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Medical Alert Systems and Caregiving

Written by Michele Houck
October 28, 2022
Medical Alert Systems and Caregiving
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Is a medical alert system what you or your family needs now? It depends. Medical alert systems may include GPS, cellular connectivity, fall detection or prevention, in-home health and well-being monitors, movement sensors and other safety features. Read more here.

This article is about the equipment and technology that enables care.

Medical alert systems help families feel confident that there is 24/7 support available in the case of an emergency OR a severe health issue and your loved one is alone.

We think that medical alert systems are one of the most affordable investments you can make in a home that dramatically affects safety and accessibility.

My Personal Story

This conversation happened in my family too. My dad was adjusting to being on his own as an 81-year-old widower. But, soon after mom died, we noticed that he was far more forgetful and seemed physically frailer.

Our conversation was tricky because he's a strong-willed retired Lt.Col. who is outdoorsy and physically active. But, finally, we found a reliable monitoring system that helped my dad keep his home and his freedom, plus our family tensions relaxed because I got alerts.

What’s a Medical Alert System?

Medical alert systems can put confidence and freedom into family caregiving. The devices and sensors are coupled with a 24/7 monitoring service provider that can be an extra set of "eyes" when you can't be there.

For example, a medical alert system can include wearable devices, GPS, a cellular connection, fall detection or prevention, in-home health and well-being monitors, activity trackers, and sensors.

The devices are smartwatches, bracelets, or home-based pods. People wear a device or place sensors discreetly around a home or living area.

A 24/7 monitoring service includes monitoring and responsiveness services. People should supervise device communications that watch for alerts and trigger help when it matters most. Then, in the event of an emergency, they dispatch emergency services.

These systems extend the care team and give extra assurance when a caregiver is not on-site.

Alerts Trigger Action

What happens when there's a medical emergency? The monitoring system springs into action.

A signal is sent to the monitoring system when a medical alert is triggered, like a sudden fall. Medical staff is dispatched upon being notified of emergencies, and family members are alerted. As a result, valuable time is saved, and assistance can be given.

Falls are a leading cause of injury and death amongst Americans aged 65 and above, and 25% of older adults will fall yearly. And as many as 80% of those home falls happen in the bathroom. Fall-related injuries can range from minor bruises to broken bones and severe head and spinal cord injuries.

“Keep on Your Feet – Preventing Older Adult Falls,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dec 16, 2020.

Research Methodology

We researched several medical alert systems and their unique benefits, technology, and brands online. Please take a look at the five companies that we've given below. They are listed in alphabetical order.

ADT Health Medical Alert System

Worry-free protection for all of life’s moments.

ADT medical alert has a monitoring center connecting to a landline or cellular device. Their medical alert systems are a natural expansion to their home security monitoring systems, and they offer three different packages to help your loved ones stay safe while at home. In addition, the company does not require long-term contracts and doesn’t charge a cancellation penalty fee.

If you want a more extended-range system, look deeper into their product suite. For example, the Basic techniques have 300 and 600 feet capacities, which may not cover a larger home and yard. For longer distances, look at their On-the-Go product.

Many other medical alert systems have caregiver or companion smartphone apps that let loved ones track location and system activity. If that is important to you, could you read on?

Aloe Care Health

The World’s Most Advanced Medical Alert System

Aloe Care Health Medical Alert System brand logo

This medical system is designed with the user and their caregivers in mind. One of their claims is on the intelligent features that make ‘remote caregiving easy and the self-proclaimed “ultimate digital assistant for elder care. '

The Aloe Health system has voice control, GPS equipment, and fall detection. This medical alarm works well with Wi-Fi or cellular connections.

News - Starting in June of 2022, Aloe is now available on FSAstore.com and HSAstore.com, leading tax-free health and wellness accounts marketplaces. They are not the most expensive option, but also not the cheapest.

Right now, one consideration is the in-home range, which seems shorter than other companies. Their primary offering may not cover the distance of a larger home and yard.

Bay Alarm Medical

For over 70 years, Bay Alarm Medical’s singular mission has been to protect the essential things in life – family, health, and independence.

Medical Alert System Bay Alarm Medical  with GPS brand logo

With a complete system, Bay Alarm Medical is equipped with GPS, spouse monitoring, a landline, and a fall detector. This medical system provides extensive in-home coverage of 1,000 feet and is an excellent option for independent seniors. A bonus is no startup costs or long-term contracts.

Bay Alarm Medical has solid reviews and makes a side-by-side comparison on their site to help out. In addition, you can check out products at this link.

Medical Care Alert

Be protected and have peace of mind with our easy-to-use Medical Alert systems.

Medical Care Alert Emergency Response Systems Medical Alert System brand logo

Medical Care Alert is one of the leading providers of medical alert systems in the US, with 50-state coverage. In addition, they have many lifestyle support solutions plus a Risk-Free return policy. Another bonus in their no-fee category is a free remote-care 24/7 smartphone app. The app lets authorized caregivers check the location and device status of HOME & AWAY ULTRA subscribers.

At the time of this writing, automatic fall detection is available on all systems.

Another item to consider is that this is a 100% family-owned and operated US company. Their support centers are in New York and California. Its systems include in-home devices, landlines or the AT&T cellular network, and GPS-enabled mobile systems. From what we've researched, Medical Care Alert has the products, services, and support that puts them at the top.

Medical Guardian

Medical Guardian is a one-stop provider of medical alert solutions with a US-based monitoring center that manages calls 24/7.

