What can I do to encourage my dad to wear his emergency response device?

8 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My dad, who has heart disease and a history of strokes, simply refuses to wear his personal emergency response system (PERS) device. We've tried all kinds -- a pendant, bracelet, even a belt clip -- but he says they're all uncomfortable. We've paid for the service and are anxious to know it's helping to protect him, so how can I get him past this resistance?

Expert Answers

Karrie Scully-Johnston is a San Diego-based communication supervisor with American Medical Response (AMR), a national ambulance company, as well as the caregiver for her mom.

Tell your dad -- loud and clear -- that this device isn't a punishment, it's a gift that will allow him to live independently, in his own home, for longer. The alternatives are a full-time caregiver, an assisted living facility, or maybe moving in with a relative.

Talk realistically about how, at this stage of his life, he's more medically fragile and at greater risk for medical emergencies. This isn't his fault; it's just nature doing its thing. Point out his strengths -- that he's still able to live alone and take care of himself in many ways.

You may also want to bring up real scenarios based on his condition. What would your father do if he had another stroke while getting out of the shower, causing him to fall, and he couldn't get back up? Or if he had acute shortness of breath and couldn't find the phone? Or if he felt dizzy and weak and was scared to stand?

This may sound like a scare tactic, but these are real possibilities for your father and he needs to see this for himself. Explain that an emergency response system is like a home or car alarm, a practical and reassuring tool for protecting things that are valuable and dear.

If your father is still hesitant, get in touch with your PERS supplier for suggestions. The company may have other clients he could talk to or give you ways to modify the transmitter button to make it more comfortable for your dad.

Community Answers

Kissapug answered...

I have a few suggestions for you, and I had a stroke about 7 years ago myself. First log onto:www.bashas.com or kpho.com and they have these packets of forms to fill out for the red pack E kit, and it comes with a magnet for your fridge door so medical help will know all of the info is in the freezer, and you can also put part of the kit in his glovebox if he drives, and it has the same decal for the window. You can also get a laundry marker and write something on the inside collar of a shirt,  or even a sock with a phone # of who to reach in case of an emergency. Also make sure he has a card you can make and print out on the computer that gives a basic medical history and keep one handy for yourself, because if you get that call, you will want to answer all questions correctly and clearly. I hope this helps you out.

A fellow caregiver answered...

My father responded positively to the Lifeline device that is a working wristwatch as well. He said, "I need a watch anyway." It didn't look like an emergency device, but it did have a button to push in case, and acted just like the pendants. It was also waterproof so he could wear it all the time and not forget. In fact, he never need to use it except for the monthly test, but it gave us and him that sense of security without making him look like an invalid, and that was important to him.

Medfirstalert.com answered...

All good information. Since this is the line of work I am in, I have seen from experience that one of the most important things you can do is begin communicating about the future with your parents regardless of their age. Talk about what their thoughts are on assisted living facilities, in home care, medical alert systems. Let them know that you love them and this is the reason you are bringing up the conversation. Experts believe that by laying down this communication groundwork in the early stages, children and parents will benefit in the long run.

Statistics show that 9 out of 10 parents do not want to burden their children and as a result will often respond to this honest communication method.


A fellow caregiver answered...

My husband had to deal with a similar situation with his own 80-yr-old father, who probably feels that he does not want to burden his family with medical expenses etc. Also, his whole life he has been a strong, healthy, energetic person.

Losing that sense of strength is a huge shock to him. He hates it.

So my husband fed-exed a package to his father containing a notecard that talked about how much we all love him and depend upon him, asking him to stick to the doctor's orders, and to be around as long as he can ... along with that note, my husband included 3 travel packets of baby aspirin ( one of the things he is refusing to take). Simple and loving.

Ca-claire answered...

It can be difficult to have a senior wear those devices, and it can also be difficult to actually get the senior to USE it once they are wearing it.

If you can have your loved one understand about the purpose of the device, and that it's important to wear it AND use it, good. If not, then it's time to think about community living for your senior. Sometimes these agencies will allow you to return the device for a refund and without a penalty once you explain how many ways you have tried to have your loved one wear it and use it. It may simply be beyond them at this point. Best wishes to you!

Dave in phoenix answered...

My mother was just as stubborn as your father about not wearing her response device (a necklace). When we asked her how she would call somebody for help if she fell, she said "I'll crawl to the phone". Well, she had a fall and was unable to crawl to the phone, or get any assistance. She spent 36 hours on the floor until her caregiver found her. After weeks in rehab, she's now fully recovered, living in an assisted living home and ALWAYS wears her emergency response device. She's lucky. She learned her lesson. Your father may not get a second chance like she did. Please share this story with him.

Help services answered...

One of the best ways to alleviate the fear of wearing the pendant is to let them press it! Let them alarm in while you are there and find out that the people on the other end of the line and not sending them to the hospital, are not calling an ambulance, that they are there to Help them. Let them play around with it and get used to what it is going to say and sound like and speak to the people in the monitoring center so they will feel more comfortable in case they press the pendant by accident. I work in this field and hear these complaints everyday, they don't want to bother us, they don't want to go to the hospital, they don't want us to call their kids, or neighbors. They can alarm in and ask about the weather or tell us about their day, we love every one of our subscribers and enjoy hearing from them anytime! www.helpforyou.com