Brenda Lyle – Special to FLORIDA TODAY

Q:  My elderly mother lives alone and I worry about her falling. Are those wearable alerts expensive?  

A:  Recent research from AARP reveals that almost 90% of seniors want to “age in place” in their own homes.

While this sentiment remains virtually unchanged, so too does this unfortunate statistic: falls in the home are a leading cause of injury and death to people over the age of 65.

Evolving technology, however, is creating and refining ways to help seniors remain safe in their home.

A familiar example of this technology is the Personal Emergency Response System or “PERS”.

You might recall the popular commercial of the late 1980’s with the catchphrase, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

This was an ad for a PERS, also known as medical alert, from LifeCall.

Although that commercial brought a lot of attention to the product, PERS were in use even before then.

Home medical alert systems were developed in Germany in the early 1970s.

Wilhelm Hormann created Hausnotruf or “home emergency call” with the hope of assisting elderly and disabled people that lived alone.

In 1975, an American company offered a version of the system that consisted of a medallion worn around the neck that sent a recorded message to preprogrammed phone numbers.

Since 1975, the PERS has undergone numerous changes and continued to modernize.

Today, you can wear your PERS as a pendant, a watch, as an app on your smartphone, or as a sensor-based system in your home.

Numerous companies offer PERS, most with a base station compatible with the alert device of your choice.

The base station attaches to an interactive monitoring system where the user can contact an attendant with the push of a button on their device.

Some systems can even automatically detect a fall!

Phone lines are not needed and monitoring options abound.

Costs for your PERS range from $20 to $100 per month.  Ask whether you will be charged an installation and equipment fee and how to cancel the contract if one is required.

Personal Living Alert offers a watch, two types of pendants, and a whole home protection kit with a fall alert option.

For sales director, David Michaels, PERS’ affordability and ease of use provides seniors with both security and independence.

“Personal Living Alert products help keep seniors living safely in their own homes,” said Michaels. “Our medical alert systems include American-made products with up-to-date technology for use in the home here — or anywhere in the USA.”

For more information about personal emergency response systems, contact One Senior Place at 321-751-6771.


One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. To submit a question, send an email to or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at

Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager for One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.