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High Tech Medical Alert Devices Offer Peace of Mind

By Matt McMillenAugust 24, 2015
From the WebMD Archives

Medical alert devices, worn on your wrist or as pendant around your neck, can get you the help you need when you find yourself alone and in the middle of a medical emergency. They’ve been around since the 1970s, but 21st century tech has introduced significant advances, including:

  • GPS, to locate you when you have an emergency outside the home
  • Automatic fall detection, which sends alerts when you fall and are unable to send an alert yourself
  • Mobile 911 phone, which calls local emergency services when you’re away from home
  • Cellular service, for users who don’t have a landline (often at slightly higher cost)
  • At least one will alert you – and your caregivers – if you forget to wear the device

As Consumer Reports warns, these extra services carry fees beyond the base monthly cost of operating the service (starting at about $ 25). Still, you may find the peace of mind worth the price.

There are many popular models out there to choose from – so, how do you pick the right alert system for you?

There are several websites that provide ratings and reviews, but the ones we visited don’t inspire much confidence. Most, if not all, of the sites appear to have a vested interest in selling you a product or encouraging you to click a link to a manufacturer’s website (generating revenue for the review site). So keep that in mind as you Google.

For some general guidance on what to look for in a system, check out this list of essential features from Consumer Reports and shopping tips from AARP. And don’t forget to read the fine print before you buy. Some makers require contracts and activation fees. As Consumer Reports recommends: “As you shop, ask for quotes in writing because prices and services may change.”

Also, as AARP’s Loren Stein points out, some companies may try to pressure you into purchasing a system before you’ve shopped around sufficiently. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed. “Never agree to a plan if you’re feeling forced to make a quick or uninformed decision” Stein writes. “Instead, consider reviewing your options with an adult family member, friend, doctor or caregiver.”

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