Medical alerts are devices that allow users to contact emergency services in the event of a fall or other emergency. When activated, the alert immediately notifies a 24/7 monitoring company which dispatches emergency responders if necessary. Though usually associated with the elderly, they can be extremely useful to anyone with serious medical concerns, no matter their age.
Medical alerts, also known as Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), are especially useful for people who are at risk of falling, having a stroke, or a heart attack. Advances in technology, such as mobile GPS tracking, have not only helped independent seniors live active lives, but also allowed parents to track their children, and given people with disabilities or who are suffering from diseases, the peace of mind that comes with knowing that help is only the push of a button away.
When selecting a medical alert system, be aware that each company and product offers different benefits. For instance, a large home would benefit from an alert with a cellular connection, as opposed to a landline with less range. Depending on the user s individual needs, specific features could be needed, such as voice activation. In the event of an emergency, it s important to ensure that the company not only offers 24/7 monitoring, but redundant response centers, in case one is not reachable.
Before finally deciding on a medical alert plan, be sure to look at the fine print. Do batteries need to be replaced frequently? Will the company regularly test the equipment? Is the user responsible for damage incurred by everyday use? If these questions are asked and addressed up front, then there won t be surprises down the line.
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How do medical alert systems work?
Medical alert systems typically come with an emergency help button that sends a signal to the company’s monitoring call-center when activated. A company representative will subsequently contact the system’s user over a 2-way intercom and offer assistance. Some systems are now wireless and include fall detection sensors and mobile buttons you can take anywhere.
Who should use a medical alert system?
Medical alert systems are ideal for those who live alone and could need medical assistance while family or caretakers are away. Medical alert systems are not only for seniors, but also for pregnant women, anyone with a debilitating health condition, people recovering from medical procedures such as surgery, and patients undergoing physical therapy or rehabilitation.
How much do medical alert systems cost?
The cost of your medical alert system will depend on the equipment you select—whether in-home or mobile—and the type of coverage you need. Most systems are priced between $25 and $50 a month and typically include equipment and monitoring, although activation fees may apply. Some companies offer annual or quarterly plans for lower monthly rates.
Can you get a medical alert system if you don t have a landline?
Yes. At one point in time, a landline connection was the only way a medial alert base unit could communicate with the monitoring center. Now, there is also the option for a cellular connection, which sends signals thought a cellular link, like a cell phone. Medical alert companies partner with high profile mobile phone service providers, like T-mobile or AT T, and use their networks to connect cellular base units to the monitoring center. Don’t worry, just because your system operates off of T-Mobile’s network, doesn’t mean you’ll have to pay a bill for their services as well, it is included in your medical alert payments. As a result, cellular systems are typically slightly more expensive, but at the same time, you don’t have to pay for a landline if you don’t have one already.
Does Medicare or other insurance cover medical alerts?
Original Medicare, Part A and B, does not cover medical alert systems. However, people who receive their benefits through a Medicare Supplement plan can ask their providers if the cost of equipment can be covered, especially if the system is medically warranted. Those who have long-term care Insurance may also qualify for coverage or reimbursement.
Are medical alerts tax deductible?
The IRS does not currently list medical alert systems under tax-exempt medical expenses. However, if your medical alert system includes a feature that stores your medical information in a data bank that your physician can access, you may be able to claim the expense under the Medical Information Plan exemption.
Can I get a medical alert system for my parents, but have it charged to me?
Yes, most medical alerts are purchased by adult children for their elderly parents, so companies are familiar with this situation. When you sign up with the company know that this is your situation and they will be able to make those arrangements for you.
Is installing a medical alert system in my home difficult?
Installing medical alert systems is not at all difficult. Systems that use a base unit can be installed in minutes by plugging the device into a power source and connecting it to a wall phone outlet using a phone cord. Newer mobile versions take even less time to activate and test. Most companies offer online or over-the-phone installation support with detailed instructions.
How does fall detection technology work?
Some alert systems come with integrated fall detection technology. The wearable device, typically a pendant or wristband, continuously monitors the speed and direction of the user’s movements through accelerometers and gyroscopes that differentiate between falls and regular gestures. If it detects a fall, the device will alert the monitoring center after a period of inactivity.
Can the medical alert system monitor me and my spouse at the same time?
Some companies offer an additional alert button for a second user, providing free monitoring for the second device after its purchase. If the medical alert system works through a base unit, both devices can be linked to the same unit and be monitored simultaneously. Newer, mobile systems may have to be purchased separately.