The Best Medical Alert Systems for Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
COVID-19 Update: Since the medical alert industry is considered to be “essential” during the COVID crisis, monitoring and customer service centers are still open and ready to help. To learn more about how a medical alert device can help keep you or your elderly loved one safe and connected during this pandemic, take a look at our list of essential products for seniors during COVID-19.
A medical alert system is one of the most important tools seniors can use to stay independent in their own homes. At the push of a button, a medical alert system can establish two-way communication between seniors who need help and trained emergency dispatchers in a response center. Dispatchers can talk seniors or their caregivers through a crisis while summoning local rescue teams and briefing them on what to expect when they arrive.
Medical alert systems are especially important for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Seniors who are easily confused or frightened have a special need for instant communication with rescuers and loved ones. A well-designed home alert system can keep caregivers and family members updated on a senior’s location and well-being in real time.
This guide goes over some of the best medical alert systems for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The goal is to inform seniors and their caregivers about the best call system features for seniors with cognitive impairment, and how to buy the right system for their needs.
The 4 Best Medical Alert Systems for Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
Medical Care Alert maintains U.S.-based call centers that are fully staffed with Security Industry Association-certified emergency medical dispatchers and nationally registered EMTs. These professional responders have the knowledge to accurately assess medical and other types of emergencies and rapidly deploy the appropriate rescue services. This is especially helpful with the two-way communication most Medical Care Alert systems offer as a standard feature.
The basic home alert system offered by Medical Care Alert operates off of a landline connection and costs $29.95 per month. The next model up may be ideal for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia, as the 3G model runs off of a cellular connection and has a range of 1,000 feet. The 3G system also uses GPS to track wearers and uses a simple one-button call pendant to signal for help. This model costs $34.95 a month and comes with optional fall detection for an additional $10.
Medical Care Alert’s top-end systems, the Home & Away Primo and Elite models, each cost $39.95 per month and include location tracking. The Primo model runs off of the available cellular networks, as well as any available Wi-Fi. The Elite model has a 36-hour battery, while the Primo pendant can operate on standby for up to four days without recharging. Both the Elite and Primo systems have unlimited range, which makes them ideal for seniors who are away on group trips, seniors visiting family and seniors with exit-seeking behavior who live in less secure residential settings.
QMedic takes a comprehensive approach to protecting seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. In addition to the usual two-way communication and GPS tracking, QMedic compiles complex information about the wearer’s movements and behavior for caregivers and family members. The QMedic system can tell if it’s being worn consistently, or if a reminder is needed. It tracks movements, heart rate and other vital information automatically. The results are compiled by the QMedic system into a user-friendly online interface that displays information about the senior’s activity on a virtual dashboard. This lets caregivers, doctors, care home staff and family members monitor activity and establish patterns that could signal issues with the senior’s health. This is helpful if a senior has trouble communicating medical or other needs.
The QMedic line of medical alert systems offers three service packages: Landline, Cellular and Mobile GPS. The Landline system is optimal for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia who live with loved ones or in a residential care facility. The system connects via landline to the tracking center and works out to a range of 800 to 1,000 feet, and the portable call button has a 24-hour battery and can be recharged overnight. The Cellular system is essentially the same, except it connects to the response center via the AT&T wireless network. Both systems cost $30 per month with no setup fees. QMedic offers a discount for annual payments, charging $300 in advance for a year of coverage.
QMedic’s third product line, the Mobile GPS option, may be ideal for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. This system skips the base unit and connects via cell network from anywhere. There are no range limitations within cellular network coverage areas. The Mobile GPS system includes GPS tracking and costs $45 a month or $400 a year. The lightweight wearable pendant is water-resistant and can be worn in the rain, though it is not showerproof and should be kept as dry as possible.
Bay Alarm Medical offers several medical alert systems that provide effective protection for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Most seniors with some type of dementia live with other adults, either family or in a group setting. Cost is a priority for many of these families, and Bay Alarm offers one of the most affordable systems on the market. The basic Bay Alarm Medical unit costs $19.95 per month and uses a home landline connection with a range of up to 1,000 feet. There are no setup costs for any of the systems Bay Alarm Medical offers.
One level up, the Bay Alarm Medical in-home cellular system skips the landline and connects via wireless networks. This unit also has a 1,000-foot range and a 32-hour battery. For $29.95 a month, plus $10 a month for optional automatic fall detection, this system uses a waterproof, and showerproof, mobile call button with a very simple interface.
The top of the line system offered by Bay Alarm Medical, the 360° Protection, costs $59.95 per month, plus $10 for fall detection. This system connects with both landlines and cellular lines, and the mobile unit has a three-day battery that’s ideal for weekend trips to visit family.
Many seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia live in a room or apartment that has no landline phone service. MobileHelp is ideal for this kind of living arrangement, as all three of its systems use cellular networks, rather than conventional phone lines. The Classic model is an in-home unit with a mobile device that has a range of 600 feet. This system costs $19.95 a month, plus $10 for fall detection. A one-time setup fee of $49.95 can be waived for seniors who opt into quarterly or annual billing.
MobileHelp’s Solo model uses a cellular mobile system with a wearable pendant that has a 24-hour battery. The Solo system has unlimited range and costs $37.95 a month. There is no setup fee for Solo. The Duo system combines both the Classic and Solo systems. This option costs $41.95 per month plus $10 a month for automatic fall detection.
What is Special About Medical Alert Systems for Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia?
Medical alert systems for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia are an important link in the chain of survival. Seniors with impaired memory or limited ability to communicate need a link to emergency services that can be instantly activated, in case they get lost, confused or hurt. Many services list existing medical conditions on a client’s account, so dispatchers can see that the senior they’re talking with may have difficulty understanding or following instructions. This is valuable information the dispatchers can then pass to rescue crews responding to the call.
Because it can be difficult for seniors to make their way to a base unit at home, medical alert systems for seniors with Alzheimer’s should have mobile call buttons with as simple an interface as possible. Pendant necklaces and wristbands are best for this, and many systems for seniors with dementia have single-button switches that establish two-way communication almost instantly.
How to Choose a Medical Alert System
Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s chorea and other forms of dementia have special issues their medical alert systems need to address. Systems for these seniors generally need to be more easily activated than standard units, since the user’s condition can make complicated actions difficult in an emergency.
Good communication with a professional EMT or EMD is helpful, as many seniors with dementia have difficulty expressing themselves. Medical alert systems should also include a family notification option and caregiver tracking feature. This lets caregivers and family members track the user’s movements on GPS, which can be extremely important in case the senior gets lost outside of the familiar home environment.
Monthly Service Cost
Finally, price is a consideration in a medical alert system for seniors with dementia. The higher than average cost of senior living for memory care residents can strain a fixed income. Affordable monthly monitoring systems allow for more features on one account, and a low price can help ensure there are no service interruptions.
For more information about medical alert systems for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, see our article about the best medical alert systems of 2020.