The Medical Alert System: A Primary Caregiver's Best Friend

Dr. Purushothaman
September 12, 2013

Stepping in as the primary caregiver for a loved one can be a very physically and mentally draining task. When a family member or close friend is no longer able to take care of his or herself on their own, as their primary caregiver you must now be responsible for their well-being. It is a good idea for primary caregivers to invest in a medical alert system for their loved one. Although the goal is to be available for any emergency, something could happen to your loved one in a split second when you are out of the room. By the time you arrive back by their side, it could be too late. As a primary caregiver, a medical alert system can be your best friend in regards to providing peace of mind for you and your loved one during this difficult process.

If you have decided to take on the incredibly selfless task of being a primary caregiver, it is important to first become well informed about the different types of caregiving before taking on the task.

Types of Primary Caregiving
1. Informal Caregiving - Informal caregiving is typically done by a relative of the person in need. This can be a spouse, adult child, or other family member. In some cases, a friend is able to step in as well. Informal caregiving can be as easy as some light cleaning, companionship and errand-running for the caregiver, but it can be as intense as providing 24-hour care.

- Long Distance Caregiving - Long distance caregiving is a type of informal caregiving. This applies to those who are helping relatives or friends from a distance. Regular phone calls to check in, conversations with their doctors and using vacations to go visit and care for a person qualifies as long-distance caregiving.
2. Formal Caregiving - Formal caregiving is done by a health care professional. This may be a nurse, physician's assistant or other individual that provides regular care for an ill or disabled individual. Again, this type of care may be light and require just a few hours a day, or they may be responsible for round-the-clock care.
For the purpose of this article, the focus will be placed on Informal Caregiving.

Now that you know more about what is involved in becoming an informal primary caregiver for your loved one, it's a good idea to do some research on medical alert systems that will work best for your situation. A medical alert system is a vital part of the new dynamic created between the primary caregiver and their loved one. It can help save a life in your absence.

Important Reasons to Obtain a Medical Alert System

1. Peace of Mind - When you are a primary caregiver, no matter how hard you try to, you cannot be with the person you care for every moment of the day. Having a medical alert system will allow for you to regain the necessary peace of mind to focus on other aspects of your loved one's care. Now, if you need to leave the room or even step out to run an errand, you know that your loved one can quickly alert medical professionals with a simple push of a button. Hopefully, they never have to, but knowing the option is there is invaluable.
2. Quick Response - Medical alert systems allow for the quickest response time. Pushing that button immediately alerts medical personnel that you are in need of assistance. Calling 911 is not only a difficult, and sometimes impossible, task for many people who require at-home care, just by dialing the number, it already takes 3 times more effort and time that a medical alert system does.
3. The Return of Autonomy - Many people who require at-home care have difficulty coping with not being able to do as much for his or herself as they used to. A medical alert system allows for a person receiving at-home care to regain some of their independence. With the system in place, there is no need for the person to be constantly watched over.
Overall, a primary caregiver should be mainly concerned with the safety and well-being of the person they are caring for. By investing in a medical alert system you are ensuring that your loved one will have everything available to get them the help they need in your absence. Although a medical alert system cannot replace a primary caregiver, it can certainly provide much-needed peace of mind for both the person using it and their primary caregiver.

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