DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: Do you know of any emergency help buttons for seniors (like the Lifeline) that work away from the home? I would like to get one for my 78-year-old mother, but would like to find one that’s not limited to the house. What can you tell me? — Searching son

DEAR SEARCHING: There are actually several new products on the market that give seniors the flexibility to call for help both inside and outside the home. Here’s what you should know.

For years, emergency help buttons (also known as a personal emergency response system, or PERS) like the Philips Lifeline, Life Alert and others have been popular home safety products for elderly seniors. By pushing a button on a pendant, seniors can call a 24-hour help service anytime they need it. But these devices have one major shortcoming: They only work in and around the house. If you’re in a distant location and need help, you’re out of luck — until recently. There are several new products and services that can help seniors no matter where they are.

One such product is MobileHelp (mobilehelpnow.com, 800-800-1710), which provides many of the same features as a traditional home-based emergency help button, but it also has a separate mobile device that can be used to summon help anywhere you go. To call for help, your mom would simply push a button, and a few seconds later an operator from MobileHelp would be on the line to assist her. The other great aspect about this device is that it contains GPS technology that can locate your mom wherever she is, which is critical in emergency situations. The cost for MobileHelp is $40 per month, or $35 per month if paid a year in advance.

Another more sophisticated option is ActiveCare’s Personal Assistance Link (activecare.com, 877-219-6628), which provides a mobile one-button connection to its 24-hour call center to help your mom with a wide variety of needs, like calling for emergency services, notifying family members, coordinating roadside assistance, providing directions and much more. This device comes with fall detection software that can automatically call for help without the button being pressed. It also has GPS locating technology, and it functions like a simplified cell phone so she can make calls. And, if your mom has dementia, the ActiveCare service lets you set up a virtual zone that notifies you if she wanders outside it. This service starts at $59 a month.

Also worth a look is the new LifeTrac MobileProtector from SecuraTrac (securatrac.com, 888-973-2872) that provides GPS technology, fall detection software, virtual border alerts and can operate as a cell phone. Coming in late 2011 is a new device from Lifecomm that you can preview at lifecomm.com.

Another way to help keep your mom safe when she’s out and about is a cell phone with a built-in GPS tracking chip — many of today’s phones have them. Contact her cell phone provider to find out if her phone has it or if it can be added. With a GPS-enabled cell phone you can install free tracking software on it (at sites like buddyway.com, glympse.com or google.com/latitude) so you can know your mom’s whereabouts via your computer or cell phone. Or, if you’re a Sprint, Verizon Wireless, AT&T or Alltel customer, they all offer family locator services for a small fee. If your mom doesn’t have a cell phone, consider the AccuTracking (accutracking.com) “starter kit” that comes with a GPS Boost Mobile prepaid phone for $99, plus $16.50 for monthly service fees.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org.

— Hometown Content