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What is a ‘Monitored’ Medical Alert System and Do I Need One?


Growing old inevitably requires extra assistance from loved ones and caregivers. Aging seniors, however, also like to maintain their independence, and understandably so. The tension between safety and freedom can cause friction in family relationships, and lead to avoidable health risks. 

Medical alert systems offer a compromise.

They require seniors to wear alert devices such as pins, bracelets or necklaces with emergency call buttons. If the button is pressed, a signal is emitted and emergency help is contacted. These devices are credited with saving countless lives, and are practical safety net technologies that allow seniors to live longer in their own homes without others hovering over them.

Monitored medical alert systems are particularly useful for seniors with limited mobility and debilitating health conditions, such as dementia. Rather than automatically routing an emergency distress signal to 911, they connect to a live person who can more intimately access the senior user’s situation. The live person could be an emergency control center dispatcher, trained medical professional or other responder who may be uniquely suited to gauge a senior loved one’s immediate needs. 

These monitoring agents communicate through two-way intercoms either through a home-based central unit, or through the wearable alert device itself, depending on the system. Mobile alert devices allow for a near unlimited range of connectivity by linking to cellular networks similar to smart phones. When alerted, the emergency contact will attempt to talk through a potential crisis with the senior, and promptly notify the appropriate responder. This could be paramedics, a doctor’s office or the police. They might also contact adult children or even an approved neighbor. 

Monitored medical alert systems provide many more safety options than unmonitored systems, although they typically cost more.

Most alert systems run on month-to-month payment schedules and range anywhere from $30 to $90 per month. That can add up for seniors who live on fixed incomes, but the trade-offs may be much more expensive. Caregiver costs, hospital bills and full-time care facilities would be astronomical in comparison. 

We know this article may raise more questions than answers. Choosing the right medical alert system can be challenging, especially when there are so many options. If you have any questions regarding this topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to our law firm.