Medical Guardian medical alert systems

Medical Guardian has the most established technology system. They have lifestyle-based, on-the-go, and proven at-home medical alert systems. Their MGMove Smartwatch is a wearable Medical Alert System with a full suite of advanced lifestyle tools.

Their on-the-go systems are GPS-enabled. Fall detection is an extra $10 a month. This system includes monitoring with a lifetime warranty.

They also have some up-and-coming technology we are following. It is called Freedom Guardian GPS smartwatch with voice-to-text messaging, an emergency help button, location-based weather forecasts, heart-rate monitoring, and more.

Talking About Medical Alert Systems

Most of us hope to live out our days in the comfort of our own homes.

Before choosing a system for you and a loved one, openly discuss what’s important to everyone in a medical alert system. This technology is about relationships as much as it is about safety monitoring. These conversations start with an open mind and heart.

Focus on what you can realistically control. You and those in your circle of care need to agree on priorities. For example, narrow in on your primary concerns: falls, motion, ease-of-use, mobility, costs, independence, distance, and communication. Prioritize and go from there.

These are some questions to help a conversation. Most questions about medic alert systems center around privacy, lifestyle, service, and costs.

  • Do you want this service, or does your loved one want it?
  • Where is your loved one located, and where are the caregivers?
  • What is the monthly and annual budget?
  • What are the FULL costs of the medical system + the device(s)?
  • Is regular maintenance necessary and included?
  • If landline or cellular systems are integrated into the device, which ones are best for connectivity?
  • Pendants, Smartwatches, or Portable Base Stations – which is best for your needs?
  • Does the medical system device have free Automatic Fall Detection?
  • Privacy, how is data shared with caregivers and family members?

How CircleOf Helps Caregivers

CircleOf is a free app for caregivers designed by caregivers. The app is both a planning and organizing tool plus your support system. Track appointments and medications or take notes at office visits.

Some Medical Alert System FAQs

Why Get a Medical Alert System?

Medical Alert Systems help people who have mobility issues, illnesses, disabilities, and degenerative diseases age in place and maintain a sense of independence. They are an invisible safety net. With proper planning, experts say many individuals can enjoy long and happy lives in their homes.

Who Wears a Medical Alert Bracelet?

People should wear medic alert bracelets for ADHD, severe allergies, diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, autism, dementia, or heart conditions. The bracelets are engraved with their situation, name, emergency contact(s), and medications.

These bracelets are a form of ID and give medical staff necessary information such as a person's name and medical condition if they cannot speak. These are not connected devices.

Medical Alert bracelets images show the variety of alert bracelets that should be worn by people with ADHD, severe allergies, diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, autism, dementia, or heart conditions. The bracelets are engraved with their situation, name, emergency contact(s), and medications.

How to Choose a Medical Alert System?

Read reviews, check for reliability, call customer service, and find lifestyle compatibility and service requirements in your area. At the core of the system are monitoring and responsiveness.

Do your due diligence on a medical alert system provider in addition to addressing the questions above. Read reviews and be detailed on costs and warranties that cover products and testing. Check their return policy details if you are trying out a new system.

Also, check the reviews on the devices, distance, the service monitoring professionals, and costs.

What Do Medical Alert Systems Cost?

A medical alert system and support services can range between $20 to $65 a month. These prices don’t always include an upfront purchase of the equipment. NOTE: some medical alert companies charge a one-time upfront fee for the system devices.

Some private health insurance plans cover medical alert systems, but many do not. For example, Medicare Parts A and B, often called Original Medicare, do not cover medical alert systems.

Specific to Veterans: The VA may provide veterans with a medical alert system at no cost. Contact your VA primary care provider for more information.

Here's our perspective. Cost shouldn’t stop you from trying a medical alert solution. Many companies in our ratings offer a trial period or money-back guarantee, and you typically will not have to sign a long-term contract.

Do I Need a Landline?

Some do, while others work with cellular systems or Wi-Fi. In many cases, your medical alert system will need to be connected to wi-fi or a hub. Some wireless monitors use your home systems.

Medical Alert Systems And GPS Tracking

Many medical alert systems have GPS tracking. NOTE: The little medic alert metal bracelets alone do NOT.

When they have GPS, they are typically called monitored medical alert systems. Which ones have GPS? Mainly the on-the-go devices for active or independent-minded users are the medical alert systems with GPS. Medical alert systems with GPS allow monitoring center operators and loved ones/caregivers to get the location of a person wearing a device.

Some devices come with GPS at no extra cost, so it’s a good idea to ask and ensure this feature is included if you need that for added peace of mind.

Are All Medic Alert Wearables Ugly?

No, but they must be easy to see and operate for the wearer.

This is a function vs. fashion conversation. These are different from the clunky devices of the 70s and 80ss. There are more attractive options that are elegantly designed, but the #1 priority of a medical alert system is efficacy and response time.

Is My Apple Watch a Medical Alert System?

An Apple client with an Apple Watch can get medical alert features with some models – Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch Series 3, and Apple Watch Series 7. Read more here about Apple's current fall detection technology and updates. However, while you can set up a Medical ID and add emergency contacts to your watch, it does NOT notify emergency services.

What is Wander Management?

Wander Management Systems consists of RFID-enabled technology that tracks patients within set borders for protection within hospitals, nursing homes, and senior living homes. You see these types of devices with technology in facilities vs. at home.

CircleOf is a free app for caregivers designed by caregivers. The app is a valuable and vital part of organizing your trusted caregiving circle. It's free to download & invite as many people to your care circle as needed.

You can automatically integrate details into your primary calendar for the caregiving team, family, and friends – Care starts here, with you in control.

Helpful Videos

Bay Medical Alert blog video.

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