There are lots of misconceptions about medical alert systems. One that caregivers frequently hear from the older adult in their life is that a medical alert system is only for “really old” people. It’s not at all uncommon for seniors to blurt out “I don’t need one of those, I’m not that old!”
In fact, resistance to medical alerts even appears in the plot of Netflix’s popular show about two fabulous, sassy seniors, Grace & Frankie. Frankie’s son gives her a medical alert pendant, and her reaction is a staunch “I’m not wearing that thing!”
We don’t want to provide spoilers but let’s leave it at this: In the end, Frankie is glad she had the alert on hand.
Why Seniors Are Hesitant To Use A Medical Alert System
The reason Grace & Frankie struck such a cord is that many seniors can relate to Frankie’s predicament. When a well-meaning friend or family member suggests wearing a medical alert, they might find themselves met with strong resistance.
When seniors say “I’m not that old!” or “I’m not wearing that!”, what do they really mean? Often, just like Frankie, they mean that they don’t need one yet. Getting a medical alert feels like something to be ashamed of, an admission of defeat. Old age has finally caught up with them.
They may believe that medical alert systems are only for people…
- with a serious health condition
- who have fallen before
- who are fragile and at higher risk of injury
- who live alone
- who are housebound
- who are sick enough to need in-home care
And they don’t want to feel that way – frail, old, sick, or maybe even useless or like their best years are behind them. Medical alert systems are more emotionally charged than many people realize.
Statistics Show That Medical Alerts Are A Wise Choice For Most Seniors
Seniors may think “it won’t happen to me – I’m still healthy and active!” However, statistics show that falling is a real risk for anyone over the age of 65.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) offers up some sobering figures:
- One in four Americans aged 65 or over falls every year
- An older adult is treated in the ER for a fall every 11 seconds
- Falls are the leading cause of both fatal injuries and non-fatal trauma related ER visits among older adults
It’s understandable that seniors think a fall won’t happen to them – after all, no one wants to think about getting hurt. However, the chance of a fall is high for older adults, and it’s sensible to take precautions.
Falls Can Happen Anywhere
Falls don’t only happen in the home, or to people who have serious mobility issues. Seniors can fall anywhere, in the home or outside of it.
There are many reasons a senior might fall. For example:
- Reduced balance and co-ordination as they get older
- Poor eyesight leading to poor judgment of distance, or inaccurate perception of obstacles
- Medical conditions that cause balance problems or light headedness
- The side effects of medication
- Missing their footing or stumbling over uneven terrain
- Malfunctioning or misused mobility aids
Although many falls happen in the bathroom or kitchen, they can happen anywhere. That includes places in and around the home, but also includes places in the local community. A senior might have the misfortune to fall while out shopping, visiting friends, or taking part in activities in their local community.
Medical Alerts Are Not Just For Falls
The risk of falls rises as we age. Even seniors who have not fallen and feel quite sure footed should be made aware of the increasing risks. It is a sobering thought, but unfortunately there is always a first time to fall.
However, medical alert systems are not only for falls. A senior who is out and about might find themselves suffering from another event such as suspected stroke or heart attack, or simply feeling too ill to find their way home or to their destination. A medical alert gives them a quick and easy way to get help whenever they need it.
Today’s Medical Alerts Are Designed For Active Seniors
There are many medical alert devices on the market today that were designed especially for active seniors. Advances in medical alert technology have made it possible for alerts to use a combination of cellular technology and GPS to work outside the home.
There are many companies offering cellular alert options, including (but not limited to) MobileHelp, Bay Alarm Medical, ResponseNow, and Medical Guardian. These devices work on cellular networks, which means that so long as there is cell service, they can be used to call for help (no additional cell plan required).
As well as using cellular networks to operate anywhere with service, modern medical alerts also use GPS technology to make it easy for call center operators to pinpoint the user’s location and send assistance.
Cellular alerts typically have a long battery life (usually a few days, but one unit, Belle by ResponseNow offers 30 days) so they can be used while out and about without running out of battery life. Recharging is usually done via an easy-to-use charging cradle or USB plugin.
How A Medical Alert Supports An Active Lifestyle
A medical alert system is a great choice for more active seniors – it supports a more active lifestyle and helps older adults live independently for longer.
Seniors with medical conditions, or who have had a fall but have regained enough strength to remain active, might feel nervous about going out in the community. What if something happens? What if they need assistance?
A cellular medical alert provides peace of mind to active seniors, and their caregivers. Seniors can go shopping, meet up with friends, visit the local library or senior drop in center, or take part in community events, safe in the knowledge that help is only a button press away.
Knowing help is always at hand gives seniors an extra boost of confidence and helps them to stay active for longer. Rather than making them feel “old”, a mobile alert helps them get out and about and keep in touch with friends and their local community.
Some seniors might feel like so long as they have their cell phone on them, that’s enough. However, in an emergency it’s better if they don’t have to waste time finding their phone and dialing a number. With a medical alert, all users have to do is press a button.
Most medical alert devices have a two-way speaker making communication with emergency medical services a breeze. In addition, the wearable nature of mobile alerts means they are less likely to be forgotten at home than a phone.
Medical Alerts Don’t Have To Look Unattractive
A major concern about medical alerts is that they might look unattractive. However, this does not have to be the case.
Many medical alert companies offer a bracelet option in addition to a traditional pendant, which might prove more unobtrusive and easier to wear without drawing attention.
Pendants are also becoming smaller, more streamlined, and less obvious. If you are looking for a medical alert that looks different than most others, check out RescueTouch, which offers a small, modern, colorful pendant, and ORA, which offers beautiful pendants that look like pretty accessories rather than medical alerts.
You can never know for sure when or if a fall or other medical emergency will happen. But you can ensure help arrives quickly, with a mobile medical alert. That way, if something happens, help is only a button press away, and seniors can continue enjoying an active life with confidence.