Hi there !!! My name is James, and I am the owner of Independent Life Medical. Welcome and must applaud you for taking the time to learn more about Medical Pendants. Taking the time to learn more about how they work, the costs involved, and why they are the best option to help in the event of an emergency is important to you are on the right track. So join me through the following text and we can get to learn a little more together
What is a Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS)
Well, what is a PERS? You may hear this term quite a bit while doing your research. A PERS device is another name for a medical alert device. A PERS unit is a pendant you either wear on your wrist like a watch or around your neck as a necklace. Each device has a HELP button that when pressed contacts an emergency monitoring center. Each device has a 2-way voice technology so you will speak directly to a trained medical alert agent who can diagnose the emergency. Monitoring centers are crucial in determining what type of emergency you are having what type of response is needed. Help can come in two forms:
- A provided back-up contact list is reached to help in noncritical circumstances and
- the paramedics are dispatched with relevant information gathered by the monitoring center.
There are a lot of falls that will not need medical attention and in this case, a back-up contact list is called. A back-up contact list is a list of names and phone numbers of someone who can help in the event of an emergency. This list is given to the medical alert provider. If you have a fall and can’t get up, these are the people that will be contacted.
Paramedics are called when there is a life-threatening emergency such as heart attacks or stroke but also when there is a severe accident or fall and will need immediate medical attention. In this case, the monitoring center will dispatch the paramedics.
Medical Alert Pendants can come in three different forms and each with its own purpose; Traditional Medical Alert Pendant, Fall alert Pendants, and GPS Alert Pendants. We will go into detail about the benefits of each type of pendant in the section of the blog
7 Reasons a Medical Alert Pendant Could Be Right For You
1. You want to be proactive and protect yourself before you have a fall
This is by far the wisest reason. Many of our customers do not contact us until after a fall or medical emergency has taken place. A fall is scary and laying on the ground for a long period of time is not fun at all. So this is when we get the call. I myself included, we live in a world where “if it ain’t broke why fix it” until what becomes broke is very hard to repair. If you break your hip or if you have a stroke the quicker you can get medical attention greater your chances you have of a full recovery. Preparing for a fall is the best way to treat an impending. A medical alert pendant does this for you. Within a minute we can have help on its way and this is what will make all the difference.
2. The reality of a fall
I remember when I was really young and my dad explaining to me why I should not smoke. He explained to me how my lungs would look and what effects smoking would do on my body. Needless to say, to this day thankfully I do not smoke. To the same logic, laying on the ground after a fall is not a lot of fun. The reality of a fall may result in a broken bone, sprained ankle, or damage to a part of the body which leaves one unable to move. In the case of a broken bone the pain, pressure, and depending on how long you are on the ground for will eventually make one dehydrated. The average time one spends on the ground after a fall (over the age of 65) is over 2 hours.
3. You may be experiencing a few near falls
An early sign and possibly a blessing in disguise is a near fall or a small trip. It could be a trip over a carpet or even over a pet. The truth is we all trip and fall no matter our age, it is how we fall that makes the difference. As we age our muscles and bones become not as strong as they used to be and when you fall the brace you once had can no longer support you. So although you may feel like you may be tripping more, it is more the way the body reacts to a fall that has changed. Pay attention to the little “signs” like a small trip. If you are noticing a few more bruises or bumps it may be time to look into Medical Pendants.
4. You are getting to that age
No one wants to admit they are getting older, I know it will be hard for my self included. It is very common for a customer of ours to say “oh I do not need that, I am not that old”, fair enough. However, after a little convincing, usually, by a son or daughter, they reluctantly say, “ok, I will try it”. I have never had an instance where someone ever felt after getting a pendant that it was a bad idea. Most seniors will associate getting a medical pendant with the fact they are getting older but once they get one you will have a hard time departing with it.
5. Your friends and family have been hinting for you to get one
You may have heard from a few people that medical alert pendants are a great thing to get but you do not think you one yet. You still feel young and vibrant, you have the energy to clean the house, drive, socialize with friends, then why do you need a medical alert pendant? It could be your daughter or your son, it may be a close friend or a personal support worker. You know you may be right, you may never need to use your pendant, that is the hope. But if they are right, just once it will be worth it.
