Category Archives: Medical Alert

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

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 medicalalertsystemsratings.com, a review and resources site specializing in medical alert systems.

 

 

 

Recommended Medical Alert Systems Discussed In Recent Health Newsletter

HHP logo Harvard-Health-Square (90 x 90)

A recent article in Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Letter addressed the subject of medical alert systems in their December 2013 issue. In a table in the article, they listed LifeFone as among five ‘medical alerting systems that come closest to the ideal.’ The newsletter stated, “Medical alerting devices are effective tools for people who want to live independently and safely in their own homes.”

The article went on the say that the devices are underused.  “Many older adults agree to use a device only after a medical emergency when they’ve been traumatized by the experience of being stuck in a bathtub, lying on the  floor, or suffering from a cardiac or neurological event,” says Barbara Moscowitz, a geriatric social worker at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.”

The Harvard Health Letter also offered this advice.  “Alerting devices are ideal for people who live alone or spend time alone during the day, as well as people who’ve experienced a fall in the past, have a medical condition, or are limited in mobility. Individuals with mild memory impairment should be given a device as early as possible; if you wait until the person is more impaired, the individual may not be able to learn how to wear and use the device properly.”

Read the entire Harvard Health Letter.

Caregivers Connections knows that as people age, mobility and the ability to age in place can become an issue.  Most people would prefer to continue to live their lives in the family home or a second home of their choice rather than a nursing facility that provides round-the-clock care.  However, adult children often start to see their parents in a new light, not as vibrant and active as they once were and often with medical issues.  As families make many decisions that come with aging,  a medical alert system should be considered as a way to provide peace of mind and safety for loved ones. Consider a medical alerting system a must-have for aging family members to provide protection if a situation occurs rather than waiting until after an event has happened!  

The Challenges And Rewards Of Caring For Two Aging Parents

Just as we are different from each of our siblings, so too are our aging parents unique in their own way. Whether your parents bicker or get along well, if the time comes when they can no longer age in place, you and other family members will need to look at options for caring for them. In some cases you and your spouse may find yourselves face with the situation where each of you had an aging relative or two that you’ve suddenly become responsible for and that makes for an even more precarious balancing act between both sides of the family as well as your own family.

What do you do, and how can you balance the duties that come along with caring for two or more aging relatives? Here are some suggestions:

  • Determine whether any of the seniors in your life can live alone. If being alone is possible with assistance, consider gifting them with a home medical alert device and a personal medical alert pendant as this can offer peace of mind to all involved as well as provide them access to immediate medical care if necessary.
  • Would hiring an in-home part-time caregiver help relieve some of the caregiving burden upon you and your family members? Would your parents be amenable to having a      “stranger” come into the house to help them out? This is something that would need to be discussed up front. Is there an outreach at the church or local religious association they attend that could provide assistance? Even getting help with cooking, cleaning, yard work or running errands can help relieve some of the burden of caregiving and allow you to simply sit and relax when you visit your parents and spend time with them rather than having to rush around to do the housework and errands.
  • If you are caring for both parents and in-laws, how do you divide the time between them so there are no hurt feelings of being left out? This could come down to a matter of “who needs the most care.”
  • You will have to learn to ask for help and delegate tasks. If you and your spouse are both engaged in caregiving and you have siblings in the area, you will need to pick up a phone and ask for help. You can’t do it all alone and you shouldn’t have to. Being an effective caregiver means knowing your limits and reaching out for help before you burn out.
  • Even if you have healthy parents, but your spouse has parents in need of care, don’t neglect to spend time with your own, healthier relatives. Feelings of hurt and neglect can quickly boil over into a stressful family situation.

Being in a caregiving situation is stressful, but can be managed with time and effort and thoughtful care. Adding a second or third elderly relative into the mix will certainly add to the challenges. Make certain you take time to remember the care you’re giving may allow your parents to age in place for a longer period of time and use the time you’re spending with them to build memories for those times when they are no longer with you.

