A personal emergency response system (PERS) can provide peace of mind if the person you care for lives alone. There are many factors to consider when shopping for a device.
The need for a personal call button. Is your loved one at risk of a fall or heart attack? If so, you’ll want 24/7 emergency help. Or are you looking for backup for nonemergency situations: a car breakdown or home alone and not feeling safe?
Who receives the alert?
- A professional on duty 24/7. Push the button and a human being answers. By arrangement, the professional at the other end of the line has access to your loved one’s medical history. He or she also knows who to call and in what order.
- An automated response. You choose among three possibilities: direct to 911 (your loved one may hesitate to push the button), direct to a prearranged contact person (who may or may not be available), trigger a phone tree of people to be automatically called (if no one answers, the system alerts 911).
Where it works
- Home use only. Good for the homebound.
- Home and away from home. Typically, these require a strong cell signal. If your loved one lives in a rural area, this type may not be a wise choice.
How easy is it to use?
- Charging frequency. Does the system require a regular habit of charging every night? Is that realistic?
- Practice is required! It’s not at all intuitive to the person using the device for the first time or two. Ask for a trial run and practice regularly after the purchase.
How ugly or obvious is it? Looks are important! If your relative doesn’t like it, he or she won’t wear it, and that defeats the purpose. Get your loved one’s thumbs up before making a final decision.