Medical Alert Systems: A Family Decision

Updated 8/7/15 10:24am | I was first introduced to senior medical alert systemsaka “senior help buttons” about 15 years ago when I was only in high school. It was my grandmother, Margaret, whom needed one. She was living independently in a senior community in Massachusetts and had fallen a few times. Although she wasn’t seriously injured by the falls, my parents began to worry and looked into medical alert systems for seniors as a precaution. As a 16 year old, I was aware that this discussion about Nana continuing to age in place caused some serious tension in our family. However, it wasn’t until I came to work here at Alert1 many years later that I really started to understand the complexity and emotions that were truly involved in this conversation. 

granddaughter piano/ alert1

Falls are fact. Independence is a choice.

I remember some rather heated family conversions about getting a senior medical alarm system. My grandmother was fiercely independent and regarded the button as a symbol that she was losing her freedom. My parents, on the other hand, saw it as a tool that allowed my grandmother to keep her independence. Falls were now a fact. Getting help quickly was a choice. They knew that at the push of a button an emergency monitoring center would respond to make sure Nana got help. And as so many studies have proven – the faster you get help, the lower the risks of serious injury.

In the end, my grandmother decided to get and keep her senior medical alert system for two very simple reasons. 1) My parents really listened to my grandmother's concerns and realized it wasn’t really about the medical alarm system for seniors.  2) My grandmother decided she was at least willing to give it a try.

granddaughter selfie. alert1 medical alert systems

How can I convince mom to get a medical alert system?

So often in our call center we see families researching how medical alarmsystems for seniors work. I hear families ask, “how can I get my mom to actually agree to get a system?” They are having the same struggles we did. Seniors see the button as a symbol of their lost independence while families see it as protection and insurance.

This conversation can be easier than you think. I’m now going to share the secrets to safety with you from my own personal experience:

  1. Recognize that you have the same goal, but are approaching it from different directions.

    You want mom (or dad) to remain independent and safe. They want to remain independent! Start there. Explain you aren’t trying to take anything away, but are trying to protect against the potential falls. Having this system actually increases their odds of keeping their independence. Ask mom or dad what part of their independence is most important to them. Listen!
  2. Demystify the “symbol” of the button.

    Like so many other things in life, symbols only stay powerful if you let them. If you bring that symbol down to earth, to the reality of touch and feel, you may be surprised what will happen My grandmother’s opinion completely changed once she set up the system and pressed the senior help button. There was no mystical “loss of independence” that occurred. Instead a friendly gentleman came on over the speaker, asked “Margaret, are you ok?” and called her neighbor. Suddenly the button was simply tool. A tool to contact family, friends or neighbors. It just became a button that makes life a little easier and a lot safer.
  3. Trust companies with risk free trials.

    Taking the plunge to try out a system and attempt to demystify it must be done as a family, with no pressure and no risk. That’s why Alert1 offers a 30 Day Refund Policy*. We want you to take the system home and give it a chance. We don’t offer this policy because we think you won’t like the system. (in fact, we are sure you will love it). We offer this because we want you to give it a try without feeling any pressure. And more importantly, because we don’t want mom or dad to feel any pressure. Also, see here for a pricing comparison between Alert1 and Life Alert costs.
  4. Consider a mobile medical alert system

    Nothing counters the “I’ll lose my independence” argument like being able to say that the system goes everywhere! It works at the grocery store, across town or in your RV in another state! The Alert1 mobile medical alert system lets you go anywhere you want. How’s that for independence?
grandma sunshine/ alert button

Use your listening skills

It’s important to have patience during this process. Remember that your parent have been independent for 60, 70, or 80 years. This is big step for them. Remember to think of it from their perspective first. Only once you have truly listened to their perspective can you engage in a meaningful conversation with them about getting a senior medicalalert system.

Sometimes it’s not what you think

When we finally had that conversation with my grandmother, it became very clear that her fear and worries had nothing to do with the button. She was really worried about no longer going out to lunch with her friends, missing church on Sundays, and losing her ability to go for walks in her neighborhood. When we heard these concerns, we were able to address them individually. A medical alert system for seniors became a “yeah, sure why not” decision because it was no longer connected to all of the other worries.

While every family is different, I hope that these tips will resonate with you and help make someone in your life a little safer, a littler happier, and just as independent as ever.

*Alert1 offers multiple payment plans so you can choose the service that best meets your needs for price and flexibility. Our members are never locked into a multi-year contract. You may cancel your service at any time, without any cancellation charges.

To qualify for a refund, new members must subscribe to an annual or semi-annual service plan, use the medical alert device to place a successful test call to the Command Center and return the device in its original condition within 30 days of initial purchase. Any pre-paid shipping, warranty and activation fees are non-refundable.