 

 

 

 

Medical Alert Devices Are Not Just For The Elderly

The need for a home medical alert device is not limited to the elderly. When you see the iconic commercials you may think these devices are only for seniors, but in fact a home medical monitoring device is ideal for not only the aged, but for those with health issues, those who work or live alone or even for babysitters.

When you stop to consider the benefit of a medical alert device – that it is a way for you or a loved one to summon help in the event of a medical or other emergency – you can see that these devices shouldn’t be relegated for use by only the elderly. These devices are valuable for anyone, in any age group, suffering a medical issue that can include, recovering from surgery, epilepsy, diabetes, cardiac issues and yes, being elderly or infirm.  If you are in the midst of a pregnancy, high-risk or otherwise, having a medical alert pendant means that if you go into labor and you’re home alone you can summon assistance to make certain you’re not alone until your family member arrives. Additionally, if you have a child who has medical issues, leaving her with a sitter can be daunting. Having a medical alert device for the babysitter can offer great peace of mind. Futhermore, if you work alone, particularly at night, having a medical alert pendant around your neck can ease fears. An emergency device provides benefits in a variety of situations.

LifeFone provides its service with no time commitment, meaning you can cancel at any time.  If you’re recovering from a surgery that may take months or longer, this type of system can be valuable in the event of a fall.  Having the ability to summon medical assistance at the push of a button if necessary, adds to the peace of mind of the individual who is in recovery.

If you, or a loved one, is on any type of medication that causes dizziness that could potentially lead to a trip or fall accident and, again a medical alert device could be a lifesaver. If you or a family member lives alone and has a medical condition, equipping the home with a medical alert system will allow them to live more safely at home and you will have peace of mind knowing that even if you’re not there, they can have access to medical assistance.

Whether you’re looking for a short- term solution or a long-term solution a medical alert device with a personal medical alert pendant that can be worn 24/7 (even in the shower) provides peace of mind beyond compare.

The medical alert systems from LifeFone are an ideal in-home medical emergency device that provides peace of mind for all involved and also immediate access to medical professionals if the need arises.

Learning to Avoid Conflict While Taking Care of an Ailing Family Member

The family is at the core of our entire civilization and in many cultures the family unit is the foundation of society.  And where the family unit is strong the people tend to be more stable, caring and giving.

In many communities the mother is forced by economic necessity to work and as such needs to give her children to someone to look after while she is away from home. In some communities, the tendency has been for younger generations to remain in the city of their birth and the role of babysitting  is usually given to the grandparents or other relatives.

But so often it happens this older generation becomes feeble or ill and needs care in return. Where families are strong there is a good chance that this nursing and elder care will be managed by the various family members fairly seamlessly.

However, within modern and urban environments the family unit is under severe stress. Divorce and family breakdown leading to 1 parent homes is far too common. And even those families , which are reasonably stable, the connection between siblings and parents of both spouses can be weak.  It is not uncommon for the various households to be miles and even cities apart.

Thus when one or both of the older members of the family starts needing care there are a huge number of stresses and strains that can be put on the various relationships and marriages can fall under a lot of strain. It often falls on the adult child who lives closest to provide a lot of the time, attention and care leaving his or her family lacking the proper attention. This can sometimes lead to frustration because they are getting less attention than they are used to, or feelings of neglect, resentment or discord in the family.

The Solutions to these are far from straightforward and need some care and forward planning.

It is suggested that the siblings agree in advance the various roles each will play and do the best to share the load both physically as well as financially. The burden may be considerable including the employment of a professional care giver so as to free the family member  from some of the burden. One very easy step is to equip the loved one with a medical alert service to ensure they have access to quick help in the event of an emergency. In so doing, this frees the family member up to have more time to devote to their own career and family.

Five Retirement Myths To Address Prior To Retirement

The Golden Years are the times in our lives when we look forward to enjoying the freedom afforded us by a lifetime of having worked and saved. We anticipate our retirement years as times when we can enjoy the fruits of our labors and spend time in pursuit of hobbies we hadn’t had time for previously.

The truth, though, for many individuals as they near retirement age is that they may not be as prepared as they’d imagined they were, nor have they used their accumulated wealth in the most fiscally sound manner.

Many of us that have reached, or are nearing retirement age, understand that planning for retirement is difficult, but living in retirement can be even more of a challenge. There are steps that can be taken, and retirement myths that must be debunked for those of us that are nearing retirement age, they are:

Having $1 million in cash, assets and 401Ks will be enough. In the past, this may have been true, but in 2013, $1 million doesn’t buy what it used to, and saving that much in assets is out of reach for many middle class Americans. Working with a financial advisor and making certain he understands your retirement desires – travel, lifestyle, etc. – will go a long way in help you ensure you have the funds you need when you’re in your Golden Years.

  1. Healthcare costs may be a big budget item, but it’s not likely that it will be the biggest you will face in retirement. The number one expense most retirees face are taxes. The fact that many individuals will be drawing money from assets they have enjoyed tax deferral status on during their working years, is not one that is always considered when retirement draws near. It’s important to work with your financial advisor to devise a plan to meet the tax responsibilities that arise when you begin drawing on your tax deferred retirement savings.
  2. Moving to a smaller home will reap large rewards. While in some instances a smaller home may be more beneficial for some individuals, downsizing to save money may not be the end result. In some cases, it may be more cost effective to remodel the existing family home to meet the needs of the aging residents. When you consider the fact that many seniors will have paid off the family home, it may not make sense for them to take on another mortgage payment. For example, closing off the upper floors and moving the living space to a ground floor may make more sense. Age-proofing the home with updated, senior friendly bathroom fixtures and rearranging cupboard space could be more cost effective and allow the senior to age in place in familiar surroundings. Additionally, the investment in a home medical alert system also provides peace of mind to the senior and the family members that if a medical emergency arises, the senior will have immediate access to health care at the push of a button.
  3. Speaking of homes and mortgages, it may not always make sense to pay off one’s home mortgage early; this hinges on the interest rate on the home as compared to interest rates on other items you’re paying off on a monthly basis. If you have a mortgage that has a low interest rate, and if mortgage interest remains a tax deductible expense, it may make sense to simply pay additional amounts on the monthly mortgage payment rather than cashing in a retirement account to pay it off entirely. Paying off high interest rate car loans or credit card debt is a more fiscally sound approach.
  4. Don’t rely on Medicare to cover your healthcare expenses. The purpose of Medicare is to provide coverage in the event of a catastrophic illness or injury, not as a way to cover healthcare costs. Medigap and other supplemental coverages are available for individuals in need of healthcare coverage. It is best to check on costs and providers for additional healthcare coverage prior to retirement.

 

 

 

Planning early for retirement is the best course of action, but even those individuals who haven’t taken the time to meet with a financial advisor in the past, can reap the benefits as a way to make living in retirement a more enjoyable venture.

 

Long Distance Care-giving Tips For Your Aging Relatives

As an adult in the “sandwich generation” the idea of taking care of your own family while trying to take care of your aging parents can be daunting. Caregiving is complicated even further when you don’t live in close proximity to your aging relatives. The ability to check on their health and daily well-being is impacted as is the ability to help them with healthcare, managing money or keeping up with housework and cooking meals. Taking on the responsibility of caring for your aging parents is a difficult task in the best of times, but when you add distance into the mix, it’s complicated even further.

There are steps you can take to care for and remain involved in your aging parents’ lives even when you live hundreds or even thousands of miles away:

