Medical alert equipment offers a lifeline to seniors living alone


Question: Mom lives alone and has had a couple of falls this past year. My brother and I are concerned. We are taking her to her doctor to be evaluated but want to learn more about medical alert systems. How do they work? What is the radius they cover? Please advise.


Thank you.

Answer: Falls are a serious concern for seniors, especially for those living alone who may not be able to summon help quickly. There are many risk factors for falls, including balance, mobility, home hazards and medications. The doctor can review these areas of concern with your mom and make recommendations to reduce possible risks. Many doctors recommend a medical alert system, which you have asked about, as a safety net for patients at risk for falls.

A basic medical alert system uses a base unit communicator which is connected to your telephone landline along with a personal help button which is worn on the wrist or as a pendant around the neck. With a press of the button, a distress signal is sent to a 24/7 call center where a help specialist has access to your identifying information and will communicate with you through the base unit in your home.

After determining your needs, the specialist will summon appropriate support based upon your personal information, whether it’s a call to family, a neighbor or the rescue service in your town. The basic help button provides coverage to an average-size home and yard and will be tested during the installation process to ensure adequate radius of coverage for each subscriber.

 Advances in technology have been developed over the last several years to provide added safety and support. The Auto-Alert button will detect a fall and summon help even if the subscriber is unable to press the button due to a physical limitation, memory issue or loss of consciousness.

For subscribers who do not have a telephone landline, new wireless technology is utilized to provide this service. In addition, for active seniors who are on-the-go, a mobile help button is available with GPS technology which will pinpoint your location, communicate to you through the button and direct needed help to you, wherever you are.

Philips Lifeline invented the medical alert industry more than 40 years ago. Jewish Collaborative Services has partnered with Philips Lifeline for more than 30 years to bring this essential service to the Rhode Island community through a local, nonprofit agency. Lifeline installers are JCS staff members who personally install the equipment at your home and provide service calls, as needed.

For more information about this service, please call 401-331-1244.