Medical Alert Buttons....Are they effective and worth the cost?

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I just read the article about medical alert buttons on this site. There are so many companies out there...has anyone actually used one of these devices? Do they work well?
My mom lives independently and her doctor suggested one of these systems.
Also, I was told that they only work with telephones that still have copper wire land lines, not with fiber-optic cable (like Verizon FIOS) I am not a techie....would appreciate some input.
thanks

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My aunt has one. She has fallen four times at home, and presses her button each time. The Call Center will dial 911 for her. The company had installed a combination lock box outside her door with her key in it. Only the responders have access to the combination and can enter her home when the door is locked. They call me to inform me of a fall and then they will call me to inform me if she has been transported to the ER. I've only been home once. They called me to go and pick her up. I can't pick her up, so when I got there, I pressed her button to inform and they came to pick her up. Luckily, she did not hurt herself when she has fallen. The Call Center also notifies her caseworker at the Department of Aging. I don't know how much this costs, as the Passport program payed for the installation, pays the monthly fee, and pays for any ambulance runs.

On the down side, if there is a problem with the phone, or if the power goes out, the system will not work properly. The phone itself was a regular phone plugged into the outlet, but the box was plugged into an electrical outlet. She has a portable phone she keeps next to her on the table, but it is a portable phone. The one time the Call Center called me to inform there was a problem with her phone (the power had gone out in her apartment building). Another time, two policement came to her door and said that someone had dialed 911. She said she did not. Her phone was out and neither she nor I knew it til the next day when I tried to phone out and there was no dial tone. It was a Sunday and the phone company said the phone would be fixed in 24 hours. I prayed she would not fall. I started looking for one of those Senior-friendly cell phones, but did not find any at the time.

Three of the four falls were from trying to reach into the freezer, the cubboard, the closet, so now has been told that she is not permitted to do any reaching, or trying to pick things off the floor, and that she needs to keep two hands on her walker at all times. She does not have dementia, so there is nothing wrong with her ability to remember that.

I hope this helps you in your decision. The bottom line is, it will be worth it.
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I am still paying back the bills for all of these devices my mom had that she would try, then forget about them or not know how to use them unless I was there with her. Anyway, she is now in the nursing home so no more buying stuff that does not work and she will be have to be satisfied with her call button and wait for help. She was used to having me come running right away when she needed help, I guess I kind of spoiled her because now she is having trouble adjusting to the nursing home.
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Philips Lifeline Medical Alarms work with analog and digital phone Systems. They also work with all VOIP telephone services.
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Thank you for the input...these were the things I was wondering about.

My mother is infamous for just having to have things in her home and loves all sorts of wacky medical devices, etc. I buy them for her, take time to install them, only to find that they have been removed or discarded. She has a small cell phone that has the automatic 911 button on it. I suggested that she start carrying it as a safety device and bought her a little pouch for her to wear. As you both mentioned, it is always on the table or in a drawer.

I know for a fact that she would use the medic alert button for about a week then in the drawer it would to go!

I am so frustrated using my time researching things for her, buying them, having them shipped, and installing them then having her rip them out...what a waste of her money and my time!! I really think that she just has a lot of time on her hands and likes to keep me hopping :o)

Barring any situation where there is diminished capacity, I think that at some point we have to say that this is their freedom of choice and we cannot be there to catch every fall or save them from themselves.
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My mom had one in her apartment, only problem was she would forget to put it on, I had to be the one to put it on her every day. Then she would take it off at the time when she is at the most risk for a fall, in the bathroom while she was washing up at the sink or in the shower. I told her repeatedly that it was waterproof but she insisted on taking it off in the shower or washing up. Now I have to worry about her in the nursing home, she does not want to press her button for help and if she does press her button the nurses to not necessarily come right away, depends on teh time of day if they are really busy it takes a while.
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