Personal Alarms

I’ve been researching PAs including talking to friends and State Govt (Vic) websites.
While you don’t recommend any personal alarms, why didn’t you provide any information about MePACS.
This PA is used by state government and I was considering purchasing.
Does anyone else have feedback about personal alarms? I would prefer the person using the devise could make a call to a family member for assistance.

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For clarity Choice tested PA in February [member content]

and has a buying guide

and this descriptive page states why Choice does not recommend Personal Alarms as policy.

As for not covering MePACS, I’ll await a Choice staff response.

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Hi there, We don’t cover any 24/7 personal alarms because of the complexity involved in the testing.

Were we to test them, each manufacturer’s monitoring system would need to be tested, which means they would know they were being tested by CHOICE.

This could bias results, as we cannot mask contact to an emergency service, and we can’t risk a monitoring service knowing that CHOICE is testing them.

Above and beyond this, even if we could mask our contact details (difficult as you need to register up front anyway), making false emergency requests is unethical.

We could advise them all that we were testing them and just accept the fact that the results would be potentially biased across the board, but the project management for notifying each monitoring system of an incoming false call would be quite complex and we wouldn’t want to throw out their normal business as usual circumstances (even if they were considering it, which I doubt they would).

This is why we have focused on the non-24/7 monitoring devices.

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Thanks Matt for your reply
Makes the process quite tricky.

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I live alone (wife is a resident of an Aged Care facility) and use MEPACS.
I purchased it hoping never to use it apart from the regular testing.
I have had a couple of events.
In one I was woken by the MEPACS alarm at about 3AM.
I am a restless sleeper and it seems that in my sleep I managed to get the device activated.
Although annoying the response process worked well, with a rapid response by a human based in Australia asking if all was well and if I needed help.

Gives ma and my family peace of mind.

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We are subscribers to the MEPACS service with a home base alarm and a pendant. Both work well and the responses are invariably prompt and courteous. The base audio receiver is quite sensitive and can ‘hear’ a voice coming from any room in the house. The pendant is a very small mobile phone that only connects to one number, i.e. the response desk. We are very satisfied with the service and do not consider it to be terribly expensive.

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Thanks
I was hoping the Mepacs could connect to other numbers

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You can specify other numbers to be contacted by the response desk.

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I am content with my Apple Watch which has falls detection which is my most likely issue, I get the wobbles something shocking at times. If i fell it would ask if i am ok and on no response from me will call my defined contacts and 000. Wont be any good at knowing if I had a heart attack or stroke, but i can use the system to call ambulance or friends if in dire straits.

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Thanks for your comments - good to know
The person does not have a smart phone and I’d be looking at a stand alone system

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Thanks for the extra info

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I can personally vouch for the LiveLife pendant alarms. My mother-in-law has had one for a few years now and it uses the mobile network (an Aldi once a year SIM plan $15). As long as the pendant can find the mobile network (in her case Telstra). You program it with up to 5 phone numbers and it will alert all those numbers if it’s alarm is activated. It gives us the ability to have a two way conversation with her if it goes into ‘alarm’. (we wont mention the accidental activation while leaning into a freezer at the supermarket. How that must have looked when my voice was coming to her out of the Woolies freezer!) There is no monitoring company to go through, as long as the mobile network is operating, it works - as long as its charged. By sending an SMS code, without her knowledge or involvement, I can get the pendant to reply with a return message that gives me a GPS co-ordinate linked to Google Maps, that shows her speed, elevation and location (within a few metres, I’m thinking), as well as the percentage of charge the pendant has left. This has been useful to know if she’s been using it and, if we cant get her on the phone, we can see if she’s been mobile. My wife also gave her a ‘telling off’ the other day as while showing the feature to a friend who’s considering a PA for her Dad, we learnt that mum-in-law hadn’t had the thing turned on for several days - because she was at home - Sort of defeats the ‘in case of a fall’ scenario!
While we haven’t investigated the other brands available, for just under $500, her pendant provides great peace of mind for all involved. I could see these pendants having other applications outside of the elderly person too.

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Wow thanks for your comprehensive review.
Can you initiate a call to her or is she the only one that can make a call?
Thanks again
This alarm sounds ideal.

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Glad I could be of assistance. No. I don’t believe we can initiate a call to her. The two-way talk (as far as I know), will only work when the device has issued an ‘SOS’ alarm. This will allow any of the 5 persons called to talk to her through the unit and establish if there is need for ambulances or other services to be called. (or if she’s just lent too far into the Woolies freezer). It would be possible to have ‘Tripple zero’ as one of the programmed numbers, but we elected not to - thinking a random call centre operator may not realise what they were receiving and to avoid the odd false alarm.
The big benefit is they don’t need to have a mobile phone and the only ‘learning’ required is A-to wear it as often as possible, unless its being charged, and B-how to push the big SOS button if they need help and wait for someone to speak through the pendant.
That’s of course, after someone has set up the initial call order and so forth.

