Improvements in technology mean that there are more choices in alert systems than ever before, but that can make choosing the right system more complicated.

Don’t worry. We’ve developed a simple, four-step process to make things easier.

1. Consider how the system can help your loved one

There are a lot of reasons you may be looking at getting an alert system. You may be afraid your loved one will have a fall and won’t be able to get help when they’re alone. If they’re suffering from dementia, you might be concerned about the possibility they’ll wander.

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Your reasons for wanting a system may be simpler. You may just want to monitor their overall activity levels so you know they’re keeping active, or they might want a way to connect with you if they’re not great at using technology. It is possible to get help with all of this.

2. Choose the right features for your needs

Today’s medical alert systems feature a range of functionality. A key step in choosing the right system is to understand your options according to three levels:

Basic: The simplest systems can be designed to provide notification in case of a fall or a medical issue like low blood sugar or heart problems. Some features can also help the wearer check the time easily or to call you without the hassle of having to navigate their cell phone.

Moderate: Most alert systems are capable of answering most worries you have about your loved one’s safety. You can a moderate system to automate a daily check-in service for them so that you have the reassurance of knowing how they’re doing in a way that’s less intrusive. Systems can also contain overall wellness reminder features like step counters and heart rate monitors.

Advanced: More developed features can help you stay on top of where your loved one is and if they’ve traveled during the day. This is particularly useful if an older adult is still driving or is experiencing signs of dementia. If they are ever lost while wearing the device or if they need help, finding them is easier.
Some systems can also be connected to your home security system or to cameras if you feel you need to keep a closer watch on how they’re doing when alone.

3. Evaluate how the system works

Gone are the days when basic alert necklaces were your only choice. Now there are less obtrusive options for wearing the system, including a frequently used watch feature that’s stylish and comfortable.

Whatever you choose, make sure that you’re loved one is comfortable with how they’re wearing it, that it stays secure easily, and that there aren’t any sharp edges that can catch on skin or clothing. You’ll also want to be sure that the system is waterproof and that it has a loud enough speaker so your loved one can hear alerts and speaking voices.

As you’re deciding on systems, be sure to pay attention to how the technology works so that you know your older adult can operate it and that you won’t have to manage more cumbersome technology updates than you’d like. Be aware of any design features that require the system to remain in a specific range location in order to be used.

4. Know all the costs upfront

As you’re selecting a system, take the time to keep track of all the costs involved. While it may be relatively easy to see the purchase price for the technology itself, there are likely other costs too.

Some systems have regular subscription costs for software and service. Others have activation fees and contract requirements that are similar to cell phone subscription plans. As part of any contract, be aware of early cancellation or service change fees you may be agreeing to and be sure to ask about repair or replacement fees if the equipment becomes lost, stolen, or broken. You may be able to purchase insurance policies to help in such a case.

While you’re factoring in costs, it’s worthwhile to ask about any discounts you or your loved one may be entitled to. These include age-related discounts, regular sales, or benefits for purchasing multiple types of service or for signing a longer contract.

The right selection gives you peace of mind

Though it can be a lot of work to choose a medical alert system, once everything is in place you’ll see that the benefits are worth it. That’s because the right system gives you enormous peace of mind. You know your loved one is safe and thriving, even during those times you can’t be with them.