This is a really important decision, and it determines a lot about how your search is going to go and what kind of solution you end up with. It will also make a big difference about how you use the system, and what kind of results you get from it.
You can be really happy with either kind of system. It depends a lot on your personality, and on the kinds of situations you end up getting into.
Plus, there is no single solution that can work effectively in every possible situation. There’s no magic product that will keep you safe no matter what happens. As with the rest of life, it’s a trade-off.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t figure out a good solution.
So, how do you make a choice between monitored or no fee medical alerts?
Is it obvious?
For some of you, the choice will be obvious. For example, you may feel there is no way that you–or the person you’re buying a medical alert for–would ever want to talk to people at a monitoring center. Or you may feel that the person using the medical alert would be much more comfortable talking to the people of the monitoring center than they would be calling on a relative or friend.
Another big consideration is financial. If you’re the kind of person who would never pay a monthly fee for a service, then you want a no-fee medical alert system. Usually these cost a lot less than just one year of monitored service. However, for some people it’s easier to add $30 a month to their budget than to come up with $250 all at once to purchase a top-quality no-fee medical alert system.
If either of these considerations made your choice clear, great. You can move on to evaluating the different kinds of systems.
Detailed Pros and Cons
Monitored solutions are great because no matter what time of day you call, there’s always someone on the other end of the phone to answer the call.
If you choose a good monitoring center, this person will be a trained EMT or other professional who can assess your situation and dispatch appropriate help.
For the fee of less than a dollar a day, this is pretty good peace of mind.
On the other hand, the no fee solutions are great because there are no ongoing costs, which can add up over a few years. And if you’re most comfortable having relatives or friends on the other end of the line, this is a great option.
There are downsides to each. For a monitored solution, your service is only as good as the monitoring company. If they cut corners, you lose out. For example, they could be understaffed on a night when you really need help. This makes it important to choose a reputable company.
The downside to a no fee medical alert is that you never have a trained professional on the other end of the line. Instead, your system dials four numbers that you have programmed into it. Depending on the numbers you choose, and what your friends or family members are up to, you may or may not be able to reach them. Or they could panic and be unhelpful.
So what would I recommend?
If I were going to get a system for myself, I would get a monitored system. That’s because I want to know that if I had a life-threatening emergency I could talk to a competent person on the other end just seconds later. I would also want to make sure I could call with a non-life-threatening emergency and then the monitoring center staff could call a friend or relative to come help me.
The system I would choose for myself is the MediPendant (http://getmedipendant.com) because I like the talk-through-the-pendant feature and I like their customer service policies. (For example, you can save money by purchasing an annual plan, but if you need to cancel before the year is up they will refund your unused months — not every company does this!)
Next up in this series of articles: understanding the different kinds of medical alert devices, along with my specific opinions.