6. Living on your own
Living on your own at home or in an apartment can be a big reason to get a medical alert pendant. The average time it takes to get help in an assistive living facility is 2 hours, and is much longer for those living on their own. We have had now clients who have laid on the ground for a few days waiting for help. Once fallen, if you have broken a bone or injured your self it can be very hard to move. The quicker you can get help the better chance of having a full recovery. Medical alert pendants can get you to help quickly as
7. Your eyesight is no longer what it used to be
As we grow older our eyesight losses its strength and so does our balance. As our eyesight diminishes the chances of a fall highly increase as you can no longer avidly see the objects in your way. You may have had a near trip over a rug or over a slippery mat in the bathroom
What to look for and what to avoid when purchasing a Personal Emergency Response System
They are a vast array of options and services when it comes to Personal Emergency Response Systems and it seems everyone is trying to get in on the trend. However, there are some definite attributes each device should have so it works in the most optimal way.
Before even diving into the device itself, this is the most important step. A new trend is to bypass this and cut down the cost, but technology is not to the point that it can function as well as a human being. Furthermore, emergency situations are too complex for this step to be automated. Imagine having a severe fall and your device responds by calling your backup contact list and not the emergency responders. A live agent is trained to assess an emergency, know the severity, and not only call the right responder but can also relay important information on to them.
Quality of Pendant
As stated before, I have been in the industry for over ten years and within this time I have witnessed companies trying to save on costs by offering subpar equipment. This is not acceptable, especially when protecting lives. Imagine climbing Mount Everest or snowmobiling in the arctic. The difference in having the right equipment can be the matter of life and death, as it is with a Personal Emergency Response System. Do not accept anything less than quality. To have a quality system you need to look at 3 key areas: 1) Durability. Your system will need to withstand some hits and bangs as it will be dropped many times over the course of its life. 2) The quality of sound. When testing the pendant, you must hear the monitoring agent loudly and clearly and they must hear you the same. If when testing your system and you do not get clear audio and sound, it should be brought up with the company proving your device. 3) Waterproof. Your system must be waterproof. If you cannot wear your device in an area when a large percentage of falls happen, in the bathroom, you should ask your provider if they have pendants that are waterproof.
Service and Warranty
A big RED FLAG you should look for is if the company you are looking at does not provide servicing, this includes expecting you to install your own device. As companies look for ways to increase their profits and cut down costs, they may ask you to install your own system or refuse to send a technician out to troubleshoot an issue. This may seem like a far-fetched situation but unfortunately a growing trend. Personal Emergency Response Systems are complex systems and need to be handled as such. A trained technician will be able to test a device, making sure everything is functional before they leave a premise. The last thing you would want is for your unit not to work when you need it the most. Furthermore, you should never have to pay anything for a service call as this is covered in your monthly monitoring fee and your device should have a 100% service and device warrant for the first 3 years at least.
The quicker you can get help the higher chance you will have for a full recovery, as in a stroke, heart attack, or fall you want to get help fast. Because of this, you must be able to reach the monitoring station as soon as possible. If you wait for more than a minute and a half for a live operator to answer a call, you may think about switching your provider.
The average cost of a Personal Emergency Response System today can range anywhere between $29 to $100 per month, depending on the functionalities and service. If a company offers a price that is too low, below $34, the service and quality will most likely NOT be good, and if the price is above $65 you will most likely be paying too much (GPS units included)
What kinds of different Personal Emergency Response Systems are there?
PERS devices have been on the market since the early ’90s and run through a phone line. Now, when pressed, a responder can speak directly to the person who has fallen through a two-way voice speaker and microphone on the console placed in a strategic position in the home. Whereas before, responders would call over the phone, if you could not get to the call, they would dispatch the paramedics. By having the two-way voice communication capability, the responder can now authenticate the emergency and may call a backup contact of your choosing or cancel the call in the event of a false alarm. These pendants can be worn to bed and are waterproof so they may be worn in the shower or bath.
These pendants are identical to the traditional PERS but with one difference. These systems have pendants that can detect falls. Worn as a necklace, these pendants detect falls through an accelerometer embedded in the pendant. For backup, these pendants have a button that may be pressed to signal an emergency
These PERS are different from other pendants as they do not need to be within the vicinity of a console. With these PERS you may carry them outside of the home and if you are in the vicinity of cell service or radiofrequency, your system will work. These units also have a speaker and microphone built into the pendant so you may comminate with an agent directly. These pendants also come with fall technology.
The Future of Medical Alert Pendants
The future of Personal Emergency Response Systems is quite exciting. Pendants of the future will look quite like the smartwatch we see today. They will track the medical health of the user such as blood pressure, heartbeats per min, how much exercise each day, and will notify the monitoring station if they see any irregularities. This is a huge step in catching falls before they even happen.
What to Expect in a Medical Emergency
A Loud Alarm
After pressing the medical alert pendant, you will first hear an alarm followed by a dial tone. You may hear your pendant say something like, “Your medical alert responder is being connected”. It should take approximately a minute for a live agent to speak to you over the console.
