3 Main Types of Medical Alert Systems and Devices Explained

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Updated: June 13, 2022

3 Main Types of Medical Alert Systems and Devices Explained

There are so many medical devices out there that alert you to different medical needs. How do you know which one you should choose? You can start by reading our Medical Guardian reviews.

Medical alert systems and devices are a way of allowing your aging loved one to remain at home and still get the help they need when they need it. The question is choosing the right one, a system that won’t be complicated for you to use, and the one that will fit the best with your lifestyle and your loved ones needs.


1. What are Fall Detection Systems?

Fall detection is an add-on to either a mobile medical alert system or a home-based system that you will read about below. They are very handy when you become unconscious or you are unable to press the medical alert button yourself. They are typically part of a pendant that you wear around your neck and use multiple sensors to help limit false fall detections. The technology is not perfect but can be a real aide for the right person.


2. What are Mobile Alert Systems?

The mobile alert system is just what it sounds like — a way for your loved one to remain mobile and still get the help they need when they need it. These systems work in several different ways to give you peace of mind about the person who will be using it. They don’t don’t require a base station and can be used anywhere it has good cell service coverage.

All mobile alert systems should feature:

  • A GPS tracking device. This is a useful feature for those who are caring for others who are prone to wander away and not know where they are. The GPS feature allows the wanderer to be able to contact the emergency response monitoring center, and EMS can be directed to where they are and not lose time looking for them. It makes it easy to find a person who doesn’t need medical help for this same reason — you can save time looking for them and just go find them.
  • Built-in cell service. Each of these mobile alert systems have a built-in cellular service connection that works just like your cell phone. They run off of their own service connection — not your cell phone, or your landline. This is used for contacting the monitoring center in the case of an emergency and it also helps with locating your loved one.
  • Fall detection. These units have a handy little feature that can sense when a person falls and automatically call for help. There are times when a person who has fallen can’t reach to physically push a button, or is unable to move. They may be rendered unconscious, and this feature will ensure they get the help they need in a timely manner.
  • Waterproof. This is a wonderful feature that allows these devices to be used in the shower, in a rainstorm or near a pool or lake.

All-in-One Mobile GPS System

Although there are different flavors of mobile GPS systems, this system type is truly mobile and full featured. Other variations of these systems will have less features. This system features a help button that can be worn as a necklace. It is lightweight, so it won’t weigh down the wearer, pull and cause headaches or a sore neck. It is easy to put on and take off by yourself. This system is easy to charge for continuous use — simply rest it in its charging dock station when not in use.

This system works by wearing the button all the time except when it needs to be charged. If the wearer needs help, they press the button and the device will automatically connect them to an emergency operator who has been trained in the specifics of answering just such a call. They know what to do, what steps to take, and who to notify to ensure your loved one gets the help they need in a timely fashion. The needs and protocols can be set up at the time of setting up your account with this device system, and there are many options to responding to this type of call. Typically the emergency operator will direct a call to the local EMS, police or responsible adult who has been specified as a caregiver, to ensure someone is able to be there for the person who needs help. The help button works as a speaker phone — the operator will be heard through the speaker of the button and you can talk directly into the unit.

This system has built in GPS tracking, and works wherever there is cell service available, so if the wearer of the unit needs help in an unfamiliar or unknown area, EMS is quickly able to find them. If a loved one wanders from home, the GPS system can be activated and your loved one quickly found. Some of the newer devices like this also feature a WiFi positioning system that works alongside GPS, and allows for an even more accurate location to be determined.


3. What are Traditional Home-Based Medical Alert Systems?

Traditional medical alert systems consist of a base station with a 2-way speaker and microphone along with a portable button that is usually worn around the neck or wrist. When the button is pressed, you are connected the monitoring center where a trained agent can assist you. The system’s microphones and speaker help you communicate once an emergency occurs while you’re in your home. The emergency operator can contact loved ones, EMS or the police, as needed.

Home-based systems, as the name implies, must be used while you are at home and are in range of the base station. They can be used with traditional landline phone service or with cellular service if no landline is available. Automatic fall detection can be added to most systems too.


What’s Right For You?

There are so many medical alert devices available for people who need them today — and each comes with it’s own list of pro’s and con’s. The decision of which device will work best for your needs and the needs of the person who will be using it can be complicated and stressful, and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another person. This decision, once made, will bring peace of mind to everyone involved, and it is a relief to know that help is only a push of a button away when it is needed. It is a huge stress reliever to know the person you love can easily be found if you don’t know where they are.

This is a big decision, and making an informed choice is crucial. If you need assistance in deciding which system is right for you, feel free to contact us and to ask questions.



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In Post Image Credit: Peter-Lomas  / Pixabay