Topics:Budget Smart Medical Alert Companies Medical Alert Systems 101 Retirement Medical Alert News Fall Prevention Tips Health Tips Lifestyle Safety Tips
Medical alert devices have been around for decades and largely serve the same purpose they always have, so how can you know which company is the best? Two of the most well-known names in the medical alert industry, Life Alert and Medical Guardian, both serve thousands of customers and feature 24/7 monitoring by certified emergency representatives, but what are the key differences between the two? Allow us to break things down for you. Price Medical Guardian's systems cost anywhere between $29.95 to $49.95 per month. The least expensive system is the Classic Guardian system that plugs into a landline connection and features 1300 feet of range. The most expensive unit is the Premium Guardian, which is roughly the size of a deck of cards and is GPS-enabled, so you can take it with you anywhere. This means that wherever you go, emergency responders will be able to pinpoint your exact location, even if you're outside. Unfortunately, Life Alert doesn't disclose any prices on its website, so it's hard to make a solid comparison. However, it appears as though Life Alert offers similar products to Medical Guardian. There are even mobile apps available with Life Alert. But since we don't know the prices of Life Alert's products, we can't know for sure if the customer is in for a bargain. Winner: Medical Guardian (by default) Equipment Fee Medical Guardian offers no equipment fee for its systems. This means that you won't have to pay extra just because the system shows up at your door. Thankfully, Life Alert doesn't charge an equipment fee, either. Winner: Tie Activation Fee Medical Guardian charges no activation fee for any of its packages. When the product comes in the mail, just plug it into your wall outlet and/or landline connection, and it should be ready to go. All of your contact information comes pre-loaded and assigned in accordance with the unit you ordered. Life Alert charges an activation and installation fee of $95 to $295 depending on the package. This can be frustrating because this could equate to a month's worth of groceries or several months of emergency monitoring. Many top medical alert companies are doing away with these fees, and Life Alert would do well to do the same. Winner: Medical Guardian Contract Medical Guardian operates based on a month-to-month basis. If a customer needs to cancel services for any reason, there isn't a hefty contract binding you into monthly payments regardless of your need. Just ship the equipment back to Medical Guardian headquarters and you're good to go. However, there is a 90-day service agreement, so you must pay for the first three months of service. If you want to return the device before the 90-day period expires, Medical Guardian will refund you the remaining amount in due time, but you must pay for the first three months beforehand. On the other hand, Life Alert operates based on a 3-year contract. This means that the customer will be required to pay every month until the 36-month period has expired, and this can be incredibly frustrating if funds are running low or you don't need the product anymore. The customer may have the option to buy out of a contract, but depending on how much time is left, that can cost upward of $1,000. Winner: Medical Guardian Warranty Both Life Alert and Medical Guardian offer lifetime warranties on their equipment. This means that if anything goes wrong with the equipment you've purchased, the company will replace it free of charge. Winner: Tie Range Medical Guardian's most basic system (Classic Guardian) offers 1300 feet of range, which is one of the greatest distances currently available on the market. The Home Guardian, which is $5/month extra, only offers half that range. Remember, though, that Medical Guardian has a more expensive GPS-enabled system that allows it to operate anywhere. In comparison, Life Alert's system offers 800 feet of range. This is still an impressive number, but Medical Guardian's most basic system can outshine this by 500 feet. There is a mobile option available to Live Alert customers that is also GPS-enabled, but the price of the product is unknown. Winner: Medical Guardian Time in Business Life Alert has been in the medical alert industry for 30 years at the time of this article's publication. The company established itself in the late 1980's with the television commercials featuring an elderly woman crying, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" These popular commercials have helped Life Alert to be the most well-known name in the medical alert industry. Medical Guardian has only been in business for 12 years at the time of this review. However, we found that Medical Guardian has a much more robust and navigable website in comparison to veteran company Life Alert. Life Alert would do well to follow Medical Guardian's lead with an organized blog, clearly outlined package pricing, and informative videos. Winner: Life Alert Customer Reviews According to BestCompany.com, Medical Guardian boasts over 1,400 customer reviews with an average rating of 8.6/10. The majority of customer reviews indicate quick response times, friendly customer representatives, and easy setup. Comparatively, Life Alert currently has a 1.6/10 rating based on 45 customer reviews. Most of the reviews complain about poor customer service and rigid contracts with overwhelming buyouts. Winner: Medical Guardian Overall Comparing the two companies, the obvious choice is Medical Guardian. The company offers several pricing options boasting different functions that should complement most customers' budgets. Even the most basic package has one of the best ranges of any device in the industry, and higher-priced units are GPS-enabled so you can take the product anywhere. The company also has excellent customer feedback based on over 1,400 experiences. This speaks to the company's customer service and ease of use. Life Alert is one of the pioneers in the medical alert industry, but according to feedback from customers and a lack of pricing transparency on the company's website, the organization seems to be a little out of touch. The lifetime warranty and lack of equipment fee are definitely encouraging but aren't enough to set the company apart from other companies in the medical alert industry. Looking at customer feedback is especially discouraging. Winner: Medical Guardian
