Friday, May 18, 2012

Caregiver Aids #15: Panic Pendant

"Help me, I've fallen and I can't get up!" That's how many of us were first introduced to panic pendants. Basically, it's a device that hangs around the user's neck (or is clipped somewhere convenient) that can be used to notify a monitoring service that you're in trouble.

The one we have today is pretty limited, with no ability to speak to a rep. All it does is alert the security folks that Skip needs help and contacts the police to come to our house. We've had it for about 3 years and she's never used it, fortunately.

The 5Star Responder

Moving, I figured we'd look at a more up to date device that, at a minimum, included the ability to converse with the call center. The Jitterbug folks, who market a cell phone that's easy for seniors to use, have just introduced the 5Star Urgent Responder. It's basically the size of a folding cell phone and works without a base station. It has a big button on it. You press the button to reach a rep or, if you press it for a long time, it'll call 911 directly. Because it comes installed with a GPS and isn't tethered to a base station, it's usable pretty much anywhere, not just inside our home. The gadget costs about $50 with an activation fee of $35 and a monthly service fee of $15. The monthly service fee is about half of what other services typically cost, though most of those services give you all the equipment without additional charge. We'll break even by paying for the equipment in about 6 months and, of course, we'll need this service for far longer than that.

Like a cell phone, this will need to be charged regularly. It goes for about 3 days without recharging. I can just charge this when I'm at home and make sure it's back with Skip before I go gallivanting off to do something outside, like take the dogs out to pee.

I'm thinking we'll give this one a try.


Patrick said...

Thanks for the smile. We explored such gizmos for Patti but MS cognitive issues cause Patti to fidget obsessively with anything on her such as a pendant and MS physical and control issues prevent her holding and/or operating anything like a phone. Around 15 some years ago she could still use a wall mounted phone with giant buttons and a monster long cord but nothing since then. ... You two are blessed MS symptoms do not interfere with available technology.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

lightning36 said...

I remember when that commercial first was shown. It then seemed to disappear for what -- 20 years? -- then came back in one form or another.

Muffie said...

Sounds like a pretty neat gadget, Cranky. I try to keep my cell with me if I'm home alone, and I can still be somewhat independent. But who knows what that murky future holds... so it's good info to have, should I ever require it. Thanks!

Cranky said...

Patrick - what can I say? MS sucks!

Light - It's such a potent catchphrase, I think, once it entered the popular culture it never fully died out.

Muff - I hope you never need it. Skip used a cellphone attached to her wheelchair for years, but this is so much easier to operate, it'll be much better in a true, bona fide emergency. We're still Luddites enough to have a landline, so she doesn't need a cell phone with this panic pendant.

Francis said...

I am still not sure why you would not just use a cellphone. It is the same size and also needs to be charged and does more at a lower cost. You could use a Tracfone SVC which has large buttons and text and only costs $15 and then about $10 a month. Is this not a better solution?

Cranky said...

Francis - thanks for your note. We will have a landline in our new home, so there's no need to have the add'l features of a cellphone for Skip. She doesn't leave the house alone so will always be with someone outside who has a cell phone.

What she does need is something that will be very easy for her to use in an emergency and will connect her to a call center that is specifically set up to support people when they're in a bad situation. That feature is probably more valuable even than the ease of use.