If you are looking for a simple monitoring solution for yourself or a loved one, there are a number of options for elderly monitoring available today but not all provide cell phone services, GPS tracking and fall protection that aren’t tied to a home-based system. ActiveCare’s Personal Assistant Link (PAL) offers a simple solution that provides both cellular phone service, GPS monitoring and fall detection in one device that isn’t location dependent. The product, setup as a membership, offers a a simple to use product for care for the elderly, disabled or chronically ill.
The all-in-one device is shaped like a small ‘candy bar’ cell phone but has large buttons and provides one-touch calling to predefined numbers or emergency care. The product provides built in fall detection capabilities to monitor falls. The pricing for the base service starts at $59 per month and has a variety of add-on features that include a reminder service, geographic virtual fences, road side assistance and care specialists along with emergency response and various concierge services.
Once we received the package, the instructions provided asked us to call a toll free number to setup the device and our membership. The setup lasted approximately 1 hour and the operator for ActiveCare asked us for 4 phone numbers for the speed dial buttons and offered to enter 16 more numbers if we needed. The operator asked about any kind of relevant medical information such as history of problems such as heart conditions and stroke, as well as allergies, etc. to pass along to emergency responders if necessary. We also provided information about where our spare key was hidden in the event we forgot where it was and the operator also asked us if there were any codes for entry that might be needed as well. As part of the setup for emergency assistance, we provided our emergency contact numbers to friends, family and doctors to be notified via phone or text in the event we fell or had any other type of emergency. The customer care person answered all of our questions regarding our new membership including adding additional numbers and information the amount of minutes included in our plan. The call center representatives that we spoke with during our membership setup were courteous and professional and followed up with us a few times to make sure everything was going well with our membership.
“Our research showed that seniors only call a handful of people regularly and we designed the phone specifically to stay true to those findings,” said David Gumner of ActiveCare. “While our customers can get more minutes, we found that most seniors used approximately 100 minutes per month on their cell phones which is how we established out base plan.”
The testing we performed with the fall detection features worked well when we tested falling into various “soft landing” zones such as beds, couches and one actual fall on the floor. When we fell, the system detected the fall and called the care center to see if we needed assistance automatically. There is a function to stop the outbound call if the fall is not serious or the device is dropped which we pressed a number of times during our testing.
“The auto fall detection focuses on motion and gravity associated with starting and stopping and includes an impact meter for our technology,” said Gumner. “Many fall detection products are home-bound where ours allows a senior to be more active and not tethered to a home system.”
One of the options with the PAL is the ability to have an ‘electronic fence’ established using the GPS features of the device. The “Geo Fence” provides perimeter monitoring setup to provide monitoring at various levels away from the home location. The device receives a GPS signal every three minutes and is able to provide exact latitude and longitude monitoring. The system can setup multiple perimeters to allow
Another add-on to the ActiveCare PAL is the reminder and concierge feature where for an additional charge, ActiveCare’s call center would call to remind us about taking pills, appointments and general check-ins as necessary. This service provides other assistance such as arranging transportation, cleaning services and other ancillary services that maybe necessary for daily living.
The only downside that we experienced with ActiveCare’s PAL was that we found wearing the lanyard around our neck with the phone uncomfortable for our testing. While safety was not tantamount on our minds during testing as a normal user would, we found wearing the device on our neck awkward as we worked around the office and house. We tried a belt clip which was more comfortable for our testing but a few times we dropped the device setting off the fall alarms. We tried putting the phone in our pocket but experience the dreaded “pocket calls” from time to time experienced with other cell phones.
The cellular service worked fine during our testing and is meant to be a basic cell phone, no texting, no apps. We were to make inbound calls to the phone but if the phone was off or nobody answered, there was no voicemail or messaging. The device charged in approximately 2 hours and we achieved on average 24-36 hours of battery life depending on use. We put the device on our nightstand each night to recharge and for access in the event we needed to use the device. The device has large buttons and a bright screen with simple controls for ease of use.
ActiveCare’s PAL provides a comprehensive base feature set with various add-ons that maybe useful as time progresses and health monitoring needs to become more progressive and interactive as mental acuity degrades. If you’re looking for a simple, effective combo device for monitoring for a loved one or yourself, the PAL is one of the more comprehensive solutions in the market today.