Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Should Mom Get a "Medical Alert" Button?

"Should I get a 'medical alert' device for my mom?"  This was the question my sister-in-law posed over dinner last night.  I emphatically answered "YES!" and my other sister-in-law echoed my sentiments.  My grandmother had a "button," as she called it, for years while she lived at home alone.  Now that she is in an Assisted Living Facility, she still has a "button."  The difference is that this alert is tied into the system for the ALF, while the one she had at home notified a security alarm company, who then took steps to determine if emergency assistance was needed.

But back to the question... my sister-in-law's mother is in her eighties.  She has a daughter who lives with her, but there are times when she is alone... and as we all know, things can happen in a heartbeat!  The woman's family physician recommended that she get a cordless telephone and program it with emergency numbers that could be accessed with the press of one button. 

However, as we pointed out to my sister-in-law, this is only a good option if her mother will always carry her phone with her... and we never could get my grandmother to do this.  We tried to get her to carry her cordless phone to the bathroom with her - or anywhere else she traveled in the house or yard.  Her response was always, "Well, I forgot."  I can't tell you  how many times I couldn't reach her on the phone for long enough to start to worry, and she would say, "Well, I was out on the sunporch quilting," or "I was in the bathroom and didn't hear the phone."  "Did you take your phone with you?"  "Well... no... I forgot."

So the "medical alert" button becomes a more viable solution.  My grandmother's device cost her a little over $21 per month... and it was worth every penny.  Oh, you will hear stories from those who fell and could not reach their button... or those who accidentally pressed the button in the middle of the night and heard a voice coming from the "base" box that asked, "Mrs. So-and-So... are you alright?"  But by and large, these devices offer a level of security and safety with little downside.  And my other sister-in-law got a model for her mom that is like a wristwatch... she wears it all the time on her arm. 

Waterproof styles are available... at least waterproof enough to be worn in the tub or shower.  This was especially helpful for my friend, Olive, who became so weak one day that she was unable to get out of the bath tub.  She was able to press her button and call for help... and ambulance personnel were summoned to assist her.

How does one find a reputable company for obtaining this service?  Start by asking around for recommendations from others in your community who already utilize such a device.  You can also contact your local security alarm companies and ask if they provide such a service.  There are national franchises that provide such devices - and these can be located via a Google search.  My sister-in-law used a service offered through the hospital in her mother's community. 

The point is... there are plenty of viable options... and all are reasonably priced and well worth the peace of mind they provide.  If you have an older loved one who lives alone - or who is alone for large chunks of time - you owe it to them, and to those who care about them, to investigate this service.  The senior may balk, at first, but do it anyway... and do it now.  This is one of those times where "an ounce of prevention" truly is "worth a pound of cure."

1 comment:

Heather Mundell said...

I think the medical alert button is such a smart idea for so many people. I think everyone can relax a bit more knowing there's another option besides the phone when an older person needs someone right away!