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Tips for Buying a Medical Alert Button

We’ve all seen the commercials. A frail, elderly lady lies on the floor lamenting “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

These commercials can seem amusing, but when you care for a frail senior, the consequences of falling can be all too real.

Falling is the number one cause of going to the emergency room for seniors, and these accidents often lead to loss of independence, vitality and even life.

One way to approach this potential is to get a button like the one advertised in that commercial. But which one? And what do you need to know first.

Luckily, Everybody Needs A Nurse can help. We have had clients who have used several different vendors and here is what we have learned.

1. The button does no good if the person doesn’t wear it at all times. A lot of seniors balk because they don’t want to wear an ugly, clunky piece of equipment that seems to advertise their unsteadiness.

As you look at different sources for these alarms, ask the senior you care for whether this is something they would feel comfortable wearing. Some people are OK wearing a button on a chain around their neck. Others would prefer one that looks like a watch. Keep their taste in mind or you will just be wasting money and have a false sense of security.

2. Think about who you want the button to call. Many people think that all buttons automatically call EMS. But this is not true. You can customize the buttons to call others first.

Your loved one may feel more comfortable knowing that the button calls their son or daughter or a neighbor first. Some may appreciate having an operator from the alarm company to talk to.

Some seniors have buttons and can use them, but are embarrassed to make a scene by calling in an ambulance. If that is the case, reassure your loved one that you or another designee will get the alarm.

3. The button does no good if the senior can’t use it. Think about your loved one’s manual dexterity. Can they press a small button? What if they hit their head and are disoriented? What if they have Parkinson’s, memory loss or another neurological disorder?

As you look for an alarm solution, keep in mind the physical and mental abilities of your loved one. Look at the size, shape and level of the button. It might be easier for someone to press a button that sticks out slightly than one that is concave.

**And a bonus 4th tip:**

Please don’t assume that an alarm button takes the place of human interaction and assessment. Many issues that can be addressed with a button get progressively worse. So this is not necessarily a one-time solution.