Medical Alert Systems 101 Guides
Glossary (Choose a topic):
Medical Alert Company – The main purpose of a medical alert company is to provide seniors with quick and easy solutions to get help in case of any kind of emergency. This additional layer of safety allows seniors to live more independent lives in their own homes. There are a lot of different medical alert companies out there, and they offer different types of solutions for people who rely on this type of medical service to monitor their health and dispatch help in case of an emergency.
Base Unit – The medical alert base unit is a hardware that is installed in the home of the person using the medical alert service, and the main purpose of the base unit is to establish the connection with the call center once the user presses the help button. The base unit is essentially the heart of the system.
Alert Buttons – Medical alert button is the integral part of any medical alert system. This button is the only part of the equipment the user will have constant contact with. Once the user presses the help button, it will send a signal to the base unit.
Additional Alert Buttons – Medical alert companies usually offer additional alert button option, which come at an additional cost. For example, if the user of medical service is interested in having an additional alert button, for a spouse or a relative living in the same house, they can check with the medical alert company to look into the terms of having an additional alert button.
Medical Alert Call Centers – Medical alert call center is the center run by the medical alert company staffed with people who are trained to answer the emergency call and help the person in need. When the person in need presses the button on the wearable pendant, the connection is automatically established with the call center in charge of taking the calls. The average time necessary for the call center to respond is around 30-40 seconds.
Base Unit with Landline Connection – There are two types of base units when it comes to the type of the connection used – landline and cellular (wireless) based. A base unit that uses a traditional landline, needs to be connected to a wall jack in order to dial the call center once the users presses a help button on his pendant (or on the base unit itself). This means that having a landline is necessary in order to sign up for the plan that provides this type of base unit device.
Base Unit with Cellular Connection – A base unit with cellular (wireless) connection is the one that uses cellular network to establish the connection between the base unit and the call center in the cases of emergency. The base unit that uses a cellular connection can be used anywhere where there is cellular network coverage (most common among medical alert systems are AT&T and T-Mobile) from the chosen service provider.
Mobile (On-the-go) Medical Alert Systems – These systems offer full medical alert service on the go. Some companies have separate help buttons and mobile base stations while others have integrated solutions where there is only a single pendant that is both the base station and the help button. In most cases, the base station included in these systems will feature a two-way voice speakerphone, fall alert detection and GPS tracking.
Fall Detection Alert Pendant – When a person wearing a fall detection pendant experiences a fall, the call for help is made automatically. There is no need to physically press the help button in this situation. This is important as sometimes the user, due to injuries, cannot press the help button. Also, the person might be unresponsive or lose consciousness.
Stationary Base Unit Optimal Range – The help button sends the signal through the base station which then automatically establishes connection with the call center. When the user is outside the range, the signal will not be sent and connection with the call center will not be established. The most common range specification we are seeing with the medical alert companies is somewhere around 200-400 ft, but some systems range can get up to 1500 ft.
Some systems are mobile and there is only a single pendant that is both the base station and the help button. Those systems uses cellular network to establish the connection and can be used anywhere where there is cellular network coverage.
Alert Button with 2-Way Communication Feature – There is a real chance the person experiencing an emergency situation and press the help button he or she wear, might not be close to the base station inside the house – thus not be able to hear or be heard by call center agents on the other side of the line. This is why two-way talking pendants are an excellent upgrade. These pendants have a speaker and microphone integrated within the pendant itself, so the person will be able to clearly communicate with call center agents in case of an emergency.
Outdoor Lockbox – When a user signs up for a medical alert service, the code of the lockbox and entry instructions are added to the user’s profile, which is available to the call center agents who are in charge of accepting the calls. This way, the call center agents can give the lockbox code to emergency response teams or others providing assistance, and therefore provide easy access to the home of the person in need.
Voice Extender – Voice extender functions and looks like a mini base station unit. It has a powerful speakerphone and microphone built in and can be easily mounted anywhere where additional two-way voice coverage is needed. This unit can also be mounted in the bathroom or any other isolated room in a house. Voice extender will then enable the user to communicate to the call center even if the user is away from the base unit.
Wall Mounted Buttons – Wall mounted button is a device featuring an emergency button used to call for help. The button works the same way a wearable pendant does. When there is an emergency, the user is supposed to press the wall mounted button in order to contact the call center in charge of taking the calls. Wearing a pendant absolutely all the time might be challenging for some users, but one never knows when an accident might happen, which is why it is recommended to have this extra layer of protection.
Motion Sensing Lights – Combining the motion sensing lights with some of the medical alert systems on the market is a great way to make the home safer and ultimately allow seniors a more independent life in their own home. These lights can be installed in strategic locations in the home, usually those rooms or corridors that have dark spots. Installing the lights close to stairways, steps or other dangerous zones can prevent fall accidents.
Medication Dispenser – A lot of seniors need assistance with medication management, as they might find it difficult to keep track of the exact time of the day and the number of times a medication should be taken. This is why medication dispenser (Also called medication or pill reminder \ organizer ) is a very handy addition to have. The main feature of any pill dispenser unit is the ability to dispense pre-programmed pills dosages at the pre-programmed times. When pills need to be taken, there is an alarm that goes off and cannot be stopped until the pills are taken.
Check-In Service – Check-in service is one of the add-ons some of the medical alert companies offer. When the user signs up for this service, he will be receiving scheduled check-in calls (usually on a daily basis) from the call center operators. An operator will call to check the status of the person using the service, check if everything is fine and if he needs any assistance.
This service might be useful for some of the users who need extra protection and attention. This service is not one of the standard add-ons that medical alert companies offer, rather only a limited number of companies provide it.
Temperature Monitoring – Elderly persons are also at risk of starting a fire accidentally, as they are less attentive and sometimes even be forgetful when cooking for example. This is why some of the medical alert companies have started including a temperature monitoring feature in their systems. This feature is not related to installing fire and smoke detectors, although some of medical alert companies offer those systems as add-on features available at an additional cost.
CO Monitoring – CO or Carbon monoxide is a gas (that has no color or smell) that can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. As the level of CO in a room rises, the air quality decreases. Carbon monoxide can quickly accumulate if the chimney is blocked, if there is an issue with water or space heaters, or if the person leaves the car running inside a garage. CO monitoring sensors can detect the level of carbon monoxide in the air. Regularly monitoring the level of this gas allows us to essentially monitor the quality of the air itself. If the level gets too high, the alarm goes off and the call center of the company providing medical alert service gets an alert.
Fire and Smoke Monitoring – Fire and smoke monitoring is one of the add-on services some of medical alert companies offer. Possible fire is a real hazard, especially for senior persons having limited mobility or impaired memory. In order to raise the level of safety, a user can choose to add fire and smoke detectors to his basic medical monitoring package (if such option is available).