Falls are common accidents among seniors that cause both fatal and nonfatal injuries. Medical alert systems offer fast emergency response and make living independently a safer choice for older adults or anyone with mobility issues. Our partners at ConsumerAffairs researched the best medical alert systems in Buffalo to help protect you or your loved ones.
Medical alert systems can help older Buffalo residents and those with disabilities maintain independence. Different devices may have features that focus on particular conditions to make sure you receive the right kind of help.
Around 12 percent of Buffalo’s residents are seniors, which is just more than 30,000 people. In addition, 13 percent of people in Buffalo have disabilities and could benefit from the security offered by a medical alert system. Buffalo residents who may have difficulties caused by head injuries or declining mental capacities may benefit from one type of alert. There are also alerts that cater to people who have hearing loss, speech issues (such as from a stroke), painful arthritis or paralysis.
People with conditions that might impact their ability to live independently may function differently in their living environment. Using stairs or moving around in a larger house may be difficult. While having a pet is considered beneficial for seniors, having one underfoot can present a tripping hazard. All of these can lead to accidents that become even more problematic when there’s no way to call for help or medical assistance.
Using a medical alert system can reduce the risk from these situations by allowing you to summon help with the press of a button. When shopping for medical alert systems in Buffalo, there are several decisions to make:
Monitored or unmonitored: Companies in Buffalo that offer monitored systems charge a monthly fee, but a call for help connects people directly to an agent who can help provide the right type of help for any incident. An unmonitored system generally requires a one-time setup fee and sends an automatic message or call for any emergency.
Connection type: There are a variety of connection types available for medical alert systems, including those that communicate using landlines, wireless signals or Bluetooth connections. Some companies in Buffalo will offer a combination of connection types. If you choose one that connects by landline, you’ll need to remain within a certain range of a base station.
Device type: In addition to wall-mounted alert devices, many companies in Buffalo now offer alert devices that can be worn as a necklace or bracelet. Wearable devices ensure you can always call help, but may not be waterproof, so be sure to check if you can use yours in the shower.
Charging: While some systems require you to replace batteries occasionally, others can be charged on a base.
Smartphone capabilities: Some medical alert systems allow family members to connect to the device using an app on a smartphone, tablet or computer. The app is connected to sensors in the home or motion sensors in wearable devices and can be helpful for those who have Alzheimer’s or conditions that may cause them to lose consciousness.
The cost structure of medical alert systems varies by company. Many of these systems are considered rentals and bill you monthly for a basic service. Other companies allow customers to pay annually for the use of the device. There are often optional features not included in the base price, so the cost can rise with the addition of fall detection, carbon monoxide detection or similar add-ons.
When considering the cost of a system, be sure to ask these questions:
Risk-free trial: Does the company offer a trial period, and if so, how long is it?
Contracts: If the company requires a contract, how long is it, and what are the conditions for you to be released from the contract?
Cancellation policy: What is the company’s cancellation policy, and how much money can you get back if you have to cancel?
Add-ons: What additional features does the company offer, and what is the cost of each one?
You or your family can install many of these medical alert systems, although a few companies may require professional installation. Be sure to ask the company about installation options and how maintenance for the device is handled. It may also be worth asking who pays for shipping if the product needs to be returned.
Many insurance providers, including Medicare, do not often cover the costs associated with medical alert systems. Check with your insurance provider to see if it does. If not, you can contact organizations such as the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging for possible financial help and check with medical alert system companies in Buffalo to see if they offer discounts.
Medical Guardian has six equipment options, with three focusing on in-home use and three designed for people often on the go. Customers can choose between landline and cellular connections, and some devices have GPS capabilities. They offer a low monthly fee with no long-term contracts, and customers in Buffalo were quick to praise their responsiveness and politeness.
Founded in 1976, LifeFone is based downstate in Westchester County. Spouses are included for free, making this a good option for households on a budget. Reviewers in New York found customer service to be helpful and remarked that the fall detection feature works well.
MobileHelp offers three different medical alert systems designed for people whether they’re staying home or on the go. The company has wearable options, and certain components are waterproof. Customers in Buffalo praise the quick response time and politeness of the customer service team and say the products are an excellent value.
LifeStation offers both in-home and mobile solutions. Their products do not require a landline and have a large base range with extended battery life. The company also offers a feature on their devices that allows you to contact 911 directly. Costumers in Buffalo appreciate the polite customer service team and immediate response when help is required.
MedicalAlert offers several connected monitoring centers and supports multiple languages. They offer fall detection, waterproof equipment and various pricing plans with no activation fee. Reviews from Buffalo residents say people love how communicative the customer service agents are during emergencies.
Founded in 1974, Philips Lifeline has the largest subscriber base in the United States. Customizable programming is available for active seniors, homebound seniors and seniors with chronic conditions (called CareSage). CareSage uses predictive analytics so caregivers can take preventive action. In addition to at-home and on-the-go systems, Philips Lifeline offers medication dispensing tools, too.