Medical Alert Reviews

Medical Alert Reviews

Reviews & Comparisons to help find the best medical alert for you!

Primary “Home Based” Medical Alerts are the Gold Standard

Primary Medical Alerts for Seniors

For over 30 years, seniors throughout our country have used primary medical alert systems that allow them to live independently in their home. Nowadays things are a little different. There are both primary and secondary options for seniors. Many families want to protect their parents with GPS devices that can be worn almost anywhere (except for showers and poor reception areas often including parts of the house). Having choices really is a great thing! But how do you know you are making the best choice for your mom?

To protect mom you must have a primary medical alert system in her home!

With all the different options that are available, primary medical alerts continue to be the Gold Standard of the industry and are your mom’s best bet for long-term success.

  1. Primary medical alerts must connect through a landline NOT a cell phone signal (which can be unreliable).
  2. Primary medical alerts must be able to be worn in the shower and the tub.
  3. Primary medical alerts have a lifesaving backup battery.
  4. Primary medical alerts have a small, lightweight button – NOT one the size of a cell phone.

About Secondary Mobile Medical Alert Devices…

Mobile Medical Alert for Seniors

Lots of families want to protect their mom while she is out of the house – on a long walk, driving in the car, or at the grocery store. Mobile medical alerts are a great way to do that! Depending on your mom’s situation, you may also consider getting her a simple cell phone for these purposes.

DO NOT rely on a mobile medical alert as your main home medical alert. Mobile medical alerts are secondary devices, designed to cover seniors only while they are outside the home. Mobile medical alerts work off of a cell phone signal and are not to be used in the home. Like your cell phone’s signal, the mobile medical alert may work in some rooms of her home and not in others. Or it may work one day and then the very next day not work in the same spot. For inside mom’s home you need a standard system. This connects through her home telephone service and will be much more dependable than a mobile device!

Why Mobile Medical Alerts should only be used only as a secondary systems:

  1. Poor coverage frequently causes them to fail when you need help the most. “Can you hear me now?” Do you remember the commercial?
  2. They are worn less frequently because they can be 4 times heavier.
  3. Often times the coverage fails inside a home or building.
  4. They are usually splash resistant NOT waterproof.
  5. The bottom line is that they are inconsistent compared to a primary system.

Our reviews focus on each company’s primary medical alert system and service because that is the best place for most seniors to start their search! So check out our comparisons chart to get a quick look at the different companies available for your mom’s service!

About Add-On Features for Primary Systems: Fall Detection & More

So you’ve decided to protect your parents with a primary medical alert inside of their home. Still there are a lot of different features you can choose! It is very important to keep your parents’ system simple and easy to use because, as seniors age, simplicity in their primary system will help optimize their long-term success. Of course, certain add-on features can be a lifesaver in certain situations. It is smart to understand exactly what you are getting before over-complicating your parents’ service…

Click on a feature below to learn more:

Fall Detection
Welcome to the future! Here, when a senior falls their medical alert knows and activates automatically. Pretty neat, right? I am really optimistic about the future of fall detection. It is fantastic that this type of equipment is available for seniors in need! But fall detection is a secondary feature and is definitely not for everyone!

Right now, the manufacturers of these fall detection devices report a 90% success rate. Bending over, dropping the help button, or even laying down can trigger the device because all of these actions can potentially mimic a fall – This leads to a lot more false alarms. It would be a shame for your mom to decide not to wear her button because she is frustrated by false alarms. Fall detection is a life saver for seniors who have specific medical conditions. People have a history of fainting, a history of strokes, or a condition that will prevent them from pressing their button during an emergency will make great use of these systems.

Why Fall Detection is not for everyone:

  1. Auto-detecting falls leads to a higher rate of false alarms.
  2. False alarms can discourage seniors from using their help button and hinder their long-term success.
  3. Fall detection equipment is harder to understand than a primary system as seniors age.
A Speaker inside your Help Button
A new feature in some medical alert systems is the speaker inside of the button that you press. Just because a feature is newer or more expensive does not automatically make it better. So it is best to understand your options before choosing…

There are two drawbacks to having a speaker inside your help button. First, it automatically makes the help button water-resistant, not water-proof. Water-resistant means that button should not be worn in the shower or tub. A standard button, without the speaker, is factory sealed, and can even be submerged when used in the tub. Next, having a speaker inside that button will mean that mom has to change the batteries every two months or so. She’ll have to remember to charge the spare batteries and follow directions to change out the batteries. Because of a basic button’s long-term lithium battery, it is more user-friendly.

