How Medical Alarms Work
There are three basic personal emergency response systems available, in descending order of expense:
- Monitoring systems or "two-way voice systems"
- Call for assistance" products
- Public or common access products
Monitoring systems The most popular medical alert system is the monitoring type. This is usually the most expensive (usually under $1 a day), the most reliable and the most reassuring. These medical alert systems have a base or call center that is reached as soon as the alarm is activated. With these systems, the call is immediately received and a call for help to either family or emergency services (public or private) can be placed.
These medical alarms use a "two-way voice technology." The nature of the emergency can then be determined. If an elderly or handicapped person has a serious problem, an operator can dispatch local medical help, all the while reassuring the distraught person. These systems can have very finely tuned receivers that can pick up even a whisper from anywhere within a standard-sized home.
Most of these types of services cost about a dollar a day - a small price to pay for peace of mind, really. Monitoring types of medical alarm systems will offer a variety of options and services depending on what you may want. The big advantage of these systems is that there is guaranteed 24-hour assistance that can respond immediately.
Call for Assistance A newer breakthrough is "call for assistance" products like LifeLink. Instead of alerting a monitoring station, this kind of medical alarm automatically calls a number of programmed numbers that might include children or loved ones, 911 and in some cases monitoring stations. Since there is only a one-time purchase fee (under $200) and no service beyond that, this is far less expensive than monitoring services.
Public or Common Access Products Other kinds of medical alert systems are available through some public access channels or may be available in your area:
- Housing association or charity alarm services.
- Local authorities, such as social services. These are sometimes free, offered on a very limited basis, and based on certain criteria, such as disabilities, age or social services recommendation.
- Some other technologies might be an alternative, for example Send Word Now.