Can you use a cell phone as a medical alert device?
The basic purpose of a medical alert device is to call for help if you have an accident or need medical help. They’re also useful if there’s a fire or other emergency, or if you have a problem with your medication.
Regular medical alert systems are generally plugged into your home telephone line. They cost a couple of hundred dollars, and some have ongoing charges for a monitoring center. (You can read more about these options elsewhere on this site.)
So a lot of people wonder whether a cell phone can be a good replacement for a medical alert.
It makes sense, right? After all, our cell phones are always with us. And they’re phones, so they’re designed for contacting people.
And this is true, as far as it goes. But on balance, I don’t think cell phones are good replacements for medical alarms.
What are the drawbacks?
There are quite a few.
Cell phones need to be charged pretty much every day. This means they are plugged in sometimes, not on our persons. Or else we forget to charge them and they don’t work.
We don’t usually carry our phones around inside our house. Most people I know put them down on the counter when they come home. But to be effective, a medical alarm device has to be on you when you fall or become hurt. If you break your hip, it won’t help to have a phone 20 feet away.
Dialing a cell phone isn’t always easy. Sure, you can program the numbers of neighbors or friends, but if you get a hard bump on your head or start bleeding profusely, would you rather press a single button on a pendant or struggle with your phone.
But your phone can still be part of your emergency plan.
For example, if you have a medical alert system that works well in your house but not in your yard, be sure to carry your phone with you when you’re out in your garden or taking out the trash.
A cell phone is also good for emergency use when you’re running errands or doing something else where your regular device doesn’t work.
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