Yes, this truly will be an experiment. We've already tried one of the local push button support systems, Life Alert and another system. They have a range of systems to use. Because we are on a budget, we tried one of the systems at the lower end. It has a base station that you put in one
place in the house. Then the person wears the button around their neck. When they need help, they press the button. However, all communication happens through the base station; both the speaker and microphone are at the base station. So, if the person is in the bathroom in their master bedroom, they could potentially be behind 2 closed doors, not to mention a long hallway. The base station needs to be placed in a central location so that if the person falls, they will be able to communicate from any spot in the house. Clearly, this is difficult with this system.
Life Alert and the other companies have higher spec'd systems. For example, they have a "watch" that you wear on your wrist like AW that allows you to communicate directly through it. But it has a high activation fee (don't quote me, but I remember $100-150). In addition, all of these systems require a monthly monitoring fee. The system with the base station costs $27 a month. Safety is obviously paramount for our mother and we would do anything for her, but we are on a very serious budget because of all the other items being added to the budget--we are looking for a home health aide, for example.
AW is worth trying at this point because it has no recurring monthly fee, and Apple, undoubtedly, will continue to support it. Other pluses include the fact that, even if she leaves her iPhone in the kitchen and is in her bedroom, which is pretty far away and out of Bluetooth range, AW will still be able to make phone calls as long as it is on WiFi and Wi-Fi calling is turned on. Also, AW is on the wrist. Can you imagine if you had to wear a call box around your neck 24-7? Our mother complained about that from a practical standpoint. It kept getting in the way. In fact, one time, she was in the kitchen and leaned into the counter. Without knowing it, she pressed the alarm button and the fire department came. She was unaware that either of those events occurred because she didn't have her hearing aids in. AW has the advantage of haptic feedback and a screen that shows you what's going on.
We are hopeful and excited that our 88-year-old mother can learn to use the AW. It will obviously act on its own if she has a bad fall and can't summon help herself, but otherwise she just needs to hold down the side button to call Emergency Services or tap the screen and say "Hey Siri. Call so-and-so." And @iamasmith
, you're right, it's possible she won't always remember to charge the watch. We're concerned about that. But the workaround is that because she is on Family Sharing via iCloud, we can monitor the battery charge of both her iPhone and, soon, AW.
If you made it this far in my post, hopefully you found this informative! Putting all this detail here so that others who care for people prone to falls can learn from our experience. I'll keep you all updated on how things go.