 5 days or more. Take a look at the Reliance Products Aqua-Tainer 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container

You can buy pre-stocked buckets full of food and supplies. For example, the Earthquake Kit 4 Person Deluxe Bucket Home Survival Emergency Preparedness kit contains supplies and food to last a about 5 days for 4 people, or much longer for just one person. You use the bucket as a toilet, and the kit contains energy bars and enough water to squeak through.

Also on Amazon you can find pre-packaged pet emergency kits, and pretty much anything you could need in a natural disaster.

What are you doing to keep your relatives safe in case of a major emergency? Share it in the comments.

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LifeAlert review http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/reviews/lifealert http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/reviews/lifealert#respond Tue, 21 Jan 2014 22:36:17 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1376 LIFE ALERT® - HELP! I_ve fallen and I can_t get up!®-1

Overview: LifeAlert is the company that seems to spend the most on advertising medical alert systems. They’ve been around a long time, advertise heavily, don’t reveal pricing on their website, and in my experience will call you back repeatedly if you call them to ask for information. They usually require a 3-year contract that’s very hard to get out of. Honestly, LifeAlert makes almost every other medical alert provider look good.

Equipment: Nothing special. Standard speakerphone models with ugly wrist buttons. You can get the same from many other companies. Their linked in smoke detectors are nice, but there are cheaper alternatives at other vendors.

Price: Significantly more expensive than most other systems using comparable equipment. 3 year contract.

Recommendation: I don’t see any reason to use LifeAlert over one of the many other companies that provide similar service without locking you into a long-term contract. For more info, see this page. If you’re looking for an affordable old-school medical alert, I suggest checking out Bay Alarm Medical, which has more attractive equipment at a better monthly price. You can also take a look at LifeStation. If you’re looking for a medical alert with the important feature of letting you talk through the pendant instead of shouting through the base station speakerphone, try the MediPendant.

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Medical Alert by CVS/pharmacy http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/reviews/medical-alert-cvs-pharmacy http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/reviews/medical-alert-cvs-pharmacy#respond Tue, 21 Jan 2014 22:20:25 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1369 Medical Alert Systems From CVS ®

Overview: The medical alert by CVS/pharmacy is a standard old-school medical alert that works with a base station speakerphone. There is absolutely nothing special about the system or the service. CVS/pharmacy appears to be lending their name and brand recognition to the system, but this is a commodity product.

Equipment: Standard mass-market speakerphone model. The wrist pendant is waterproof but unattractive. You have to be in voice range of the base station to have a conversation with the monitoring center.

Price: $29.95 per month quoted on website as special offer.

Activation fee: None

Shipping: Free with special offer.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for an affordable old-school medical alert, I suggest checking out Bay Alarm Medical, which has more attractive equipment at a better monthly price. You can also take a look at LifeStation.

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How to talk to loved ones about medical alerts and home safety http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/senior-home-safety-tips/how-to-talk-to-loved-ones-about-medical-alerts-and-home-safety http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/senior-home-safety-tips/how-to-talk-to-loved-ones-about-medical-alerts-and-home-safety#respond Thu, 16 Jan 2014 20:17:49 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1364 No one likes being told what to do, and that includes older people, too.

So if you’re thinking about getting a medical alert system for an elderly relative, or you want to make some of the home safety improvements I discuss in my newsletter series, you’ve got a delicate task ahead of yourself.

It usually doesn’t work to just bulldoze your way through and insist that something change. Sure, you might get the medical alert system ordered, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to get used. And you’ll probably end up being resented.

And it’s not just being pushy that’s the problem. The very subject of elder safety makes people uncomfortable. As eldercare expert Rosanna Fay says in her Forbes article, “No matter how you slice it, when you [talk about] the need for an eldercare plan or an aging-in-place solution, you are fundamentally calling to mind notions of infirmity, illness and death.”

The folks over at Bay Alarm Medical have some inspiring ideas for what to do to create a successful conversation. I’ve used their list as a jumping off place for this one:

First, make it about your needs, not their infirmity. Whether you’re trying to get them to try a medical alert or add grab bars to their bathroom, don’t focus on their problems, but on how these changes will make you feel better and worry less.

Second, position the change as a cheap insurance policy. When you think about it, whatever money you might spend on a grab bar or some better lights in the bathroom are peanuts compared to what it’s going to cost if your loved one has a preventable fall.

Third, focus on independence. Sure, many of the changes that make a home safer are needed because of lack of mobility, declining balance, lower energy, etc. But why dwell on that when you can keep the conversation focused on what most seniors want, which is to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible? For example, a medical alert that works well outside, like the MediPendant, can keep a senior feeling confident while working outside in their garden, instead of being fearful of having an accident and allowing their life to contract only to activities that feel 100% safe.

You can also consider seeing if they’re willing to try something out. With a medical alert, most companies offer a 30-day trial period. Yes, you might be out the cost of shipping the unit, but that’s a small price to pay for your loved one being able to have the system in their own home and experience it first hand. In the worst case, they hate it and return it, and you’re out $30. But that rarely happens!

Remember, also, to make it simple. Complicated choices and complicated setup or installation steps will slow down any decision.

What tips do you have for talking with elderly parents about these issues? Share them in the comments.

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Medical alert scam gets busted http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/uncategorized/medical-alert-scam-gets-busted http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/uncategorized/medical-alert-scam-gets-busted#respond Tue, 14 Jan 2014 06:17:20 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1360 Great news today that the scammers making robo-calls to households all across the USA trying to rip people off by offering them a free medical alert have been stopped.

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140113/NATION/301130086/Government-shutters-medical-alert-scam-aimed-seniors

Glad to live in a country where there is such a thing as the FTC to enforce rules the are meant to prevent people from being ripped off.

 

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