Speaking directly to a Medical Agent through the Device
Within a minute you will reach a live operator who will introduce themselves and ask if you need any help. Now you have three quite different situations you may be in and each will require a different measure of response. You should prepare what you need to say to the medical agent when they come on the line. If you feel your life may be in danger, automatically let the agent know to send the EMT’s. If your life not in any immediate danger, Try and be specific about what you have hurt or what has happened. If you have fallen, you should try and not move if cannot help it.
Help on its way
Help will be dispatched, either from your back-up call list or the paramedics. Either way, it is especially important to not move too much during your ordeal and make sure to listen to instructions given by the monitoring center agent. They are highly trained for this type of situation and can help walk you through what to do.
Who should you put as Contact on your Medical Alert Back-up Contact List?
The people who you put on your backup contact list will need to be able to come and help you when you get a call from your monitoring station. They will also occasionally need to let the emergency help, so they will need a key for your house or apartment. The most common people who are found on the backup contact list are family members, next-door neighbors, and close friends. It is best not to add anyone you do not know unless under certain circumstances such as a close family friend who has given you permission to add their name.
1. Someone you trust
The rule of thumb is that the person lives close by and that they will have a key for your house or apartment.
2. A Family Member who lives close by
The best person to have on the list is a close family who would be able to come and help in the event of an emergency. This type of contact is great as they can typically give the emergency responders a quick update on your immediate medical history, such a stroke or a heart attack. Typically, this contact will also have a key for the house and can be a great emotional support throughout the process
3. A neighbor who you know well and can trust
A neighbor is a great person to have as they are close by and can quickly get there to help. Make sure this person is also someone you can trust as they will also have a key for your home.
4. A close friend who lives nearby
As a family member, close friends can be a great person to have on your backup contact list.
What are the costs involved in purchasing a Medical Alert Pendant?
This is an important question to ask your provider as you may be unaware of the cost involved in running your pendant.
Equipment costs can be expensive if you have a quality pendant. Pendants can run as high as $300. You may ask yourself, “do I need a system that costs so much?” and the simple answer is, yes. You can buy a simple pendant that costs roughly $50 but the quality will be low. Again, ask yourself, if you were taking a snowmobile to the artic, would you want to best quality snowmobile that would guarantee to get you there and back safely, or would you chance to take a second rate product leaving you the chance of leaving you in a perilous situation.
Monitoring is important, if not more important than having a quality system. Monitoring means having a live trained operator answer the emergency call. They can be there to assist the emergency responders, call the backup contact list, have vital medical history on file to give to the correct authorities, be a pillar of support in a scary situation. The monitoring agents provide the utmost care and are often the variable that ultimately saves people’s lives. A part of your monthly bill goes to pay for the monitoring agents
Be very skeptical of a company that does not offer to service. A red flag should pop up and you should ask many more questions to your provider if they say they do not offer to service your systems. Furthermore, your servicing should never warrant expiry date. If a provider says that you have “free” servicing only for the first year of service, this too should be a red flag. A good portion of your monthly bill goes directly to cover the cost of a technician who can troubleshoot an issue and fix the problem. Medical alert pendants are complex and should NEVER be your responsibility to fix. Ever.
Reasons for you need a service call
You want your system manually tested (at least twice a year)
Your system needs to be serviced at least twice a year. Just like your computer or laptop needs to be turned off periodically, these systems need to reset themselves. It is important that your Medical Alert provider sets up a service call with you or you can also call and schedule one yourself to be on the safe side
You cannot hear an operator when you set off the system or if they have a hard time hearing you
It is especially important that you can hear the monitoring agent and that they hear you. If ever you feel that the volume or the quality of the sound on your machine is not what you want it to be, be sure to contact your medical alert provider and they should be able to adjust or troubleshoot the problem
Your pendant is “blinking” or “flashing different colors
Sometimes your system will try and speak to you (as a robot does), it will start blinking different colors through the console to you. If ever you see an array of different colors coming from your system be sure to contact your medical alert provider and set up a service call. It may mean you need a new system, or a backup battery may need to be changed
Your system is damaged in any way
It happens all the time. Your pendant fell and broke, or perhaps it got wedged between something and it cracked. Often time a pendant goes missing or the console was bumped over by the cat. Whatever it may be, if your system is damaged, lost or you feel you may have broken it, call your provider and they will be able to fix it. It should be noted that unless you purposely damaged or this seems to be a recurring accident your system should be fully under warranty.
How often should a system be tested?
