How to Evaluate Monitoring Systems for Aging in Place
Posted on September 27th, 2016
There are countless options available when it comes to in-home monitoring systems. Some products include personal emergency response systems and computer monitoring, while others offer motion detection sensors and GPS location tracking. But how do you know which one to choose to ensure the safety of someone aging in place and give you the security and reassurance you need as the caregiver? Here are some things to consider when evaluating the best monitoring systems to help seniors live independently.
Figure out what monitoring system features are really needed
Dependingon the condition of the person who needs the monitoring system, different product features may be more important than others. For an aging senior living independently or someone prone to falls or seizures, a product with automatic fall detection may be the priority. For someone suffering from Alzheimer’s or another dementia, motion detecting sensors, GPS tracking ability and medication management might be more crucial. Thinking through the needs of both the senior and caregiver in conjunction with available product features will help lead you to the right monitoring system.
Decide between a monitored and unmonitored system
Some medical alert systems are monitored with live dispatchers on the other end to ensure immediate attention is provided in the case of an emergency. Other systems are unmonitored and simply trigger calls to a list of pre-programmed phone numbers such as the caregiver, the doctor and finally, 911. Determining which type of in-home monitoring device will work best for your individual scenario may help cut down the list of options from the start.
Research monitoring service providers
Monitored systems have monitoring representatives ready to take action in the event of an emergency or when something goes wrong. It’s important to learn what you can about the services the dispatchers will provide, should they need to interact with your loved one. What type of training do they have? What situations can they handle? What is the average response time? Where is the call center located? Ask questions and do research to make sure you feel comfortable with the service provider and their staff behind the system.
Compare costs of monitoring devices
Be sure to understand the full picture in terms of annual cost to make sure the product is affordable in the long run. Many seniors are on a fixed income so cost is important to consider. Some companies allow you to purchase their equipment, while others choose to lease it. Installation fees often apply as do monthly service fees. Find out if the company offers month-to-month service contracts or if annual contracts are required, and what happens if you choose to cancel or if the equipment gets damaged or stops working.
Think about portability and range needed for safely aging in place
Some systems are able to work outside of the home and offer different ranges of coverage. Find out if the system you are considering will work in the backyard or even down the street. Many independent seniors will travel outside the home, so it may be important to invest in a system that offers a coverage range of security that will protect both in and out of the home.
Ask about additional monitoring system equipment and installation
Before making a selection, find out exactly what equipment is needed for each system being considered, and if any additional cost comes with it. Some systems require a landline telephone in the home, while others require Wi-Fi. Ask about installation of the equipment to know if the service provider will handle it or if it will be the user’s responsibility to install.
Understand the process if the monitoring system breaks
Find out upfront what the process is if something breaks or goes wrong. Each company should have procedures for handling system maintenance, troubleshooting and repairs. Also ask about system testing and how often it occurs. You don’t want to be caught off guard having to return a broken system and wait for a new one to be delivered. Know the details of company vs. customer responsibilities before you sign a contract.
Research product satisfaction for aging in place
Check out reviews online to see what others think about the products you are considering. View product websites and call their customer service lines to ask questions. Talk to friends, family, other caregivers and even doctors about monitoring systems they’ve used or heard about and would recommend.
Most importantly, do your research. With so many monitoring products to choose from, it’s important to weigh each product’s pros and cons alongside the needs of the aging senior. For additional information, visit the Medical Alert Advice website.
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