Currently federal regulators are considering overhauling 911 emergency services to improve response times and efficiency. However, some individuals with elderly relatives that live alone have opted to take action on their own by purchasing a medical response system.
Medical attention within the first 90 minutes of a heart attack, stroke or a fall enhances the chances of recovery for the victim. With an average response time between 30 to 45 seconds, medical alert systems do their best to ensure emergency personnel arrive on the scene in speedy fashion.
Personal Emergency Response System (PERS): The Basics
Known as senior alarm systems among other names, PERS are devices allowing individuals to receive assistance in the event of an emergency. Medical alarm systems typically consist of two components:
Help Button: A wireless device that can be worn on the body as a pendant or wristband.
Communicator: The base unit of the system. This two-way device plugs into the user’s home telephone line.
In the event of an emergency, users can activate the system by pressing the button on their wireless device. An emergency dispatcher then responds to the call, directly speaking with the user via the two way speakerphone on the communicator. After determining the kind of help needed, the dispatcher has the option calling someone on the user’s emergency call list. This list typically includes up to three people who are available to assist the user if contacted by a dispatcher. In emergency situations or if verbal communications with the user cannot be established, the dispatcher will proceed to immediately contact paramedics.
A Sense of Security
Research shows medical alarm systems provide users and their families with a sense of security. But this sense is more than just a feeling, as one study found medical monitoring systems drastically reduced mortality rates and cut hospital use by nearly 60 percent.
Despite the benefits medical alarm systems provide to older adults, only 16 percent of seniors participating in the study had a PERS in their homes. With baby boomers expected to increase the elderly population to 54 million in 2020, a heightened awareness of the benefits medical alert devices offer could prolong the independence and well-being of many seniors to come.