Most medical alert pendants test themselves to make sure they are working correctly. Test tests are performed automatically daily, weekly, and monthly. Just because these systems can test themselves, they do however need to be tested manually at least twice a year. Most providers encourage monthly testing as well. This will mean pressing the button and making sure you can connect to your monitoring center. If is important to call your monitoring center before the call to let them know you are running a test or at least be noticeably clear you are running a test as the monitoring agent picks up the call
It is important to run a test on your medical pendant every month to make sure you can get through to your monitoring center. To do this you need to press the button on your medical alert device or the HELP button on the console. It is best practice to call your monitoring center beforehand to let them know you are running a test, but you can bypass this step if you want but make sure the clearly coney to the emergency monitoring agent you are running a test.
Are you charged for when you for a medical emergency
In an emergency, you do not have to pay land ambulance fees if your trip is deemed medically necessary and you are receiving social assistance, certain home care services, or are living in a long-term care home. However, if your ambulance trip is deemed not medically essential or you do not have a valid Ontario health card, you will be billed a co-payment charge.
Statistics regarding falls
We all fall to some extent but as we grow older our bones and muscles are not as strong to withstand a fall. However, once we hit 65 the chances of us falling become exponentially higher.
These are some interesting facts regarding falls taken off from Statistics Canada. Click this link to read the whole article statistics Canada
- Falls are the most common cause of injury among older Canadians
- Every year, it is estimated 1 in 3 seniors aged 65 years and older are likely to fall at least once
- Falls are also one of the leading causes of injury-related hospitalizations among seniors and contributed to 73,190 hospitalizations
- Each year, hospitalizations due to falls account for approximately 85% of injury-related hospitalizations for seniors
- According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, over one-third of seniors who are hospitalized as a result of a fall are placed in long-term care
- In Canada, in 2008–2009, 35% of fall-related hospitalizations among seniors involved a hip fracture
- Approximately 20% of Canadians aged 65 and older (862,000 seniors) reported a fall in the previous year
- Among seniors who fell in the past year, 61% were women and 39% were men
Where and what do people fall as well as some fall prevention strategies
The place what or where people fall the most in one’s home is in fact the living room and over an area mat. Tripping over area mats are the single most common area to fall over in one’s home.
Preventative strategy: Although you may be attached to your area mats you may think about donating them. If you do not want to part with the mats, one thing you can do it tape them down. This will keep the lip of the mats down and reduce the chances of you falling over them
Shower and bathroom surfaces
What makes the bathroom a tripping site is that it can get very slick. The tiles on your floor and shower when wet cause your feet to slip and through your body off balance.
Preventative strategy: Laying non-slip rubber mats down in the bathtub, shower, and floor. Make sure they are rubber and do not have a lip that curls up. Installing handlebars on the walls of the shower or bath can help you keep your balance and help catch a fall.
Another cause of falling over is clutter. Anywhere your feet have trouble getting around, over, gets in the way of walking can cause falling.
Preventative Strategy: Here is a great article on how to declutter
They do not mean to do it, but pets can move in front of you when you are not looking.
Preventative strategy: Pets are part of your family and I would not suggest giving your dog or cat away unless they have been the cause of a few falls. Making a mental note that when you get up from your chair, couch or walking into a new room to look down at your feet to make sure they are not there.
Not wearing the right size of a shoe can be a big reason why you may fall.
Preventative strategy: If you have shoes that are too big or too small for that fact to donate them, after buying a new pair that fit your feet. Almost all shoe retailers have tools that can help find your exact shoe size. When purchasing a new pair, speak to the manager, and ask them to help you find the right pair.
Your eyesight is not what it used to be. You know you should go get them tested but you have been putting it off.
Preventative Strategy: This is something you should make a priority to go get checked. A lot of falls happened because you cannot see an object in the way
What to do when you have fallen
Follow These Five Steps for Getting Up
- Lie on your side, bend the leg that is on top and lift yourself onto your elbows or hands.
- Pull yourself toward an armchair or other sturdy object, then kneel while placing both hands on the chair or object.
- Place your stronger leg in front, holding on to the chair or object.
- Stand up.
- Very carefully, turn, and sit down(Government of Canada, 2016).
If you feel any discomfort or are unable to get up, try to get help.
- Call out for help if you think you can be heard.
- If you have an emergency call device or telephone at hand, use it.
- If you don’t, try to slide yourself towards a telephone or a place where you will be heard.
- Make noise with your cane or another object to attract attention.
- Wait for help in the most comfortable position for you.
- If you can, place a pillow under your head and cover yourself with a piece of clothing or a blanket to stay warm.
- Try to move your joints to ease circulation and prevent stiffness