A medical alert system — often referred to as a personal emergency response system (PERS), medical emergency response system (MERS), health monitor or fall monitor — can provide increased independence for loved ones and peace of mind for family caregivers.
How do you find the one that's best for your situation? It can be complicated. Medical alert systems have evolved far beyond a basic, wearable device (like a bracelet or pendant) with a button that triggers a call to a response center in case of emergency.
Now a medical alert device might include GPS, cellular connectivity, fall detection or prevention, in-home health and well-being monitors, activity trackers, movement sensors and more. Alert services might come with smartphones or as a feature of home security systems.
Start by evaluating your loved ones’ specific needs and abilities, present and future. For example, if she has dementia, will she understand how to operate a system — or is something automatic, like a fall-detection device, more appropriate? Does he have a disorder that could hinder communication with a call center, like aphasia or hearing loss? Will limited fine motor skills make putting on a device or pushing a button too difficult?
Here are some key things to think about and questions to ask in choosing a medical alert system. Once you've made a selection, be sure to monitor how it is working for your loved ones. Don't hesitate to switch to another service if it isn't a good fit — it could save a life.