June 2, 2020
What are Medical Alert Systems?
Medical alert systems are electronic devices that connect a user to emergency services who triage with family, caregivers, and first responders to provide critical medical help when needed. The devices enable this seamlessly, merely with the press of a button, and are worn either as a necklace, or around the wrist like a watch.
There are a lot of different names for medical alerts; they’re sometimes called personal emergency response systems (PERS), medical emergency response systems (MERS), medical alarms, life alert systems, senior fall monitors, fall monitoring systems, help buttons, help pendants, and many more. Whatever you call them, a monitored medical alert system helps seniors stay independent longer, while giving family members, caregivers, and friends, peace of mind.
How Common are They?
Today, there are an estimated 3.4 million medical alert device users around the world. Out of those, there are approximately 2.4 million users in the United States alone. Each year, millions of help button presses take place for those in need. Not every button press, however, requires a call to 911. Using a professional, certified monitoring center is crucial; unlike a direct call to 911, operators are trained to make sure the proper channels are alerted before emergency services are dispatched. This is because only a small percentage of button pushes require an ambulance or police assistance.
Alerting the Right People
Emergency contact lists and custom alert protocols come in handy to ensure the right people can assist a loved one. When you sign up for a medical alert service, you’re asked to provide a list of contacts who should be alerted should any issue arise. These contacts can be friends, family members, neighbors, and even caregiver services. The individuals on the contact list are notified when you need them, especially before, or even after emergency responders are contacted. It all depends on how you want to order the call list.
Reducing Isolation & Loneliness
One of the biggest challenges facing today’s seniors is isolation and loneliness; this is one place where medical alert systems are beginning to shine. Even before COVID-19, over 40% of seniors reported that they regularly experienced loneliness. And 54% say that a short conversation greatly improves their day overall. Studies have shown that persistent loneliness can lead to debilitating physical and psychological outcomes. According to the National Institute of Health, loneliness may heighten the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Today’s medical alert providers are aware of this issue and are increasingly offering services aimed to address the challenge. LifeStation offers a variety of programs to help seniors and caregivers handle better manage social isolation. First is a weekly well check that provides proactive calls that provide a friendly voice, conduct a critical needs assessment, and deliver resources to stay safe and healthy while improving physical and emotional well-being. This can be further supported with their CareAssist Concierge Service which facilitates contact to an expanded call list that includes meal delivery, pharmacy, and transportation resources – all from the same medical alert equipment used in an emergency.
The challenge of social isolation among seniors is only going to increase. As more baby boomers retire, there aren’t expected to be enough caregivers to provide the critical ongoing help they need. This means that society needs new pathways to meet this important challenge. The good news is that advancements in technology services such as medical alert systems are one way that we can help improve the lives of seniors while maintaining safety and independence.