Can Seniors Use Medical Alert Systems in Nursing Homes?

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Updated 7/13/17 10:02 am | Alert1 members enjoy their senior medical alert systems so much that they often keep them for many years. They love the peace of mind that allows them to live in the comfort of their own home. Some of these people eventually move out of their home to live in a range of retirement communities and assisted living facilities, and decide to cancel their emergency monitoring service.

This seems to make sense because these medical help buttons are just to help keep you safe when you’re home alone right? Wrong. We receive many calls from people in facilities who want our service.

We looked into this behavior and conducted a survey of assisted living facilities. Our research concluded that it is a smart decision for our members to keep the service when moving out of their house.  

Do you need a senior medical alert system in your facility?

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Of course, there are extremely efficient facilities where a medical alert system is completely unnecessary, but they are a small minority. With our service, a call for help is answered in under 45 seconds. That is faster than 90% of the facilities we looked at.  In fact, over 60% of them have a response time over 2 minutes.

Almost all facilities use some kind of call light system in which there is no 2-way voice communication. This means that if lots of people have called for help, they have no way of knowing if 4 people just want water while 1 has fallen and hurt themselves. They might go bring water to all 4 people before finding the 5th on the ground.

There is absolutely no way to differentiate emergencies and non-emergencies with this type of alert system. The caretakers have to visit each room to find out what’s wrong.

How can a senior medical alert system help me in a facility?

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If that 5th person had taken their medical alert system with them, then our command center would have answered the call for help. Our trained agents then let the staff know what you need even before your caretaker makes it to your room to see what the problem was.

In addition, the help button beeps loudly while connecting to our Command Center. Someone would likely notice the sound before we even called the staff of the facility.  That noise is a sure sign that you needed help badly enough that you couldn’t risk waiting for somebody to respond to the call bell/light. And that’s not the only added benefit of having your medical alert system with you.

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What can happen if I don’t have a senior medical alert system?

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Of the 200 facilities that took the survey, 126 use pull cords or call bells which are completely stationary in the room. If a person falls and needs help, they have to drag themselves across the floor to get across the room to use the pull cord. This is about as much help as just having a phone in the room to call for help. If a person can’t signal for help, no one will come to them quick enough.

We never want that to be the case. With your senior medical alert system, no matter where you are in your room, help is only a button press away. Help will be available to you anywhere.

Seniors have more confidence in navigating their living space knowing they will be able to get help even if they’re not next to a pull cord. We want to give each and every person the peace of mind that if they were ever to need help, they would get it right away.

Only 6 of the 200 facilities surveyed use a senior medical alert provider like Phillips Lifeline ®. Others use pendants to signal the call bell/light. These pendants can be unreliable, and still don’t help differentiate an emergency from a non-emergency when there is no way 2-way voice communication. We had a member who cancelled her service when moving into a facility that had such a system.

Unfortunately, we got a very frantic call back from this member’s daughter because her mother had fallen and her pendant didn’t work, leaving her stranded on the ground for hours. It was a terrible incident that could have been avoided if she had kept her help button for a while until she was comfortable with the new one.

Bring your senior medical alert system with you

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The benefit of keeping your senior medical alert system benefits greatly outweighs the costs of about $1 per day. Being cautious usually pays off in the long run. Bringing your help button to an assisted living facility gives you a backup plan. You’re protected if you have problems being able to call for help with a pull cord. 

 Alert1 can give you an added dimension of protection and help. And if at some point you feel 100% confident that you no longer need it, you can cancel the service at any time. 

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