A personal alarm can give you the peace of mind that your loved one will be cared for in the event of an emergency or accident. Alarms generally cost from $150 to $500 per device, with an optional monthly fee for 24/7 monitoring by trained staff.
Our guide will compare different types of personal alarms and walk you through the steps to choosing the right model for your lifestyle.
What is a personal alarm?
Personal alarms or medical alarms are small devices used to notify a nominated contact in case of an accident or emergency. They need to be worn at all times and can quickly and easily help someone call for help if they are lost, injured or have fallen and cannot get back up on their own.
Personal alarms or panic alarms can be particularly useful for seniors or if you have elderly parents or grandparents who do not require assisted living help, but may be at risk of falling, getting lost or having a medical emergency. Personal alarms can also be used to monitor children, those with mobility issues or those recovering from illness or surgery. The right personal alarm can give both you and your loved one more freedom and security.
Pros and cons
- Increased safety for you or your loved ones.
- Get instant alerts in case of emergencies.
- Gain peace of mind that your loved ones are safe.
- Have more freedom to leave your loved one home alone.
- Choose between several wearable options.
- Affordable, especially when compared to assisted living.
- Monitored plans come with 24/7 support.
- The NDIS, health insurance or other government programs may subsidise the cost.
- Some people don't want to admit they need more help as they get older and will be reluctant to wear a personal alarm.
- Must be worn at all times to be effective.
- May include an ongoing subscription fee.
- You may receive false alerts.
- Personal alarms cannot prevent accidents or guarantee 100% safety.
- Installation of in-home units can take time and cost extra.
- Some devices require the wearer to be capable of and willing to activate the alarm. If your loved one is not able to do so, look into devices with automatic fall detection and automatic sensors.
What types are available?
You can choose between two types of personal alarm systems: monitored devices and non-monitored devices.
Monitored devices are two-way speakers that connect to a landline. When these alarms are activated, the staff at a monitoring centre are alerted. These respondents will determine if there is a false alert or an emergency and follow a predetermined emergency response plan that may include alerting emergency services or calling a family member. Monitoring centres are staffed 24/7 and are able to respond to alarms at any time of the day, but you will have to pay an ongoing fee for this service.
Non-monitored alarms are similar to monitored alarms except they require designated individuals to be nearby and able to be contacted in case of an emergency. When the alarm is activated, the device calls a list of pre-programmed numbers until someone answers the call. If the call is not answered by anyone on the list, some devices will automatically alert emergency services. These devices often require the user or wearer to be able to activate the alarm.
|Who will be alerted in case of an emergency?||Best for:||Ongoing fees?|
|Monitored||Staff at a monitoring centre who can contact emergency services if necessary.||Yes, ongoing fees are required to cover the cost of staff at 24/7 monitoring centres.|
|Non-monitored||A pre-programmed list of nominated individuals who live nearby.||No, non-monitored systems do not typically have ongoing fees.|
The cost of a personal alarm device ranges from around $150 to $500 or more. This price typically covers the cost of the device and storage.
Monitored personal alarm systems are subscription based. To get access to 24-hour support, you'll likely have to pay between $20 and $50 per month. Monitored systems typically need to be connected directly to a landline. Keep in mind, you may have to pay an additional one-time installation fee.
Some companies offer discounts for pensioners and veterans. You may also be able to receive subsidised pricing through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), health insurance providers, community services and even your local council.
There are several smartphone apps that offer similar services to a personal alarm, some of which are free. However, these apps can be difficult to use, especially for older people who aren't familiar with smart devices. Free apps don't offer the 24/7 wearability of a personal alarm and might not be within reach if the user falls and cannot get back up.
How to compare personal alarms
Once you've determined which type of personal alarm would be best suited to your needs and you've assessed your budget, consider the following additional factors: