Essential Elements of a Medical Alert System

Author: John Clinton

John ClintonWhat are the components of a quality medical alert device?

Do you know what to look for?

Choosing the best medical alert system is a necessity. At some point, every senior who wants to continue living in their own home well into their golden years without having to worry about the risk of a medical emergency needs to have one.

The problem is finding the best system for you.

I want to share with you my experience in the world of medical alert systems and help you determine what to look for. Here are some essential elements that you should look for.

Company Background and Customer Service

The first thing you want to consider is company history. Alert systems aren’t always about the equipment or the technology involved.

Beyond the alert device you receive, an alert company provides a vital service. They are the people who guarantee that your equipment will function properly and the people that will pick up when you press the “help” button on your alert base station or monitoring device.

You want a company with 24/7 operations, well trained operators that you know you will be able to understand — don’t consider a company that outsources its operations to another country.

Personally, I recommend companies that own their own call centers. That way, you know right up front that they do their own training and that the company you are doing business with is responsible for the center that will answer your call. Many companies outsource their operations to other US-based call centers.

Do your research. Choose a reliable company with a history in the industry that owns their own call centers.


Technology is the part of the puzzle that most people focus on. Beyond determining if the company is credible and the call centers are company-owned, you’ll want to make sure that you are receiving the latest, most reliable, and trusted medical alert device.

Devices come in a variety of styles. Base station models with included pendants or wristbands that allow for remote operation are the most popular.

One of the most important decisions on base station and pendant technology is range. You’ll want a device that will accommodate for the size of your home and maybe your yard. Most systems are effective in the 400-500 foot range — meaning that the remote pendant will work 500 feet from the base station unit.

The best devices offer a range of over 1000 feet. The best I’ve seen on the market is 1500 feet.

Do You Need a Cellular Base Station?

Many people are doing away with landline telephones.

Some emergency alert providers can’t provide service without a landline.

If you want to install an emergency alert base station in a room or home without a landline telephone, you need to check to see if the company you choose offers cellular technology.

Search for providers that have 3G cellular base stations. These devices will provide connectivity as long as you can get cell phone reception at your home. Most cellular stations rely on the AT&T mobile network.

Additional Emergency Features

Some medical alert systems can provide more than emergency medical coverage.

Look for systems that allow easy integration with fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide detection systems. A few companies provide add-on features that combine these alert systems with a medical alert base station.lf-complete-package-web

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and a constant threat that many people forget about. Having a medical alert system that doubles as fire or carbon monoxide detection can increase response time in the event of an emergency situation. I would bet that your current fire alarm does not automatically call the fire department for you!

Do Your Research

The most important thing to remember is to research your options completely.

Think about the company you want to do business with. These are the people you will rely on in an emergency.

Here are some questions to ask while researching:

Does the company you’re considering have a long history in the emergency alert business? Do they provide the technology you need? Are they accredited by the Better Business Bureau?

It’s worth the time to investigate your options completely. This could be a life-saving decision.

About John

John Clinton is the co-founder of, a review and resources site specializing in medical alert systems.




The Buddy System: Still a good idea


Friendship (Photo credit: Nono Fara)

You remember your mom and dad giving you quick snippets of advice:  drink your milk, eat your vegetables, don’t smoke, go to bed early.  Odds are they also reminded you to keep a buddy with you if you were leaving the movies or a party or you may remember saying “I’m going to hang out with my buddies”.  It’s a word that reminds you of some good memories.  A buddy; your friend, your confident, someone you trust. 

A recent study conducted in Australia found that people with a large network of friends were 22% less likely to die prematurely. And more studies show that buddies, friends, pals have a positive impact on stress levels and brain health.  It’s even been shown that people with more friends have fewer colds!

When we’re young, we have the playground, the classroom, birthday parties and church events where the opportunity to make friends surrounds us. But as we age, making friends isn’t as easy as it once was but it’s every bit as important.  It isn’t that we’re socially inept but rather, we have fewer social opportunities to meet and befriend others.  If you or a loved one are homebound, the opportunity diminishes even more.

So how do you make friends once you get a bit older?  The key is to find what you like to do and then go out and do it. If you’re a photographer, join a photography group. Are you a reader?  How about joining a book club?  A gardener?  Well you know what to do…join a gardening or seed sharing group.  Finding like-minded people in groups that interest you is a sure way to grow your friendship web.

Meanwhile, as you’re developing new friendships and cultivating your interests, be sure to remember those around you that are always there, day in and day out.  Sometimes your existing relationships fall prey to loss of attention so nurture what you have while investigating new buddy systems!

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Technology That Makes Pet Ownership Easier

Pet ownership comes with a lot of responsibility but also with health benefits decreasing loneliness and lowering blood pressure.

Oftentimes, well-meaning family members consider getting a pet for their aging loved one but many seniors worry about the commitment involved. Vet appointments, constant feeding, grooming and exercise add up to a lot of activity that some may feel they aren’t equipped to handle.

Technology helps in so many walks of life and yes, it can help take care of our pet, too! Here are a few amazing pieces of technology that make caring for a pet much easier:

Automatic Feeder

pet feeder

Automatic feeders make it easy to set it and forget it (for a while at least). Each feeder comes with its own features but the one shown here by Lentek allows you to fill your dish for up to six days. You can feed every 6, 12 or 24 hours with dry or wet food. The nice thing is there is an accurate timer that delivers and rotates food based on your settings. This is perfect for seniors who are busy and on the go but home alone in the evenings! You can even purchase a automatic water feeder so your pet never goes hungry or thirsty! Be sure to watch that they don’t overeat!

Automatic Ball Thrower

Seniors don’t always have the same strength they had when they were younger or they might tire easily. Dogs, however, need exercise and playtime.  An automatic ball thrower is ideal!


GoDogGo makes an automatic ball thrower has a remote control and launches a ball every 7-15 seconds when the bucket is fully loaded!  This is sure to keep your pet busy and happy!

Monitor & Protect


The Passport Pet Access Smart System Door from is a pet door that can be programmed to allow entry or exit for specific pets, via a Passport Key that attaches to their collars. You can even change settings remotely.  For seniors with mobility issues, this might be a solution.

In short, there are a lot of great technologies that make it easier for us to care for our pets and some have particular advantages for the elderly.  If you, or your aging loved one, are thinking about getting a pet, consider some of these options.




Embracing Change As Your Parents Age

It can be difficult to watch your parents age, especially if you are the caregiver accountable for their aging lifestyle. You may feel dejected or dismal about the aging changes happening in your parents’ lives including the change in the personal relationship you have with each of them. However, there are some empowering tips you can take away from the aging process and the circumstances that come with it.

Positive Changes Down the Road

There will probably be inspiring encounters you may have as the caregiver of your parents. The issue is, you may not feel or become mindful of them until years after the fact.  The fact is that as a caregiver the daily routine becomes tiring and somewhat emotionally exhausting which may cause the positive things to slide right by.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s commented on aging and caregiving “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of  life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”  Basically, by becoming the caregiver of your parents, in turn it will help you evolve! Remember that providing for your parents is doing what eventually may need to be done for you if the circumstances ever arise.

Grasping the  Sweetness of Old Age

There are many times when being up close and personal with somebody maturing, can regularly turn into naptime.  The time in between the naps of discussion and story telling can create lifelong memories that can be told from generation to generation.  Specifically, when you’re tired and baffled from a long day of your caregiver role, remember that your loved one may say something extremely touching, and it can remind you how important it is that the person is there with you and you with them. It is these sweet moments that will surprise you as you handle the day-by-day obligations included with caregiving.

You Figure Out How You Want to Age

When you see your parents aging, you begin to reflect and think about the way you want to age. You don’t just figure out how to recognize health issues and where you want to live as you age, you also begin to look to your parents for advice and their aging process as a standard to follow!

You’re Reminded of the Specialness and Fragility of Life

There is boldness we feel when we’re younger. Our bodies feel solid and it draws us into feeling as though we are invincible which we’re definitely not.


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Turning 50 and Loving It

Remember when you were 10 years old and 50 year old’s seemed ancient?  Well, take a look at who’s turning 50 this year and you’ll see that 50 is quite young!

CNN recently shared an article entitled “10 reasons it’s great to turn 50“. They shared these reasons:

1) You can forget about contraception. Probably. Although it is biologically possible for many women to get pregnant after 50, it’s generally much, much harder and less likely:Women older than 47 account for just .01% of births.

