Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), also known as Medical Emergency Response Systems, let you call for help in an emergency by pushing a button. A PERS has three components: a small radio transmitter, a console connected to your telephone, and an emergency response center that monitors calls.

Transmitters are light-weight, battery-powered devices. You can wear one around your neck, on a wrist band, on a belt, or in your pocket. When you need help, you press the transmitter’s help button, which sends a signal to the console. The console automatically dials one or more emergency telephone numbers. Most PERS are programmed to telephone an emergency response center. The center will try to find out the nature of your emergency. They also may review your medical history and check who should be notified.

You can purchase, rent, or lease a PERS. Keep in mind that Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance companies typically don’t pay for the equipment, and the few that pay require a doctor’s recommendation. Some hospitals and social service agencies may subsidize the device for low-income users. If you buy a PERS, expect to pay an installation fee and a monthly monitoring charge. Rentals are available through national manufacturers, local distributors, hospitals, and social service agencies, and fees often include the monitoring service. Read the contract carefully before you sign, and make note of extra charges, like cancellation fees.

Questions you can ask a PERS company include:

  • Is the monitoring center open 24/7? What kind of training do staff receive?
  • What’s the average response time, and who gets alerted?
  • Will I be able to use the same system with other response centers if I move? What if I move to another city or state?
  • What’s your repair policy? What happens if I need a replacement?
  • What are the initial costs? What costs are ongoing? What kind of services and features will I get?

There is also Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)

Remote Patient Monitoring is often shortened to the acronym – RPM. It may also be known as Remote Patient Management. RPM can be thought of as electronic caregiver services that is focused on the monitoring of medical conditions – LEARN MORE

Your local Area Agency on Aging may be able to tell you what PERS systems are available in your area. See if friends, neighbors, or relatives have recommendations. When you have a list of agencies you’re considering, check with your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General, and Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against them.


Source: Federal Trade Commission
Website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/

Additional Resources

Contact your local Area Agency on Aging and 2-1-1 and they may know of additional resources on this topic.

Area Agency on Aging (AAA)
An Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is a public nonprofit agency designated by a state to address the needs and concerns of all older persons at the regional and local levels. AAAs are primarily responsible for a geographic area, also known as a planning and service area (PSA), that is either a city, a single county, or a multi-county district. AAAs coordinate and offer services that help older adults remain in their homes, if that is their preference, aided by services such as home-delivered meals, homemaker assistance, and whatever else it may take to make independent living a viable option.
Find your local AAA by visiting their website or calling 1-800-677-1116.
Website: https://eldercare.acl.gov/Public/Index.aspx

2-1-1 Colorado
2-1-1 is a confidential and multilingual service connecting people to vital resources across the state. No matter where you live in Colorado, you can find information about resources in your local community. Dial 2-1-1 from your phone or visit their website.
Website: https://www.211colorado.org/

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