  • Solicit help from others. It’s almost impossible to go it alone when trying to care for elderly loved ones when you’re not in the same area as they are. Look for friends, family members, church friends, or neighbors on whom you can rely to check in on your relatives and report back. Look for someone that can help them with daily tasks if necessary.
  • Uncover community resources and take advantage of them. Look for federal, state and local senior resources in their hometown and give them a call. Find out what kind of services they provide and how you can get your parents involved in those services. They could range from a Meals-on-Wheels meal delivery service or shuttle rides to and from shopping centers or doctor visits.
  • Make certain you are involved in your parents’ medical conditions and that you are listed as a health care proxy and that you have interaction with their physician. Also, keep an up to date list of the medications and health issues your parents are dealing with and keep all of this vital health information together in one place. Ask the doctor for advice on helping your parents manage their health even though you’re not in the area.
  • Keep all important documents in a safe place in the event you’re called upon to be a health care proxy or exercise a power of attorney. You should also have copies of your parent’s driver’s licenses, home ownership and legal papers, medical insurance and other critical documents.
  • When you’re visiting make certain you schedule enough time to spend with them so you’re not feeling rushed. You want to be able to gauge their health and living conditions and address any issues you may become aware of. Don’t let the visit be all about “checking up on them.” Plan time for a movie or a dinner out or a day excursion.
  • Do a visual inspection of the home when you’re there. Is it clean? Is there food in the house? Are there any possible health hazards or trip and fall hazards? Are there minor repair items that need to be addressed? Take care of this when you’re visiting. Would your parents benefit from the installation of a  home medical monitoring device? If they’re having health issues and are not comfortable using the telephone, giving them a medical alert device could be a literal lifesaver and will provide the family with peace of mind.

As a caregiver, whether you live close by or out of state, you need to know your own limits and gauge where your strengths lie. If you have other family members that are involved spend some time divvying up the tasks and assign them to the person with the greatest skill in that particular area. Remember, at some point a decision may have to be made to move your aging parents out of the family home and into an assisted living facility and that process is easier if the entire family is involved.

Seeking Appreciation As A Caregiver

For some individuals, caring for an aging parent is a rewarding experience and a chance for them to give back to the person who may have played a vital role in their lives. Caring for an aging relative whose cognitive abilities or personality is changing can quickly take its toll on the caregiver and make her feel unappreciated.

It is not uncommon for a caregiver to feel they are being taken advantage of or that the time and effort they put into caring for an aging relative isn’t valued by other family members. These feelings, while not easy to address for the caregiver, are common and should be addressed. There are ways to cope with the feelings of depression and the stress that is inherent with being a caregiver.

Put Your Feelings Into Perspective

Caring for a relative with Alzheimer’s disease or other illness that diminishes their mental capacity will bring with it personality changes that may be difficult to cope with. Try to keep in mind that their anger or disorientation is a factor of their illness, not an indication of their feelings toward you or the care you’re providing. On the other hand, caring for a relative or senior with full cognitive abilities may simply be frustrated. Don’t internalize your feelings of dismay at the way they behave. Instead, remember the love and attention you share is likely to have great value in the life of the one you are caring for.

Take Care Of Yourself

There will come a time when you simply need to step back and take time away from caregiving. It will likely be a difficult challenge to announce that you need to take care of yourself, but it’s crucial to your physical and mental well-being that you do so. Caregiver burnout is a real side effect of being the sole individual responsible for taking care of an aging relative. This can be even more difficult if you’re not only taking care of aging parents but raising your own family and pursuing your career at the same time. Seek out others who can relieve you for an hour, a day or even a weekend and do something fun for yourself.  Also enlist others to help with daily duties at home so you aren’t so overloaded. You’ll come back a bit more refreshed and ready to handle the tasks at hand.

Ask For Outside Support

Along the same lines of taking care of yourself is your ability to ask for help. Calling upon medical professionals or family members is necessary not only for your well-being but for the well-being of your relative. Seek out caregiver support groups or groups from which your relatives may benefit such as an Alzheimer’s Support Group. Search out federal, state and local organizations that provide assistance and support for the aging. Don’t be afraid to call on the services of a personal in-home caregiver when the need arises. If you’re dealing with a parent that is healthy mentally but is having other health or balance issues, take time to age proof the house and to install a home medical alert device as a way to support them when you’ve gone home at night.

Caregiving can be a time-consuming and mentally draining task, but the ability to spend quality time with your aging relative could be one that brings with it memories that will last a lifetime.

