Senior alert systems, also known as medical alarms, are devices that are designed to call for help if you can’t reach the phone. They consist of an alert button you wear on your body and (usually) a base station that dials for help. They can either dial pre-programmed numbers or dial a monitoring center.
I think the monitored options are the best because you know you’ll always be able to reach a trained person who will keep their cool in an emergency.
But cost in an issue. With most monitored senior alerts, you don’t actually buy the equipment. You just lease or borrow it from the company and what you really pay for is the monitoring service, which runs between $20 and $50 a month.
Some companies insist that you sign a long term contract when you start your service. These may be 1 year, 2 year or even 3 year agreements.
It’s important to recognize that these contracts are legal agreements and you are committing to keep paying each month even if the service isn’t right for you anymore. Some services will let you out of the contract if you provide a doctor’s note that the person has moved to an assisted living facility, but they don’t make it easy. And some services have even been dinged on consumer review sites for making it hard to cancel even after the person who had the service has died.
But do you need a contract?
There are TONS of senior alert services that don’t require contracts. You pay month-to-month or you can pay up front and get a discount. You have plenty of options. You can even choose companies that let you save money by paying in advance, but if you need to cancel they’ll send you back the money for any unused months.
One of these is Medipendant, and they also have the advantage of being a walkie-talkie style system (cordless phone based, actually) that allows you to talk through a small pendant instead of having to shout to be heard.
There’s no need to sign a contract when you purchase a senior alert service. There are many good options that don’t require a long-term commitment.