Of course, the children you already have might be teenagers. Many women, like Michelle Obama, who chose to have children in their 30s will reach 50 with teens living in the house, and might be facing all the stress, angst and struggle that comes with seeing a child through adolescence.

2) You’re perfectly content to stay home on a Saturday night. In your 20s, you might have felt a certain self-consciousness — guilt, perhaps, or anxiety — if your Saturday night was spent in your sweatpants on the couch rather than out being social. These days, whether you’re married or single, you might have less energy, but you also know that a weekend night in doesn’t spell doom for your social life.

3) Yes, it’s hot in here—those are, after all, hot flashes you’re having. But that’s OK. While menopause can be a slog lasting as long as 12 years, the upside is not having to deal with periods. Ever again. Not to mention PMS, cysts, fibroids, or the aforementioned late-in-life pregnancy. Depression is less common post-menopause. Besides, there’s nothing like a hot flash on a cold day.

4) Fifty years in, you know who you are. As Michelle Obama told Parade magazine last summer about reaching 50, “I have never felt more confident in myself, more clear on who I am as a woman.” Many people cite their 50s as the best decade, when you know what you want personally and professionally and know — at least better than you did in your 20s or even 30s, at least — how to go about getting it if you haven’t already.

5) That said, it’s not too late to change direction. More and more people over 50 are taking on “encore” careers, reinventing themselves in professions that might more closely align with their passions. Nonprofit group, dedicated to helping professionals find their “second act,” notes that as many as 9 million people age 44 to 70 are getting paid for work that combines their personal passion with a social purpose.

6) Mentorship isn’t over. Though the traditional mentor-mentee relationship puts the older, more experienced worker in the teaching role, just because all your mentors have retired doesn’t mean you have no one left to learn from. A recent trend has seen millennials mentoring boomers, teaching them about technology and keeping them current and vital. Some companies have introduced “reverse mentoring” programs designed to pair younger employees with older ones.

7) You sleep less — and can therefore do more. Studies have found that people need less sleep as they age, leaving them plenty of time to go for a run, work on a project, or do anything else your 20-something cohorts aren’t doing while they’re dozing an average extra seven hours a week.

8) You can age however gracefully you’d like. If you’re going gray, you can flaunt it, and you can be proud of your laugh lines. But if your crow’s feet or other signs of 50 years well-lived bother you, there are more options than ever before to do something about it, with fewer stigmas attached. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that minimally invasive facial rejuvenation procedures such as Botox, Juvederm, chemical peels and the like have reached an all-time high. Also growing: eyelid surgery and facelifts.

9) You’re your own meteorologist. Medicine has long disputed that achy joints can predict coming rain, but the old joke may have some truth to it. Doctors are coming around to the idea, admitting that those with arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibroid myalgia, or nerve damage in the knees, elbows, and other joints — more likely, of course, as you grow older — can indeed feel ambient changes.

10) You’re not 60! Enough said, right?


Summer Safety Tips For Seniors

Sun Split

Weather can play an important role in the health and well-being of the seniors in your life. Regardless of if you’re dealing with winter temperatures or the heat of summer, there are steps that need to be taken to keep your aging relatives protected.

Caregivers dealing with parents who are aging in place will need to take some time to make sure that mom and dad’s home is summer-ready. Here are some steps a caregiver can take to assure that their aging loved ones will be healthy all summer long:

  • Take steps to make sure the house is cool. You don’t need to have air conditioners installed (they do certainly help, though) to keep the house cool. You can close the blinds in the hottest part of the day, use fans to circulate the air, open windows to let in a cross breeze.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing. Wearing tight clothing and long sleeves can lead to overheating.
  • Don’t undertake outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day. If your parents are active, urge them to do their outdoor tasks, whether it’s gardening, mowing or simply taking a walk, in the early morning or the early dusk hours. Urge them not to walk in the dark, though.
  • Eat and drink wisely. Staying hydrated and drinking water is critical to staying healthy in the heat of the summer. Drink beverages without caffeine. When it comes to meals, try to stay away from using the oven. Cook lighter meals such as salads or sandwiches or meals that require little prep time or won’t require you to stand over a hot stove for lengthy periods.
  • Understand the signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion. If you’re feeling lightheaded, weak, or are vomiting, these could be signs of heat stroke. Urge your parents to keep track of their health when you’re not in attendance and if they feel any of these symptoms, they should get to a cool location, drink fluids and use a cool compress on their head and neck. A way to offer peace of mind to all family members, especially as the summer heats up, is to provide them with a home medical monitoring device and personal medical bracelets or necklaces. If they feel ill or suffer a fall, they can summon medical assistance at the push of a button.