Seeking Appreciation As A Caregiver

For some individuals, caring for an aging parent is a rewarding experience and a chance for them to give back to the person who may have played a vital role in their lives. Caring for an aging relative whose cognitive abilities or personality is changing can quickly take its toll on the caregiver and make her feel unappreciated.

It is not uncommon for a caregiver to feel they are being taken advantage of or that the time and effort they put into caring for an aging relative isn’t valued by other family members. These feelings, while not easy to address for the caregiver, are common and should be addressed. There are ways to cope with the feelings of depression and the stress that is inherent with being a caregiver.

Put Your Feelings Into Perspective

Caring for a relative with Alzheimer’s disease or other illness that diminishes their mental capacity will bring with it personality changes that may be difficult to cope with. Try to keep in mind that their anger or disorientation is a factor of their illness, not an indication of their feelings toward you or the care you’re providing. On the other hand, caring for a relative or senior with full cognitive abilities may simply be frustrated. Don’t internalize your feelings of dismay at the way they behave. Instead, remember the love and attention you share is likely to have great value in the life of the one you are caring for.

Take Care Of Yourself

There will come a time when you simply need to step back and take time away from caregiving. It will likely be a difficult challenge to announce that you need to take care of yourself, but it’s crucial to your physical and mental well-being that you do so. Caregiver burnout is a real side effect of being the sole individual responsible for taking care of an aging relative. This can be even more difficult if you’re not only taking care of aging parents but raising your own family and pursuing your career at the same time. Seek out others who can relieve you for an hour, a day or even a weekend and do something fun for yourself.  Also enlist others to help with daily duties at home so you aren’t so overloaded. You’ll come back a bit more refreshed and ready to handle the tasks at hand.

Ask For Outside Support

Along the same lines of taking care of yourself is your ability to ask for help. Calling upon medical professionals or family members is necessary not only for your well-being but for the well-being of your relative. Seek out caregiver support groups or groups from which your relatives may benefit such as an Alzheimer’s Support Group. Search out federal, state and local organizations that provide assistance and support for the aging. Don’t be afraid to call on the services of a personal in-home caregiver when the need arises. If you’re dealing with a parent that is healthy mentally but is having other health or balance issues, take time to age proof the house and to install a home medical alert device as a way to support them when you’ve gone home at night.

Caregiving can be a time-consuming and mentally draining task, but the ability to spend quality time with your aging relative could be one that brings with it memories that will last a lifetime.

Medical Alert Systems Benefit Seniors And Disabled Individuals

More than one third of the population over the age of 65 is likely to experience a fall. If your relatives live alone and you’re not able to stop by daily, your aging relative could lie hurt and alone until your next visit. If, however, they have a medical alert device, they could take steps, at the mere push of a button, to access emergency medical care. Access to immediate medical care greatly enhances the chance for a complete recovery from a trip or fall accident or other health emergency.

Offering the senior or disabled adult in your life a medical alert device means he or she will always have access to prompt medical care if an emergency arises. Whether they have indicated it to you or not, the fear of falling is likely in the back of your aging relatives mind whenever he or she is home alone. This fear could cause them to restrict their daily activities and this can lead to increase risk of health issues. Remaining active is crucial to long term health as we age.

Equipping your relative with a medical alert system can enhance their life and help them retain their independence and add to their quality of life if they’re no longer afraid to undertake daily activities. The medical alert device can even be (and should be) worn when they go out into the yard to enjoy a warm summer day or even do light yard work. Consider too that a medical alert device is waterproof which means your relative can wear it when he is showering, something you can’t do with a cell phone. Even if you have a cell phone for your aging loved one, there is a chance they could drop it, the battery will lose its charge, or in the event of an emergency, they may be too flustered to even remember what phone number to call. With a medical alert device, at the push of a button help can be summoned and this can help to diffuse stressful, painful situations.

With a medical alert device you can also rest assured that your relative will be protected because the medical alert systems come with battery backup devices.  Medical alert devices add to peace of mind and can reduce fears of living alone, something that could be crucial if your relative is widowed. These systems are also affordable and reliable and can enhance your relative’s ability to age in place for many more years to come.