Talking About Medical Alert Systems

Caring For Parents

Estimates vary as to how many Americans are currently members of the "Sandwich Generation," individuals simultaneously caring for senior parents while raising children. The Pew Research Center believes the total is about 1 out of every 8 Americans, while a recent survey by MetLife found the number to be nearly double that, at 25 percent.

Whatever the current figure, both sources agree that the number of people put in this position is on the rise. As the baby boomer population rapidly ages, a whole new class of senior citizens will be introduced to America.

With this in mind, those caring for a loved one need to have a strategy that covers all aspects of the caregiving process. While financial and health strategies are obviously important, one that caregivers should not overlook is personal interaction.

As the caregiving process begins, a number of topics must be broached with the parent that may cause some disagreements or strain. Some people may have a sparkling relationship with their parents, yet find themselves battling over decisions that they didn't expect.

To prevent caregiver burnout and deal with this stress, one needs to approach these talks from a levelheaded perspective. It's easy to simply express anger and begin leveling accusations, but that's ultimately not productive.

Explaining Personal Alert Systems

Personal alert systems have proven themselves to be very helpful for caregivers, as they allow monitoring of the senior on a constant basis. The small device functions as a safety net if nobody is around the senior. Medical alert systems also bring extra peace of mind.

While there's no downside to using medical alert devices, seniors can sometimes react negatively to the idea. This reaction usually comes from their not understanding how it works. Walk them through the process of using a medical alert help button to reduce their fear. 

  • Present the device as a useful tool. A medical alert is much like a portable phone. Rather than call 911 in case of an emergency, you're simply pressing a button that will allow help to arrive quickly.
  • Clear up any kind of confusion. Spell out each step of the process. Let them know that there's no "Big Brother" spying on the senior or invading their privacy.
  • Be there when they first use it. Having someone else there to practice pushing the button and speaking to the operator during a test call will bring them more peace of mind. 
  • It's important to understand their concerns. Many seniors feel like a medical alert represents a loss of independence. Explain how medical alert systems actually allow seniors to stay independent longer. 

Make Your Parents Feel Comfortable

Family

How you present the conversation can go a long way toward making the your loved one comfortable. Let them know about the talk in advance, so they don't feel surprised or caught off guard. Avoid an "intervention" setting with multiple people talking at the senior.

It's important that they don't feel ambushed or ganged up on, as these emotions can lead to stubbornness and overly defensive behavior. Present the idea as coming from love, not from anxiety. 

Talk Now to Your Parents

Don't wait for your parents to fall or have a health crisis to discuss their safety. One in three people over 65 will have a major fall each year, with that number increasing to one in two by the time a senior reaches 80. Seniors with medical alarm systems have fewer hospital admissions and shorter stays, leading to a better quality of life.

Sit down with your loved one and take our quiz to evaluate the need and urgency for a medical alarm.