Help Aging Parents: Suggestions for “Alert” Pendants and Bracelets

“Alert” Pendants and Bracelets:
Belt-loop attachable?  Often. Waterproof for Bathing? Usually.
Worn Regularly?  Not

“I’m very careful.  I exercise regularly. Of course I know about them, but I never thought I would need one,” elderly, broken hip victim.

“Yes, I have one.  I’m not certain of the name….Life something, I think.  You know I have the bracelet on my nightstand, but I never wear it,” 90-year old woman who still runs her own business.

“I wear it in Florida because I live alone there.  I keep it on a little table by the front door, that way I can leave it there when I go out and it’s there to put on when I come back,” 85-year-old woman.

Senior advisor, psychiatrist Dr. Bud, MD, tells us that getting older and realizing age (think: using an alert pendant) gives “a heightened awareness of our fragility, vulnerability, our not being immune to age-related problems…It helps,” he adds, “when older people have the wisdom to acknowledge that their reflexes are not the same as those of younger people.”  That said, not all older people have the wisdom as seen in the above quotes and in well-publicized statistics.

Deciding on an alert system is step one.

9 Things to Consider When Making the Decision:
1. Cost
2. If there’s a trial period
3. Cancellation/return policy: read the fine print.  Among other things, it seems some people have signed a 3-year contract without realizing it can’t be broken, short of death.
4. Ease of installation
5. What is the range (will the button work if I fall in the laundry room?)
6. If a hearing aid is compromised due to a fall, can the fall victim hear the monitor’s voice?
7. How–and how often–the “alert” pendant is tested
8. Whether the alert/alarm signal goes directly to a trained person, is outsourced, or goes to a central place then redirected to a trained person.
9.  Portability if, for example, staying with daughter for a week.

ABC Good Morning America reported (5/13/2009) the following facts:
>“Every 18 seconds an older adult is in the emergency room because of a fall,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
>1 in 3 adults over 65 will fall every year.
>falls cause 300,000 hip fractures a year
An additional fact from psychology books: denial, a psychological mechanism, is powerful and unconscious and can prevent us from seeing the obvious; it protects us emotionally from having to deal with something until we are ready.

We don’t want an aging parent’s alert pendant to sit–unused– on a nightstand in the same way older people leave hearing aids in a drawer, never to come out again. The consequences from an elderly person’s falling and not being able to get up or get help–are more dire than the consequences from their not using a hearing aid.  Of course adult children know this.  The facts given above are to provide objective information to skeptical parents who resist the idea of a an “alert”pendant.

While there are many options, making the selection can be tricky.  Ask a friend who wears one. Some that my limited sample of older people liked, others didn’t like.  A 2008 NY Times NewOld Age Blog, suggests the difficulties.  If you have time to read the comments, one commenter says his company conducted research and found has the best product. You decide.

Helping parents age well often takes more than a 24-hour day.  This information will hopefully save time.

Also Check Falls and Fall Prevention through ABC link and video above and posts: and


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