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Best medical alarms for the elderly

Written by Ryman Healthcare
on July 08, 2024

Do you feel less steady on your feet than you used to be, or perhaps have already experienced a fall or seizure? If so, a medical alarm can help you regain your independence and confidence.

If you have a medical emergency or fall, just press the button on your personal medical alarm and speak to an operator through the built-in speaker. If you can’t speak, an ambulance will be dispatched immediately.

There are a number of different medical alarm options available in New Zealand, so you will be able to find one that suits your needs.

HOW much do medical alarms cost?

The cost of a medical alarm in New Zealand varies, depending on which features you choose. There are a range of options to suit different budgets and requirements.

A basic package usually includes essential features such as a wearable alarm, base unit, and 24/7 monitoring. Some packages also include GPS tracking or fall detection capability. A comprehensive package will include the full range of features.

More information on costs is available on the WINZ website. If you need help with the ongoing costs of a medical alarm, WINZ may be able to help you pay for this if you are eligible for a Disability Allowance

What is the best personal alarm for elderly people?


Some things to consider when choosing a personal medical alarm are:

Features that match your needs: For example, if you are prone to falls an alarm with fall detection may give you peace of mind. If you are purchasing a medical alarm for a loved one who is prone to wandering or getting lost, an alarm package that includes GPS tracking may help to keep them safe.

Reliability: Look for a brand that has a reputation for providing reliable medical alarms. It’s also worth asking around for word-of-mouth recommendations. Other factors to think about are battery life, the range of the alarm, and if it is fully waterproof.

Can I get a free personal alarm?

In New Zealand, several options are available for obtaining a free or subsidised personal medical alarm for the elderly. Your doctor will be able to advise you on this. You can also inquire directly with medical alarm providers.

Disability Allowance

You can apply for a Disability Allowance to cover the costs associated with renting and monitoring a medical alarm. This allowance is a weekly payment from WINZ to people who have ongoing costs related to health conditions, disabilities, or injuries.

To apply for a Disability Allowance for a medical alarm, you'll need a medical assessment form completed by your doctor and proof of the installation of the alarm to submit to WINZ along with your Disability Allowance application.

For more detailed guidance and application forms, speak to your doctor or visit the official WINZ website.

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)

If you need a medical alarm due to an accident or injury, ACC may cover the cost of your medical alarm. To find out if you are eligible, contact your ACC case manager.

SuperGold Card

If you are over 65, the SuperGold Card offers discounts from some medical alarm suppliers, which can help reduce the cost of purchasing and maintaining your medical alarm.


Choosing the right medical alarm provider

If you are looking for the best medical alarm in New Zealand, there are many brands to choose from.

It’s a good idea to get your medical alarm from a supplier accredited by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). This means the supplier offers agreed standards of service, has an approved complaints process, and provides the alarm at a reasonable cost. Refer to this page for a list of current MSD-accredited medical alarm suppliers.

Other things to consider when you are looking for a medical alarm provider are their response times, customer service, and verified positive user testimonials and reviews.

Monitored call bells

If you live in a Ryman Healthcare village, your unit or room will include monitored call bells to provide you with reassurance 24 hours a day. These work differently from a personal medical alarm. They are not worn on your body, but are part of your unit or room, and they send an alert to Ryman staff, rather than going through to an operator. If you ring your bell, a village team member will come to check if you are okay.

One of our serviced apartment residents sums it up perfectly. “It makes me feel years younger, knowing that help is there if I need it. It takes the stress away.”

Do you want to experience the Ryman safety and security for yourself? Find a Ryman village near you or contact us on 0800 000 290 for information about independent living, assisted living in a serviced apartment, rest home, hospital or dementia care. 

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Group Corporate Affairs Manager Silke Marsh on +64 27 294 3609 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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