5 Signs Your Loved One Needs a Life Alert

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Medical alert systems—popularized by the brand Life Alert—give people quick access to help during an emergency. They just push a button and wait mere seconds for someone to come on the line: “Hi, this is Jane with Life Alert. Do you need help?” 

These buttons range from basic pendants to sophisticated watches that automatically dial for help in the event of a fall. They can be life-changing devices that restore a person’s confidence and reduce anxiety among their loved ones. 

If your loved one shows any of these five signs, it’s time to invest in a medical alert.

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1. They’ve already had a fall

Falling once doubles a senior’s chance of falling again, according to a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Purchasing a medical alert device is a smart and proactive move—especially if your loved one struggled to get on their feet after the first fall.

A study in the British Medical Journal says “serious consequences” can arise the longer an older person lays on the floor after a fall, including “serious injuries, admission to hospital, and subsequent moves into long-term care.”

Using a medical alert device is the fastest way for seniors to get help.

2. They live alone or spend significant time alone

When seniors live alone, there isn’t anyone around to help them in an emergency—and picking up the phone isn’t always the most effective way to get help. Pressing a button is much simpler, especially if they’re struggling to move, breathe, or think.

The emergency doesn’t even have to be medical in nature. Medical alert monitors can dispatch firefighters, police officers, and family members too.

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Extra support in daily life

Lively’s senior services go beyond emergency dispatch. Your loved one can get help from a personal operator for any kind of problem, whether they need a ride from Lyft, want to speak to a nurse, or just need a little extra help finding a business’s phone number.

Lively’s Jitterbug phone is required for some services.

3. They’re starting to avoid going out

Staying home more often than usual is a subtle sign that your loved one is starting to feel vulnerable. A mobile medical alert button can empower them to resume their normal routine.

If your loved one needs help on the go, emergency responders will know exactly where to find them, thanks to built-in GPS trackers

Our favorite mobile medical alert is Medical Guardian’s Mini Guardian.

4. They have certain diagnoses or risk factors

Certain medical conditions have scary symptoms that require immediate attention,  like a heart attack or low blood sugar spell. Here are some common risk factors associated with falling or needing quick medical care:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Dementia or other cognitive impairment
  • Impaired gait 
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Seizure disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Weak muscles around the ankle and knees
  • Foot and toe deformities
  • Taking certain medications, especially if they cause dizziness

Take a closer look at fall risk factors and stats in this guide: What Is Fall Detection? 

Review your loved one’s medical history with their gerontologist to gauge their risk of falling or experiencing other medical emergencies.

5. Their doctor already recommended one

A doctor’s recommendation is the ultimate sign that your loved one needs a medical alert system. They’ve evaluated the risk factors and know what can happen without a medical alert device. Take their recommendation seriously.

Fortunately, people are more likely to use a medical alert system if a medical professional suggests it rather than a family member, according to a study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research

That said, you can’t force your loved one to use a medical alert device. Other studies have found that some people refuse to ever use these buttons, even if they’re readily available and would be beneficial. We hope your loved one doesn’t fall into that category, but it’s a possibility.

Medical alerts open the door to a more independent lifestyle and can even make the difference between staying at home (also called aging in place) or moving to an assisted living facility. Continue to learn about their benefits so you can easily talk to your loved one about medical alerts and soothe their fears.

Compare the best medical alert systems

Best for
Lowest monthly price
In-home range
Backup battery
Landline option available
Learn more
Best overall1000 ft.32 hrs.
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best wearable options1300 ft.32 hrs.
Icon Yes  LightYes
Most trusted name600 ft.20 hrs.
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best for fall detection800 ft.30 hrs.
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best at-home system1,300 ft.32 hrs.
Icon Yes  LightYes
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Save money and stay connected with an AARP membership

With an AARP membership, you can get a 15% discount on a Lifeline medical alert system, in addition to discounts on hotels, restaurants, prescriptions and more. You also get the AARP magazine, access to virtual learning programs, and can connect with other AARP members in your community.

Cathy Habas
Written by
With over eight years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She is a certified Safe Sleep Ambassador and has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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