Compelling Reasons for Medical Care Alert
It can be hard facing the fact that our parents are getting older. Many adult children of aging parents have their heads in the sand about caring for their elders. Learning how to take care of an elderly person usually lands on top of new caregivers like a ton of bricks.
Many challenges must be overcome. Often an elderly person may not want a caretaker at all. After so many years of independence they may not be prepared to let someone else take care of them. To help ease the transition, certain elderly assistance devices have been invented. One of the most important of these is medical alert systems.
What are Medical Alert Systems?
Medical alert systems, or personal emergency medical systems, have been around since the early 80’s. At their heart, they’re simple devices that can contact help whenever necessary. An elderly person wears a bracelet or a pendant with a large button on it. If they fall down in the home with no one around, they can press the button and speak with someone who can call for emergency assistance.
The technology has advanced to the point where elderly people can travel quite far away from the call box. There are even GPS enabled devices that allow elders to go on vacation without fear.
Why put a medical alert system in place?
At its core, the purpose of a medical alert system is to call for help in case of an emergency. Falls are very common among the elderly. If they fall down far away from a phone or break a bone, they could lie there for quite some time before they are discovered. There have been unfortunate instances in the past when people even died in this condition.
Yet they can do other things as well. If there is a fire or a break-in, the owner can use the alert system to contact those emergency services as well. They can also contact people on a specific call list in case of an emergency so that they can meet up, or even just to talk in the case of memory loss.
If they can remember that all they have to do to get help is press a button on their medical alert device, then they have a wealth of help at their disposal. This can give both caretakers and the elderly a level of security and peace of mind.
What does a medical alert system consist of?
Medical alert systems have two primary parts: a waterproof medical alert bracelet or pendant, and a base station which provides two way communication between an EMT-certified call center and the person who is having the emergency. Multiple alert devices can be assigned to the same base station. For GPS-enabled systems, there can be a third item carried by the user when they are away as a mobile base station.
The system is initiated by pressing the button. Once the button is pressed, someone from the call center immediately answers, asking what the nature of the emergency is. If nobody responds, the closest emergency personnel is dispatched to the jewelry’s location to see what has happened.
Is it really necessary?
Cell phones can call for emergency services, but they have one major flaw. If the elder is incapacitated they cannot give additional medical information, such as next of kin information, emergency contact numbers, advance directives, allergies, and other vital information needed by emergency personnel. However, a medical alert system can have all that information on hand and give it to the EMTs in advance.
Let me share some statistics with you:
Nearly half (45%) of household accidents that result in serious injuries happen in the bathroom. (Consumer Product Safety Commission)
6 out of 10 visits to the emergency room when the patient is over 65 is the result of a fall. (Consumer Product Safety Commission)
Incapacitation and the inability to get help is what usually sends elderly into assisted living and other types of care. (New England Journal of Medicine)
For those who lay incapacitated for 12 hours, the mortality rate is 5 times higher than those who receive instant help. (New England Journal of Medicine)
For further reading about the incidence of seniors falling or relating to consumer products, here is the Hazard Screening Report Consumer Product-Related Injuries to Persona 65 Years of Age and Older.
Unfortunately, normal living can become downright dangerous as we get older. Mental function and reaction times slow greatly with age. Degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s can rob a person of their ability to function. Would you really want to leave your loved one in such a state without a way to call for help? Consider talking with your loved one about getting a medical alert system before their health declines too far. You’ll be glad you did.
Charlie Kimball, works for MedicalCareAlert.com, a Michigan-based company providing home care monitoring for family members who choose to stay at home despite medical challenges. Charlie is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit. She blogs for her company.