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How do personal alarms work?

Personal alarms provide peace of mind by connecting older adults to the right help when they need it. Explore different types of personal alarms and their benefits.

January 16, 2024

Elderly woman with her digital personal alarm

Personal safety becomes more important as we age, and personal alarms address this need. Personal alarms for the elderly are wearable devices that provide reassurance and confidence to the wearer and their loved ones. Whether at home or on the go, a personal alarm can connect you to a trained professional in an emergency or if you have a concern.

Many different types of personal alarms are available on the market, making it challenging to choose the right one for your needs. This article explores various types of personal alarms, their features, and their benefits.

Personal alarms are designed to provide older adults with reassurance and peace of mind. Some alarms have additional features beyond calling for help, such as elderly fall alerts and GPS tracking. These features provide extra reassurance to help you live independently. Most monitored personal alarms work in a similar way:

  • If you or your loved one feel unwell or suffer a fall, you can press the button on your emergency alarm any time of the day or night to reach the Emergency Resolution Team.
  • They will speak through the alarm equipment with the person calling and quickly assess the situation.
  • If further help is required, the Emergency Resolution Team will call family members, neighbours or friends who have been nominated as a point of contact.
  • Emergency services will be called if medical assistance is needed or if family and friends cannot be reached.


What features do personal alarms have?

Personal alarms have a range of features for you to consider:

Comfortable wearable options

As a personal alarm is designed to be worn at all times so that it’s always within reach, it needs to be comfortable and not interfere with the day-to-day activities of the wearer. One feature to consider when comparing personal alarms is how you would like to wear your alarm, for example around your wrist, as an alarm necklace or attached to a key ring. 

Fall detection and GPS tracking 

Many older adults enjoy being active, particularly after retirement when they have more time to pursue their hobbies. If you're one of these people, you might like the extra reassurance of a fall detector if you have fallen before, or if you want to feel independent while walking your dog or visiting the shops, you can choose a personal alarm with a built-in GPS location tracking feature. Find out more about how fall alarms work.  

Two-way communication

Personal alarm base unit with two-way communication

Personal alarms have a two-way communication feature that allows you to speak directly with the Emergency Resolution Team. Some devices have a powerful speaker and microphone built into the base unit, which means that the emergency operators can communicate with you even if you are in another room. With some other products, you can speak directly into the pendant so you can get help when you are out-and-about.

Compare personal alarms

Browse personal alarms and compare features including fall detection, GPS tracking and other functionality.

Personal alarms


Long-lasting battery life

One of the benefits of a personal alarm over a mobile phone, is that you can always have it on you. A long-lasting battery means you don't need to worry about charging it or the battery running down. Some in-home personal alarms have a battery that lasts for 5 years. GPS alarms that work out-and-about and in-home may have a battery that lasts over a month before it needs charging.

Smart home monitoring systems

There are also smart elderly monitoring systems that use advanced technology to detect when something might be wrong. These systems can work alongside a personal alarm and are worth considering if your loved ones don't live close to you and you want extra reassurance or if you don't wish to wear a wearable alarm. Smart home monitoring systems can include movement sensors placed around your home to detect motion and use AI to learn daily routines and what's normal in your home.

Taking Care Sense home monitor

Taking Care Sense is a proactive home monitoring system that alerts the resolution team if there’s a change in daily living activities that could indicate a problem.

Home monitoring


How can personal alarms be beneficial for older adults?

As we age, most of us want to live independently for as long as possible in the comfort of our own homes. Personal alarms provide various benefits for older adults, helping to ensure their safety and wellbeing:

24/7 emergency assistance

One of the fundamental benefits of having a personal alarm is getting help quickly if you are concerned or have an emergency. Personal alarms have an emergency button that can be easily triggered with a single push.

After the activation, the alarm connects with the Emergency Resolution Team, 24-hours a day. Personal alarms with two-way communication feature make it easier for older adults to get the right assistance at the right time. 


Feeling independent and finding peace of mind

Elderly woman independently managing her garden

Millions of older adults aged 65 and over live alone in the UK. Personal alarms are beneficial to provide independence to the elderly and peace of mind for family members. The knowledge that help is just a button press away helps to increase their confidence to live independently in the home they love. Not everyone has family members who can reach them in an emergency, so connecting to an Emergency Resolution Team could help them get the appropriate help more quickly. 



Personal alarms are more economical than care homes or in-home care. Care homes can be expensive, and it can be emotionally challenging for older adults to leave their homes. A personal alarm typically includes the device and the subscription cost of monitoring services. They are usually rented on a monthly basis, which helps to keep the costs minimal. If you opt for an annual subscription for a personal alarm, the costs may decrease further. 

Everyone is different, and so is everyone's needs. The features you might want and need from a personal alarm for the elderly can vary. With many different personal alarm products available, you may want to speak with an Independent Living Advisor who can recommend a personal alarm.

Our Independent Living Advisors are available to help you choose a personal alarm. Call 0800 085 7371, Monday - Friday, 9am - 6pm.


If you or your older loved one enjoy activities out of the house, such as gardening or regularly travelling within the UK, a personal alarm with GPS technology could be the ideal one. These devices are location-aware and can send the wearer’s location to the Emergency Resolution Team if an alert is raised. Dementia trackers and dementia alarms are ideal for finding people who are living with dementia or have learning difficulties and may wander.


Monitored personal alarms

Our team are here to help and make sure that you choose the alarm system that will offer the features that are right for your situation. You can call freephone 0800 085 7371 for tailored assistance, Monday - Friday, 9am - 6pm.

0800 085 7371

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure

Ways to support independent living

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure