Senior Alert Systems

Greg Powel
Apr 7, 2014

As our parents, grandparents & other beloved elders age, we're often as resistant as they are to face the reality that they're not as independent as they once were. Sadly, for the vast majority of consumers, it's not until after that fist fall happens that people realize just how sobering the consequences are. This is why the majority of people buy medical alerts immediately following a fall. 

Don't wait until disaster strikes to acknowledge the very real risks a senior with limited mobility is faced with. Remember, too, that the consequences are much more severe for seniors. What might just be a simple sprain for someone younger could be a life-threatening situation for our older loved ones.

Medical Alert Systems were designed to help the most vulnerable members of our population deal with any medical emergency. They give families the peace of mind of knowing that their grandparents will always be able to make the call for help and know that there will be someone on the other end of the phone to assist with whatever arises. Senior alert systems also allow seniors to live independently without sacrificing their health.

"For those of us with elderly parents, medical alerts ensure our loved

ones always have access to help should they ever need it."

- Paige Coho, Medical Guardian


The majority of consumers looking for medical alert systems are shopping for a senior in their life, so it is important for people to put themselves in the shoes of the person who will be using the system.

When looking at Medical Alert equipment, consider what kinds of limitations the user may face.

Is the Senior you are shopping for blind or have trouble seeing?

If so, look for a base unit that has easy to identify buttons. This could mean finding a system with buttons that are different sizes or textures, or systems that have only one button to push.


Does the Senior have any physical limitations?

For instance, for someone who only has use of one hand, is a wristband or a necklace help button easier to use? Or if the user has arthritis, a soft touch help button may be the best choice.


Is keeping track of the senior important? Does the senior tend to roam around without notifying anyone?

If the senior has signs of early dementia or alzheimer’s or is just plain forgetful, a GPS unit you will be able to locate your loved one if they wander off. Additionally, if he or she has trouble getting home or there is an emergency, help is just a push of a button away, no matter where they are.


Does the senior speak a language other than English?

Many companies have operators that speak multiple languages or use translators to assist with any language barriers. HOWEVER, it is important to point out that monitoring centers should be located within the United States (not outsourced to other countries).


Falls and accidents can happen anywhere at any time. Make sure that when you select a Medical Alert System you understand the activities and routines of the senior you are purchasing it for.

How big is the senior’s home?

Make sure the system you select has the coverage the users home needs. Just because the user may not use all of the rooms regularly doesn’t mean coverage there is unnecessary. This is especially necessary if it is a space that belongings are stored, like a spare room or garage. You don’t want your loved one to go to “grab something” just to end up having an accident while retrieving it and have no way of calling for help!


Does the senior like to spend time outside or in the garden? How far from the house is the mailbox?

Making sure that the yard and mailbox are within the range of the base unit is important. Slick sidewalks or back injuries from gardening are legitimate concerns. This could mean finding a system with a longer range, or just re-positioning the base unit within the home to allow for better coverage outside.


Is the senior still mobile and active?  

A GPS unit may be the best option, allowing more freedom for those who are not willing or ready to give up their activities and adventure, but want the added protection of help wherever they are.


A few reminders about Monitoring Services…

Monitoring Centers should operate 24/7. Accidents don’t just happen during business hours so picking a company that operates around the clock is vital.

Make sure that the Monitoring Call Center is UL certified, has a 5-Diamond rating from CSAA or is ETL listed. These accreditations are given to companies that exhibit the highest level of service within the Medical Alert Industry.

Pick a company that has extensive training for their operators. When your loved one calls for help, you want to be confident that the person on the other end of the phone is capable of providing the care they need. Operators should go through extensive training to prepare them to triage calls, walk someone who is scared and alone through an emergency situation, or patiently address any other problem that is called in. We suggest companies who require their operators to undergo Medical Dispatch training just like 911 operators.


So, while accepting that a friend or family member may not be as independent as before may be hard for us to swallow, it's important to look objectively at the unique needs of the senior when shopping for a Medical Alert System. In the end, you are giving them the chance to live a safe, active and independent life that may not be an option otherwise.