Best Medical Alert Systems for Blind People
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.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3.4 million American adults over the age of 40 are either legally blind or visually impaired, and 2.8 million seniors aged 65 and older suffer from severe vision trouble, even when wearing corrective lenses. Vision loss among the elderly is known to nearly double the chances of a senior suffering from a trip and fall accident. Blind people are also at an increased risk of injury in their home or the community from cuts, burns, medication errors, and collisions with fixed objects.
Blindness and vision loss can make it difficult to live independently, but assistive devices, such as medical alert systems, can help blind individuals feel safer and provide their loved ones with the peace of mind that comes with knowing help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These connected devices are making it easier than ever for blind people to find the right mix of independence and security. Here are our top three choices for medical alert systems for people who are blind or have vision loss.
The 3 Best Medical Alert Systems for Blind People
RescueTouch ranks on our list of the best three medical alert systems for blind people because it offers a host of unique features and options that distinguish it from other devices and systems.
RescueTouch is the only two-way speaker equipped, GPS-enabled medical alert device that comes in four vibrant colors that can make locating the device easier for those with low vision. Available in black, bright blue, neon green and vibrant pink, the small, lightweight pendants are 100 percent waterproof. Users can even wear them while in the shower or out in the rain. The surface of the device is covered in a soft-touch silicone for a secure grip even with wet hands, and the raised ridges around the center-mounted help button make it easier to find. The call button is made from metal and embossed with the letters SOS.
In terms of emergency service, RescueTouch gives users complete control over who’s contacted when the SOS button is activated, which can eliminate the reluctance that some users might feel about having a medical alert system. Users can choose to program phone numbers for up to five friends, neighbors, or caregivers who’ll be called in an emergency, or users can opt to have their calls go either to a monitored call center or 911.
Another innovative feature that makes RescueTouch one of the best medical alert systems for blind people is the RescueTouch VoiceConnect mobile app. This smartphone app instantly transforms the device into a waterproof, wearable wireless speakerphone. It allows users to program up to five family-initiated contacts who can call the RescueTouch device directly. The VoiceConnect service allows caregivers to perform safety checks on RescueTouch users anywhere and at any time, saving the user the hassle of having to answer a call on their cell phone or landline.
Philips Lifeline GoSafe 2 combines cutting-edge GPS tracking, fall detection, and two-way voice technology in a small, lightweight device that’s comfortable to wear and easy for the blind and visually impaired to use. This all-in-one emergency call system operates over cellular networks, which means that users have 24/7 support at home and in the community from two U.S.-based call centers. To activate two-way voice communication with the call center, users simply press the dark grey rubberized button on the pendant, which is easy to locate by touch alone.
The AutoAlert fall detection feature uses advanced sensors that automatically alert the Philips response center if a GoSafe 2 user falls. A Lifeline operator speaks to the user to determine if they need help, and if the person is unable to respond, the operator will dispatch emergency services to the users’ exact location using the integrated GPS locator.
The water-resistant GoSafe 2 pendant can be worn in the shower or bath, and the integrated rechargeable battery lasts up to three days. To change the pendant, users simply place it on the included charging pad. There are no small wires or plugs that may be difficult for the visually impaired to use. The system setup is simple using an installation technician or the self-installation option.
Medical Care Alert’s Home and Away system made our list of the top three medical alert systems for blind people because it offers a solid combination of advanced technologies with an industry-leading call center staffed by American EMT/EMD-certified operators. When users activate the help button on their waterproof, cellular GPS-enabled pendant, they’ll be immediately connected with an experienced medical professional who’ll assess the situation through two-way voice communication with the user.
One of the things that makes this system ideal for blind people is that a contact list of trusted neighbors, friends, and loved ones can be added to their file. When the user calls for help, the EMT/EMD determines if one of the contacts should be called or if emergency responders need to be dispatched. Because Medical Care Alert’s Home and Away medical alert system works through AT&T 4G LTE wireless cellular networks, Wi-Fi and GPS satellites, users can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with staying connected anywhere there’s cell phone service.
The Medical Care Alert device has a built-in battery that users recharge by placing it on an easy-to-use charging mat every three days. Plans are available with and without automatic fall detection.
How a Medical Alert Device Helps Blind People
A medical alert device can provide blind people with the added safety and security that comes with having immediate access to a 24/7 monitored call center or loved ones at the touch of a button. While anyone can suffer from a medical emergency or need help from police or the fire department, the added challenges that come with vision loss mean that a medical alert device can make the difference between being able to live independently or requiring ongoing care and supervision.
Tips for Choosing the Right Medical Alert System for the Blind and Visually Impaired
When looking for the best medical alert system for a person who’s blind or living with vision loss, search for devices that have large buttons that are easy to locate and activate. Systems that are straightforward and offer two-way communication directly through the wearable call pendant or watch are ideal as these devices allow the user to talk to emergency responders without requiring a cell phone or landline.
Optional features, such as automatic fall detection, can provide the user and their loved ones with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that help is close at hand if they should experience a fall.
A mobile system with GPS locating can also be a good idea as visually-impaired users are often unable to see street signs, landmarks, and other identifying features that they can use to let emergency services know where they are. Having a medical alert system that operates using cellular signals gives users the freedom to travel outside their home without giving up the security of their medical alert system.
Medical Alert System Prices and Add-On Costs
Pricing for medical alert systems starts around $20 per month for a basic device and monitoring through a 24/7 call center. These monthly fees may be in addition to activation surcharges that can range from $20 to $100 or more, and some systems require users to purchase their pendants, wrist wearables, base units, and wall buttons separately.
Automatic fall detection generally costs $10 per month on most systems, while mobile-enabled products that operate using cellular networks cost more than systems that use a landline only. GPS locating requires the use of a mobile network; therefore, GPS-enabled devices are more expensive than landline options, and the monthly monitoring fees are higher as well.
Some medical alert services now offer wellness and safety checks that include daily calls to the user and can be customized to include medication reminders and prompts. Another common service is a PIN-coded lockbox used to store a house key that first responders can access in case of an emergency.