Medical alert help buttons, or pendants, function as the key accessory in medical alert systems. When the help button is pushed, a radio signal is sent to the base unit within the home, which then sends an alert to the monitoring call center. A representative from the call center then contacts the user of the system through a 2-way speaker system built into the base unit or help button to determine if the situation is a medical emergency that requires the attention of paramedics. If so, help is then dispatched to the home.
It is important to note that help buttons must be worn at all times in order to be effective, as accidents can occur anywhere, at any time. The overwhelming majority of help buttons are water-resistant, if not waterproof, to give protection to the wearer even when he or she is in the shower or bathtub, which are common places for falls.
Additional call button features could include remote answering, which allows you to answer your landline phone remotely by pushing the help button. Routine "wellness checks" are available with some companies, which require the wearer of the system to push the button at pre-determined times of day to ensure all is well. If the user forgets to push the button for a wellness check, a call center representative will reach out and notify emergency contacts if there is reason to be concerned. If you’ve selected a system with fall-detection, this technology is built into the help button and will automatically contact the monitoring call center if a fall is detected, though most companies who offer this product also suggest pressing the button as a precaution.
Medical alert companies offer options on how the help button can be worn, however there is absolutely no difference in equipment quality or ability for whichever option you select. The help button used for necklaces is the same one used in bracelets, and the only difference is the accessories that allow the help button to be worn.
These are by far the most popular option, especially among women. These systems typically come with a lanyard that attaches to the help button, allowing the user to hang it from their neck. Depending on the design of the pendant, you may be able to swap out the standard lanyard for a different type of material, such as sterling silver or gold. The necklace allows wearers to discretely hide the help button under clothes, which is a likely factor in the popularity of this option.
Medical alert bracelets are a more recent option in the industry. Most often, this option comes in the form of an elastic-type or plastic wristband that is worn like a watch, with the help button located where a watch-face would be. Men tend to prefer this option over the necklace, and many wearers report that this is a more comfortable option while sleeping.
Additionally, some companies offer a belt clip, or even a keychain, option for consumers. These are more common with mobile GPS tracking devices, which can serve as both the base unit and the help button, however some mobile systems are also compatible with remote help buttons.
Even though these options are available, we highly suggest selecting a necklace or bracelet help button, which are more likely to be worn throughout the day and not forgotten on a different pair of pants or on a table with your other keys.
The choice of how to wear a help button ultimately comes down to personal preference and what is going to serve each particular user best. If you are shopping for someone else, consider any unique needs that may impact the user’s ability to press the button, such as arthritis in the hands, or allergies to certain materials. Remember, medical alert systems only work if the individual remembers to use it, so think about which option is most likely to fit into the user’s daily routine.