Should you buy a mobile life alert system? That’s the question on many people’s minds these days as these units become more well-known.
But first, let’s make sure the difference is clear. A standard home-based life alert system works in (and sometimes around) your home. It’s got a stationary base station that’s plugged into your phone line (or VOIP, or some even work on a cellular network). The system is activated by a button you wear on your wrist or carry on a pendant. The system works when you are “within range” of the base station.
The key function of a home-based life alert system like this is to let you call for help if you get hurt or have an emergency when you are alone and can’t reach the phone.
In contrast, a mobile life alert (or cellular life alert) works anywhere you can get a reliable cell phone signal. (Which means not at my house…) It can be used at home, in your car, around town, or out in the country.
These systems usually have some kind of location technology, either GPS or cell-tower based.
Distinction between cellular base stations and cellular systems
Don’t get confused by the fact that some home-based systems can use a cell signal to communicate with the monitoring center. These are still classified as home-based systems. Mobile systems not only use the cell network, but they don’t have a base station, so you’re not tied to one location.
Are there any drawbacks to mobile life alert systems?
On the face of it, why wouldn’t you choose a mobile unit if you had the chance? Isn’t it better to be protected everywhere rather than just at home?
But there are definitely some problems with cellular life alerts
Problem #1: You’re dependent on the cell phone network.
Sure, it’s usually pretty good, but it’s not perfect. And you might be in a dead spot when you need help most.
Problem #2: The battery needs to be recharged
My cell phone runs out of battery by the end of each day. But I always remember to charge it up overnight. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t work at all until I got it plugged in. And plugged in means it’s not in my pocket.
Same thing with a mobile life alert. Most of them need to be recharged every day or two. Some claim to last a week. Others even claim a month. No matter what, it’s a lot less time than the wrist buttons or pendants from home-based systems.
If the user is the kind of person who can do a good job of remembering to charge up, great.
Problem #3: Night time use
This problem is related to #2. If you’re charging the device at night, it’s not with you when you get up to go to the bathroom. Dark room, stiff body. It’s a classic time to fall. (I just heard a story on the radio of a woman who fell in the night because she decided to try getting to the bathroom without turning on the light.)
Do you really need a medical alert when you’re not at home?
It’s an open question, and it depends on your lifestyle. If you’re out and about in places where you feel it would be easy to get help, then you probably don’t. But if your trip outside is a wobbly walk down a quiet street to a coffee shop around the corner, and you might not be found for 1/2 an hour if you fell, then you might want to consider a mobile life alert.
Questions? Ask them in the comments!