medical alert system and bracelet

Seniors and their families need reassurance that assistance can be summoned quickly in the case of a medical emergency. The risk of falling or being in a situation where you cannot use the telephone increases as you age. Medical alarm systems are one popular option used by thousands of seniors throughout Australia. These are usually worn as a piece of jewellery, either a pendant around the neck or a bracelet. When a button is pressed, an alarm is activated. Both non-monitored and monitored systems are available.

Non-monitored Systems

The advantage of these systems is that you will only make a one-off payment. Once you purchase the pendant, you can insert a series of emergency numbers for family and friends. These work with a base station which is connected to an existing landline. When activated, a series of calls will be made to the nominated numbers until someone answers. Some systems will also allow a connection to 000 with a message asking for an ambulance if none of your nominated contacts respond.

The most important aspect of using this system is choosing emergency contacts who are likely to be available for your call. Family members who live nearby and trustworthy neighbours are good choices. Many churches and community organisations also provide volunteers who can answer emergency calls. Inquire about these services in your area.

Monitored Systems

These systems require you to purchase a pendant and pay an ongoing weekly fee. Once activated, you are connected to a monitoring centre with an operator who decides the best way to give you assistance. He or she might contact a family member or neighbour, call the ambulance or send a house call doctor, depending on the situation. Usually, the operator will talk to you until help arrives. Some pendants can detect when there has been no movement over a certain period of time which also triggers an alarm to the monitoring centre.

Many seniors who do not have family living close by select this type of alarm as they know someone can be contacted 24/7. In some cases, the emergency response centre will keep your medical details so that any important information can be passed on to paramedics or doctors who attend.

Matters to Consider

Whether you purchase a non-monitored or monitored medical alarm system, these are some of the factors you may wish to consider.

  • Compatability: Many systems link up with your current landline. Make sure your alarm works with your phone and communications service provider.

  • Battery backup: Some pendants and base stations have a battery backup in the case of a power cut.

  • Accidental trigger: Check if it is easy to stop the alarm should you accidentally set it off.

  • Remote area: Some services are not available or do not work well in rural areas.

  • Key safe: The person who comes to help you needs to enter your home. Have a key safe with a code that particular family, friends or neighbours know. If your system is designed to send an automated message to 000, you will need to include key safe details.

Sounding Out Choices

There are dozens of services available throughout Australia and prices vary considerably. Some states have a seniors rebate for medical alarms and provide a list of recommended suppliers. Your local Centrelink or G.P. can tell you if you are entitled to be part of a scheme. If you would like more information about medical alarm systems being used in your area, your home service provider can help. For peace of mind, consider a medical alert system to protect you or your loved one.


Image credit: "Medical alarm device with GSM support" by Florian Fuchs. (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

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