So you’ve decided that you’re ready for a medical alert system, now what? There are tons of companies out there chomping at the bit to get your business. Some of these companies are reputable while others aren’t. Even some of the more well known companies aren’t suited for each unique person’s specific needs. Most people who are purchasing a medical alert system for the first time don’t even know which questions are the right ones to help them narrow their search! Below is a list to help point you in the right direction.
1. Perhaps one of the most important questions you need to ask is whether or not you are required to sign a long term contract. Most of the more reputable companies won’t require this, but there are a few. Try and avoid long term contracts. Most companies that don’t require long term contracts will still typically want at least a 30 day notice for cancellation.
2. Do I own the equipment, or am I renting it? Who covers the equipment if something stops working? A lot of companies will send you the equipment for free, and replace it for free if it stops working, while other companies charge you for the equipment making you the owner and the one responsible for replacement charges.
3. Is the system tested automatically? While it’s not hard to test a system yourself, most people fail to do so regularly. For most of us, a medical alert system is something we carry all the time, but will rarely actually use. When the time comes that you need it, you want to be sure it works perfectly. Many companies test the system automatically either weekly, monthly or both.
4. What is the range of the pendant or bracelet from the base unit? Keep in mind that regardless of what a company states, your actual range will vary based on the layout of your home and the materials used in its construction. With that in mind, you want a range that is at least slightly further than your anticipated need.
5. What is the total annual cost of service and equipment? Some of the less reputable companies will have hidden fees, and additional charges that they don’t always disclose up front. Before signing up, you want to try and get an actual figure of what everything will cost you.
6. What do my loved ones do with the equipment and service if I pass away? Many of the more reputable companies will immediately terminate the contract and refund your family for any unused portion of the service. So for example, if you pay quarterly and pass away in the first month after paying your bill, the other two months will be reimbursed.
7. Ask questions about the call center. Do they stay on the line with you during an emergency? What kind of training do call center employees go through? Some companies make their employees go through the same training that 911 operators go through, while others are simply there to send emergency help without ever really knowing what your needs are. Another important question to ask is where the call center is located. You don’t want someone on the other end with an accent so thick that you can’t understand them!
8. Do I need a landline for a medical alert system? Will it work with VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)? In today’s society, more and more people are doing away with their landlines.
9. What other services are offered with this system? Fall detection devices are typically an additional service and don’t come standard. Other useful services include medication reminders, security systems and CO2 detectors.
10. Can I take my medical alert system with me on vacation? Most medical alert systems are strictly for the home, unless you specifically purchase a mobile system. By calling the service provider though, you are often times able to take the system with you if you are going out of town.
Medical alert systems are a great way to stay safe and add additional years of independent living for many seniors. Make sure to ask the right questions to get the most out of your system and service!