Harvard Health Letter

Choosing a high-tech alerting device

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Medical alerting devices can be worn on the wrist like a watch, or around the neck, like a pendant. They can also be attached to wheelchairs.

Look for waterproof gadgets that are easy to use, and companies that don't
require long-term contracts.

Medical alerting devices are effective tools for people who want to live independently and safely in their own homes. The wearable devices summon help immediately in a medical emergency, such as a bad fall, a stroke, or a heart attack. Unfortunately, the devices are underused. "Many older adults agree to use a device only after a medical emergency when they've been traumatized by the experience of being stuck in a bathtub, lying on the floor, or suffering from a cardiac or neurological event," says Barbara Moscowitz, a geriatric social worker at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

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