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What to Do if your Parent Refuses to Wear a Medical Alert Device
by Susie Slack
One out of three Americans over the age of 65 will
experience a fall. Falls are the leading cause of
injuries, including fatal ones, for people in the
65-and-above age group. Medical alert systems were
introduced over 30 years ago as a way for people to
summon help with a push-button device worn around the
neck. When the button was pushed, an alert went out to a
call center operator through a base-station that’s
hooked up to the home phone line.
Today’s medical alert systems are still wearable, but
you can also place help buttons throughout the home.
Some allow for two-way communication with the call
center, and others are motion-sensitive to detect a fall
without the need to push a button. All of them are
designed to allow people to signal for help when they’re
unable to reach a phone.
Who’s buying them?
Most medical alert units are purchased by grown children
for an aging parent who lives on their own. When
caregivers can’t always be present, the medical alert
device allows for peace of mind for both the caregiver
and the parent. In addition to calling for emergency
help, medical alerts can also assist in non-emergency
situations, such as if the wearer is accidentally locked
out of their home and needs someone with a key to let
them back in. There are a variety of medical alert
systems to choose among. If you’d like to compare the
many different types on offer,
What if a parent refuses?
Despite the significant benefits of wearing a medical
alert device, especially for those with serious medical
conditions, many people are resistant to the idea of
wearing one. They may think that the pendant broadcasts
to the world that they’re ill, and it impinges on their
privacy. They may not want to admit that they can use
help or are vulnerable to a fall.
Here are some tips to help convince a reluctant parent
or other loved one to wear a medical alert device.
1. Focus on the benefits. It may help
to enlist a medical professional, like your parent’s
doctor or nurse, to explain the reasons for wearing a
medical alert device for them. Hearing it from an
outside party might make them more likely to listen to
reason. The doctor or nurse can help your loved one
understand that these devices let them continue to be
independent and active without having to be afraid that
they won’t be able to get emergency help if they need
it. It may also help to reassure them that pushing the
button doesn’t mean an ambulance is automatically going
to show up at their door. It just sends out a signal to
preselected people telling them that help may be needed.
2. Assure against privacy concerns.
There are pendant designs on the market today
that don’t scream, “I’m wearing a medical alert device!”
They’re less obvious and better designed than the older
models. Some are made to look like cell phones or step
counters, so everyone doesn’t have to know that the
wearer is especially concerned about safety or has a
medical condition. There are even medical alert devices
that look like jewelry.
3. Let them know how you feel. Telling
them how much more secure you as the caregiver would
feel may motivate them to use their device. Let them
know how much it worries you that any delay in receiving
emergency medical attention could significantly impact
their chances of survival. Even if they aren’t convinced
that they need to wear a medical alert, knowing it would
make a big difference in your stress and anxiety levels
might convince them to give in.
4. Stay upbeat. Don’t take a negative,
harassing approach to getting your loved one to wear the
device. Instead of nagging, try to look for ways to
inspire them to take this extra safety measure, such as
encouraging them to think of their grandchildren or
spouse and to wear it for their sakes.
If your parent still refuses to wear a medical alert
device, no matter how well-designed it is, wall-mounted
medical alert buttons are an option. MobileHelp is one
brand that offers a battery-operated alert button with
LED light that can be mounted to any flat surface, such
as a wall or tabletop. It’s recommended to install one
of these buttons near the floor so that it can be
activated in the event of a fall.
Susie is a freelance writer who enjoys writing in
many genres. She specializes in articles about health,
fitness, beauty and nutrition.