Now that you know whether you want a monitored or no-fee medical alert system, you have to pick equipment.
This is both very simple and pretty complex.
Let’s cover the no-fee systems first.
The only no-fee medical alert system I would ever buy for myself is the Freedom Alert from LogicMark.
That’s because it’s a system that has two-way communication through the pendant you wear. Basically, the pendant is like a small cordless phone (not a cellular phone). When you need help you press the button, and no matter where you are in the house or yard (as long as you’re within range), you can have a normal-voice conversation with the person on the other end of the line.
I would never choose a “base station speakerphone” model as my no fee medical alert because if you’re too far away from the base station you can’t have a conversation with the person on the other end. This just doesn’t seem reasonably to me, now that better options exist.
If cost is an issue, the Guardian Alert 911 is a similar model that ONLY dials 911. It has the same two-way cordless phone pendant.
I would never try to save even more money and get a unit that is a one-way speakerphone. Yes, there is a company that does sell such a unit. The base unit has no microphone, so even if you’re sitting right next to it you can’t tell the person you’ve called what’s wrong. This kind of unit would never be acceptable to me, and I’m surprised it’s still available on the market.
Unfortunately, most monitored medical alert systems use the older-style two-way speakerphone units. This is 1980s technology, and frankly I’m surprised that it’s still so common. I don’t know many people who live in a house small enough that a speakerphone-based unit will be effective.
The companies will usually tell you that it doesn’t matter if the speakerphone base unit can’t hear you: if the operator can’t communicate with you they’ll send an ambulance.
But what if the danger in your house is a fire? An ambulance won’t do you much good then.
Or if you are in the bathroom with the door closed and the water running? You might have a simple fall and just need a neighbor to come help you, but you won’t be able to communicate this to the monitoring center because you won’t be able to hear them or be heard. (I’ve tried it in my own house.)
Even a system like Phillips LifeLine, which as a popular “fall alert” feature, only has limited base station range.
This is why I’m a big fan of the MediPendant. It’s almost exactly the same technology as the LogicMark unit I discussed above, except that instead of calling friends and family it dials a monitoring center staffed by professional responders.
See more at GetMediPendant.com.
Mobile and other medical alerts
The original medical alerts were designed for home-bound seniors who didn’t garden, didn’t run errands, and didn’t travel. Many people wonder about a medical alert that can get help for you when you’re out and about, not sitting at home.
In the past few years, several companies have come out with products that are meant to protect you anywhere you can get a cell signal.
Until GreatCall introduced their 5Star Emergency Responder unit, there wasn’t one I could really recommend. All of the units seemed to have large tradeoffs — too expensive for too little functionality, design problems, etc.
The 5Star unit seems to take care of most of my objections. See more about the 5Star Emergency Responder here.