In honor of National Medic Alert Awareness Month, we’ve put together a complete guide to medical alert systems, including a review of the best medical alert systems on the market. Learn more about how medical alert systems work, the benefits of investing in one for you or a loved one, and which medical alert system is right for your needs.
What is a medical alert system?
A medical alert system is a device that can be used to notify family members or neighbors and emergency medical responders in the event of an emergency situation. These devices are ideal for any homebound or elderly individual, or those with life-threatening medical conditions, such as diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, neurological conditions, and coronary heart disease.
How do medical alert systems work?
Medical alert systems work by connecting a trainer operator at a response center with local emergency responders in the event of an emergency. Operators will be aware of who an individual is, where they are located, what medical conditions they may have, and what family members should also be alerted in the event of an emergency.
Types of Medical Alert Systems
Medical Alert Devices
Medical alert systems are available in a wide variety of devices. From emergency response buttons to those that can be worn around the wrist or neck, there are a variety of medical alert devices to fit every preference. Some medical alert device users opt for devices that can be worn around the belt for convenience, while others prefer more discreet devices that appear similar to a watch.
Medical Alert Animals
If you or a loved one is a homebound adult who also has diabetes, epilepsy, blindness, hearing loss, or other conditions, a medical alert animal or service dog can also be beneficial for preventing injuries and accidents during hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic episodes, epileptic seizures, falls, and more.
Medical alert animals can be trained to alert family members living in the home as well as those outside of the home using medical alert buttons and other devices that can be triggered in the event of an emergency. Many service alert animals are even trained to sense and alert an individual before a health emergency is underway.
Medical alert animals also provide companionship for homebound elderly and individuals who are prone to loneliness or anxiety. However, it’s important to consider whether or not your home is equipped to properly house an animal. For example, do you have a fence or would you be required to walk him or her? It’s also important to consider whether or not you are able to afford the additional costs associated with providing for a pet, such as food, medicine, and veterinary care.
While most insurances and MediCare do not cover the costs associated with the care of a medical alert animal, a few organizations providing grants and monetary assistance for service dogs include:
Medical Alert ID
While a medical alert ID does not provide a way to communicate with emergency responders or family members in the event of an emergency, it is recommended that any individual with allergies or medical conditions wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.
Because a medical ID lists allergies or medical conditions, first responders can provide the best care and treatment if they are aware of all medical conditions and allergies in a medical emergency. For example, if your loved one is a diabetic, first responders will be able to properly identify and treat low or high blood sugar. Without a medical alert device and ID, they may be unaware of life-threatening conditions until it’s too late.
Are medical alert systems covered by Medicare?
Despite indisputable evidence that medical alert systems can save lives, Medicare and many insurance companies do not contribute to or cover the cost of the devices. There are exceptions, however, so we encourage individuals to contact their insurance company to find out for sure whether or not any assistance can be provided in covering the cost of a medical alert system.
Does my loved one need a medical alert system?
There are many reasons to use a medical alert system, because in an emergency, every single second can be the difference between a life saved and a life lost. You may not have control over medical conditions or emergency response time, but you can give yourself or your loved one every advantage available in order to ensure you are as prepared as possible in the event of an emergency. Medical alert systems and emergency response buttons are the best way to keep your loved one safe and to ensure that help will arrive as quickly as possible.
Top 3 Reasons to Use a Medical Alert System
1. Medical Alert Systems Save Lives
As professionals working with homebound elderly residents, we often hear wonderful stories of lives that were saved using medical alert systems as well as heartbreaking stories of lives that were lost without the help of a medical alert system. If you are able to provide yourself or your loved one with a way to ensure first responders arrive as soon as possible, we highly encourage you to do so.
2. Medical Alert Systems Provide Peace of Mind
In addition to saving lives, medical alert systems can lessen anxiety for both elderly and homebound individuals and their family members. With added features like fall detection, lockboxes that prevent first responders from needing to break down doors or shatter windows, and wearable mobile systems with GPS, medical alert systems offer many features that can make the difference between an emergency situation that is resolved quickly and one that is not.
3. Medical Alert Systems are Inexpensive and Easy to Use
Today’s medical alert systems are both affordable and easy to operate. While some emergency medical devices may utilize a landline, others can be used with a cellular network connection. While prices vary among devices and brands, most medical alert systems are billed monthly, and average monthly prices are around $30.
Where can I purchase a medical alert system?
If you or a loved one are in need of a medical alert system in the Central Arkansas area, CareLink offers emergency response services for homebound and elderly individuals. Contact us today to get started, and we can set up an emergency medical alert system for you!