Medical Alert Device Personas

Below are several different "personas". These correspond to broad "types of life circumstances", and we find it is often useful to ask which of these personas best fits a specific individual before trying to recommend a specific product for that person.

We have used these personas especially in our research to help older adults decide which medical alert system would be best for them. And also in our research on home sensor systems for older adults.

If you are taking one of our workshops or reading our article Medical Alerts: Just Tell me What To Buy!, please read over these "medical alert personas" and decide which one best fits the specific individual you have in your mind. That might be you, or it might be a friend or family member — or if you are a clinician, a patient.


“Go, Go”. But at risk. (Persona A)

This is the person who is very active physically, and mentally alert, but has reached an age where there are significant risk factors that make events like falls or stroke either more likely, or potentially more dangerous, than in someone younger. A good example might be someone with osteoporosis who is at increased risk of suffering a hip fracture if they fall.

The person represented by this persona is generally just fine. The purpose of a personal emergency response system for this persona is really in case adverse events (falls, stroke, heart attack) happen. For this persona, a big function of these systems is to alleviate the anxieties of the friends and family — who worry about the senior, and what happens to that person in between visits and phone calls. Also, often people with this persona will start to get a little nervous about “what would happen if …”, and then an emergency response system might be a useful solution to reduce those worries.

This person is likely out and about quite a lot.

Often, someone with this persona will care more about the aesthetics of a product than might someone with one of the more at risk personas.


“Slow Go”. Needs some oversight to keep safe. (Persona B)

This is the person who is noticeably starting to slow down. Perhaps they have some early signs of cognitive decline, such as memory lapses. Or perhaps they are physically frail and need a walker to get around. Or have become prone to tripping.

Mostly, these people get along fine. But the risks that something bad might happen in such a persona start to grow progressively as their physical or mental condition declines. In some cases, these individuals would benefit from increased help in the home but cannot afford it (or, can afford it but refuse to consider having "a stranger" in the home).  

Older people who have a history of falls or a medical condition that leads to poor balance/coordination or impaired vision fit this persona.


“No Go”. Limitations. (Persona C)

People who fit this persona start to have physically quite constrained lives, spending a lot of time inside the home, and have quite significant physical or cognitive limitations. For these individuals, the conversation starts to turn to whether they are really safe at home. Perhaps they would be better off somewhere where there are full time caregivers to help watch over them.


"Needs some care (part time)." (Persona D)

This person needs help with the activities of daily living like eating or bathing or dressing. But for this persona, the required care is part time. And there are periods in between when no one is watching over this person and things might go wrong.


"24/7 care in the home." (Persona E)

As people’s condition declines, for many there comes a time when they require 24/7 care. For this persona, the individual has chosen to get that care in their home. This person is rarely (never?) alone in the house.



Choosing a Medical Alert Device?

Step 1: Decide on the persona above that matches the person for whom you are choosing a medical alert device.

Then, click on the green button below for Step 2: getting specific medical alert recommendations for your persona.


Medical Alerts: Just Tell Me What to Buy!







Help Support our Research

We hope you found this work useful. If you like what we do, and would like to see it continue, please consider contributing time, ideas, or some funding to help support our work.

We are currently raising contributions from those who find our work valuable to complete some new research initiatives, all targeted at helping older adults live better for longer. And we are always looking for contributions of ideas about what to work on, or help executing some of our projects.

Learn More: Help Support our Research.



Reader Comments: "Personas"


from Nestor Cebuliak (unverified) at July 22, 2019

I'm 92 yrs old , Heart is good , Walking is difficult, I use a Cane or stick etc Getting very slow and need care in moving around the yard, do a lot of gardening but need a kneeler to get up or something to hang on to, Live alone in bungalow Ashing is in Basement


from Anonymous (unverified) at December 06, 2022

Fits my dad very well.


from Tony aiello (unverified) at May 30, 2022

My dad has dementia
We would live somekind of device to put around his Nick on case hé falls
Also a gps so we can monitor On our phone if he Goes outside of the House if he a stays close If hé gets confused we can go and Find him fast
What should i buy That would be good for my father?
Thank you


from Njjuneau (member) at August 14, 2022

A friend uses a DBS (Medtronic) system for Parkinson's -surgically implanted in her belly. She'd like to use an Apple Watch for falls detection (in Canada ) . She does use an IPhone.  Concern: will the apple watch interfere with her DBS function ? Does anyone have any experience with this?  Thank you! 

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Last Updated: September 10, 2021.