Living alone can feel isolating. It might feel like there's not much to do when you're taking care of the house by yourself and visitors don't come as often as you'd like. You can combat feelings of boredom or loneliness by engaging in hobbies or activities that encourage socialization and build your strength physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here is a list of things we recommend. Doing Arts and Crafts Creating anything with your hands is stimulating mentally. Art therapy has been used to help memories resurface for those who suffer from dementia. Some quality activities include the following: Painting Sculpting Ceramic molding Photography Woodworking Many of these activities can be engaging on a social level. See if your local recreation center offers classes for the above-mentioned activities or anything similar. This is a great way to engage in an environment where you can make friends and practice something you'll enjoy. Volunteering Volunteering is an opportunity to forget your own troubles and help someone in need. Wherever you are, there are organizations that need an extra pair of hands or just someone willing to give of their time, such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Boy/Girl Scouts of America, your local library, or soup kitchen. Studies have shown that those who regularly volunteer decrease their risk of depression, enjoy a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and have reduced stress levels. Golfing Golf is a low-intensity physical activity that requires a lot of dexterity and allows you to get out and enjoy some fresh air. The activity also improves flexibility and provides social interaction. If you're looking to lose weight, golf might be a good option as well. The Norwegian Golf Federation found that an 18-hole game of golf burns around 2,500 calories. If you walk the whole way, it also involves taking over 10,000 steps, which is considered a good goal for the number of steps you should be taking every day. Gardening Not only does gardening increase flexibility and mobility, but it also increases hand strength. A Stockholm study found that gardening regularly reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 30 percent if you're over the age of 60. Not only that, but most gardeners will tell you that there's a large sense of satisfaction that comes with tending rows of shrubs and blooming flowers. Gardening also means home grown vegetables. Growing vegetables in a personal garden is doable even if you live in an apartment. All you need is a box, some plastic lining, top soil, and seeds. Most of these can be found at your local hardware store. Line the box with the plastic, fill it with the top soil, plant your seeds, set your box by an open window, and make sure to water it regularly. Growing your own vegetables like squash, carrots, peas, and tomatoes is a great way to subsidize your own food costs while providing yourself with a fun, meaningful hobby. Exercising At any age, making exercise a habit is an important thing, but as you get older, your bones and joints aren't as strong as they once were. Some low-intensity workouts suitable for the aging adult include the following: Swimming Yoga Tai Chi Resistance band training Walking With these hobbies, it's a good idea to consider purchasing a medical alert system. As you continue to age, you become more and more susceptible to a fall which could become life-threatening, no matter how active you are. A list of the best medical alert companies in the industry can be found here. Writing Poetry or Stories For centuries, poetry has been used as a supplemental treatment for mental disorders. It's a healthy mode of self-expression and, depending on the form, encourages structure that's mentally stimulating. If you're feeling upset, sad, or lonely, poetry is a good medium for a therapeutic, emotional outlet. Aside from that, remember that story idea you had swirling in your mind for so many years, but never had the time to write it? When you're living alone, there's no better time to do it. Writing stories allows you to visualize new people, places, and situations and following a narrative structure is a lot like building a puzzle with words. If you don't have a fictional story in mind, it's a great idea to write down your own life stories for your family to read. Doing Family History Genealogy has been a popular activity for many people reaching their more advanced years, and with the internet, researching your ancestors has never been easier. Some top genealogy websites include FamilySearch.org, FindMyPast.com, and Ancestry.com. These sites include thousands upon thousands of files representing those who have passed on, and most users find it simple to locate their ancestors and begin researching their family tree. FamilySearch.org is a service operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints but isn't restricted to use of those belonging to the LDS Church. Anyone can sign up and begin researching free of charge. However, Ancestry.com is a more popular service that costs just shy of $20/month and also provides millions of files. FindMyPast.com offers similar services at the same price but also features a 1939 Register. Operating a Ham Radio This is the same interface that police officers and fire fighters use to communicate. Ham radio systems can cost anywhere from $35 to over $1000, depending on what kind of range you'd like the radio to access. These systems can fit in your hand like a walkie talkie or can take up an entire desk space. However, with the latter, you can access and communicate with other ham radio operators across the world! Just know that you have to pass a written exam in order to become officially ham radio certified. Allow yourself approximately ten hours of study time before you take the exam. The test costs $15, and you can take it as many times as you'd like until you pass with a score of 85 percent. A Technician class license will work just fine if you wish to communicate with other ham radio operators locally, but you must acquire a General class license if you want to communicate internationally. Caring for a Pet Pets are a great solution for feelings of loneliness or depression. There are also financial benefits to adopting a pet because they are typically cheaper to purchase through adoption than if you were to buy from a pet store. You're also saving a pet in need, so it can be a win-win. Pets have been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase social interaction along with physical activity. The sense of companionship from dogs, in particular, increases the flow of positive hormones to the brain and body, resulting in a therapeutic experience. Psychologist Penny B. Donnenfeld has indicated that dogs can even help elders with their memories. In particular, some of the best dog breeds for seniors are pugs, schnauzers, cocker spaniels, chihuahuas, and Boston terriers.
