Having home care available enables many seniors to maintain their independence and avoid the nursing home environment if they wish to. By combining a quality medical alert system with that home care, their safety is maximized and valuable peace of mind is given to both them and their loved ones. This article looks at the features that a quality medical alert system should incorporate.
General Features for all Systems
Ease of emergency activation
As well as a button on the wall, a quality system should have a pendant or wrist band, so that the user can still activate a call for help from wherever they are in the house.
A choice of alerts
Traditionally, dialing 911 was the sole option that a medical alert system could be set to perform. Then as their popularity grew, most were automatically connected to a commercial monitoring station where an operator could determine the best response. An important point is to choose a monitoring company that has acquired the ‘Listed Central Station’ certification from Underwriters Laboratories.
Now, the better systems have a non-urgent option as well. For example, if the user simply becomes confused or upset, they can activate a non life-threatening alert that calls, to name a few:
- a nominated relative,
- a close friend, or
- their home care provider’s after hours hotline.
Adequate signal range
A home alert system must cater for the needs of customers who live alone in large houses, or have a generous area of land surrounding their homes. A medical emergency can happen anywhere, such as out near the mailbox or sitting in a comfy chair in the backyard. The system needs to have adequate range so that no matter where an incident occurs at home, an activation will trigger an alert transmission every time.
Optional SIM card
The latest medical alert systems have taken the functionality of their products well beyond the home by incorporating the ability to insert a regular cell phone SIM card into the pendant or wristband. This means, that wherever there is a mobile signal and the software detects that it’s out of range of the home base station, an alert activation will be immediately sent via the cellular network.
Built-in self checking
A good system will have an option to perform a regular self check to ensure its functioning properly. It will send a voice message to the nominated recipients, stating that a routine test is being conducted. It will ask the recipient to simply push a button on their phone to confirm receipt.
Additionally, the system will alert the user (and the non-urgent recipients) of any failing batteries in the pendant or wristband, and keep doing so until they are replaced.
Any efficient medical alert system must have a plan B if the main electricity should fail. Just like an intruder alarm, it must have a battery backup that lasts at least twelve hours, and alerts the non-urgent recipients that the mains power has failed.
Some Custom Features to Consider
Users with dexterity limitations or prone to strokes
Having a button is all well and good, as long as the user is able to push it. A quality alert system will offer activation alternatives, such as these –
- detection of complete immobility from the body-worn accessory for over ten minutes*, or
- the body-worn accessories ability to detect ammonia for an excess of ten minutes**.
*Even when fast asleep, the human body moves somewhat all the time. Yes, the user must be responsible and wear the accessory at all times.
**A person suffering a stroke typically voids their bladder. Urine contains a concentration of ammonia, and if the person is incapacitated, that urine will remain in close proximity. Even if incapacitated in another way, the user will urinate eventually and the system will still be assured of activating an alarm.
Some clever thinking has gone into the area of accurate fall detection over recent years. One option is a ground proximity sensor on the body-worn accessory. On installation, the technician will configure the accessory by setting it down on the floor(s) of the residence as well as on the ground in the yard. The chip in the home base station remembers those altitudes precisely, and if the accessory remains continuously within a foot of those preset heights for say over ten minutes, an alert will be triggered automatically.
Some conditions, particularly dementia, can cause the patient to wander off from home, putting themselves at risk. The latest on-body accessories of the higher-end medical alert systems carry what’s known as a passive GPS chip. This chip’s default state is to be inactive, but should the client be reported as missing, a signal can be sent from the monitoring center – activating the chip and having it supply location co-ordinates. It’s the same technology that’s been available for vehicles for years but, thanks to innovation, is now small enough to be incorporated into a pendant or wristband.
So just like home care is a wonderful opportunity for the elderly and infirm to live where they’re comfortable, a quality medical alert system will add to their safety as well. To learn more about the home care side of an elderly person’s safety, click here to investigate.