General Question

gondwanalon's avatar

What advantage is there with an emergency alert pendant over an Apple Watch ?

Asked by gondwanalon (23047points) 1 month ago

By life emergency alert pendant I mean the ones that elderly and weak people use when they are in physical or mental distress. Example: “Life Alert” and “Life Protect 24/7”.

Yesterday I made a phone call to my pharmacy to simply renew a prescription. The answer computer told me to push #1 to get a free Life Protect pendant. I chose not to push #1. Nevertheless my phone call was directed to a Life Protect salesperson who went immediately into the hard sell. The free Life Protect pendant costs $50 per month.

I let the salesperson tell me all about it. Then I said that I can call 911 from my waterproof Apple Watch anytime anyplace, it’s free and I don’t have to deal with wearing a bulky pendant.

The salesperson claimed that their emergency response team is better than the 911 response team. So I said maybe but I’m not going to spend my life tethered to that thing. It makes me feel old just looking at it.

Am I wrong?
Do you wear some sort of emergency alert pendant?
Have you used it?
Do you like it.

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16 Answers

chyna's avatar

My mom had a life alert pendant. She took it off to go to church one morning because she didn’t want to look old. She was 79 at the time, so I would think people knew she was old.
She slipped and fell on her sidewalk and gashed her head open and broke her tailbone.
She laid there for a while until she heard a woman walking down the street and called to her. This was in the back yard and mom had tall hedges so nobody could have seen her.
So none of those devices work if you don’t wear them.

gondwanalon's avatar

@chyna Sorry that your mother went through that life threatening situation.

I have an Apple Watch version 6.3 that allows me to hold the side button on the watch to call emergency services. Also if I have a hard fall the Apple Watch will beep an buzz me and ask if I need help. If I’m motionless for one minute after a fall my Apple Watch will call emergency services automatically for me.

@Tropical_Willie Thanks! Wow I didn’t know that there were so many companies out there pushing those pendant devices. The competition looks strong. I would consider getting one if I didn’t have an Apple Watch that seems to function at least just as well and it’s free and I can wear it in public and look cool. I feel old enough now without announcing it to the world that I’m officially old and weak.

Smashley's avatar

I’d imagine a key difference (besides having your health and safety tied to Apple’s TOS that you signed without reading) is battery life. A life alert doesn’t need to be charged, while an Apple Watch is very 1–2 days. Besides this, the watch requires either an iPhone, (also charged) or a separate cellular line. Life alert is designed for function, while the Apple Watch has a version of the function in and amongst all the rest of its functions.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t understand people so concerned that it makes them look old. My grandmother didn’t want to sit in a wheelchair, because it made her feel old. To her credit she walked every day to make sure she kept her ability to walk, but spending $20 each at a museum, we wanted to get our money’s worth and see it. Any other time I was happy to walk one mile per hour with her. Even very young people can be crippled or have ailments like epilepsy that they might need emergency help.

@Smashley I was wondering about the battery. I don’t have an apple watch. The watch has to be charged like a phone? It doesn’t just use a battery like most watches and keep on ticking? That would be a big difference I think. Is the watch waterproof?

Forever_Free's avatar

I personally would have issue with being funneled to this pitch when trying to contact like you did. They are preying on people.

The Life Alert goes to a call center that dispatches to 911. Similar to home security systems like ADT. This cannot be faster that contacting 911 yourself.
It is merely filtering callers and taking your money. The Home Security industry took a hit when “Ring” came to market and allowed you to get the alert first.

My family had the same concern related to my elderly Mother. She saw a commercial and thought she needed one. We talked about it and decided on giving her an Apple Watch and showing her how to use it to contact 911. It also has fall detection that can automatically dial it. This provides my Mother peace of mind and not tethered to something other than a watch. She does wear it. She now has moved into an Independent Facility that also has an Assisted Care wing for the day she needs that.
Zero cost as I gave her my Apple watch.

I have seen the Apple Watch functionally in use in real life. It does what it is supposed to. I also had the fall detector go off about once a year while skiing. I now use a Garmin watch which also has a 911 feature.

The only pro is that the Life Alert device directly connects you to that call center without an additional device. The Apple Watch method you need your phone near your watch as it utilizes your phone to contact 911. Newer versions of the Apple watch have cell capability that will contact 911 even if your phone is not on you. The Cell Phone carriers will charge to an upcharge of $5—$10 as your watch now has its own number and direct access to the cell network.

gondwanalon's avatar

@JLeslie
The “Life Protect 24/7” device requires it to be charged up nightly. I suppose that I’m vulnerable while my Apple Watch is off my wrist while being charged at night while sleeping. But perhaps no more vulnerable than the Life Protect device off me being charged.

Saw one man’s story where he passed out in the living room and laid unconscious for a very extended period of time. When he came to he realized that his Life Protect device was attached to his pants in a different room of the house. He crawled to the device to activate it for help. In this case help would have made it to him far quicker had he had an Apple Watch.

@Forever_Free Good points. This big push to aggressively sell these devices to the vulnerable and elderly may be more about separation the elderly from their Social Security money than about their safety.

JLeslie's avatar

I vaguely remember that maybe the life alert the person needs to be near the home base unit. Maybe it’s different now. So, it only works at home if I am correct.

gondwanalon's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t know about the other alert systems but “Life Protect 24/7” functions without a home base unit. I was told it will work anywhere including out in the woods where it will pin point your location through the process of “triangulation”. Since there’s no cell towers available in the woods it must contact the satellites. That is a feature not available to cell phones or my Apple Watch. But don’t go hiking out in the deep woods often.

JLeslie's avatar

@gondwanalon Maybe the one my aunt had didn’t have to be charged. Like my toll road sunpass and my Disney magic band. I’ve had both for 7 years or more and still work great. I think it works on radio frequency? I don’t understand why they don’t need a battery.

gorillapaws's avatar

I tend to think the Apple Watch is the better option. I do wonder if the emergency pendant may be easier for some folks who are tech-challenged. I’ve never used one, but I would hope they’re pretty simple to use. My dad would probably struggle with the UI on an Apple Watch for example.

JLeslie's avatar

@gondwanalon I wonder if a lot of people wouldn’t want to wear a watch to sleep.

gondwanalon's avatar

@JLeslie I was told by the sales woman on the phone that the “Life Protect 24/7” has a charger. I understand that the Life Protect unit is attached onto the charger at night while sleeping.

JLeslie's avatar

But, people can fall “sleepy” walking to and from the bathroom in the middle of the night.

jca2's avatar

@JLeslie Maybe it’s like a phone charging in that you can charge it while you’re sitting in a chair watching TV or something, and then if you get up, or when you’re sleeping and get up to go to the bathroom, you’re wearing it then.

RocketGuy's avatar

My mom had a Life (something) device. It had to be charged every so many days and had to be near a base station. One push of the button and she could talk to a dispatcher through the device, or they would send an ambulance if she couldn’t talk. She used it several times and got the expected help, so the service works. The device was the size of a car key fob but flatter. She didn’t mind wearing it all the time.

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