Determine What you Need
When it comes to choosing a medical alert system for a senior citizen, you will find a variety of medical alert types available as well as a number of monitored plans. It is important to match the type of device and plan to the senior citizen as closely as you can. There are important questions to ask before you sign a contract with a company that provides medical alert monitoring services. The first is to determine the kind of monitor you need. Personal emergency response systems or medical alert systems include transmitters which can attach to a wheelchair or can be worn around the neck, wrist or on a belt. If the person has a tendency to fall, be sure you have a monitor that can be activated without having to reach a phone. The senior can use most systems and even if the phone is off the hook; the system will notify family as well as emergency workers when activated. You may want a monitor that lets you know when the person leaves the house or gets up in the morning so that you will be aware of any irregularities.
Plan for the Future
The senior may be able to push a button to summon help or reset the system today, but may not be able to a year from now. Be sure your contract is flexible, allowing you to make any necessary changes so the plan will continue to meet your needs down the road. Decide how long the senior will need to be monitored. If he has had surgery and just needs to be monitored for a few months, don’t sign a two-year contract. Make sure you know whether or not the system can be transferred. If the senior moves from her house into yours, for instance, verify whether the plan can still be used. Determine if there is a guarantee on parts or service of the monitor or other equipment, and whether there is technical support. Find out if the battery is rechargeable. Inquire about the availability of waterproof monitoring devices. Seek a plan that provides 24-hour, 7-day-a-week coverage if you want and can afford the round-the-clock monitoring and service.
Consider the Costs
Check to see what start-up or set-up fees are a part of the cost. Be sure the length of the contract fills your needs. What are the cancellation fees? If the senior has to move to a nursing home, for example, will you be penalized for ending the contract early? Ask about false alarm charges. If the senior pushes the alert button accidentally or the senior uses it for any little problem, determine whether you will need to pay a penalty. Compare the prices, features and flexibility of various medical alert plans in your area. Plans may vary widely and choosing the best option will help ensure peace of mind. Once a contract is signed, you are usually locked in for a set time. In the United States, Medicare does not cover the cost of medical alert plans. Most private insurers will not cover the plans either, but check to see.
Consider the Senior Using the System
Think about the capabilities of the senior as to whether he can and will remember to wear the medical alert device or think to push the button. Some seniors are stubborn about always putting the monitor on. You may want to get a video monitoring system installed instead to watch the senior from your location. You may also consider buying a GPS locator to track the person if he has a tendency to get lost when out for a walk, for example. Of course, he must first remember to wear the device or take it along.