Medical alert systems work by sending a radio signal to a care center when an emergency button worn by an elderly person is pressed. An operator immediately contacts the person via a base unit located in the person's home and decides whether or not to dispatch help.
Although there are small differences in various medical alert systems, they generally provide clients with a pendant that is worn around the neck or wrist. Because the pendant's waterproof, it can be worn in the shower or pool. The button can be customizable, but is typically designed so that a person has to press it firmly to prevent accidental calls. Medical alert systems also include a base stand that plugs into an electrical outlet to function as a speaker phone for communication. The base stand is sensitive to sounds and can be customized to amplify the speakers for the hearing-impaired.
If a customer presses his button but does not respond to the operator, help is immediately dispatched. Many medical alert system providers do not penalize customers who call for help accidentally. Some providers even help their customers with non-emergency requests, such as calling relatives. Medical alert systems are typically available in any location in the United States. Some systems are designed to work outside and have an option to add-on GPS services. Operators are available at any time of the day, and back-up batteries are installed in case of power outages.