Medical Alerts for Seniors Living in Poverty

Medical Alerts for Seniors Living in Poverty

time icon 7 min read update icon Sept. 28, 2019


While not as headline-grabbing as the prescription drug epidemic or news relaying the latest changes to the Affordable Care Act, older adults living in poverty is a national issue. Seniors may feel shame in admitting that they have trouble keeping the lights on, but this has been a problem in America for decades, with over 25 million older adults living at or below the federal poverty level. Read on for tips on how to monitor not only your wealth, but also your health with free medical alert systems.

Poverty Overview

Poverty negatively impacts a far higher number of older adults than most folks might imagine. The reality is that nearly ten percent of seniors will have incomes of less than $10,000 per year, which equates to approximately four million folks age 65 and older. Sadly, women as well as people living in rural or economically depressed areas will suffer at a far higher rate.

As previously mentioned, poverty can foster feelings of shame and can leave folks not only malnourished (as they can no longer purchase adequate groceries), but also homeless or without the proper medications they need. These latter issues can compound mental health problems and decrease a senior’s quality of life.

Poverty Impairment

Poverty impacts older adults mentally, emotionally and physically just as much, if not more so, than it affects younger people. Seniors may find that their skills are no longer in demand at work, which may lead to a lack of income and having to use retirement savings early. Drawing down on funds may have the compound effect of increasing debts via credit cards and other ill-advised means.

The loss of financial security means almost immediate increases in stress, as folks may no longer be able to pay bills, purchase medication, buy groceries or make payments on their homes. Sadly, this can also lead to targeting by dishonest lenders that can set senior bank accounts back even further than is necessary.

Mentally and emotionally, older folks may not want to reach out for help or admit that they need to use government-funded programs such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. With rising costs affecting nearly everything, though, older adults may feel the pinch worse than other generations, given that their saved dollars may not stretch as far in this new economy.

Those experiencing financial setbacks may also experience the following impairments:

  • Increased financial distress
  • Food insecurity
  • Lack of transportation
  • Homelessness
  • Debt
Medical Alert Benefits

Medical alert devices for those experiencing a financial crisis may seem like a frivolous investment, but once instability strikes close to home, the need to monitor conditions is more critical than ever.

To wit, one unexpected medical crisis can send you or a loved one into immediate debt, or draw down a nest egg that was meant to last for decades. Without financial fallback options, the future might look bleak. This has the unintended consequence of causing older adults to try to escape poverty by taking on unnecessary credit card debt just to pay the monthly bills. Once this tailspin starts, it is hard to stop. This is why you may wish to leverage a personal emergency response service.

These simple, wearable devices are often free of charge through insurance providers, the Veterans Administration or by way of Medicaid waivers. Some states even offer Medicaid personal car attendants and programs where money follows the older adult as they transition out of a nursing home and back to their own residence after a bit of financial trouble.

It is during times of trial and tribulation that medical monitoring is more critical than ever, so that a bad situation is not made worse.

Poverty symptoms:

  • Shame
  • Medication rationing
  • Lack of transportation
  • Homelessness
  • Poor food choices
  • Inability to pay utility bills
Safety Without Medical Alerts

Older adults living at or below the federal poverty level may elect to forgo the use of a medical alert system or personal emergency response device, believing that they have a suitable plan for economic recovery. This may mean that they want to avoid having to pay for a device or in-home monitor in favor of making ends meet.

  • Lack of shelter: Older adults should not forgo the bare necessities such as adequate housing and nutrition, just to save a buck. There is no shame in taking temporary residence in a nursing home or foreclosing on a home. If this is the case, be sure to investigate assistance programs available in your area, and through any organizations, you may belong to.
  • Emotional and financial support: Seek out free senior community events, counseling and check-ups so that poverty can be avoided at all costs (no pun intended).
  • Medical complications: Do not make a bad situation worse by not taking medication or attending critical appointments. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are government-funded programs that have helped seniors make ends meet, stay healthy and live full lives since 1959.
Poverty Precautions:
  1. Know your risk factors: Knowing whether you are at an increased risk of poverty can help you better plan for the future. Take an honest account of your savings and any money you have coming in, and make a budget so that you can see everything on paper.
  2. Talk to a financial counselor for free: Many organizations and state-funded programs offer free counseling for seniors. These same institutions also educate older adults on how to avoid scams, stay out of debt and stretch their dollars in order to stay healthy later in life.
  3. Know your rights: The Veterans Administration, private insurers and federal programs offer free medical alert devices and emergency response systems to those who qualify. For those facing near-poverty or poverty-like conditions, there is additional help available, including Medicaid rebates, supplemental Social Security payments, temporary assistance programs and low income home utility assistance.
Poverty Medical Alerts Conclusion

Poverty is a very real threat to older adults. Sadly, it is one that is easily overlooked. No senior should be left to deal with a financial crisis on their own. This is where a medical alert device or personal emergency system could come in handy. Counseling and leveraging government-funded programs are great if a senior sees a hardship on the horizon, but sadly, one unexpected catastrophe could mean the senior is suddenly without transportation, food or shelter.

Medical alert devices and monitoring allow the senior to pursue help in the immediate situation and can provide peace of mind and reminders about when to take critical medications. Staying sharp and focused in times of financial uncertainty is critical to a full emotional and mental recovery. That said, emergency tracking systems that are free of charge can aid in the fight back toward financial freedom.

Kate Papenberg - Senior Advisor

Kate is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.