Why a Medical Alert System is Better than a Cell Phone in an Emergency

Nina Livelo

Mar 26 2019

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As your loved ones get older and more fragile, it’s time to consider getting them a medical alert system. Home and mobile medical alert systems provide peace of mind for aging adults and those who care for them. In case of emergency, all they have to do is press a button and they are connected with an emergency response operator.

But how is that different from calling 911? Many think that since most modern senior citizens have cell phones, investing in a medical alert system is unnecessary. Unfortunately, when it comes to the safety and security of your loved ones, a cell phone just isn’t enough. Keep reading for all the reasons why you should opt for a medical alert system instead.

Cell Phones vs. Medical Alert Systems

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 85% of adults over 65 have a cell phone. This means older adults are able to keep up with their loved ones more easily than ever before. Carrying a cell phone also means that, when out and about, they have a way to contact help in case of emergency. In reality, cell phones are far less reliable than most people think. Let’s take a look at the reasons why.


Why Cell Phones Are Problematic

  • Overly complex – The majority of aging adults that use cell phones prefer smartphones. These deluxe pieces of technology are much more than just phones; they’re media centers, cameras, web browsers, and more. These features are great for playing games or storing precious photos and videos but are useless in case of emergency. Navigating to the part of the smartphone that actually makes calls can take time and agility you may not have.
  • Touch screens may be hard to use – More often than not, cell phones operate using touch screens. In fact, cell phone manufacturers are increasingly eliminating buttons altogether for the sake of design. Prettier devices are not necessarily easier to use, though. Some medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest, can make operating sensitive touch screens nearly impossible. In such cases, simple actions, like pressing a button, are better.
  • Less accessible – Particularly for those who may keep their cell phones in their purse or bag. When an emergency arises, there is no time to lose. Getting to a cell phone in another room or finding it at the bottom of your bag may be a waste of precious time. Or worse – you might not be able to access it at all.
  • Dropping it could be disastrous – Cell phone manufacturers are constantly designing phones to be slimmer and sleeker than ever before. This is just another way of saying they’re more slippery. Older adults tend to be less nimble with their hands, which is unfortunately exacerbated when experiencing a medical crisis. In turn, they are more likely to drop their cell phone. Many seniors have trouble bending over to pick things up, so this is highly problematic.
  • 911 operators don’t know anything about you – 911 operators need to ask a number of questions in order to get an understanding of your emergency. Not only is this a waste of time, but it can also be an obstacle for those who have trouble breathing or are dealing with significant pain. Medical alert system operators, however, already know your medical conditions and history when you call for help. This way, they are able to provide quick and optimized care.
  • Cellular network congestion could make calling 911 impossible – Sometimes an emergency occurs during a time of broader emergency, such as a natural disaster. At such events, networks become so jammed with people calling 911 and their loved ones, that they go down altogether. 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Sandy are all examples of times people have been unable to reach 911 operators due to network congestion.

in case of emergency

Why You Should Choose a Medical Alert System

  • Easy to use – Medical alert systems are designed to be as simple as possible and easy to use in case of emergency. Wearable devices are often worn around the neck or on the wrist to make them highly accessible. To call for help, all you need to do is press a button and emergency responders are dispatched immediately.
  • Better for the tech-impaired – Cell phones can be tricky for older adults who have trouble with technology. Medical alert systems, on the other hand, are low-tech devices that anyone can use. There are no apps required, no keypad to fumble with; just a single button.
  • Waterproof – Most medical alert systems are waterproof so that users can bring them into the bathroom, where accidents are prone to happen. Slippery showers and baths can lead to dangerous and sometimes fatal falls. Being able to call an emergency response operator from the bathroom is a necessary precaution.
  • GPS-enabled – One of the more popular trends in medical alert systems is built-in GPS. In case of emergency while away from home, GPS-enabled devices make it possible to quickly alert operators of your location. Otherwise, you can program your home address into your home device so that emergency response teams know exactly where to go.
  • Automatic fall detection – Falling is dangerous for older adults, as it may cause broken bones, head injuries, and trauma. In fact, over 3 million senior adults are treated for fall injuries each year. Naturally, the best medical alert system features automatic fall detection. Most medical alert companies offer fall detection, which automatically alerts emergency response operators and even loved ones of the incident.
  • Personalized emergency plans – By setting up emergency plans in advance, some medical alert systems, such as LifeStation, offer personalized emergency care. You can program your medical alert system to call certain individuals in case of emergency, like doctors, caregivers, or family.
  • No frequent charging necessary – One of the major setbacks of cell phones is that they have to be charged every day; sometimes more. Most medical alert systems, like GetSafe, are designed with long-lasting, durable batteries to ensure 24/7 coverage in case of emergency. Often, companies will provide new devices free of charge once a battery finally runs out.

Switch to a Medical Alert System Today

When it comes to reliability, medical alert systems outperform cell phones in every way. Their simple design, fall detection, and personalized care plans are just a few ways they demonstrate superior care in case of emergency. Browse our reviews to choose the best medical alert system for you and get set up right away!

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