A neighbor in my condo writes: About 15 years ago I heard from my travel agent that a friend of hers had fallen in the kitchen and broken a bone and had required hours to crawl to her telephone. At that point I decided that I would get one of those buttons, and I did and have lived with it ever since. The monthly charge is a tax deduction if you itemize (under "medical").
I have never needed my button, but the security of having it is very important to me, since I am hyper-aware of living alone. Yes, the button is useless unless you have it on you when you need it. Are you going to have it on you *all the time* (at least when you are at home)? If not, why bother? Mine is waterproof, so when I take a shower, I lay it on the ledge of the tub. At all other times, it is literally on me. (Mine is worn around the neck, like a pendant.)
My button is Lifeline, and in terms of the technology involved, it is ancient. It covers me only when I am in my apartment and only if I press the button.
Only when in my apartment: If I should fall away from home, the button would be irrelevant and I would be dependent on the help of strangers and/or on my cell phone (which I make a point of having with me whenever I am away from home -- even when walking within Parkside or going downstairs to get the mail).
Only if I press the button: In other words, if I were unconscious or paralyzed, I would not be able to summon help, and having the button would do me no good. Yes, I am taking a chance and perhaps may decide to reconsider the kind of coverage I want a button to give.
One inherent problem, then, is coverage. Will it cover you only at home, and will it cover you only if you are able to press it?
Another problem is whether you are someone who would keep it on you at all relevant times. And a third (which applies to the kind of button you wear only at home) is this: if you took it off right before going out your front door, *would you be able to find it when you returned home?* In the early years there were several times when I returned home and for the life of me could not find the button or remember where I had left it. Those moments or hours or days of not remembering drove me crazy (since I needed to know that the button was on me). I have now learned my lesson and am always conscious of where I am leaving it (generally in one designated place).
As for the question of who to list: Lifeline (my company) will not list 9-1-1, and my condominium does not allow us to list the management office. It has to be one or more people who (a) have a key to your apartment, and (b) live close enough to be able to get to you in case they're called by Lifeline and told that you have an emergency. If you live in a condo, can you list your management office?
P.S. I also have an arrangement with one very near neighbor that we send each other an email message every morning confirming to the other that each is okay. Thus, the longest either one of us would be left lying helpless is 24 hours.