How to live an active lifestyle is common knowledge. We've all been told growing up that it's important to eat fruits and vegetables, exercise, and get plenty of fresh air. But as you get older, your body begins to slow down and you're not able to do things the way you used to. So how do you continue to live an active, healthy lifestyle as you age? Here are a few tips that we recommend to take care of your body and mind in your later years: Eat right This is great advice at any age. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins have been shown to increase longevity. But as you get older, it gets more difficult to eat some of the foods you enjoy. Here are some things to do: Drink plenty of water — As you get older, you're likely to get dehydrated more quickly. Drinking plenty of water helps you think more clearly, ward off fatigue, and avoid heatstroke. Fiber — This includes vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and legumes. Digestion, which has the tendency to slow down with age, is aided by getting enough fiber in the diet. Blueberries — Blueberries are not only delicious, they're also full of antioxidants and vitamins C and E. All berries are good, in general, but blueberries are top-tier. Salmon — Notorious for being heart-healthy, salmon is also an excellent source of protein. It's high in omega-3 fatty acids that help prevent heart disease and stroke. Two servings per week are recommended. Yogurt — The calcium from yogurt helps fortify bones that become weak and brittle as you grow older. Make sure you focus on getting vitamin D yogurt. Nuts — These are great all around because they contain unsaturated fats, fiber, protein, and are considered very heart-healthy. Try to consume five servings of nuts per week. Red wine — In moderation, red wine is actually healthy for your heart. One to two drinks per day is ideal. However, if you're not used to drinking alcohol, it's encouraged to abstain. The list of things to avoid includes sports drinks, soda, potato chips, soy sauce, and even bacon! Check out the full list of things to steer clear of here. Get physical exercise Your bones and muscles lose density as you get older. Luckily, with proper diet, you can increase their strength over time. Here are some recommended exercises that will help maintain your strength, balance, endurance, and flexibility. Brisk walking or jogging — A recent study has shown that people who walk regularly have increased energy and generally have a better mood. There are also other health benefits from walking regularly, such as increased strength and stamina. Dancing — The physical benefits of dancing include strengthened heart and lungs, weight management, physical confidence, improved balance, and improved muscle tone. Lifting weights — Want to increase bone density and improve activities of daily living (ADLs)? Add weight lifting to your workout routine. Tai Chi — According to Harvard Health Publications, tai chi helps maintain strength, flexibility, and balance. It's considered a low-intensity exercise, so it feels very gentle on the body. Yoga — This improves flexibility, builds muscle strength, perfects your posture, protects your spine, and provides a variety of other health benefits. While engaging in physical exercise in the home, make sure to look into exercise safety tips for seniors to ensure you aren't putting yourself at risk. It's also important to have an emergency device in case you experience a fall. Top-rated medical alert devices can be found here. Get mental exercise It may come as a surprise to some, but physical exercise is actually connected with cognitive function. If you want to improve your brain power, eat well and exercise. Puzzle games are also a great help to strengthen your mind. Here are some specific ideas: Ping-pong Jigsaw puzzles Building model airplanes or trains Taking music lessons Also, take time to meditate and relax. Taking time out of your day to rest and be calm will balance out the rigorous energy you've spent building model airplanes or practicing viola. This includes getting plenty of sleep. Sleep gives your brain an opportunity to reset and save information that you've processed throughout the day. Being rested also helps you think of creative solutions to problems, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School. Practice good hygiene When it comes to hygiene, stick with the things that you've been told throughout your life. As you get older, it might be easy to fudge on the basics because things like climbing in and out of the tub are suddenly more difficult and dangerous. For these situations, it's best to install handholds in the bathroom to prevent falls and stay safe during bathing. Here are other recommended hygiene steps. Brush and floss your teeth twice daily. See your dentist every six months. Bathe at least once every few days, especially if you're physically active. Depending on how old you are, how mobile you are, and how dry your skin gets, you'll want to bathe closer to that three-day mark. When you bathe, make sure to wash the folds under your wrinkles. This is the perfect place for bacteria to grow. It can be easy to fall out of habit as you get older because it's easy to focus on the routine instead of the outcome. Remember that regular bathing and oral care an important part of personal care.
