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Talk to Your Parents About Medical Alert Devices

How to Choose the Right Medical Alert System

Medical Alert Devices

Red ArrowSenior Services by Texas Region

A home medical alert device offers the comfort of knowing you can remain in your home feeling safe, secure and comfortable. Don't wait for your parents to fall or have a health crisis to discuss their safety. One in three people over 65 will have a major fall each year, with that number increasing to one in two by the time a senior reaches 80. Seniors with alert systems have fewer hospital admissions and shorter stays, meaning a better quality of life.

A medical alarm is an alarm system designed to signal the presence of a hazard requiring urgent attention and to summon emergency medical personnel. Other terms for a medical alarm are Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) or medical alert. Elderly people and disabled people who live alone commonly use/require medical alarms.

The following video "How to talk to your elderly parent about getting a medical alert device" is provided compliments of ConsumerAffairs.com


Medicare does not cover medical alert systems, neither will most insurance carriers, even with a doctor's written prescription.

However, you should check with your insurance provider to see if they will cover your medical alert system. Some states have programs that will help Medicare beneficiaries, who meet certain criteria, pay for the alert systems. These programs are usually accessed through the local Texas Area Agency on Aging.

Round-the-clock emergency response services are provided to those who meet financial eligibility requirements by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS).

Services are provided through an electronic monitoring system that is used by functionally impaired adults who live alone or who are socially isolated in the community.

In an emergency, the client can press a call button to signal for help. The electronic monitoring system helps to ensure that the appropriate person or service agency responds to an alarm call. Financial eligibility is determined by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.


Now that you know a medical alert system is needed how to choose the right one:

Industry experts recommend looking for a medical alert system that meets all or most of the following criteria:

  • It works for a user's specific disability. For example, a stroke survivor may need a device he or she can activate with one hand.
  • It offers a choice of a wristband and/or neck pendant. Cords worn around the neck can pose a strangulation risk; wristbands may irritate those with skin ailments.
  • It includes help buttons that can be wall-mounted near the floor in multiple rooms in case the user falls and isn’t wearing the pendant.
  • It offers multiple choices for whom to contact if you need help, from emergency services to a friend or relative who lives nearby.
  • It has a battery backup in case of a power failure.
  • The base station can be contacted from anywhere on your property—even in your yard or at your mailbox.
  • The company has its own monitoring center, in the U.S., and employs its own trained emergency operators (rather than contracting that function out).
  • The monitoring center has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a nonprofit safety and consulting company.

How you present the conversation can go a long way as toward making the senior comfortable. Try to let them know about the talk in advance, so they don't feel surprised or caught off guard.

Also avoid an "intervention" setting with multiple people talking at the senior. As long as you present the idea as coming from love, caring and empathy for the senior, there should be no problem, and a new medical alarm system can bring peace of mind to seniors and caregivers alike.

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DISCLAIMER: Links to other websites or references to products, services or publications do not imply the endorsement or approval of such websites, products, services or publications by Elder Options of Texas. The determination of the need for senior care services and the choice of a facility is an extremely important decision. Please make your own independent investigation.