Hallee D.

How to Talk to a Loved One About a Medical Alert System

There’s no doubt about it. Medical alert systems save lives. They can also greatly enhance the quality of life of the people who wear the pendant. Unfortunately, many seniors don’t see it this way.

So, a medical alert system can be seen as admitting to defeat. Instead of providing a senior with the ability to live independently, some see a medical alert device as a symbol that they can’t live independently because they need the help of some new age contraption!

These beliefs can make talking about a medical alert system with a loved one extremely difficult, but not impossible. Here are a few tips on talking to grandma or grandpa about a medical alert system.

Set the scene

It all starts with setting the scene. Allow the topic of a medical alert system to come up naturally the next time you’re visiting your loved one. Don’t schedule a talk or mention your intention on the phone as it may cause grandma to shut down.

Although there are probably many people in your loved one’s life who care about her, it’s best to approach grandma alone. If you hold an intervention, she’s more likely to become defensive and upset. A one-on-one conversation is best.

Your attitude matters immensely as well. Seniors can be extremely stubborn, and you may find yourself close to losing your temper. It’s important not to yell and to take the time to approach the conversation in a non-threatening, empathetic way. If your loved one feels like she’s being heard, you’re more likely to have a meaningful conversation that may just end in you ordering a medical alert system.

Do they really need it?

Most seniors react to the topic of medical alert systems by first saying they don’t really need one. There are many reasons for this reaction. Maybe they’ve never fallen, or maybe they think a cell phone is enough. Some automatically react this way simply as a knee-jerk reaction!

It’s important to spin a medical alert system in the right light. Tell your loved one that it’s a lot like a safety belt. It’s just there in case you need it. You may also want to mention that one third of seniors over the age of 65 experience a fall each year. What’s even more startling is that with help after a fall, your loved one would have an 80 percent chance of returning to an independent living situation.

Your loved one still not convinced? Take this quiz with grandma online and let the results speak for themselves.

Can they afford it?

Another common concern is cost. Some seniors will claim that they can’t afford a medical alert system. It’s important to approach this topic carefully.

First, mention that medical alert systems aren’t as expensive as they probably think. You can get a high-quality GPS system from GreatCall for just $19.99 a month.

If that still seems out of their budget, discuss the possibility of scheduling an appointment with a doctor. In some cases, a doctor can provide a note that may allow your loved one to obtain a system for free or nearly free. Nonprofits and other agencies in the area may also be able to help. If you can afford it, discuss the possibility of paying for the system yourself. You might even be able to find a system at a special discounted price!

But it’s so ugly

Okay, so grandma has discovered that she really could use a medical alert system, and she’s also learned that it’s more affordable than she thought. Most last ditch efforts revolve around how ugly they are.

Most seniors don’t want to announce to the world the fact that they have a medical alert system. It’s easier than ever to hide a pendant with today’s systems. Mention that she can simply wear her neck pendant under her shirt, or suggest a wristband. The Lively Wearable looks more like an Apple Watch or fitness tracking device than a medical alert system.

Be willing to do your research and answer questions

Hopefully you’ve softened your loved one to the idea of a medical alert system, but you should definitely be willing to do your research and answer any questions as they come up. If you support your grandma throughout the process, you’re more likely to convince her that having a medical alert device is the right option.

Be patient, but be persistent. When grandma finally gets her first medical alert system, she’ll wonder how she ever lived without it!

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