Most of the medical alerts you’ll find in a Google search are the standard systems that use a speakerphone in the base station for two-way communication.
Here’s how they work:
When you have an emergency, you press the panic button you wear on your wrist or around your neck (or clipped to your belt).
The base station receives the signal and dials the monitoring center. At the monitoring center, the computers recognize the unit and bring up your personal information. A trained responder comes on the phone and helps you with your situation, whether that’s having a neighbor come over or rushing an ambulance to your door.
You talk to the emergency responder through your base station speakerphone.
The main drawback of this kind of system is that if you’re far away from the speakerphone, or there’s noise that prevents you from hearing it, communication with the monitoring center can be difficult. If this is a concern, check out the Medipendant, a monitored medical alert that has “talk-through-the-pendant” functionality.
There are several different designs on the market, and hundreds of thousands of units installed in homes all around the world.
If you’re interested in a standard medical alert, you have a lot of choices.
I could list them all, but that would get pretty overwhelming. Instead, I’ll carve off just a few to talk about.
1. Bay Alarm Medical
I’m listing Bay Alarm Medical here for two reasons. First is that their pricing is better than most of their competitors. Second is that I know they have a no-pressure sales atmosphere.
I made a video review of their service. See the videos about Bay Alarm here. (If they mention a coupon code, that’s out of date. No more coupon code! Sorry.
Visit Bay Alarm Medical.
LifeFone is a monitored medical alert system that costs about $28 a month billed quarterly. They run their own monitoring center, a plus, and they’ve been in business since 1976. LifeFone currently uses the “standard” two-way base-station equipment because it’s time-tested and reliable. When I spoke with a representative from the company, he said the most important things are that the elderly person wears the waterproof button, the battery doesn’t need to be changed often, and the button is simple to press even in an emergency. LifeFone has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. They offer the LifeFone Emergency Care Plan™ that provides a customized response in an emergency based on your preferences. LifeFone has updated their service so they now offer a base station that works without a landline. They also offer complete home protection packages including fire / smoke / carbon monoxide detection.
LifeStation is a monitored medical alert system that costs about $30 a month. They offer a waterproof button that can be worn as a necklace, on the wrist, or clipped to clothing. They advertise a 400 foot activation range. If you’re out of voice range the monitoring center will follow your predefined instructions about how to send help. LifeStation operates their own UL Listed monitoring center; they do not outsource their call answering. They offer free shipping and do not require a long-term contract. Click here to visit the LifeStation site.
The biggest drawback to these units, in my opinion, is that it can be tough to communicate through the base station speakerphone if you’re far away or there’s other noise.
There are two ways around this problem.
- Anytime the button is pressed, the monitoring center treats it as an emergency, even if they can’t hear you.
- For an additional fee you can usually rent “room extenders” that act as additional speakerphone units.
A lot of people have these speakerphone units and are very satisfied with them.
The alternative is something like the MediPendant, which has two-way communication through the pendant you wear. But you might pay a little more for this.