A Medical Alert Button
Keep the Elderly Safe

Using a medical alert button, either worn on a pendant or placed strategically throughout the home, will allow your elderly loved one to call for help in the event of an emergency.

These buttons can be either independent, stand alone devices or be part of a monitoring system you may already have in place.

If cost is a significant factor and your elderly family member is relatively mobile and not overly confused, a less expensive system that utilizes a medical alert button may be the perfect solution for you.

With these systems, when the emergency button is activated, the system sends a pre-recorded message to up to four different telephone numbers you preprogram into the system. The message will say something like:

”There is a medical emergency at 1657 Smith Ave”

Most do not have a two way voice activated system included with them so there will be no way for you to check in with your loved one to determine what the emergency actually is.

Advantages to a Medical Alert Button

The primary advantage to this type of system is the cost. This is the least expensive system you can purchase for your home and is available in most drug stores or your local department stores.

The cost savings may seem important at first because there is no monthly service fee. But as you will see when reading the disadvantages of this system, this option has several drawbacks and may not give you the security you are looking for to keep your family safe.

The other advantage is the ease of installation and set-up. All you have to do is purchase the unit, program the emergency contact numbers and place the unit(s) throughout your home.

Disadvantages of a Non-monitored Medical Alert Button

  • Time: In the event of a true medical emergency, you will lose precious time without a system that is monitored or has a two way voice system.

    In trauma nursing, it was called the “Golden Hour” for a reason. If we received patients more than an hour after the initial trauma, such as a fall or accident, their chances of survival diminished significantly.

  • Quality Control: Most monitored systems have a routine, built-in quality control system that will notify the monitoring center if the device is not working.

    Unless you remember to check your device on a set schedule, with a non-monitored medical alert button you run the risk of the device not working just when you need it most.

  • No Contact: With a non-monitored system like an alert button used alone, there is no guarantee that one of the 3-4 preprogrammed numbers will actually answer the phone.

  • Professional Staff: A non-monitored system calling only family and friends does not have all the critical information that may be needed at the time to pass on to Emergency Services.

    For example, your neighbor may not know all of your loved ones history or medication list. All of that information can be stored in a call center’s database.

Time is the most critical aspect in any medical event, and the sooner your loved one can get to the emergency room, the better their chances are of long term survival.

Sometimes, cost is a primary consideration. In that case, understanding the drawbacks can help you make sure that you don’t experience any negative outcomes from choosing this type of system.

To make this type of emergency medical alert system function the best for you, try implementing these strategies:

  1. Make sure all people on the call list understand the importance of answering the call immediately. Give them all updated and complete information on your loved one including all medications and diagnosis.
  2. Set up a reminder and make sure to check the system at least once per month. Make sure that all people on the list answer their calls and have the information on hand to help your loved one if needed.
  3. Talk to your local emergency response center and find out exactly what information they are going to need if you or another contact ever need to call 911. Most often it is address, name, date of birth, current symptoms and medical history. Keywords like chest pain, difficulty breathing, severe pain with possible fracture, bleeding etc all initiate an Advanced Life Saving transport, which means lights and sirens, and translates into a quicker response time. A good example is listed below.

"Hi. My name is Mrs. Jones and my neighbor’s medical alert button just contacted me. I called her and she is complaining of severe hip pain following a fall and is having difficulty breathing. Her address is 1657 Smith Ave."

At this point, EMS will initiate a response team to the address and the operator will stay on the line to collect other pertinent information.

Knowing exactly what to say will help your emergency contacts deal with that dreaded call easier.

These systems can work very effectively and be cost friendly.

All you have to do is understand the drawbacks and make necessary adaptations and you will have an inexpensive solution to keep you loved ones safe at home while you are away.

Whichever system you ultimately chose, making sure to have some sort of system if your loved one is ever going to be left alone is imperative, Review all the types of systems available before purchasing a system or signing a contract.

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