Medical Alert Devices – What Are They and Why You Need One

Updated on February 18, 2022

You may have seen TV advertisements for them or you might know someone who uses one, but do you really know what medical alert devices are? 

In this post, we’ll provide the answer and highlight some of the reasons why you might need one.

What is a Medical Alert Device?

A medical alert device or system, as they are more commonly known, provides emergency monitoring in and out of the home. They signal an emergency requiring urgent attention and call emergency medical personnel. 

In addition, you can also use them to alert family members and caregivers, the police, or fire responders.

When the medical alert system is triggered, a signal is sent to an alarm monitoring system. The situation is assessed. If required, medical personnel will be dispatched, family members contacted, or emergency services alerted. 

How Do Medical Alert Systems Work?

The most important component of any medical alert system is the help button. One press of this button should send an alarm to a 24/7 emergency call center. 

An operator at this center will be able to access the user’s basic medical history and emergency contacts.

The help button might be in a pendant or worn on the wrist. They will be waterproof so they can be worn in the shower and comfortable enough to wear day and night. 

Many of these systems also use GPS technology which means they can provide precise life-saving location and time information. 

A more recent advance is the introduction of automatic fall buttons. These buttons are able to automatically detect falls and activate an emergency call.

The medical alert system works in the following way:

  • The user presses the pendant or portable emergency fall button.
  • The user’s information and location are sent to Emergency Operators.
  • 2-way communication is established so that the operator can assess the situation.
  • The operator contacts emergency services, a neighbor, or a family member, depending on the user’s specific needs. 

Why You Might Need a Medical Alert Device

Medical alert devices are more commonly worn by elderly or disabled people, so that they can summon help whenever they need it, for example, if they fall or experience a life-threatening emergency.

However, there are other individuals who might benefit from a medical alert system. Let’s look at some of them now.

If You’re a Senior Who Lives Alone

For many seniors, being able to live in their own homes is important. If you want to live at home longer, a medical alert device can provide security and peace of mind. 

If You Have a History of Falls or a Fall Has Occurred

Anyone who is at risk of falling can also benefit from a medical alert device. In the US, one-fourth of older adults have a fall every year. With a medical alert system you’ll be prepared should it happen to you.

If you’ve already had a fall, the risk of it happening again doubles, so you’re at much greater risk. 

With a medical alert system you have access to around-the-clock care should you need it. All it takes is the push of a button you’ll be able to summon help should you fall and injure yourself. 

If You Have Mobility Issues

Anyone who has mobility issues should consider a system. Whether your mobility issues are the result of a past injury or you simply have problems getting around being able to alert emergency assistance, a carer, or family member means you don’t have to worry. 

If You Worry a Lot

If you’re getting older and starting to worry about your physical limitations, a medical alert system could be the perfect solution. When you know you’ve got 24/7 access to help, it will put your mind at ease and allow you and your family to feel more confident about you living independently.

If There is No One Nearby to Help 

Not everyone is lucky enough to have friends, neighbors, or family living nearby. This can be a problem if you need urgent help or checking on regularly. A medical alert system can be a lifeline when you need it because help can be summoned and arrive quickly. 

Being able to receive timely help is crucial in the case of a fall. Almost two-thirds of fall victims who don’t receive help within the first hour won’t be able to live alone again once they’ve recovered. 

There’s one more case where a medical alert device can be beneficial and that’s if you’re taking medications that have life-threatening side effects. The benefits of most medications far outweigh any negative effects. 

That being said, it’s important that you’re aware of how those medications can affect your daily activities. 

For example, if the medication you take causes you to experience vertigo or dizziness, you’re at higher risk of a fall. Dizziness can affect coordination and balance and make everyday activities such as walking up and down the stairs very dangerous. 

If you use a medical alert device, you can summon assistance if you need it. 

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