I’m looking for a first alert medical alarm pendant for my mom. She is suffering from a form of cognitive impairment that not only affects her memory but also affects her balance and causes her to fall from time to time. How does your emergency pendant button work?

From Sarah F, San Antonio, Texas

The issues connected with people that suffer from the various forms of cognitive diseases … as these conditions relate to the usefulness of  personal emergency response systems (PERS) … presents a real conundrum for providers like Vital-Link and our competitors (like Lifeline & Life Alert to name just  two other companies that provide emergency devices that address the issues of senior safety).

Medical alert devices like ours tend not to be a good fit for people with cognitive impairment. Here’s why. When we first started in 1981 the general consensus was that seniors who are cognitively impaired would be “pressing the panic button” for the wrong reasons. We thought, back in the  80’s that our seniors would be pressing their buttons so that they could have some one make them a sandwich or get them a glass of water. In other words we thought they would put in motion an emergency response, when it was really a non emergency situation. We did not want to be dispatching the paramedics or even family members for these types of situations. We thought this would be unfair not only to official responders … it could also cause unnecessary worry for family and friend responders. We also wanted to reduce false alarms.

It turns out … our assumptions were incorrect. For those seniors who are cognitively impaired … at the time of a fall or other medical emergency when an emergency medical alert button would be valuable … they tend to “forget” or simply do not know to press their medical alert button … that is already on their wrist (as a wrist button) or hanging around their neck (as a pendant button) … at the time of a medical emergency. So we think your mom would probably not be a could candidate for  this kind of medical alert emergency device.

There is one possible caveat to this issue. Seniors who are in the early stages of cognitive impairment, with proper attention from their family support structure may be able to be trained to know when and how to effectively use these medical alarms. Please click here for more information about how the Vital-Link medical alarm may work for your mom.

* Life Alert ® is a registered trademark of Life Alert Emergency Response, Inc.
* Lifeline ® is a registered trademark of Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.

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