As the caregiver, you will want to make sure you spend some time “summer proofing” the house to make sure it is as safe and cool as it can be.

Dental Care Needs To Continue Into Your Golden Years

Does the need for dental care ever end? If you still have your teeth, we would say a resounding, “no.” Regardless of your age, whether young or old, dental care is an ongoing health need that you should be addressing. Age doesn’t mean you can neglect your teeth and gums.

"Open wide..." - Day 60, year 2

“Open wide…” (Photo credit: purplemattfish)

There are many things that impact us as we age and issues with our teeth, gums and mouth are just a couple of them. Here is some information from the American Dental Association that you should be aware of:

  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums could mean you have gum disease. If this is left untreated it can lead to tooth loss. In many cases you may not know you have gum disease and that’s why it’s crucial you continue to visit a dentist for check-ups.
  • Dry mouth is a side effect many individuals face and that could be a result of medications you’re taking, from high blood pressure or even diseases like Alzheimer’s or high cholesterol. Dry mouth could lead to cavities but can be addressed through the use of a humidifier or by drinking more water. If these methods don’t help, talk with your dentist to come up with a solution.
  • Oral cancer and other mouth and tongue cancers are typically diagnosed in individuals over the age of 62. When you visit your dentist have him check for these cancers as they are easy to detect early.
  • Talk to your doctor and your dentist about pre-treatment antibiotics, these are especially crucial for patients with heart conditions. Preventing infection prior to a medical procedure is recommended for many patients.
  • You may find that insurance, even Medicare, doesn’t cover dental visits or dentures. Ask your dentist about supplemental dental insurance or discount dental plans. You may also want to ask your doctor or a local Office for the Aging for assistance with regular dental care.

Taking care of your teeth by brushing and flossing at least twice daily will help you have healthier teeth as you age.

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Starting A Business After Retirement


Business (Photo credits:

You’re “of an age” when you are considering stepping away from the daily grind of a full time job, but you’re not quite ready to spend all of your days on the golf course or watching the grandchildren, what are your options? Well, according to the Small Business Administration, close to 20% of all individuals 55 years of age or older are expected to start their own small business.

If you’ve ever thought about what you’d love to do, “once you retired,” perhaps pursuing a passion and becoming your own boss is the way to go. For many people, retirement simply means stepping away from a career with a company that they may have pursued for the past 20-plus years and doing what they “really want to do,” and that means different things for different people.

Individuals in the life-transition stage who don’t want to give up working entirely but don’t want to compete with their younger counterparts in the ever-dwindling job market can turn their time and efforts toward being their own boss. If you want to start your own business what are some considerations to that endeavor? Here are a few things to consider:

  • What do you love? If you have a passion for something chances are you will follow through. Remember, some businesses are more technology based than others and if you’re not a technology lover you may find yourself getting frustrated before you’ve even fully begun the business and will walk away from the idea. Just as you stuck with your career for any number of years, you don’t want to start a business that you aren’t prepared to follow through on.
  • What are your goals for wanting to become a business owner? Do you have information to share? Is there a hobby you have pursued part time for years that you now have time to pursue full time? Do you need, or want, more money? Do you want to start a business that will sustain you and your heirs? Are you looking for something that will just keep you busy on your schedule rather than having to “punch a clock” if for example you opened a retail business.
  • Do you have experience garnered throughout your life that you can now put into your business? What experiences and expertise have you honed during your lifetime that you can now use to jump start a business of your own? If you don’t have experience, there is nothing to say you can learn about something new, master it and then start your business endeavor. If you’re retired, chances are you will have the time to do just that.
  • Will your new business endeavor require large outlays of cash? Do you have the financial cushion on which to draw? Will you and your spouse or significant other be in agreement that this is a good use of your financial nest egg? If you can start your business without dipping into your retirement or mortgaging your home to do it, that is the best way to start.
  • Now that you’re retired, did you have an idea in your mind of what your lifestyle would be? Did you plan to drive across the country and not be tied down to a specific location? If you are starting a business will it fit into the ideal you’ve had in your mind for your Golden Years? Unless you are truly driven and want to jump into a new business endeavor with both feet, craft the business so that it is a part of your life, but one that doesn’t take up your entire life – unless you didn’t have any specific plans in your retirement years. Will the new business involve you and your spouse or significant other or family members? Do you want it to? Has it always been a dream of yours to retire then open a bed and breakfast? If so, that could be the ideal option!

