Category Archives: medical alert system

The Importance Of Automatic Fall Detection Systems

Falling is a big concern among seniors. According to the Yale University School of Medicine, 1 out of 3 people over the age of 65 falls at least once a year. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that falling injuries among the elderly are on the rise.

Importance Of Automatic Fall Detection Systems

Seniors, their children or their caregivers may want to consider automatic fall detection as an upgrade to their medical alert system. The Fall Detection pendant contains tiny sensors that can detect changes in motion, as well as changes in the height of the pendant.   These sensors are monitored in real-time to detect tiny changes in motion. Armed with that information, the fall detection algorithm determines if the person wearing the fall detection pendant has experienced a motion pattern that indicates a fall. Since no fall detection system detects 100% of falls, the pendant is also equipped with a standard help button for added security.

If the system detects a fall, an alarm will sound. With LifeFone’s equipment, you have time to cancel the alarm if you haven’t actually experienced a fall. The system waits for 20-30 seconds to check for normal movement before sending an emergency fall message. You then have 20 additional seconds to manually cancel a fall alarm. It’s important to cancel a false alarm if one occurs to prevent the emergency response center from taking appropriate action on your behalf.

Fall detection adds another level of peace of mind to the overall protection provided by a medical alert system in the event a loved one falls and injures themselves.



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.




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!  

Making A Decision To Commit To Home Medical Alert Technology

As a caregiver you’ve seen your parents’ health fade a little bit every year. It could be something as simple as being more forgetful, or stumbling when she walks or maybe your father is dealing with an illness or one or both of them are recovering from a hospital stay. They’re determined to remain in their own home and for the time being that might be an option.

The ability to age in place is a powerful motivator for many seniors as they are accustomed to being independent and taking care of the family and are not comfortable in the role of accepting care. Talk with them and discuss the possibility of equipping the home with a medical alert device and the two of them with medical alert pendants. These devices can save lives as well as providing peace of mind for both your parents and you, as the caregiver, for those times when they are home alone.

What should you look for in a medical alert device? Here are some items to take into consideration:

  • The technology of the console itself. Look for a device that provides two-way voice      communication
  • Make certain both the pendants and the consoles have been approved by the Underwriters Laboratories as Home Health Care Signaling Devices.
  • Check into the range of protection the device offers. There are some systems that provide protection up to 300 feet from the console and others that provide coverage up to 1,500 feet from the console. Determine where the console will be placed then choose a range that will suit your needs. If your parents like to go out of doors, make sure the unit will still work when they are outside.
  • The pendant should be waterproof and lightweight. You want your parents to be comfortable wearing the device and you want to know they are protected even if they are in the bathtub or shower.
  • Look for pedants that do not need to have batteries to replace.
  • Does the equipment come with a lifetime warranty? Will there be a cost if it needs to be replaced?
  • What happens if the power goes out? Is there a battery back up in place and if so, for how many hours will your loved ones be protected?
  • Does the service provider you’re going to work with have a plan in place in the event of a power outage? At LifeFone, the emergency response center is notified if the power goes out and notifies loved ones. The base unit has a back-up battery that can last anywhere from 32-60 hours.
  • Does the medical monitoring device provide a way to answer the telephone from the pendant? With LifeFone, a phone call can be answered by simply pushing the button on the pendant and speaking into the speaker console (this can be done from across the room which means your parents won’t have to rush to answer the telephone)
  • Do you have to sign a contract with the provider of your medical alert system or is it a      month-to-month situation? LifeFone does not require a time commitment meaning you can cancel at any time and get a full refund for any unused, prepaid service.

These are some of the basic questions you will want to ask a potential medical device provider before making any kind of a purchasing decision.


Seven Steps To Preparing For Being A Caregiver

For some, the role of caregiver for an ailing or aging parent is one that has been planned for. For others, being thrust into the role of caregiver, in many cases while still raising your own family and holding down a full time job, is not one for which you’re prepared.

Feeling overwhelmed, underprepared and even unappreciated are emotions many caregivers go through. You may feel guilt, anger, frustration, sadness and anxiety, but these feelings are natural. Along with the negative feelings that may ebb and flow during the course of caring for aging loved ones you will also experience gifts that come with that role including, compassion, courage, forgiveness and a sense of understanding and fulfillment.

Whether you’re trained in the area of health care or if this is your first experience caring for an aging or infirm relative, there are some steps you can take to familiarize yourself with what lies ahead and what you can do to navigate the changing family dynamics.

