Reviewed by Mike Jorgensen, Esq.
Did you know medical alert systems are critical technologies that have helped so many seniors over the past several decades? August has been designated national MedicAlert Awareness Month? Alert systems come in different forms and with varying features, depending on user needs, but almost all of them involve a wearable alert device with an emergency call button. When pressed, the device emits an alert signal which summons immediate help.
While potentially life-saving and may help keep independence, they only work if seniors embrace and activate them. Often, the decision to use this type of assistive technology only happens through increased education of the benefit to the senior or the help of an adult child in implementing it. Let us share with you five questions to ask yourself or to pose to an older loved one about medical alert systems.
1. Will they wear it? Emergency alert devices are useless if they are not worn. Talk through any perceived social stigmas you or the senior you love may attach to alert devices. Remember that they are simply safety tools that can provide more independence, not feebleness.
2. Will they use it? Make sure an elder loved one is comfortable pressing the emergency alert button on the wearable device. It is not going to bother anyone; in fact, it may be critically important. Seniors with health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and other serious health issues should not hesitate.
3. Will they charge it? Medical alert devices run on batteries. If they are not charged, they will not work. At least one back-up battery should always be charging when a senior user is wearing the alert device, which is recommended to be 24-hours a day. This includes during sleeping hours.
4. Do they want extra features? Different alert systems have differing compatible features. Two of the most important “must-have” services include fall detection sensors and GPS tracking.
5. Can they afford it? Medical alert systems typically cost between $30 to $90 per month. Traditional Medicare does not cover this, and many insurance plans do not either. Medicare Advantage Plans may partially cover expenses, however, and some long-term insurance policies may also provide partial reimbursements. Of course, it is always permissible for adult children to financially assist an elder loved one.
These are just a few questions to consider when thinking about getting your aging loved one a medical alert system. We know this article may raise more questions than answers. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an elder law attorney if you have any other questions or concerns.