Medical Alert Systems: A Family Decision
Posted on August 13, 2014
Updated 8/7/15 10:24am | I was
first introduced to senior medical alert systems aka
“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.
Falls are fact. Independence is a choice.
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
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
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.
How can I convince mom to get a medical alert system?
So often in our call center we
see families researching how medical alarm
systems 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:
- Recognize that you have the same goal, but are approaching it from
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!
- 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.
- 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 money back 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.
- 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
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 medical
Sometimes it’s not what you think
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
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.
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