Is it time for you to consider a medical alert system? Assess your needs according to the following checklist. Are you over age 65? Do you live alone? Do you suffer from osteoporosis or similar conditions? Do you have trouble seeing or hearing? Do you have trouble standing? Do you use a cane or walker? Do you like to live independently? Would you prefer not to live in a rest home? Do you want protection for burglars, fires, or flooding? Is $35/month within your budget? If you checked yes to more than half of these, it's time for you to consider a medical alert system. The Explanation Are you over age 65? Falls happen at an exponentially higher rate after you turn 65. When one fall happens, it's more likely to happen again, and the physical toll will compound time after time. Do you live alone? If you live alone, a medical alert system is a great way to maintain your independence while having help on call if you ever happen to need it. If you live with a spouse, family member, or friend, that doesn't necessarily mean that you should forego a medical alert system altogether, but it might not be as necessary. Do you suffer from osteoporosis? Osteoporosis makes the event of a fall even more dangerous. A simple bump or scrape could result in a broken bone. If you're living alone and have osteoporosis, that should instantly be a strong indicator for a medical alert system. Do you have trouble seeing or hearing? Having poor eyesight could mean a stumble or fall. Hearing is not that big of a concern, but inner ear function is what determines your balance, so depending on how bad your hearing is that could translate into fall risk. Consult with your eye and ear doctors and ask them if a medical alert system might be a good option according to your conditions. Do you have trouble standing? It's natural to have trouble standing as you get older. It comes from weakened muscles and joints in your lower body. Naturally, these weakened muscles and joints make balancing more difficult. This is another big indicator of the need for a medical alert system. Do you use a walker or cane? This is a great solution if you answered yes to the previous question. Canes are relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of materials and builds. Walkers are slightly more expensive and cumbersome but offer a much better center of gravity. You can even sit on some models. Canes and walkers aren't sure-fire ways to prevent falls, which is why a medical alert system is recommended. Do you like to live independently? You might not like people fussing over you. You want the freedom to make your own bed, cook your own meals, and clean your own home. That's understandable. With a medical alert system, you have help on call only when you absolutely need it. Some systems will even let you program the contacts of family members or friends if you don't feel like you need an ambulance over. Would you prefer not to live in a rest home? Rest homes have a plethora of amenities, but can be incredibly expensive. Comparatively, medical alert systems are much less expensive. Do you want protection for burglars, fires, or flooding? Medical alert systems aren't just for falls. You can buzz for help if you've experienced a break-in, a fire, or flood. Certified call center employees will immediately be on the line to send emergency medical personnel your way. Is $35/month within your budget? This is the average price for a medical alert system. Prices will vary depending on the company. Some companies will charge an activation or equipment fee and monthly monitoring prices will differ depending on the features of the product. It depends on what you feel you need and what your budget is. Where to Start Start here with a list of the best medical alert companies in the country. Different systems are available that communicate through a landline connection, cellular connection, or WiFi. There are also advanced systems that are able to pinpoint your exact location through GPS technology, so you can take your alert button on the go and be protected wherever you are.
For many, the kitchen is the central hub and gathering place of the home. More than a place where delicious meals are prepared, it's the place where memories are made; however, a messy or dysfunctional kitchen can pose a number of safety threats-especially to homebound senior citizens. To help make your kitchen both safe and functional, Medical Care Alert has come up with nine easy tips that nearly anyone can do. While some of these safety tips involve replacing entire kitchen appliances (like your refrigerator or kitchen faucet), others involve much simpler and less expensive solutions. Regularly cleaning the floor and countertops in your kitchen can greatly reduce the risk of falls and other injuries: