Medical alert systems, also known as PERS (personal emergency response systems) have really grown in popularity in recent years. The elderly benefit from them the most and these systems prove to be a very useful and more affordable alternative to nursing homes or caregivers.
What exactly is a medical alert system?
A medical alert system is a portable device provided by a medical alert service and consists of two components: a base station and an emergency button which is wearable and comes in various sizes/shapes. It can be a bracelet, pendant, etc. In order for you to benefit from assistance in case of an emergency, you have to first sign up for a medical alert service and sign up for a plan. Then you will receive the portable device.
When you press it, the emergency button sends a signal to the base unit which is usually connected to your phone line, using the wireless technology. The base station further connects you to the monitoring center of the medical alert service, where you will receive assistance from one of their reps. In case of emergency, the monitoring center can contact someone in your family, a friend, the police, etc., depending on the nature of your emergency.
The person using the medical alert system should wear the portable emergency button all the time, even in the bathroom, as most of these devices are waterproof. They also have a built-in microphone and a speaker, so that you can communicate with the monitoring center.
Main types of medical alert systems
There are several types of medical alert systems: landline-based, which work through your phone line, cellular-based in-home alert systems, which work using mobile telephony but have to be used indoors and mobile alert systems. The latter are the most expensive but also the most useful, because they have built-in GPS and are also cell-phone based, so you can take them anywhere with you.
What to consider when choosing a medical alert system.
Benefits of using a medical alert system
The greatest benefit of medical alert systems is that they offer 24/7 monitoring, which gives you peace of mind for you or the loved one that you are buying the system for.
They are also easy to use and very easy to carry around, because they are small, compact and light.
Most of them (the wearable components) are also waterproof, so you can wear them even when you shower, because a lot of falls or other accidents happen while you are in the bathroom and you slip, lose your balance, etc.
Medical alert systems are also more affordable than hiring a permanent caregiver or putting your loved one in a nursing home.
They are also useful from a psychological point of view, because they give a sense of independence to the person using them. They make them feel better knowing they no longer need to be constantly monitored and assisted.
GreatCall Lively Mobile – is it any good?
GreatCall Lively Mobile is a mobile alert system commercialized by GreatCall. GreatCall is a health products company from California and was founded in 2006. The company also owns Lively Inc. since 2015.
The GreatCall Lively Mobile is their least expensive mobile alert system. It has a built in GPS, an IPX7 rating, a 2-way speaker and built-in sensors for fall detection.
The battery has 525mAh and lasts for approximately 36 hours, although you should charge the device on a daily basis, just to be sure.
This is not the smallest mobile alert system you can find, but it is comfortably enough to wear. The device comes with a lanyard if you want to wear it on your neck and you can also use the clip to attach it to your pants, etc.
There are LED indicators on it for showing the signal strength and battery level and the emergency button in the middle.
The IPX7 rating means the GreatCall Lively Mobile system is waterproof, so you can wear it when you shower or even in the pool, as it can be immersed in up to 3.3 ft. of water for up to 30 minutes.
The monitoring center provided by GreatCall is called 5Star Service and it can be accessed on a 24/7 basis. Their customer service is 100% US based.
The GreatCall Lively Mobile device is $49.99 plus the monthly fee for the plan you choose to sign up for and an activation fee.
There are 3 plans you can choose from: Basic, Preferred and Ultimate.
Basic is their most affordable plan and it is $24.99/month. It includes access to 5Star’s certified agents on a 24/7 basis.
Preferred is an upgrade to the Basic and it costs $29.99/month. In addition to 5Star assistance you also get Urgent Care, which is 24/7 access to registered nurses and board-certified doctors. The package includes the GreatCall Link feature as well, which keeps you connected with your family and friends.
The most complex and expensive plan offered by GreatCall is Ultimate, which is $39.99/month and adds fall detection and device replacement to the list of benefits.
In order for the fall detection feature to work you have to wear the device on your neck.
While fall detection is a useful additional feature, the fact that it is only available with the priciest plan is a drawback, because other companies include it with their more affordable plans, too.
When it comes to medical alert systems, it is important to choose one that can connect you to the monitoring center as quickly as possible, in case there’s any emergency. The 5Star center is very popular and renowned for having among the fastest response times on the market. When pressing the emergency button, it takes around 15 seconds (on average) or less to be connected to the monitoring center, which is quite impressive.
There are a few minor cons when it comes to the GreatCall Lively Mobile: the battery life (which is not the worst, but is not among the best either) and the fact that the device could have been a bit smaller. However, GreatCall Lively Mobile alert system is definitely a good option to consider because it is waterproof, reliable, and the service offers great response times.