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Lifeline and Other "Medical Alerts"-Any Good?

 
 
Reply Tue 16 Dec, 2008 06:32 pm
My parents have had a few falls lately, fortunately no permanent damage. They live alone in their own house. I have heard of this Lifeline medical alert, and googling it see there are apparently other "medical alert" systems.

Does anyone out there have any experience with these medical alerts, and any recommendations for choosing one over the other? Any guidance on this would be gretly appreciated.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 9 • Views: 1,974 • Replies: 14
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NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Dec, 2008 08:53 pm
@Blickers,
My dad had one of those when he started getting Alzheimer's. However, he would always forget to put it around his neck. It does you no good if you don't know where the thing is.
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Dec, 2008 09:00 pm
My sister insisted that my mother get one after mom fell and couldn't get to the phone. She had the kind that required her to press a button on a stationary unit (on the desk) every day. The agency would call the house if she didn't buzz in by noontime. If she didn't answer the phone they would send the police. She also had a wristband button that she could push in the case of a fall. She could let them know if she was going on a trip and suspend the service for a few days or take it with her.

She never needed to use the wristband button but she did get a phone call or two to the house to make sure she was ok. She was somewhat angry at my sister to begin with but decided she was glad the system was in place once she had it.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Dec, 2008 09:11 pm
@NickFun,
I don't know. I've heard of plenty of failures of it, but it could help. Also must be sort of weird to wear one, at first. Weird and comforting.

It's not just in old age - we could all be or have been caught alone at some point. Out of cell phone range, for example. I had a friend who had a heart attack at 31, so age incidence may be weighted to the high end, but not always.

I remember semi freaking when I realized about lack of cell phone access when I drove from CA to NM. Stupid of me not to understand that in the first place. But, not only did my CA cell not work (it usually did there, except in the densest forest) but none would. Funny how cell phones didn't exist, and then did, and then became needed.

This is an obvious problem for the elderly. I've worried about it myself (put a phone in my basement, back in CA, not for that reason, but I considered that a plus after I did it). But unless you herd us all into barns, I'm not sure the matter is fixable. People will be alone, and sometimes they/we die.

I agree with Nick, depends on if you wear it, and add, paid the bills on it.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Dec, 2008 11:42 pm
@ossobuco,
But wait, I don't want to be the last word - I have no personal experience and also have hope for, perhaps, improvement in this area.
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  2  
Reply Wed 17 Dec, 2008 08:33 am
I've had my lifeline for over two years. I wear it on a cord around my neck at all times, including in the shower. Once a month, I get a test call from Lifeline to be sure the devise is working properly.

I've had several falls but haven't pushed the Lifeline button yet. Instead, I was able to get help from my neighbors to lift me back on my feet. My latest fall was Saturday when my dog Dolly tripped me and down I went. I can't get up from the floor and crawled to the front door to let my neighbors in to rescue me. If I was not able to reach my phone to get help, I would push my lifeline button to get help. My neighbors and friends have my garage door code and a key to my house so they can reach me at any time of the day or night because I keep my doors locked.

BBB
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Dec, 2008 02:40 pm
@BumbleBeeBoogie,
The lifeline alerts are only as good as the person's willingness to use them.

Some people for some reason refuse to use them unless there just aren't any other options. They'll struggle to get up and drag themselves around the house for hours while trying to get help from other sources. (Ahem!)
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chai2
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Dec, 2008 03:12 pm
If I was older and living alone, I would definately wear one.

Like BBB I'd keep it on all the time, especially in the shower, which is a pretty likely place to fall.

At first pass, I guess it is natural for someone to balk at wearing one, since they might feel it is saying "I'm too old to take care of myself".
However, I look at it the opposite way. I'd think "I don't want to fall or become suddenly ill and not be able to get myself out of a bad situation. Because I take care of myself, I'm going to add this tool to my arsenal."

A couple of weeks back I took a fall while walking on the greenbelt. Hit my jaw on a rock, slammed my breast into another one (my entire breast was black the next day, very vascular area), and did a controlled roll into some trees. My very first thought was "Don't pass out." My head was woozy and I wasn't sure for a second if I was going to loose consciousness.

I was fine and all, laid there for a minute to make sure nothing was broken and to get my bearings, but it was a cold enough day if I had been knocked out and no one came along, I could have been in trouble.

I worked in a couple of nursing homes, and let me tell you, when someone ends up there because they broke a hip, it can be a quick downward slide.

The thought of that happening in my own home, without having the foresight to be prepared to get help, is an avoidable risk.
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Blickers
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Dec, 2008 06:13 pm
I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to respond. So far we have one person who has one but has not used it, plus a couple of people known to the posters who have one and seem satisfied. And a reminder that for the system to be useful, the person must wear the thing on them.

If anyone out there has anything else to contribute, pro or con, please feel free to do so.

Osso: You mentioned you had heard of a few failures of it, do you care to elaborate? I would be very interested.

On the issue of wearing the thing: Knowing my parents, they would wear the thing if they had it. The way they would see it is that this thing costs money, they'll be damned if they don't get their money's worth out of it, lol.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Dec, 2008 06:19 pm
@Blickers,
Not so much failures of the mechanism, but inability of the person to click it (or whatever is required), or failure to be wearing it.
0 Replies
 
Blickers
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Dec, 2008 03:51 pm
Osso:

Thanks for responding. Happily I don't think wearing it if they have it will be a problem. My father is the kind of guy that once he decides something is supposed to be in a certain place, he'll make sure it is in place.

For instance, my parents take almost all their phone calls from the kitchen phone. Some years ago, when the pen designated to write down messages in the kitchen went missing one time too often, (despite my father's numerous ten minute lectures on the importance of keeping a pen there), he went out and bought a large eyebolt, screwed it in the wall and tied a cord with a pen attached through the eye. He's not at all mechanical, didn't even know what an eyebolt was, but he made sure he found some way to make sure that damn pen was always in the kitchen.

He'll make sure the medial alert is on both his and my mother's wrists.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Dec, 2008 04:44 pm
@Blickers,
Ah, good!

I don't really mean to sound negative - I think they are likely a good thing.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 01:00 pm
@ossobuco,
Blickers, there's a column on this subject, and reader responses to it, here:

http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/22/a-call-for-help/
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 01:35 pm
@Blickers,
My mom had one, and it really came in handy on a number of occasions, when she had fallen. If she didn't hit a certain button every day, they would call her.

One limitation is that the unit only works in the house, and possibly right outside of it.
0 Replies
 
Jeff L
 
  0  
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 07:08 pm
@Blickers,
Hello..
I understand your concern on the medical alert buttons. After losing my father 4 years ago, I wanted to get something for my mother. After alot of research I made the decission to go with the one that Doctor C. Everette Koop, The Former Surgeon General of the United States wears. They are an American owned and operated company that really cares. When I ordered it, the one thing that my representative said was: Remember that its not the system that you are paying for but the results once the button is pushed. He was really wonderful and caring for me and my family. I know his name and number if that will help you at all. 800-294-4553 ext 246 his name was Jim I think.
0 Replies
 
 

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