Choosing a medical alert system is an important decision. No matter what medical alert company you decide to go with, make sure that you get the answers to these questions before you sign up.
Medical alert systems are only as good as the monitoring centers behind them. Many smaller providers outsource their monitoring. This means that they have no control over the quality of care that you and your loved ones will receive.
If you want the management team of your medical alert company to be fully accountable for the service that you and your loved ones receive, find a company that owns its own monitoring center.
Underwriters Laboratories has been writing standards for safety for more than a century. A UL certification is the globally-acknowledged gold standard for safety and reliability. For the true peace of mind that you are paying for, make sure that the monitoring center has been certified from this leader in independent standards verification. Don't simply rely on a for-profit medical alert company to decide that its monitoring is adequate.
When you or your loved one has an emergency, it can be very lonely and scary waiting for help to arrive. Thatís why your medical alert company should have two operators handle each EMS call. One operator stays on the line and reassures the person in need, while the second operator notifies EMS or the emergency contact list.
You may be tempted by services that call directly to 911 instead of contacting a monitoring center. The reality, however, is that a monitoring center can help ensure that the right people provide aid. Many calls for assistance are better handled by having the monitoring center contact the friends and family on your emergency contact list, rather than involving emergency personnel. Overuse of 911 services has caused many municipalities to de-emphasize or even prohibit emergency calls from medical alert systems that are not routed through a monitoring center.
You never know when you may no longer need your medical alert service. The last thing that you want to have to worry about during a stressful and complicated time is what the cancellation terms are for your medical alert system. Only sign up with a medical alert company that lets you cancel the service at any time.
Despite the best efforts of caregivers, there are some seniors who just “aren't ready” for medical alert systems and seek to send them back before they ever take them out of the box. Even some medical alert companies that advertise no long-term contracts have 3-6 month pre-payment requirements. You should never have to pay for your medical alert system after it has been returned to the company.
Medical alert systems typically cost between $25 and $30 per month. Anything less and you are putting your trust in a company that can't possibly afford to stay in business without cutting corners. Anything more and you are getting overcharged and are paying to support expensive marketing budgets and celebrity endorsements.
In addition to a monthly monitoring fee, some medical alert companies charge upfront fees for shipping, installation or the purchase or rent of your medical alert console. There is no reason to pay any of these fees. There are plenty of reputable medical alert companies that offer free shipping with no upfront payments; the only cost being the monthly monitoring fee. As for installation, setting up your medical alert system is as easy as plugging in an answering machine and does not require any professional setup.
In an industry where experience matters, you don't want a company that is new to medical alert monitoring. Plus, as with any other service, check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and look for past issues with customers. A great way to do this is to search for the name of the company and the word “complaints”.
In addition to needing 24/7 monitoring, you want to have access to customer service and technical support whenever you might need it, so make sure to ask if the medical alert company also has a 24/7 customer support line. Don't accept a company that has limited customer service hours.
While there are lots of times when you might want to try out cutting-edge technology, a system designed to safeguard your life or the life of a loved one should be tested and proven reliable. Make sure that the unit is UL certified for safety and that the medical alert company provides free repair or replacement, if necessary.
You or your loved one should never have to worry that the medical alert system's help button does not have enough power to transmit a call for assistance. Ideally the button's battery will last long enough that the user never has to change or recharge it. Some medical alert system batteries only last a few months while others last several years. If the battery does run low, it should clearly notify the user and the medical alert system's monitoring center so that it can be replaced before the help button stops functioning properly.
* LifeStation.com had highest combined total of monthly visitor numbers on Compete.com from August 2010 - June 2011 as compared to other leading medical alert websites.
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