FTC Advice For Choosing A Medical Alert System for Seniors

FTC Advice For Choosing A Medical Alert System, or Personal Emergency Response System

by Medical Care Alert · 4 comments

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued consumer advice on choosing a medical alert system for seniors.

Also known as a Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), medical alert systems are available from many sources, including Medical Home Alert.  Here are the FTC’s suggestions on how to choose a medical alert system for your family.

The following advice on choosing a medical alert system comes directly from the FTC website:

Whole House Medical Alert MonitorPersonal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), also known as Medical Emergency Response Systems, let you call for help in an emergency by pushing a button. A PERS has three components: a small radio transmitter, a console connected to your telephone, and an emergency response center that monitors calls.

Transmitters are light-weight, battery-powered devices. You can wear one around your neck, on a wrist band, on a belt, or in your pocket. When you need help, you press the transmitter’s help button, which sends a signal to the console. The console automatically dials one or more emergency telephone numbers. Most PERS are programmed to telephone an emergency response center. The center will try to find out the nature of your emergency. They also may review your medical history and check who should be notified.

You can purchase, rent, or lease a PERS. Keep in mind that Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance companies typically don’t pay for the equipment, and the few that pay require a doctor’s recommendation. Some hospitals and social service agencies may subsidize the device for low-income users. If you buy a PERS, expect to pay an installation fee and a monthly monitoring charge. Rentals are available through national manufacturers, local distributors, hospitals, and social service agencies, and fees often include the monitoring service. Read the contract carefully before you sign, and make note of extra charges, like cancellation fees. For more on how to shop for a PERS, visit the FTC website.

Your local Area Agency on Aging may be able to tell you what systems are available in your area. See if friends, neighbors, or relatives have recommendations. When you have a list of agencies you’re considering, check with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General, and Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against them.

Questions you can ask a PERS company include:

  • Is the monitoring center open 24/7? What kind of training do staff receive?
  • What’s the average response time, and who gets alerted?
  • Will I be able to use the same system with other response centers if I move? What if I move to another city or state?
  • What’s your repair policy? What happens if I need a replacement?
  • What are the initial costs? What costs are ongoing? What kind of services and features will I get?

How Does Senior Alert Medical Stack Up To The FTC’s Recommendations?

Senior Alert Medical and Medical Care Alert carries an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.  Here is how our service stacks up to the guidelines issued by the FTC above:

Federal Trade Commission Advice Senior Alert Medical
  • If you buy a PERS, expect to pay an installation fee and a monthly monitoring charge.
  • No equipment to buy, no installation charge, no activation charge, no long term contract.  Monthly monitoring is all you pay, $27.45 a month.
  • Is the monitoring center open 24/7? What kind of training do staff receive?
  • 27/7 monitoring, 365 days a year.  Our monitoring center monitors over 500,000 homes.
  • Response agents are trained and certified, and will have your personal information immediately available on their computer screen when they receive a signal from the medical alert base station.
  • What’s the average response time, and who gets alerted?
  • Average response time is within 30 seconds.  You will speak to a trained response agent who will know your name and medical history which you provide.
  • If you are unable to speak or they cannot hear you, EMS personnel will be dispatched immediately.
  • If they can hear you, they will determine what your situation is and then follow the appropriate protocol which is established by you (first call family, doctor, neighbor, 911, etc.)
  • Will I be able to use the same system with other response centers if I move? What if I move to another city or state?
  • Yes.  Many Senior Alert Medical customers are “snowbirds” and move several times a year.  Just call and let us know what your current location is, and bring the equipment with you.
  • There is no charge for you to update your address with us.
  • What’s your repair policy? What happens if I need a replacement?
  • Senior Alert Medical is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the equipment, including battery replacement.
  • We regularly test the equipment and will send you replacements if needed at no charge to you.
  • What are the initial costs? What costs are ongoing? What kind of services and features will I get?
  • With Senior Alert Medical there is nothing to buy, no activation fees, no upfront fees of any kind.  You simply pay $27.45 a month for our service.  You can pay quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.  Annual payment will receive one month free.  You can cancel at any time, and any pre-paid amounts will be refunded.
  • Your minimum up-front costs is for the first 3 months, a quarterly payment of $89.85 plus shipping.
  • You will receive the medical alert whole house speakerphone base unit, one medical alert button (available as either a wrist band, pendant, or clip on) and all necessary cables and power cords.  We will gladly provide a second button free upon request.  You will have 24/7 monitoring for as long as you need the system.

We hope you will carefully consider a medical alert system for yourself or your family member who want to remain independent and in their home. Please contact us at 1-855-272-1010 if you have questions about how a medical alert system can help your family to be safe and have peace of mind in the event of a fall or other emergency.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Stephanie Marlowe August 26, 2014 at 10:49 am

This is a very helpful article for anyone considering PERS. I think that it will become so common place that someday in could be integrating into an app for your phone, more than just seniors could use this effectively. Perhaps it won’t even cost anything!

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