Best Medical Alert System Features for Seniors With Hearing Loss
Having a medical alert system in your home is always a good idea for older adults, but if you are deaf or living with hearing loss, it’s extra important to choose a system that meets your hearing needs. Here are a few key features to look for and consider.
Most medical alert systems make a noise when an alert is activated. At the very least, the voice of the monitoring center operator will sound over a two-way speakerphone. If you have hearing loss, though, it’s helpful to find a system that uses visual or physical alerts too. This might be a button on the base unit that lights up or a pendant that vibrates. When you see or feel that alert, you’ll know that a call was placed by you or by your spouse who uses the same system.
Falls are already the leading cause of injuries for seniors in the U.S.3 Research suggests that even mild hearing loss increases your risk of falling.4 If you are concerned about falling, or already have a history of falling, look for a medical alert system with fall detection. Also, consider the price of add-on fall detection when comparing medical alert system prices.
Make sure the company you go with has a monitoring center with trained professionals who are accustomed to working with older adults who have hearing loss. These professionals will know to speak clearly and loudly on the phone. You’ll also want to ask if they keep the subscriber’s medical conditions and medical history on file. That way, as soon as you call, they’ll know that you are deaf or have hearing loss and will take the steps to get you help, even if you can’t speak to or hear them.
Changing the volume on your TV or phone is second nature, so it’s easy to assume every audible device would offer the same feature. That’s not always the case with medical alert systems. For example, Medical Alert’s base unit doesn’t have volume control. Before purchasing, make sure the system you’re interested in offers adjustable volume control, or at least a pendant with a speaker that you can hold up to your ear.
Certain accessories, like lockboxes and medical alert ID bracelets, can make your medical alert system work better for you. If you’re deaf, you may not hear emergency personnel arrive. They may then have to break down the door, causing unnecessary property damage. If you have a lockbox on your front door, though, your operator can give emergency personnel the code to retrieve a key. Medical alert bracelets, meanwhile, can let first responders know that you are deaf or have hearing loss, as well as show them your name and other useful information.
Do Hearing Aids Work With Medical Alert Systems?
Nowadays, it’s common for hearing aids to connect directly to televisions, tablets, and cell phones. Unfortunately, hearing aids don’t connect directly to most medical alert systems. The biggest exception is the Lively Smart, which is hearing aid compatible. Whichever medical alert system you choose, though, your hearing aids will still boost your hearing as you speak with the operator through your system’s base unit or pendant speakerphone.
Some hearing aids actually come with some of the same features as a medical alert system. The Livio AI hearing aids from Starkey double as fall detection devices. If you fall while wearing them, the connected app will notify three contacts of the fall and of your GPS location. If you fall while wearing them, the connected app will notify three contacts of the fall and your GPS location. That way, someone can give you a call, come over to help you, and/or contact emergency services on your behalf.