One of the devices we strongly believe all elderly need is to wear a medical alert device – with fall detection capability. If you fall and are home alone, like what happened to my mom, you need to be able to summon help.
In Mom’s case, she tripped and fell in the kitchen. She broke her shoulder in the fall. Although the landline phone was sitting on the counter right above her, she could not get up to reach it.
My poor mom laid on the cold tile kitchen floor for almost two hours before my father came home and found her. But, what if she had been living alone? Those two hours could have easily turned into two days – or worse.
With that in mind, I tested the Family 1St Belle⁺ Medical Alert Device for a full month. I put it through several tests of its features and what follows is my honest review.
First, What Are The Features Of The Family 1sT Medical Alert Device?
The Family 1st Medical Alert device comes with a lot of features:
- Monitored 24/7 and the device is free with a service subscription.
- No contract. Cancel anytime. Monthly, semi-annual, and annual plans are available.
- Two-way voice so the user always has help available – even if they aren’t having a medical concern. Imagine your parent being alone and frightened that someone is breaking in. They can just press the button on the device to be connected to an agent who will guide them through the situation and remain in voice contact with them until help arrives.
- Comes on a water-resistant lanyard, which fastens with a magnetic clasp so arthritic fingers won’t have a problem.
- The lanyard can be removed and the device put onto a belt clip that comes with the device.
- Works anywhere in the USA that has Verizon cell service coverage. You don’t have to use Verizon yourself, it’s just that Family 1st piggybacks their signals over Verizon’s cell towers.
- GPS-enabled so you or your loved one can be located in an emergency, whether they are conscious or not.
- Water-resistant, so it can be worn in the shower. This makes the device unobtrusive – in contrast to the huge “Help” button that some companies want you to install on a bathroom wall.
- Optional – fall detection can be enabled on the device for a minor additional monthly charge.
- Can alert up to 5 contacts of your choosing, in addition to the monitoring emergency agents.
- Your account also stores medical information like allergies and medications you are currently taking so that first responders have that information available the second they reach you.
- You choose the information that is given out to first responders and your preferences are kept on file so an emergency team knows exactly what you want done and how you want them done.
- 24/7 customer support
Medical Alert Device With Fall Detection
One of the features I LOVE about the Family 1st Belle⁺ medical alert device is that it has fall detection capability. Although the feature costs a small additional amount each month, it is well worth the money.
A few months ago, I fell and fractured my shoulder in two places while I was hustling through a department store. Even though I had help by my side within seconds, it made me think.
I am a runner – what if I had tripped somewhere away from home and in an isolated area? I can tell you that I would have been awfully thankful to have that fall detection feature!
As part of my review, I tested the fall detection system by dropping the device from waist-high onto the carpeted floor. After about 12 seconds of lying on the floor, the device announced, “Fall detected! Press the call button to cancel.”
I only needed to press the button on the device to end that call, but what a great feature if I had actually fallen and was unconscious! The GPS in the medical alert device could have used the GPS technology of the system to tell emergency personnel my location to within a few feet.
If you fall while wearing the device, it will alert a care agent. From then on, you will be talking to a helpful agent who will stay on the device with you until emergency responders arrive. That’s a comfort for someone who is alone and in pain or for someone who is worried about a loved one.
My Personal Review of the Family 1st Medical Alert Device
The box that the Family 1st alert comes in includes instructions for operating the device, the charger for the device, and the medical alert device – already pre-strung on a lanyard.
It also comes with a belt clip if you loved one doesn’t want to wear it around their neck. It’s good to have an option – I know my father would have objected to the pendant, but would have accepted the device if he could wear it on his belt.
I have never used a medical alert device, so I can’t compare the Belle⁺ device’s weight, but I did not feel that the medical alert was heavy or weighed down on my neck while I was wearing it. In fact, after a couple of minutes, I forgot it was there.
Family 1st’s customer service takes care of setting up the account and activating the device. All I had to do was talk to their customer service rep, give them the device’s number on the box and they took care of entering my info from there.
They record your pertinent info such as allergies, current medications, emergency contact info, physician info – everything a medical response team would need to know in an emergency.
The device requires charging about every 5 days if you have the fall detection feature enabled (or about 7 days if fall detection is not enabled). I got a text and email alert to remind me to charge it whenever my device’s charge was getting low.
As part of my review, I pressed the Call button on the device just to see what happened. The device immediately lit up so I knew a call had been placed. I tried to cancel the call once I knew the device had responded the way it should, but I wasn’t able to do so.
Within about 10 seconds, I was connected to a friendly care specialist who greeted me by name (“Hello, Robin, do you need help?”). I explained that I was testing the system and that I had tried to cancel the call before it went through so I wouldn’t bother them with a non-emergency.
She explained that, once initiated, a call cannot be canceled until the care specialist connects with the user and the user confirms that there is no emergency. That’s a nice safeguard.
The medical alert device uses GPS technology to find the device, so a medical response team can find the wearer in an emergency. This is also great for a senior who wanders and gets lost, because caregivers can use the “track” or “find” feature to see where they are or have been.
Family 1st Medical Alert System Cost
One of the cool things about the Family 1st Medical Alert is that the device is free! That’s right – it’s free for as long as you keep an active subscription.
Plans start at $
32.95 29.95 (limited time) per month and you can choose a monthly, bi-yearly or annual plan. *NOTE: Our readers can get $10 off on their first month – just use code SSA10$OFF at checkout.
Right now there is no activation fee either (a savings of $50). The “no activation fee” promo is time limited, so grab it now if you are interested.
There is an additional cost of $5.00 per month for the optional fall detection feature. Get it – I promise you won’t regret the cost if your senior loved one falls and breaks something.
The device comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. This means that you can try it and send it back for a full refund if you don’t like it. But I’ll bet you will.
Also, there is no contract required! Family 1st does not lock you into a long-term contract like other companies do (for example, Life Alert requires a 3 year contract that you can’t get out of unless the person passes away).
Here’s a warning about the older devices that run on 2G or 3G networks: Those are shutting down by the end of 2022. 2G and 3G networks will no longer function for anything after 2022. If your aging loved one has such a device, now is the time to upgrade or replace it. Manufacturers likely make this easy by offering newer versions, but don’t count on your aging parent to follow up on any letters sent to them about this.forbes.com
All in all, I recommend the Family !st Medical Alert device. Every time I had a question, their rep answered me very quickly. They set up the device for you and input the medical information you provide. I think the device itself has some great features and the cost for the peace of mind it provides is very reasonable.