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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, click here.
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.

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