Below are some tips to help you as you move into your new role:

  1. Before you can begin helping your aging loved ones you need a baseline of information on what they need, how you can help, what signs and symptoms to look for. Ask their doctor if he’s seen changes in their health or behavior and what you should expect. Ask him to review the medications list and frequency the medications should be taken, it’s best to compare this list with the medications you have found in your parent’s home to make certain they are taking the correct medications.
  2. If your parents haven’t seen a doctor recently, make an appointment for a comprehensive check-up. There could be underlying medical conditions that could be easily addressed which could make it possible for them to age in place and which may make your role of caregiver an easier one. Also, ask the doctor at the visit whether he feels your parents are able to remain living independently. Keep in mind that if they are borderline with needing in home care or moving to an assisted living facility, simply equipping the home with a medical monitoring device and them with a medical alert pendant you may be able to extend the time they can remain in their own home.
  3. What exactly do your loved ones need? Are they keeping up with personal hygiene as in bathing and getting dressed for the day? Are they taking their medications as prescribed? Do you notice any signs that may be alarming; such as forgetting to turn off the stove when they’re done cooking? Are they able to keep up with light housework and cooking? Do they need help paying the bills or doing heavier outside yard work? If they are overwhelmed with cooking meals and are perhaps not eating as healthy as they should be? If that’s the case look into a Meals-on-Wheels program or prepare meals for them and deliver them throughout the week. Knowing what your parents need will help gauge the level of involvement.
  4. Involve your family members in the role of caregiver. Ask for help with items you simply      cannot take on. Look into county-offered services for the aging. Make notes and keep a folder of information available for all family members on any signs of deterioration in your loved ones. Put all medical information and prescription information in that folder as well.
  5. Prepare for any eventuality. In the event your parents reach the point when they can no      longer live alone, what will the options be for their living arrangements? Will they move in with a family member? Do they need to explore assisted living or nursing home arrangements? Begin researching these options now as you don’t want to have to make decisions in the event of an emergency and be faced with an untenable situation. Be sure to involve your loved ones in the conversations and ask what their feelings are on where they may eventually be living. Preparing could also mean looking into hiring a part time home healthcare aide or a nursing service to come in and check on their mental and physical health on occasion.
  6. Undertake a financial check-up and review legal documents. While your parents may be hesitant to share bank account or credit card information, impress upon them that      sharing that information can help with long term care planning needs. If you, and other family members, have an understanding of their financial situation you will be better able to navigate the roads that lie ahead. You will also want to ask if your parents have a will. Where they keep their life insurance and medical insurance papers. Who do they want to designate as a healthcare proxy or power of attorney? This information needs to be decided upon prior to deterioration in mental or physical health as you don’t want to be making decisions under duress.
  7. Safety proof the home. If your parents are determined to age in place, then your role as caregiver could mean doing a safety check up of the home to make certain it is safe. Mobility issues plague many seniors and removing trip and fall hazards, making sure there are clear walkways and that the rugs are non skid and are securely in place can go a long way in keeping trip and fall incidents to a minimum. Make certain smoke alarms are installed and working. Check that hallways and rooms have proper lighting and consider installing motion activated lights. Check the water temperatures to make sure that hot water isn’t going to scald them. Make certain they have access to adequate healthy foods and that they are, in fact, eating the food you’ve shopped for or prepared. Post a list of emergency phone numbers by the telephone and in other locations around the house where they can easily access them. Keep in mind, though that in the event of a medical emergency or a trip or fall accident they may not be able to reach the telephone and may be in too much pain or unable to dial the telephone – this again, is a reason to give them access to a medical alert pendant. At the push of a button emergency medical personnel are summoned and your parents will have access to an experienced call center representative from LifeFone who will stay with them until help arrives. LifeFone representatives will also call family and doctors to alert them.

Caregivers sometimes find themselves toiling in isolation. It may make sense to interact with other caregivers, ask them how they address particular situations and just simply talk with someone who understands what you’re going through. Being a caregiver for your parents, is one that may be fraught with tension but it can also be a time to reconnect and build new memories that will carry over for a lifetime.



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.


Benefits of Medical Alert Systems

Medical alert systems are not new; they’ve been aiding the elderly and making it possible for them to live independently since the mid-’70’s. A home medical alert system is a device with components that make aging in place a possibility. A home base monitoring device, a telephone jack and a medical alert pendant are all that are required to enhance the safety and security of your loved one. If your aging parent suffers a fall or other medical crisis, they need only press a button on the pendant that they wear 24/7. Once the button has been activated, the central monitoring representative contacts the user; if there is no response, emergency medical personnel are dispatched and calls are made to family members and other medical providers of the user’s choice.

A loss of independence is typically a top of mind worry for individuals as they age, but the installation of a home medical alert system brings with it the ability to age in place and provides peace of mind for both the user and his family members. Using a medical alert system can actually prolong the number of years your loved ones can live independently.

