Elderly Medical Alert Systems http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com Honest advice on medical alerts Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:07:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 CleverCare – smartwatch medical alert from New Zealand http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/medical-alert/clevercare-smartwatch-medical-alert-from-new-zealand http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/medical-alert/clevercare-smartwatch-medical-alert-from-new-zealand#respond Fri, 05 Dec 2014 15:07:13 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1470 ccl-logo-197x60Finally someone has woken up and made a medical alert system with fully modern technology.

The only problem is that it’s only available in New Zealand. (Yet.)

clevercareMedicalAlarm-500pxClevercare is a watch-based medical alert system that communicates over the 3G cellular network. It has GPS location capabilities.

A woman named Maria Johnson designed it along with her husband after her father developed dementia. She wanted a system that would protect him while still allowing him to be as independent as possible. For example, with the system he could go for a walk, and his family could keep track of where he was through GPS. It could send an alert if he got too far away, or got near problem areas, like a casino.

So first and foremost, Clevercare works like a regular medical alarm, in that you can press a button to activate the system and get connected to a monitoring center that can help you out.

AND you can use Clevercare to make direct calls to someone on your list of caregivers (you dial by swiping through pictures of your caregivers). This is for when you need to talk to someone to get help, but don’t need the professional monitoring center.

AND the watch can accept calls from the monitoring center. This is for a situation where your family or the monitoring center thinks you might need help.

AND it’s got advanced GPS features. Not only location based services like “geofencing” (which sends an alert if you go out of a certain area or you go near a particular spot) but also mapping services that can guide you home if you get lost.

AND it’s even got medication reminders. This keeps the user reminded of their meds, and the system also lets caregivers know if the medication reminder is being ignored.

Watch a video: http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/63849105/Clever-way-to-keep-track-of-medical-needs

The CleverCare system works on Android-based smartwatches. The company has plans to expand around the world.

See also: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE1412/S00033/next-evolution-in-medical-alarms.htm

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Drawbacks of mobile life alert systems http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/buy-medical-alert-system/celular-medical-alerts/drawbacks-of-mobile-life-alert-systems http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/buy-medical-alert-system/celular-medical-alerts/drawbacks-of-mobile-life-alert-systems#respond Thu, 04 Dec 2014 01:49:12 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1463 Should you buy a mobile life alert system? That’s the question on many people’s minds these days as these units become more well-known.

But first, let’s make sure the difference is clear. A standard home-based life alert system works in (and sometimes around) your home. It’s got a stationary base station that’s plugged into your phone line (or VOIP, or some even work on a cellular network). The system is activated by a button you wear on your wrist or carry on a pendant. The system works when you are “within range” of the base station.

The key function of a home-based life alert system like this is to let you call for help if you get hurt or have an emergency when you are alone and can’t reach the phone.

In contrast, a mobile life alert (or cellular life alert) works anywhere you can get a reliable cell phone signal. (Which means not at my house…) It can be used at home, in your car, around town, or out in the country.

These systems usually have some kind of location technology, either GPS or cell-tower based.

Distinction between cellular base stations and cellular systems

Don’t get confused by the fact that some home-based systems can use a cell signal to communicate with the monitoring center. These are still classified as home-based systems. Mobile systems not only use the cell network, but they don’t have a base station, so you’re not tied to one location.

Are there any drawbacks to mobile life alert systems?

On the face of it, why wouldn’t you choose a mobile unit if you had the chance? Isn’t it better to be protected everywhere rather than just at home?

Maybe.

But there are definitely some problems with cellular life alerts

Problem #1: You’re dependent on the cell phone network.

Sure, it’s usually pretty good, but it’s not perfect. And you might be in a dead spot when you need help most.

Problem #2: The battery needs to be recharged

My cell phone runs out of battery by the end of each day. But I always remember to charge it up overnight. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t work at all until I got it plugged in. And plugged in means it’s not in my pocket.

Same thing with a mobile life alert. Most of them need to be recharged every day or two. Some claim to last a week. Others even claim a month. No matter what, it’s a lot less time than the wrist buttons or pendants from home-based systems.

If the user is the kind of person who can do a good job of remembering to charge up, great.

Problem #3: Night time use

This problem is related to #2. If you’re charging the device at night, it’s not with you when you get up to go to the bathroom. Dark room, stiff body. It’s a classic time to fall. (I just heard a story on the radio of a woman who fell in the night because she decided to try getting to the bathroom without turning on the light.)

Do you really need a medical alert when you’re not at home?

It’s an open question, and it depends on your lifestyle. If you’re out and about in places where you feel it would be easy to get help, then you probably don’t. But if your trip outside is a wobbly walk down a quiet street to a coffee shop around the corner, and you might not be found for 1/2 an hour if you fell, then you might want to consider a mobile life alert.

Questions? Ask them in the comments!

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Can brain training reduce falls? http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/fall-prevention/can-brain-training-reduce-falls http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/fall-prevention/can-brain-training-reduce-falls#respond Wed, 03 Dec 2014 15:19:05 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1467 Probably not.

I just read an interesting article connecting brain training (and the lack of scientific proof that it works) with issues regarding aging and the elderly.

http://brainblogger.com/2014/12/02/if-brain-training-wont-help-the-elderly-what-will/

The article suggests that other factors may be far more effective at creating a healthier brain than supposed brain training exercises.

For instance, cognitive decline is associated not only with a reduction in mental exercise but also with reductions in physical activity, sleep, and proper nutrition. Nutrition in particular is often overlooked as a critical component of brain health, even though certain nutrients are required for the maintenance and growth of the very brain cells that support cognition. In addition, brain changes that occur with age do much more than promote cognitive decline. They also alter peoples’ moods and behaviors, and helping Grandma feel less depressed may improve her quality of life more than helping her remember where the remote control is. (emphasis added)

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Life alert scams are just the beginning http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/medical-alert/life-alert-scams-are-just-the-beginning http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/medical-alert/life-alert-scams-are-just-the-beginning#respond Wed, 03 Dec 2014 05:56:42 +0000 http://elderlymedicalalertsystems.com/?p=1460 Yeah, I get them too.

Those robocalls trying to convince me that I’ve won a free life alert system. For a while I actually listened to them, because I wanted to know what people are hearing all across America.

Now I just hang up.

It’s despicable that people try to scam older people with these life alert scams, but it’s just the beginning.

This article (http://health.heraldtribune.com/2014/12/02/frauds-take-advantage-vulnerable-elderly/) lists countless frauds that the writer’s parents have been subject to, as well as others that she’s heard about.

Now, fraud usually means you’re paying money for something but you’re not getting what you bought.

But there’s a gray area with life alert systems. This happens when you get what you ordered, but you paid too much for your life alert system and you got locked into a contract that’s not in your best interests.

Is that fraud?

Nope.

But a a consumer considering a purchase of a life alert system, you need to be aware that some life alert companies are happy to take as much of your money as you’re willing to give them, even if you don’t realize there are much cheaper options.

Buyer beware.

Oh, and here’s a tip to share with anyone in your life who might be a victim of a scam:

Never give money to anyone who calls you on the telephone.

Seriously. If someone is calling YOU to ask for money, they need you more than you need them. Hang up the phone and you won’t get yourself in trouble.

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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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