When looking at a medical alert system vs. personal alert system, know that both options are specifically designed to offer senior citizens who live on their own an effective and reliable way of calling for assistance during an emergency. As a result, it is crucial that you make a choice that suits your situation in the best way. For that, you need to know the difference between a personal alert system vs. medical alert system and which one is the best fit for your requirements.
You must know that a medical alert system and a personal alert system serve the same basic purpose. They are designed to provide access to assistance during emergencies to self-sufficient seniors. These systems are specially meant for any event that prevents seniors from using the phone or any other mode of communication. Apart from sharing the same purpose, both systems share the same technology. Both systems contain variants of the two common components: transmitter and base station.
Transmitter: These transmitters are powered using batteries and are usually waterproof. Their design allows seniors to wear it around their neck. Other options are to wear them around the wrist or on a wheelchair or clip them to a belt. Apart from the help button to be used during emergencies, most transmitters include two-way communication capabilities, allowing the senior to describe the issue they are facing.
Base station: The transmitter is wirelessly connected to the base station, which usually communicates through a phone line. This means as soon as a senior presses the button on a transmitter, the base station calls either a support call center or any contacts of family members that have been pre-programmed into it. Certain newer versions of both types of alert systems use cellular or VoIP network alternatives to provide services during an emergency.
In the medical alert system vs. personal alert system comparison, the basic difference lies in the people that the system contacts in the case of an emergency.
Medical alert system: When using a medical alert system, if the senior pushes the button on the transmitter, the system calls trained service personnel in a professional monitoring center. These professionals, in turn, call the family, police, or the nearest emergency services. In the case of medical alert systems, the apparatus is typically on a lease. There are rental charges for the equipment, along with a charge for the monitoring services by the call center. This price comes up to around $25 to $50 monthly. Also, certain providers ask for long-term contracts, along with fees for activation and cancellation.
Personal alert system: With a personal alert system, the call goes to a family member or a friend rather than a call center. Once the system is activated, the base station repeatedly calls the numbers registered with the system to notify them of the emergency until someone responds. In the rare case that no one answers the calls, the system dials 911 to contact the police and emergency services. How many numbers you can store in the device and how many times the system calls a number before dialing 911 depends on the exact model you buy. Contrary to medical alert systems, the equipment of a personal alert system is bought instead of getting it on a lease. The average price of a personal alert system is between $150 and $300. As the equipment is purchased, you do not need to pay any monthly fees or sign a contract.
Criteria for choosing
While alert systems are commonly used for senior citizens, a person of any age can use an emergency alert system for the benefits it offers. These devices are great options for seniors who wish to live an independent life. Besides, children of aging parents often find themselves confused in the personal alert system vs. medical alert system comparison. All they need is an effective way that allows their parents to contact them or any other appropriate person during an emergency. To clear the confusion, you need to know the criteria that can help you differentiate between the two options and make a better choice:
Health: When comparing medical alert systems vs. personal alert systems, the former is usually more expensive. However, the cost is worth paying if the senior has a chronic illness or a higher risk of falling. During emergencies related to chronic illnesses, it is better to have a medical alert system that will contact the call center where service personnel will answer it promptly. Chronic illnesses that call for a medical alert system include seizures, heart disease, and diabetes. Similarly, the risk of falling increases with osteoporosis, memory loss, poor eyesight, and vertigo and also needs urgent medical aid. Patients who depend on heavy medication that can cause side-effects like memory loss or loss of balance need a medical alert system as well.
The proximity of support network: If a senior citizen is in good health and has reliable family and friends living close by, a personal alert system is a perfect choice, but a family member or friend should be able to answer the call during emergencies. If the patient has no relatives or friends for miles, a medical alert system is an ideal choice.
In addition, if a patient has many non-emergency situations, a personal alert system is a better option. Usually, seniors in such situations do not need an ambulance; they just need someone to help them out at such times.
Cost: When comparing the costs between medical alert systems vs. personal alert systems, the latter wins. The lease of a medical alert system for a year may cost you an average of $360, along with activation charges based on your provider. On the other hand, a personal alert system can be purchased for much less, without having to pay for monthly charges for leasing or service fees.
Apart from ensuring these things, ask around and see what people have to say about choosing between a medical alert system and a personal alert system. With a bit of research and guidance, you will find one that is best suited to meet your needs.