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I am currently researching PERS (personal emergency response systems). One lingering question I have is how emergency responders gain access to a home that's locked. As I prepare to convince my mom on using such a system I'd like to be able to tell her what happens if she pushes the button including how the responders could reach her if her doors are locked (they usually are). Do most responders carry tools for unlocking locked doors or do they have to break in?

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We have a lockbox on a front porch post (mounted on the back side of the post so it doesn't show from the street) The local fire dept/paramedics have the access code for it, inside is a key to the house. There's a reflective tape on the front side of the post that's small and inconspicuous, but something they were quite familiar with and know to look for. They came to the house when it was installed and put the home and my dad in their registry. My brother bought the lockbox online. It's brought another measure of peace of mind for when someone isn't there with him, and he likes knowing no one is going to break his door down to get in.
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We had a lock installed on mom's front door that could be opened with a code OR with a key. The code was mom's birthday. We gave it to EMS if they got called.

We didn't try to convince mom. My brother just installed it.

I guess we were very lucky that my mom understood that there were things that needed to be done to keep her safe and us sane!
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Thanks for the info, GardenArtist. I will tell my brothers so that one of them can attempt to convince my mother. They often have a chance of doing that, since I am just the dummy daughter who knows nothing.
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Plips, good advice on high tech lock box security. What you described seems to provide a much higher level of security and monitoring. Thanks for sharing that info.

CTTN, the exterior lock box can be placed where it's not obtrusive. My father's is just above the doorbell; I don't even notice it when I go over.

A word of caution though; don't get the locks that are like those used for lockers in school back in the 60's. They're the kind with an upside down u-shaped latch. When we were searching for exterior lock boxes, Dad made the observation that someone could manipulate a hack saw in the space between the u shaped portion and saw the lock off.

Sure enough; I tried I with a small hack saw and got it inbetween the vertical bars of the lock. I didn't try to saw it, but I can see that a determined burglar could saw through, especially at night when an older person is asleep and wouldn't hear the sawing sounds.

So Dad's lockbox is screwed into the studs on the outside of the door. It's simple to use with a 4 digit code that can be changed any time.

I've been giving it to EMS for years as they can get to his house in 5 - 10 minutes but it would take me an hour, depending on the time of day.

And you can choose any combination of numbers or change the code anytime you want to.
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Thanks, BlackHole. Our situations are similar! My mother is "independent," dontcha know! If I may ask, what eventually happened with your mother? (Since you use the past tense, I'm assuming she is now in a facility or has passed on?)
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CTTN55, my Mom was the same as yours. RE paranoia about lockbox, refusing any and all home-safety adaptations, refusing paid help, etc.

And Mom could totally could afford to make these changes — just as she could afford AL. But nooooo. She would not spend a dime on any sensible thing that would make her day-to-day safe and functional (and allow me to sleep at night).

But who’s counting, right? It’s so important to “respect their autonomy,” bla bla. UGH.

I’d love to say I learned something from all this....but I’m not sure that I have. Other than learning how little I have left in the tank to deal with anyone else’s bull-puckey. Forever.
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What a good topic. I've been wondering this myself. The plan for my mother is that she will press her life alert button. The one time she did, she told the responding agent to call me. Then I went to her condo, and from there determined that 911 needed to be called. You see, I must fly over there to be there before the EMTs break the door down (or do whatever they do). If she doesn't push the button, but it activates because she's fallen (she now has an upgraded device for that), I guess the EMTs might be there before I even know.

I doubt my paranoid mother will let anything of any kind be placed on or near the front door. I'm not sure she's capable of reasoning that maybe I wouldn't always be able to get to her condo before the emergency responders do.

Another thing she refuses to do for her own safety is to get a bathtub conversion. She's told me that she has to lift her first leg out of the tub when she takes a shower, because she has neuropathy in her feet and can't really feel it. (And she told the AL place we looked at 8 months ago that she would like someone to monitor when she showers AND be there when she gets dressed.) She said she didn't think she would be in her condo long enough to make the tub conversion worthwhile (doesn't want to spend the money). I then told her that whether or not she got the tub conversion could directly affect how long she stays in the condo.

She has the money, and won't hire someone to help her with showering and dressing. And I refuse to be her personal care attendant.

She doesn't like to spend money. She doesn't seem to see that someday that might affect her safety...but, she is mentally competent in the eyes of the law, so the situation remains the same. My brothers care, but from a distance, and no one wants to confront her about these issues. So if they are okay with the status quo, I am, too.
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There are spin types available new (I don’t know that I would trust getting one from ebay or for $15-$20 that just anybody could break into). Think door locks, you can buy $10 ones but they are easy to bypass. I have a $200 medco that at least would take them a couple of hours and they have to have a passcode, picture ID to call a locksmkth to pull that scam. Plus the blanks are not the same at each shop and hardware stores, big box stores, machines, etc can’t make a copy....I have tried to be sure. It states right on the key, it has to go back to certain and certain shop with it’s number. Only they have it’s blank and identification has to be shown, etc.

Back to lockbox - there are new old style spin types, digitals, and the best are the ones that blue tooth to your mobility devices (phones, tablets, computer) that advise when they are accessed and for how long etc. Realtors aren’t the only ones who use these, contractors do too. And today, many homeowners want to only allow certain workmen in the house, at certain times and they don’t want to give keys out. They give say the plumber his own code, he arrives, puts his code in, gets the keys, comes in does the work, locks the door, puts the key back in the box and leaves. As long as your door requires a key to lock it, you will know when he got the key out and when he puts it back. And you don’t want the kind of door lock where you just turn the button on the inside and pull the door up. These are not safe period, and you wouldn’t know when he actually left. He could unlock, put the key back in the box, and just pull the door up to leave. You wouldn’t know how long he was actually there with that type of lock. A deadbolt keyed on both sides is best, you can’t get accidently locked out either like we did years ago.

There are lockboxes just for real estate companies that work with their systems, but you can get them too.Try vaultlocks.com or better yet, call your local well known lock shop that has been around for 30-50years. Stay away from those just in business a few years -too many scams and fly by nights. Research their product and the brands they sell. Do a search “complaints against whatever brand lockbox” and/or even the locksmith to see if there have been problems. And call your police dept and ask for home safety department to get their advice before getting anything. Plus ask them their actual protocol for getting in with and without lockbox - don’t guess. A good lockbox where you can monitor it might cost you $150-200 but peace of mind is well worth it. I know some monitor/security companies have their own but still you want to know who goes in and when, for how long, etc. If it isn’t monitored, and get it in writing, I would look for another security company. Good luck.
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How did no one not know these spam posters had a product to sell and did not care about or read the Aging Care terms of service?
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Oh yes, of course, a lock box could be off to the side so mom won't have to deal with it. And, in one review of the Freedom Alert PERS I read that even the 911 call center people can keep a lock box combo associated with a certain address.
And regarding her short-term memory loss and using the PERS, well there's just one button to push so I'm assuming (maybe wrongly) that most older folks can manage that. I think if she get's in the habit of wearing it then she'll use it. Thank you all for the thoughts and comments.
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Ask for a spy or hinge number lockbox, both use a number combination that can be given to the medical alert company. Then find a safe place outside the house to place it, somewhere where it won't get buried in the snow [depending on where you live] or where it won't get rusted out quickly. Or you can put it on the front door handle as long as your Mom doesn't panic at the idea of her extra house key being in a box on the front door.

Realtor lockboxes can only be used by licensed real estate Agents, plus in the larger metro areas the newer lockboxes require a coded credit card that is updated daily via computer attached device to open. You might be able to find an older out-of-date spin dial model that would be ok to use.

ejwachter, as I recall on another posting, you mentioned your Mom might be having short-term memory issues. If that is the case, would she be able to remember how to use a medical alert device? And that it is to be used in emergencies only?
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16 lb sledge ? oh my , i guess that WOULD peel a steel door jam .
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We bought a lockbox at the hardware store. The medical alert company knew the combination and would give it to any emergency response team they contacted.

In the worst case scenario, if the responders had to break down the door, that is still better than an unattended emergency.
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You put a spare set in the box, she doesn't have to unlock it everyday. I think there is probably a way of registering the combination with the emergency alert people so that THEY give EMS the combo. You might also get good answers to these questions from the company itself. They surely have dealt with this before.
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I don't think my mom would be willing to deal with the inconvenience of a lock box during her daily comings and goings. And if she was, would she would have to give the combination to the 911 operator?
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Ba8alou has the best answer. They're (realtor's lock boxes) $15 on ebay.
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You can get a realtor's lock box to put a set of keys in or you can install a lock that has a number pad.
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Do these tools do damage requiring a carpenter to repair?
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Yes, they do carry tools. Firemen will wield a "Halligan" married to a flat head axe, driving it with a "Persuader" (16 lb sledgehammer). Police often use a compact ram or a dandy hydraulic spreader. All work quite well, even on steel doors.
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