I recommend a speaker in the help button ONLY for seniors with larger homes who are also much more tech savvy. If your home is 3000 square feet or smaller, a medical alert without a speaker in the button will be more than sufficient!

Why a speaker in the pendant is less user-friendly:

  1. They are usually splash resistant NOT waterproof.
  2. For most seniors, changing out batteries every two months is a bother. Many seniors will need help changing these batteries either now or a few years down the road.
  3. A primary medical alert speaker will cover most homes (up to 3000 square feet) perfectly.

Revisit our home page for more information on our 3 top-rated systems… Or if you have questions? Our medical alert facts page is designed to answer common questions about these medical alert devices!

Help build our community by sharing your comments…

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Lizbeth April 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm

I need a bracelet-type system for someone who lives with us. She will not wear a pendant around her neck. Because she is a hospice patient, there is a DNR (do not resuscitate) order; however, we would like to be alerted if she should get up at night and take a fall. This has not happened yet but, we would hate for her to lie on the floor all night. Is there a system that can do this?
Thanks.

Reply

admin April 13, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Hi Lizbeth,
If you are looking for a fall detection type system, I believe only one company offers that service at this point. A lot of companies have dropped this type of service because it caused too many false alarms along the way. Many companies do offer a bracelet or wristband type help button. Without fall detection, your patient would have to press the button on her bracelet when she falls. Most medical alert companies are able to call Hospice instead of 911 in this situation as well.

I hope this information helps. Let us know if you have more questions!

Reply

R Richardson May 28, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I have recently signed my 83-yr.-old Mom with MobileHelp which has a primary and mobile unit to cover her both in and away from home. We tested it a few days ago and found that Mom is unable to hear the responder on the base unit unless Mom is sitting a few feet away from it. She could not hear the responder at all on the mobile device unless she was holding it in her hand. Mom wears hearing aids in both ears and my fear is at night when she removes her hearing aids, she won’t be able to hear the response if she should need to activate the units(s). In my opinion, young, healthy people are NOT the target market for these devices. Most elderly people have hearing issues, some severe. How can my hard-of-hearing Mom successfully utilize a system like this? I realize that if she activates her pendant and does not hear the response or they can’t hear her, then help will be dispatched. However, that may be “overkill” if all she needs is someone to help her up after a fall. Has anyone faced this problem before? Thanks.

Reply

admin May 30, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Hi,
With a primary medical alert as long as your mother is able to press the button, she will be able to get help. As you mentioned, many seniors are hard of hearing. Also, during some emergencies the customer simply will not be able to speak. Many companies will allow you to set it up so that you receive the first call instead of 911 during a non-response situation. So you may consider asking MobileHelp if that is something they can do…

All of that said, the speaker should be able to reach further than a few feet. In my experience, a lot of hard of hearing seniors can hear these seniors throughout a lot of the house. This, of course, depends entirely on your mom’s hearing. If she is more or less deaf without her hearing aids in, it may be too much to expect her to be able to communicate with them. But she would still be able to get help even without communicating with them.

I hope this helps!

Reply

Mary Anne February 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Seems like good info. My father doesnt have a home telephone. He went to only a cell phone about a year and a half back. We are looking into these systems for him, but we’re hoping not to get a home phone again. What would you recommend in his situation? What primary medical alerts work without a home phone?

Reply

admin February 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Hi Mary Anne,
You probably need to seriously consider getting your father a home telephone. No primary medical alert works on a cell signal. All will plug into your home telephone. You could try covering him with a secondary mobile medical alert, but I think you’ll find that this is a much less reliable way to keep dad safe (especially unreliable when used inside his home). You should be able to find a reasonably priced land line phone for him. Getting a land line style rather than getting the phone through a cable or DSL package will work best. Cable and DSL services can have outages, but are at least more reliable than a mobile medical alert’s cell signal.

I hope this helps!

Reply

admin May 19, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Hi Joanne,
Fall detection systems are designed to automatically activate during a fall. However, most companies no longer offer fall detection since these systems lead to a higher rate of false alarms which can discourage seniors from wearing their button and using it long-term.

For most seniors a standard medical alert system (without fall detection) will work best in the long-term. With a standard system he would have to press his button in order to get help, but he should be able to do that in the majority of emergency situations that might arise.

If you are still interested in a fall detection type system, I believe Lifeline is the one company that still offers this service. You can check out our reviews page for them here:
http://www.medicalalertreviews.org/lifeline-reviews/

I hope this helps!

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