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Medical Alert Systems for Seniors and the Disabled

A medical alert system can allow a person to live independently far longer than they otherwise would.   These systems provide the following benefits:

Some facts related to Medical Alert Systems:

Medical Alert Systems for Seniors and the Disabled have been around for decades.  Many people of a certain generation can still remember the famous words "I've fallen and I can't get up!" spoken in a television commercial for a medical alert system.  From a technological standpoint, not much has changed in that time.  The medical alert systems use a basic wireless remote, landline telephony, and a human call center operator. 

If you are one of the growing families that have converted to cell phone only for your telephone needs, then a landline based medical alert system is not an option for you.  There are cell phone based medical alert systems that you should research.   


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Should I Get a Medical Alert System?

Some factors to consider in deciding if a medical alert system is right for you:

Depending on the number of factors that apply to your situation, a medical alert system might be a good choice for you or a family member.



What exactly is a Medical Alert System?

A Medical Alert System consists of:

How a Medical Alert System Works: 

A button, located either directly on a speakerphone or on a device worn by the user, is pushed.  This sends a wireless signal to the speakerphone box.  This action causes the speakerphone box to place a call to a 24 hour emergency response monitoring center.  After a brief period of time, an operator will be able to speak back and forth with you from the speakerphone box.  The operator can place telephone calls to both a 911 emergency call center as well as responders, family and friends, who perhaps live nearby that can assist the user. 

Medical Alert System Transmitter

The most common type is a pendant worn around the neck by the user but wrist worn and belt worn are also available.  In addition to the one physically mounted on the medical alert system base station, transmitters can also be strategically located around the residence.

Medical Alert System Base Station

The base station connects to a phone jack.  Although the base station is connected to AC power, most have a built in battery back up in case of a loss of power.  The base station is essentially a speakerphone.

Medical Alert System Call Center

The call center is staffed 24/7 with trained operators.  The call center will call either 911 or predetermined contacts as the situation demands.  


Who Pays for a Medical Alert System?

Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance companies donít typically pay for medical alert system equipment nor monthly service fees.  The few private insurance companies that pay for medical alert system equipment require a doctorís prescription.  Some hospitals and social service agencies may subsidize the device for low-income users.

Medical Alert Systems are paid for by the user or family members.  Unlike cell phones, there is usually no long term contract to sign, payment is on a monthly basis.  The basic medical alert system equipment is typically provided at no charge.  Additional equipment options are not free and the cost can quickly add up.  The medical alert system service fee typically costs about $30/month.   





Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Alert Systems

How can people who are responders get into my house?  There are a few options that exist that allow responders to access the home without breaking through the door.  The first is for the user to make copies of the house or apartment keys and give out to their responders.  An alternative is to place a lock box (the ones used by Realtors) on the door or nearby and provide the combination to the medical alert system call center staff as well as responders.  

What if I'm out of range of the speakerphone when I press the button on the pendant of my medical alert system? The operator should assess the situation and place calls to the 911 emergency call center as well as responders in your profile as appropriate.  You might consider a system with a speakerphone extender depending on your situation.    

Will my medical alert system still operate if power goesIn most medical alert systems, the base speakerphone has an internal battery backup.  Digital phone systems can be affected by a loss of power and you will need to ensure that your phone system has sufficient backup power.

Who Provides Medical Alert Systems?  

Companies that provide Medical Alert Systems:

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