medical alert systemsHave you or a loved one reached the stage where you are considering medical alert systems, also called Personal Emergency Alert Systems (PERS)? If so and you’ve done any shopping at all, you may have been overwhelmed by all the options available. Let’s see if we can’t break it down and look at how to make a sensible selection.

1. Evaluate your needs

Many companies would like to sell you systems with all the bells and whistles, but you may not need all the options. If you are purchasing a system for the first time, you might want to start simple. The most basic systems are ones where a senior pushes a button to summon help. This article from Reviews.com covers the best options for this type of system.

We liked that one of their criteria was for a system separate from an in-home security system. Why pay for all those extra security features if you don’t need them?

If your senior has special needs, such as being prone to falls or having difficulty remembering to take medication, you may need a more complicated system, but still remember to only add features you will actually need.

2. Involve the senior in the decision-making process

This seems obvious, but it’s an easy step to overlook. If you are the one doing the research but won’t ultimately be the one using the device, it’s possible to get caught up in looking for features and benefits and forgetting that an actual person will be using the device. If the “perfect device” is ugly to wear or too complicated to use, it will do no one any good. We suggest presenting a few different options, from the simplest “call for help” device to ones which are slightly more complicated and have extra features. Ask your senior for a realistic assessment of which one(s) they are comfortable with.

3. Remember to involve other family members and caregivers

Many devices can be set up to alert others in case of problems. Be sure that everyone who is being alerted is aware of the fact and knows what to do when they receive an alert. If the system allows customization of alerts, be certain the person who lives all the way across the country is only receiving the alerts they need and can react to.

4 . Decide who will be paying the bill

If your senior is forgetful and having problems with daily money management, it might be better to have a family member be the one responsible for the bill. You are counting on these devices to work, and you don’t want them cancelled due to non-payment. This might be an excellent time to have a conversation with your senior and the rest of the family to address a system for all bills, not just the medical alert device.

We hope we’ve done a good job at breaking down the process and making your search less overwhelming.

Image credit: by Florian Fuchs, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19797350