Medical Alert System Choices

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Updated: September 22, 2023


Image credit: Medical Guardian

Technology makes many parts of our lives easier. In some cases, technology can even make us safer or more healthy. For today’s older adults, medical alert system advancements have harnessed technology to offer peace of mind and instant emergency response. These days, older adults have many options for medical alert system choices. While having multiple options is certainly empowering, too many choices can also muddy the decision-making process and even create confusion or frustration. 

Here’s what you need to know about your medical alert system choices and how to make the best decision for your current and future needs.

Is a Medical Alert System Right For You?

Before you can determine which medical alert system or product is right for you, it is important to determine if the technology can benefit you now or in the future. While every senior is unique, there are some challenges, situations, or conditions that could make you an ideal candidate for medical alert technology.


Medical alert systems can get you the assistance you need, when you need it. Image Credit: Medical Guardian

Have you fallen in the past 3 to 12 months?

The risk of falling increases with age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 1 in 4 older adults fall each year and that those falls are the number one cause of both injury and death due to injury. Falling is both common and devastating, making it a top concern among geriatricians and senior care professionals. 

If you have a history of falling, even if it is just a stumble here and there, a medical alert system can ensure you are never left alone without immediate assistance. This communication can be the difference between effective treatment and unnecessary suffering.



Do you have a diagnosis of dementia?

If you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia and are in the early stages of the disease, now is the time to advocate for your health, safety, and future planning. Part of remaining independent for as long as possible is ensuring you can connect with someone to help you if you are confused, alone, or injured. 

Medical alert systems can not only offer the support you need and the peace of mind your family desires. Even better, many systems feature only the necessary buttons, making those systems easier to operate even in the midst of cognitive decline.


Do you have an underlying, chronic, or complex medical condition?

Certain conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, can increase the risk of falling due to decreased motor control as the disease progresses. Other chronic conditions like asthma or COPD can cause emergency situations to arise quickly. No matter how active around or outside the home you are, these challenging conditions can become life-threatening without warning. Having a quick way to reach emergency services can mean receiving medical assistance quickly, before the problem turns into a full crisis.

If you would benefit from a medical alert system, you aren’t alone. Many older adults appreciate having the reassurance that someone is always available in case of an emergency. Fortunately, systems today aren’t just pull cords and button pendants. There are a variety of options that can suit your current lifestyle and preferences. 

Home Medical Alert System Options

The first major category of medical alert systems available is those that are home-based. These are often systems that feature a home base unit that is in an easy to access location, such as the kitchen counter or living room wall. In addition, the system comes with a push-button pendant that the older adult can wear around the home. The pendant typically only works within the home and not when the older adult heads out to run errands.

There are two ways to call for help: pushing the button on the pendant and pushing the button on the home base unit. In all cases, the emergency call is forwarded to operators who are able to communicate with the older adult and determine the next steps.

These types of home based systems are effective, though they aren’t as flashy with the features that the more innovative systems have. However, for a senior who primarily stays at home and who can make wearing the pendant a habit, these systems are effective and affordable.

Medical Alert System for On-the-Go Seniors

Today’s medical alert systems are diverse and designed to meet the needs of active seniors. Image credit: Bay Alarm Medical

While home based systems held the market for many years, it wasn’t long before technology and innovation gave way to systems that could meet the needs of a more active senior. Now, seniors can choose from a variety of systems that use GPS and WiFi, making medical alert systems more portable.

Mobile medical alert systems are perhaps the most popular among today’s active seniors, especially the Boomer generation. These systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes, typically more discreet than a bulky pendant. Many systems can multitask and serve as a watch, step counter, or communication device while others, like the in-car system from Bay Medical, are designed to function in a specific location.

These systems often feature a multiday battery life and accessories including an app to connect caregivers to daily activity. Often a bit pricier than the basic home-based systems, these mobile medical alert systems are well worth the investment for tech-savvy and active seniors alike.

Fall Detection Technology

Some medical alert systems include fall detection technology. This addition means you don’t necessarily have to call for help if you have fallen; the device is designed to be intuitive and contact you if it thinks you might have fallen. Fall detection technology is available with many modern devices, including watches or pendants.

This addition can be especially helpful in sudden emergency situations. No matter if you fall due to a slip on ice outside or due to a stroke, the operators are alerted to the situation automatically and reach out to you. If you are unable to answer, they will send emergency personnel to your location, which they are able to track thanks to GPS. 

Family Communication Features

Finally, some medical alert systems make it easier to alert family members of any emergency situations, daily activity, or potential concerns. The senior has control over who is included in the caregiver communication, and caregivers have the option of staying informed via app or desktop browser.

This feature can be especially important to family caregivers who live far away, or for those caregivers who are an active part of their loved one’s medical care. The senior also gets the benefit of knowing their chosen loved ones are receiving updated information about any falls or daily activities that could point to potential health problems.

Medical alert systems are as diverse as the seniors they serve. With careful research, you will be able to find one that gives you the peace of mind to continue with your active and independent lifestyle.