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Hi @Soco01, welcome to the community.

At $500 this would appear to be one of the more expensive options.

We recently needed to look for a pendant device for our mum, with the assistance of the aged care support staff in John Hunter. They were able to recommend less expensive options.

Additionally some other considerations.
Not everyone’s circumstances are the same.

A few thoughts for those on the contact list

  • Need to be available 24x7 and able to respond in short time, 30seconds to a call. It’s a lifetime commitment for life.
  • Ability to assess the situation and knowing what to do next depends on how each contact/individual reacts to stressful events.
  • May need to be nearby and legally able to drive to the location on short notice. Either to assist in a non life threatening scenario, or provide access to ES who have already been called on 000 to meet you there.

Our personal experience is the last is the most difficult. There are reasons why many may recommend or select a paid service. It’s a very significant personal commitment.

Our mum is now in aged care, as the assessed risks of living alone were too great. Of interest on her attitude to a personal alarm device. It did not serve her needs, she had the right to refuse. It would seem important as you noted, there is a conscious decision required to carry a personal alarm device.

A personal alarm device may be better than no device. Assuming both parties make the commitment.

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Hi @mark_m,
Yes, I agree with all those points and its certainly true that not everyone’s circumstances are the same. My Mum-in-law is living independently in an over 50’s village and still quite active (in her 80th year), not a nursing home, so needs will vary. I hope I haven’t come across as ‘recommending’ this one and only solution - that wasn’t my intent - I agree there’s other solutions out there, as you have found, and the cost will vary no doubt. We live 90 minutes away from mum-in-law, so cant readily provide immediate support, but we have numbers of her neighbours and can direct emergency services to her if required. My mobile phone is always on anyway, so it didn’t require any lifestyle change on my part. I know for many, that wouldn’t be acceptable, but I can only relate my personal experience. I have no connection with any of these alarm device companies and haven’t done any research into most of them.

I also mentioned this as I saw that Choice responded about the difficulty of testing/assessing personal alarms due to the need to have the companies aware of their testing and false alarms etc. (all credible concerns, by the way), but there’s no such restriction on the LiveLife pendant. If there are other like devices out there, it may provide opportunity for Choice to do some testing, if only on a limited range of devices that don’t require ongoing monitoring fees and the need to go through an alarm control centre.

Every persons needs and situation will be different and will change as age and circumstances dictate. I think we are fortunate to live in an era where we have technology that can assist us all in caring for our loved ones - we just have to find the right ‘tech’ for each of us.

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For future reference in reviews and with respect to personal alarms, the Australian Triple Zero services now support a technology called Advanced Mobile Location (AML). AML support is built into smart phones so that when a caller phones 000, a high resolution GPS location is automatically sent to Triple Zero via a special type of SMS. This is a vast improvement on previous behaviour where Triple Zero could only locate the caller to the nearest cell tower, likely to be hundreds of metres away. I am assisting a relative to use a LiveLife pendant which makes no claim to support Advanced Mobile Location. This is a technology gap that needs to be closed.

If Choice revisit personal alarms in the future, I think this is an important aspect to consider.

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Thanks Alan. I agree.

Very few of the personal alarms we have tested run android, and none ( naturally enough ) run iOS.
Those that do run android are usually opaque in terms of details such as OS version. So, in our test this year we’ll be looking for any claims around AML, but I suspect there won’t be many.

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Perhaps if Choice could take a broader approach and provide assessments/recommendations on products to support the elderly when they want to be independent.
I’d like to know what options are available besides personal alarms. Thanks

I have been looking at replacements for the 2nd LiveLife alarm (3G) that has broken - both charging cradles, but this time possible over-heating.
Unfortunately, #2 of 28 rated alarms in the comparison grid i.e. Compare All option at https://www.choice.com.au/compareproducts/electronics-and-technology/gadgets/tech-gadgets/personal-alarms is Medi Alarm 3G Fall Detector. Don’t bother following this option up as I’ve just received an email from the company saying “Unfortunately we no longer sell the 3G Pendant as the 3G mobile network will be ceasing operation approx April 2023. This means that the 3G pendant will not be able to function, making the necessary calls and texts in case of an Emergency.” Therefore it should be deleted from the Personal Alarm Reviews page.

Although the comparison table provides up front costs I found nothing about ongoing costs such as telcos. This could be estimated and listed based on Telstra as the telco.

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