A lot has changed since the first “I’ve fallen and can’t get up” medical alert device was first introduced in the 1970’s.

A medical alert device or personal emergency response system is an alarm system designed to signal the presence of a hazard requiring urgent attention and to summon emergency medical personnel. These systems make it fast and easy for elderly people with health issues (especially if they’re alone), to get help in an emergency. It could be a slip, trip or fall, a fire, or some other event that requires immediate help. Other terms for a medical alarm are Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) or medical alert.

If you want to know how to choose the right medical alert device you will need to ask yourself, “What will work best in my mom’s situation.”

It can get complicated, but the most basic systems use a landline and consist of a central base and a remote help button you can wear around your neck or wrist at home. There are other wireless options and some GPS mobile solutions for active seniors on the move. There are even some PERS that automatically send an alarm when a fall is detected. With technology growth, the number of options has grown from a few basic, wearable devices with a button to call a response center. Systems now include a wide range of options for: fall detection, home health monitors, fitness trackers (everyone seems to wearing these now), and more.

Most systems have a wireless necklace pendant or transmitter that can be activated in an emergency with a simple push of a button. This activates the the medical alarm to an alarm monitoring company’s central station, other emergency agency or other programmed phone numbers. Medical personnel are then dispatched to the site where the alarm was activated.

The medical alert industry is constantly changing. When choosing the right medical alert device, you can get alert options that are cellular, work on mobile devices, or even a smartphone app. Some companies have come and gone and new, innovative companies are entering the market.

There’s a range of options in choosing a personal emergency response system (PERS). But how do you choose the right medical alert device that’s best for your situation?

When selecting a PERS, begin by evaluating your loved one’s specific needs and abilities. You’ll want to consider their health both now and how it might change in the future. As an example, if mom has signs of dementia, would she understand how to operate a PERS? Or is something more automatic, like a fall-detection device, more appropriate? Does she have a condition, that will make communicating with a call center operator difficult?

Always ask if the company offers a free trial period so you and your loved one can see what works best for you.

There is a lot more information I want to share with you on the subject of PERS. So be looking for another episode of: “How to choose the right medical alert device.”