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Monday May 20, 2024

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Voice-Activated Medical Alert Systems

My parent has fallen twice during the past year but does not like wearing a medical pendant. Are there any monitored medical alert devices that do not require wearing a help button?

There are many monitored medical alert systems on the market. These devices offer voice-activated capabilities to enable a person to call for help using voice commands without pushing a wearable help button. These new technologies are very helpful for seniors that live alone and who forget or prefer not to wear a help button. These devices are also helpful for persons with certain physical disabilities.

Simply speaking the "wake words" activates these devices and connects a person to a trained dispatcher at a 24/7 monitoring center. The dispatcher can assess their condition and request the appropriate help, such as calling local emergency services or contacting a family member, friend or neighbor for assistance. These devices are often accompanied by a smartphone app that allows remote monitoring and will notify family or a caregiver if a problem occurs.

Hands-Free Medical Alerts

There are many voice-activated medical alert systems with various features and price ranges. Costs may include fees for the equipment, activation and monthly monitoring. Some systems may use a landline while others work with a cellular connection. Depending on the system purchased, the initial equipment may come with base consoles, wireless speakers, voice-activated and push wall buttons, personal help buttons and fall detection sensors. Optional medical alert watches and pendants with fall detection capabilities are typically sold separately.

Most of the options available offer two-way communication through a base station. For example, a person could simply say "Call 911" twice and be connected to a dispatcher at a monitoring center. Some devices can also make voice command nonemergency calls to preassigned contacts, answer health questions and provide reminders for medications and doctor appointments.

Smart Home Solution

Instead of a traditional medical alert system, another hands-free way to call for help is with a voice-controlled personal assistant speaker that responds to commands. The devices are sold by companies to create "smart homes" but also offer optional monthly plans for remote caregiving and medical alert services. The speakers are compatible with some third-party fall detection devices. If a fall is detected, it asks if help is needed and, if so, the person is connected to their designated contact.

These devices also provide additional features that can be useful. For example, some will make hands-free calls, receive reminders, set timers and alarms, control smart home devices, check the weather, play music and much more.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published August 25, 2023
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