Personal emergency alarms and monitors

Carrying a personal alarm is useful if you experience falls. It also gives your partner or other family members peace of mind if they are concerned about you when you are alone.

Types of alarm

Pendant alarms – a very popular choice, these are worn around the neck or wrist. When activated they send a signal to either a unit in another part of the house, the phone of a nominated emergency contact or a call centre. A wrist-watch-style call button is also available for some alarm systems.

Monitors and intercoms – you can use these to alert another person in your house if you need them. Some monitors are triggered when you walk past them, for example if you get out of bed in the middle of the night, the monitor will play a voice message. Some pendant or clip-on alarms are also triggered if you fall or if smoke is detected.

Wireless doorbells – these are available from any hardware shop and can be useful to create a low-cost portable call system for your house and garden. This may be useful if your voice is not strong enough to call for help from someone nearby.

Mobile apps – some specialist mobile phones and apps for smartphones can act as an alarm trigger, or a combination of a falls monitor and automatic alarm trigger.

Community alarm systems – using a combination of different alarms and falls monitors, you can create a community alarm system.

Some alarm systems connect to a call centre. They use 2-way speakers in the house so that a call handler can ask if the person who triggered the alarm is OK. If there is no answer or the person reports that they need help, the call handler can arrange urgent assistance from either an appointed contact, such as a relative or neighbour, or from the emergency services.

Buying a personal alarm or monitor

You may be able to get a personal alarm or monitor from your local council or from a charity. But this may mean you don’t get a choice of model. You can usually get help towards the cost of alarms or monitors where the device links you to an emergency call centre or other support to help you in a crisis.

Find out more about where to get alarms or monitors by speaking to your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse. There is also more information on the Disabled Living Foundation's website.

Last updated May 2017. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at