Consider these facts on the aging population put forth by the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • The older population (65+) numbered 40.4 million in 2010, an increase of 5.4 million or 15.3% since 2000
  • Over one in every eight, or 13.1%, of the population is an older American
  • Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 18.8 years (20.0 years for females and 17.3 years for males)
  • Older women out-number older men at 23.0 million older women to 17.5 million older men
  • About 29% (11.3 million) of non-institutionalized older persons live alone (8.1 million women, 3.2 million men).
  • Almost half of older women (47%) age 75+ live alone
  • The population 65 and over has increased from 35 million in 2000 to 40 million in 2010 (a 15% increase) and is projected to increase to 55 million in 2020 (a 36% increase for that decade)
  • The 85+ aged population is projected to increase from 5.5 million in 2010 and then to 6.6 million in 2020 (19%) for that decade

When you consider that 60% of the visits to emergency rooms by individuals over the age of 65 are because of a fall accident that occurred in the home, it becomes more apparent that there is a need for individuals to be equipped with medical alert systems. If the senior in your life lives alone, he or she could suffer a medical emergency and be unable to summon help if he can’t make it to the telephone to call 9-1-1. The New England Journal of Medicine wrote that the “mortality rate is five times higher for individuals that lay incapacitated for 12 hours as compared to those that get immediate medical help.” The more quickly your loved one is found and treated the better the chance for recovery; the benefit of the medical alert system as a way to quickly summon assistance becomes more obvious, especially if there isn’t a caregiver that visits on a daily basis.






Senior-Friendly Benefits Of Medical Alert Systems

The idea of a medical alert system seems like a good idea to the person suggesting it, but it may feel like an invasion of privacy to the elderly individual wearing it. The senior who’s faced with wearing a medical alert pendant may not want to consider that they are in need of that type of equipment because it forces them to face their fears of aging and mortality.

The medical alert system is a godsend for many as it provides a sense of independence and a feeling of security, an especially important feeling if they live alone. Whether they want to admit it, the senior in your life may feel a sense of apprehension at the idea of living alone, and this is more true if he or she has suffered a fall or is dealing with an ongoing health concern. For individuals living alone, a medical alert system provides a sense of security because they know if they are injured or fall ill when they are home alone, they can summon assistance at the push of a button.

The components of a medical alert system include a transmitter base unit that is placed in a central location in the home and the medical alert pendant or bracelet that your aging relative wears. The pendant can, and should be, worn 24 hours a day; the devices are waterproof which allows for wear in the tub or shower. If the wearer suffers a medical emergency, he or she needs only push the button on the pendant and a signal is sent to the base unit which then transmits a message to the medical alert monitoring center. Trained specialists at the center then provide assistance. The way the device works, in practice, is that once the individual presses the button and the monitoring center is alerted, there will be verbal communication between the center and your aging relative. The monitoring center specialist has access to the individuals’ medical records and emergency contact numbers. As a fail safe in the event of a power outage the base unit is equipped with a backup power system to ensure that the elderly individual remains protected.

When signing up for a home medical monitoring service, you will be asked to complete a health information intake form and will be asked about medications and current health condition and any disabilities. The individual being equipped with the system will also have an option to add preferences on who should be contacted in the event of a health crisis – family, doctors, specific healthcare providers, etc.

If the senior in your life balks at the idea of this constant monitoring, impress on them what they’re gaining – the ability to age in place, peace of mind in the event of a medical emergency and an overall feeling of security for those who live alone. For some individuals, wearing a medical alert pendant may mean they can delay having to move into an assisted living facility because this device may allow for more years of independence because it is a lifeline to emergency care.

Home Medical Alert Systems Supplement In-Home Caregiving

Your aging parent or other family member has made the decision to age at home or in an assisted living facility. This is more easily accomplished now than in the past, especially through the use of home medical monitoring systems and medical alert system. A medical alert pendant or bracelet automatically calls into LifeFone’s emergency response center and notifies the designated medical contacts. With more than 30 years in the industry, LifeFone is a trusted provider of security and safety in the event of falls or other risks that face seniors living at home or in an assisted living facility.

In many cases, though having a caregiver come into the home of your aging parent on a semi-regular basis help give the members of the family a break and also many caregivers provide medical care and supervision. Just as you spent time researching the type of home medical monitoring system to have installed, you will want to spend time interviewing and vetting caregivers before making any final decisions.

Look for a caregiver that offers:

Creative ways to keep the senior interested, alert and active: Whether it’s teaching skills to cope with living at home and remaining independent to keeping them active, motivated and engaged in everyday activities, find someone who will offer loving and engaging care.

Dedication to both the individual in their care and to the family: Just as the senior needs to trust and respect the caregiver, so too should the family members. Family should feel free to contact the caregiver with questions or concerns that arise. The caregiver should also be reliable and dedicated to the task at hand and to offering undivided attention to the individual in their care.

Exercising good judgment: Home healthcare providers need to exercise judgment and confidentiality when it comes to medical issues that arise with the individual in their care. They also need to know when to use judgment and talk with designated family members if there are medical concerns or changes in the behaviors of the individuals in their care.

Homecare, coupled with the technology and safety of a home medical alert system and the bracelets and pendants, offer your aging family members the ability to stay at home and retain their independence while providing peace of mind and 24 hour care and monitoring.