Are Medical Alert Systems only for Seniors?

Historically, if you were to observe how the medical alert system industry has marketed its systems to the public, you would think that these systems are for seniors only.

But marketing is marketing and reality is reality.  At QMedic, we have subscribers as young as 20 as well as centenarians blessed with the longevity bug who are still going strong after hitting 100.

What accounts for this diverse age range?

The truth is that the need for medical alert systems has never been about seniors vs. younger consumers.  Typically, it is a health condition and/or a person’s living situation/safety concerns that contribute most to whether a person will be receptive to a medical alert system.  These factors also govern how much the system will benefit the family and caregiver network. 

Some quick facts:

  • Over 65% of medical alert system subscribers—senior or otherwise—live alone.
  • >70% have 3+ chronic conditions (e.g. COPD, hypertension, stroke history).
  • Over 90% have a physical or cognitive disability that puts him or her at higher risk of emergency events.

Unequivocally, consumers become more receptive to medical alert services after experiencing 1 or more falls—this is natural given the increased frailty/vulnerability that accompanies each fall and recovery cycle.

Thus, it’s clear that medical alert systems are not just for seniors, but rather for aging, blind and disabled consumers with diverse needs for care management and long-term support services in the home. 

In addition to the home, medical alert systems can also provide value to those who are in independent or assisted living facilities, remain steadfast about keeping their independence/semi-independence, and thus want to avoid transitioning care to a nursing home or hospice. 

So why do we does the medical alert industry continue to promote the focus on seniors?

Above all, the medical alert industry’s focus on seniors stems from the massive shift in aging demographics.  With 76 Million Baby Boomers retiring and 10,000+ people per day in the US turning 65 years old, America has run into a major caregiving crisis, where there are fewer caregivers taking care of more aging and frail seniors than ever before.   Most seniors want to live independently, but this becomes increasingly difficult as chronic conditions worsen, falls occur and age takes its toll on overall health and wellness. 

Another factor is that younger consumers, irrespective of health conditions, tend to be more tech-savvy and willing to adopt & maintain more high-tech communication devices like smartphones or interactive smart speakers.   For persons with disabilities and seniors facing dexterity and cognitive issues, these more advanced devices, with touchscreens and voice commands, can often be too complicated to generate widespread adoption.

And that brings us to the third point of why seniors are the most popular target for medical alert systems: affordability.  Most seniors in the US receive fixed income stemming primarily from Social Security and retirement pensions (self and/or spousal).

Now consider what this means for the average monthly income/budget of a senior living alone.  Here is a per-month breakdown (2017):

  • Social Security benefit: $1,368
  • Retirement pension: $1,058

       -     Asset income (e.g. IRA, bonds, treasury notes, stock dividends): $105

Average Monthly Income:  $2,681

Average Amount Spent on Housing Expenses = 40% = $1,072.40

Total Budget for Non-Housing Expenses = $1,608.60

Keep in mind that these are average monthly budgets for seniors over age 65; the median is even lower.  Furthermore, the monthly budgets are even more restricted for seniors age 75+, who have spent even more time out of the workforce and face increased out-of-pocket medical expenditures.

In contrast, for consumers of working age with primary sources of income from employment, spousal and/or parental support, it’s much easier to buy luxury communication devices like smartphones and smart speakers.  These are wants, not needs.   People may feel like their lives are better with them, but the reality is they can live without them.

For seniors on fixed income, fancy communication devices like smartphones are unlikely to fit the monthly budget.  As discussed above, cognitive & dexterity issues only complicate matters further. 

Conclusion:

Ultimately, the need for medical alert systems for seniors and disabled persons is driven by the worsening of health conditions, increased fall risk and safety concerns, and the need for extremely simple solutions that connect people with the help they need 24 hours/day.    

At QMedic, we remain committed to integrating proactive technologies and services that fit seamlessly with simple, affordable medical alert systems for seniors and disabled persons.  

To learn more about QMedic’s cellular or landline medical alert systems, visit our product catalog.

 

Sources:

https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/economic-security-facts/