Personal Emergency Response Systems

What is a personal emergency response system?

A personal emergency response system (PERS) is an electronic device that makes it easy to call for help in an emergency. A PERS can help you stay safe and independent as well as increase the peace of mind for your family and caregivers.

How does it work?

You wear a lightweight pendant or wristband with a button on it. Some devices can be carried on a belt or in a pocket. The PERS has a button that you push to contact the emergency response center. PERS can get help to you even if your phone is in use or off the hook. Some personal emergency systems automatically contact the center if you fall. The center will find out if you are OK, or what kind of help you need.

Most PERS services can also reach other emergency contacts, such as a relative or neighbor.

How can I get a PERS?

A PERS can be purchased, rented, or leased. In most states, neither Medicare nor Medicaid will pay for a PERS, nor will most insurance companies. The few insurance companies that do pay require a prescription from your healthcare provider. To help you find a PERS that meets your needs:

  • Check out several systems before making a decision.
  • Ask about the price, features, and servicing of each system.
  • Find out if you can use the system in other places. For example, can you use the same system if you move?
  • Make sure the system is easy to use.
  • Test the system to make sure it works from anywhere in and around your home.
  • Review the warranty and service contract.
  • Find out how to get a replacement or repair if the device is not working right.
  • Read your purchase, rental, or lease agreement carefully before signing it.

Ask these questions about the response center:

  • Is the monitoring center available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
  • Are calls answered locally or in another state or country?
  • What is the average response time?
  • What kind of training does the center staff receive?
  • How does the center test the system in your home? How often are tests done?

Before doing business with a company selling a PERS, contact your local consumer protection agency, state attorney general’s office, and Better Business Bureau. Ask if any complaints have been filed against the company. You may want to check with friends, neighbors, or relatives who use emergency response systems.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-12-01
Last reviewed: 2014-12-01
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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