There are many business opportunities available for the driven retiree and just because you’re retired from your job doesn’t mean you have to retire from life! What will you do once you retire?

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Will The Affordable Care Act Impact Medicare Coverage?

Keeping track of the Affordable Care Act and wondering how, or if, it will impact an individuals’ Medicare or Medicaid coverage is a sometimes confusing maze.

One of the most pressing questions seniors and baby boomers have is “Will the Affordable Care Act impact my Medicare coverage?” and the answer to that is a confusing “maybe.” Because the Affordable Care Act is still a program that is in flux, and because its purpose was to provide healthcare coverage to those who didn’t have it, the way it could potentially impact Medicare and Medicaid have not been fully determined.

Some of the questions that have been raised include:

  • Will I have to switch doctors?
  • Will it cost me more to pay for a policy under the Affordable Care Act than I am paying now?
  • Does this mean that the Medicare program will no longer be in effect?
  • If I use a home medical alert device, will that have any impact on the fee I pay for it?
  • How will my prescription medications be impacted?

Here are some of the positives that appear to be a part of the Affordable Care Act provisions:

  • The money you spend on prescription drugs may be less than you’re paying now
  • You should be able to keep your same physician
  • Medicare coverage will not go away even if you’re covered under the Affordable Care Act policies. As a matter of fact, the Affordable Care Act law prohibits any cuts to Medicare coverage benefits.
  • Annual, free wellness exams will be provided.
  • The Affordable Care Act will effectively put an end to the “donut hole” that many individuals found themselves in as it relates to out of pocket costs for prescriptions.

One of the major disadvantages found in the new program is that it will cause a reduction in Medicare spending by more than $700 billion. What does this mean? Some worry that the reduction in Medicare spending could lead to a reduction in coverage standards, however assurances have been made that it shouldn’t. It’s believed that any potential cuts in Medicare will not impact the healthcare quality a patient receives but could be in the form of the way providers receive reimbursement from Medicare.

The Affordable Health Care Act won’t likely make any changes to coverage of or payment for home medical alert devices. In some instances, though, the new coverage may provide a provision for the payment of this medical alert equipment. It’s always best to contact your insurance carrier to gain a clear understanding of the type of coverage you may be eligible for as it relates to this equipment.

Answers to specific questions about coverage and its provisions are best answered by your individual insurance provider or by contacting a Medicare or Medicaid representative.

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Seniors Can Try New Things To Stay Active

What would spring be without the age-old commitment to spending more time doing new things!

Here are five spring resolutions that each senior needs to think about to kick off the fresh feeling of springtime:

Experience the web.

  • Google: Find anything, anytime, anywhere. Anything! You will be a click away from knowing anything you may need to know!
  • Social Media: Begin with Facebook, which will allow you to connect with locals as well as old companions across the country. Also, look in on your grandkids’ lives!

Plan for what’s to come.

  • It’s never too early to plan for your life as you age. Let your family know if you are interested in finding a caregiver to help you around the house. You may also want to buy a medical alert system for when you are at home by yourself. The main goal is to make sure you and your family are prepared as you age!

Consume nutritious foods in 2014.

  • Stay away from prepared food and snacks high in sugar and sodium.  Your eating habits are your fuel for the day and serves to keep your mind sharp. A good plan for eating is to include nutrient rich foods such as avocado and walnuts for those “great oils” and fiber from whole grains. Make a point to eat crisp leafy foods consistently and take daily supplements and vitamins (especially Vitamin B and D) that your body needs.

Plan yearly check-ups.

    • So imagine a scenario where you’re no spring chicken anymore. Age is like fine wine, yet it springs up on you quickly. Make sure to visit your doctor regularly to monitor any changes in your physical or mental ability as you age.

Stay Active

  • Volunteering is a great way to stay active while helping others that may be less fortunate. You could also join a social club, create a bridge club, join a yoga gym or do water aerobics. The goal is to maintain an active lifestyle, which will allow you to continue living independently while enjoying your life as you age.