Lifeline products: How do I pick a Philip's Lifeline device for my friend?

Primary tabs

How do I pick a Philip's Lifeline device for my friend?

Question

My social worker has recommended a Lifeline and I would like your assistance in choosing the best one for someone with increasing memory loss. My friend is physically independent and cost is not a major concern. More importantly she has been lost on a couple of occasions  although she asked for help and  managed to find  her way.  One issue I discovered: there is regular battery replacement required which presents a problem as she is unlikely to remember, but I imagine all brands have this requirement  She does have neighbours that I could ask to assist if necessary.

Our answer

Products that allow a senior to send an alert at the press of a button can provide a sense of security to both the senior and their caregivers. These products are a protective measure for those worst-case scenarios – such as falls.

Academic studies over the years have measured the effectiveness of these types of products. They often note that the product is least effective when the individual does not wear it all the time. Involve the individual when selecting a wearable device. If the device is uncomfortable, bulky, or generally unappealing that could be an indicator that they might not wear the product.

Consider how the senior will interact with the product. The other major challenge to the effectiveness of these products rests with the individual. If the senior is facing cognitive challenges they may not remember to press the button in the event of an emergency. Some remember the device but opt not to press the button because they don’t want to be seen as ‘a bother’ or ‘too frail to live at home’.

Devices with ‘fall detection’ can help in cases where the senior is hesitant to press the button. It can also be beneficial in situations where the senior is physically unable to press the button, or unresponsive.

The importance of features depends on the individual. For example, devices that only work in the home are usually more affordable and do not need to be charged as often – but it won’t be very effective for a senior who is rarely at home. Devices that work outside the home usually require frequent charging. Some products offer the option to purchase additional pendants so that one can be left charging.

The bathroom is a common place for falls, particularly around bathing. Some products are made to be waterproof or water-resistant so that they can be worn in the bathroom.

Philips Lifeline has three medical alert system products available to British Columbians:

  • HomeSafe (at lifeline.ca) is a home-based medical alert system. The device features a waterproof pendant and a base station. When the pendant is pressed within range of the base station (about 350 feet) the senior is connected to a representative at the response centre. A two-way voice communication takes place via the base station. They use the senior’s personal profile to assess the situation. Then the representative may contact a neighbour, family member, or emergency services and follow up to later to make sure that help has arrived. This device does not include fall detection. The pendant does not need to be charged, instead, the battery lasts for approximately 18 months at which point LifeLine replaces the pendant completely at no cost. The system relies on a landline phone service. The cost of the device is included with the monthly service fee which starts at $36 a month, plus an initial shipping charge of $40 (Cdn).
  • HomeSafe with AutoAlert is a home-based medical system. The system includes the features of the HomeSafe, and expands to include fall detection. Like the HomeSafe, the pendant does not need to be charged, instead, the battery lasts for approximately 18 months at which point LifeLine replaces the pendant completely at no cost. The system relies on a landline phone service. The cost of the device is included with the monthly service fee which starts at $48 a month, plus an initial shipping charge of $40 (Cdn).
  • HomeSafe also has an option for customers who do not have a landline. This device is similar to the GoSafe (see below) except that it does not include the base station, just the pendant. The pendant will work outside of the home. The cost of the device is included with the monthly service fee which starts at about $80 a month, plus an initial shipping charge of $40 (Cdn).
  • GoSafe is a medical alert system that works both at home and outside of the home. The system includes the features of the HomeSafe, and expands to serve seniors outside of the home. Seniors no longer have to be in range of the base station to contact the response centre; the two-way voice communication takes place via the pendant. It features a combination of location technologies that help responders to find the senior as quickly as possible. This device does include fall detection. With regular usage, the battery should last between five and seven days. The battery drains slowly at home since it can rely on the base station more. Outside of the home, the battery will drain faster. The pendant charges wirelessly from the base station. If the individual does not remember to charge the pendant, a LifeLine response centre representative can contact either the customer or a caregiver. The cost of the device is included with the monthly service fee which starts at $75 a month, plus an initial shipping charge of $40 (Cdn).

If you still can’t find what you're looking for, please ask us a question.