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Posted: 3/27/2006 4:12:13 AM EDT
My elderly mother is still living by herself at her insistence, and although she is still in good health, I worry that if she fell, it would be hard for her to contact someone. My sister and I discussed the Life Alert service, but after reading consumeraffairs.com's reports on the system, I'm concerned.

Has anyone here used it, and can you report your experiences please?

Thanks,

Michael
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:15:35 AM EDT
I would feel safer by having her carry a cell phone with my number on speed dial.

If she can press the Life Alert remote, she can press a speed dial button on a phone. Once you get the call, you can go there right away or call authorities yourself.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 8:42:01 AM EDT
Both my grandmother on Mom's side and Grandfather on Dad's side have had them. Grandma had one 15 years ago that was quite handy but was a necklace type. The one Grandpa had till he moved to the assisted living place was worn like a watch, water resistant/proof so he could shower with it so less risk of misplacing it or not having it when needed. Many local senior assistance organizations help subsidize the cost or provide thier own version which are fairly inexpensive.

Could replace them with a cell phone but personally I'd argue for the more dedicated system where they are waterproof and don't rely on getting a signal from a cell tower.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 8:47:26 AM EDT

Originally Posted By tz99:
Both my grandmother on Mom's side and Grandfather on Dad's side have had them. Grandma had one 15 years ago that was quite handy but was a necklace type. The one Grandpa had till he moved to the assisted living place was worn like a watch, water resistant/proof so he could shower with it so less risk of misplacing it or not having it when needed. Many local senior assistance organizations help subsidize the cost or provide thier own version which are fairly inexpensive.

Could replace them with a cell phone but personally I'd argue for the more dedicated system where they are waterproof and don't rely on getting a signal from a cell tower.



Much like tz's grandmother, mine has had one for a few years now. It's a little water resistant medallion she wears on a necklace, so she can leave it on while she showers. She just presses the button and the signal goes to a little console that's plugged in to the phone line. A rep's voice will ask her through the console if she's ok. If they get no response, they start calling people on her contact list until they get someone.

They encourage you to try it once a month to make sure it's all working. I've been there before when she activated it, and it only took about 30 seconds for someone to ask if she was ok. Pretty slick if you ask me. A cell phone's a good idea, but it's heavier to carry around with you, and if you can't talk, a cell isn't much help. I also think most older people will get tired of carring a cell around, whereas a little necklace you leave on. I'm not sure if it's Life Alert, though.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 9:12:21 AM EDT
There are a few companies that do this sort of thing. life Alert is perhaps better known because of their cheezy TV adds.

There is actually little to choose between them in basic services. A small radio transmitter is contained in a necklace/bracelet/whatever, and when the subscriber presses the button it activates a unit plugged into a phone line -- It really needs to be configured such that it will take over the phone line, even if somoen is on the phone/computer/whatever -- as far as I am aware, none of the companies do the work to assure this, but some will provide the components and a competent telephone engineer will be able to install it.

When activated the unit calls a monitoring center. A human answers and over a speaker in the unit tries to communicat to find out what is wrong to activate the appropriate service. If there is no response, they begin calling a list of responders who take responsibility to go to the users residence and own the problem from there. If non of the responders answers they call the emergency services.
There are occasional problems when a user presses a button as they leave the house (accidentally), and no responder is available -- the emergency services arrive and break down the door when no one responds. You may want to ensure that the household insurance covers this sort of thing.

Check out LifeLine too -- they have been growing steadily, and were just purchased by the Phillips group, wo considered them the best aquisition in this field.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 10:46:01 AM EDT
Good info so far, thanks guys. She has a cell, but I'm worried about those occasions when she runs outside for "just a minute, I won't need my cell" and slips down the small hill her house is on.

Michael
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 12:24:49 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/27/2006 12:26:44 PM EDT by PhilipPeake]

Originally Posted By mrstang01:
Good info so far, thanks guys. She has a cell, but I'm worried about those occasions when she runs outside for "just a minute, I won't need my cell" and slips down the small hill her house is on.

Michael



Ah, then these are probably not the answer.
Those little transmitters have no real antenna and are powered by a single cell.
They have very limited range.

Depending on the company, they do perform range checks to ensure coverage in all the areas whete the user normally goes, and some will test outside the building, as far as a mailbox or similar, but in general they are only really effective within the house and in very close proximity to it.

ETA: A possibility is that some of the units have a timer which the user has to reset by pressing a button every <pick a number -- usually about 3> hours. The problem is that most people get a bit pissed-off having the thing bleep at them every few hours to remind them to press the reset button.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 4:55:33 PM EDT
We checked, and my grandmother's will work within the entire range of the house. She can go to the garage, and from the very edge of the front yard, to the back of the back yard. It does work. Now, I suppose if you live in a mansion, or a 10 acre farm, it's not gonna reach:) But she has a somewhat above average size house, and a small front yard and good size back yard. But range would be something to look into for sure.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 5:09:05 PM EDT
Consider an AD-1010.

Check it out here.

Linky

We put one in our in-laws house. If they hit the button the dialer calls us several times at several places. It works, but does not have a dedicated staff to monitor. Our house phone, and our cell phones become the monitoring alarms when the button is pushed.

This what we bought - it works very well. Plug it into a UPS device to guard against power failures and your all set.

This might be an old model, but an equivelent is all you need.

> Items Ordered
> ======================================================================
> Quantity: 1
> Item Number: 01-2001
> Description: Emergency Voice / Pager Dialer w/ 2 way communication,
> Skylink AD1010
> Unit Price: $149.99 (On Sale)
> Total Price: $149.99
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Quantity: 1
> Item Number: 01-2010
> Description: Panic Transmitter, Wireless, Skylink PT434
> Unit Price: $19.99 (On Sale)
> Total Price: $19.99
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Quantity: 1
> Item Number: 01-2011
> Description: Wrist Watch Style Panic Remote, Wireless, Skylink HW434
> Unit Price: $19.99 (On Sale)
> Total Price: $19.99
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Subtotal: $189.97
> Overnight Shipping: $55.00
> Grand Total: $244.97
>
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 5:46:08 PM EDT
I'm a paramedic with 17 years of experience.

While a lot of the lifeline alarms we go out on are false alarms, I've seen them be literal life savers. I've also picked up my share of hip fractures, stroke patients, etc. who went hours or days before they were found.

I think well enough of them that I pay for my mom's.
Link Posted: 3/27/2006 7:14:45 PM EDT
My father in law has had a few strokes, and is paralyzed on his left side. He had a few falls, so they got a LifeLine for him. He doesn't always wear it, so he's he's had a couple days that he spent on the floor, but the system works fine. When he pushes the button, they talk to him through the speaker-box deal, and he can holler out that he's O.K., or that he needs help. If he doesn't reply immediately, they send the rescue squad.

We have Verizon cell phones, so we could add lines for $10 per month. We got two of them, one for each of her parents, and I programmed the numbers in so they could contact each other and us easily. It's an extra layer of protection, and since the "In" calls are airtime free, the three of them can talk as much as they wish with no extra charge. It's made all three of them much more at ease, and they stay in touch better than ever.
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