At a time when GPS-enabled smartphones are everywhere, a service just for personal emergencies might seem redundant. But there are good reasons for some consumers to consider what’s called an mPERS, or mobile personal emergency response system. After a fall or during a heart attack, dialing 911 and speaking with an operator may not be physically possible. And a recent investigation by USA Today found the nation’s 911 system can’t always determine where mobile calls are coming from — a problem that can delay or prevent the arrival of help. For peace of mind and a better chance at help in an emergency, mPERS can be a good choice for seniors who want to remain in their own homes.
MobileHelp is a Florida-based company that provides mPERS and monitoring in all 50 US states. Inc. magazine ranked MobileHelp as one of the fastest-growing private companies of 2014. MobileHelp has been Better Business Bureau accredited since 2009 and has an “A” rating.
MobileHelp offers 2 personal emergency response systems and an add-on fall monitoring program compatible with both. The Cellular Classic system consists of a base station with a speaker and large emergency and reset buttons along with a pendant and wristwatch for summoning help if the base station is out of reach. The Cellular Duo system adds an AT&T-supported mobile device that expands monitoring to anywhere AT&T wireless voice coverage exists. The add-on fall-detection button is waterproof and designed to detect and report most falls. All systems come with round the clock monitoring.
MobileHelp’s GPS tracking gives emergency responders an exact location for users who are wearing their call button and carrying their mobile device. MobileHelp can also contact family members or other emergency contacts, and MobileHelp monitors can provide medical history information to emergency responders. The separate fall detector button senses and reports falls to MobileHelp’s monitoring center. Online caregiver tools allow designated family members to pinpoint a user’s location on a map. Neither MobileHelp system requires a landline in order to work.
Users who live or travel outside AT&T’s domestic wireless voice coverage area may be out of range of monitoring. MobileHelp states that its fall-detection button cannot detect every fall, so users should also push their help button when possible.
Shipping and activation on Classic and Duo equipment is free. Monitoring equipment must be returned to MobileHelp within 30 days of the end of the monitoring agreement to avoid an equipment charge of up to $350. Users are responsible for installing and testing the system and for purchasing any local permits that may be required for emergency monitoring.
Monitoring for the in-home plan costs $25.78, $32.95, or $34.95 per month, depending on whether payment is made yearly, quarterly, or monthly.
Monitoring for the home-and-away plan is $32.78, $39.95, or $41.95, depending on payment schedule.
Fall detection pendants and monitoring cost $10 per month.
The Cellular Classic system is intended for seniors who live alone and spend most of their time inside their homes. The Duo system is better for seniors who spend time alone outside the home, running errands, traveling, or exercising. The additional fall protection pendant is best for seniors whose mobility and balance are in question.