Affordable Safety Services With a Myriad of Options
The loss of independence is often a concern for aging adults, and it comes as no surprise that 96% of people over the age of 65 prefer to live on their own for as long as possible1. Fortunately, companies like Alert1 offer a diverse lineup of medical alert systems and safety solutions to help people age in place while maintaining control and quality of life. Established in 1988, my team and I have kept up with Alert1 for years and have always been pleased with their offerings.
For this review, I’ll be taking a closer look at the On-the-Go + Home Fall Detection bundle for two reasons: the Home Fall Detection is Alert1’s best-selling system, and I wanted to test out a system for on-the-go use, so this bundle was the perfect fit. With nationwide coverage, Alert1 systems feature easy-to-see emergency buttons that, when pressed, connect the user to a trained Alert1 operator in about 20-45 seconds (which is in line with the industry average). Customers can also set up custom responders like family, friends, neighbors, and caregivers to what Alert1 calls their “Circle of Care.” I was also glad to see that this company offered so many fall detection options—but I needed to find out if these options were really worth it. From packages to pricing to setting up the systems, read on to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of Alert1.
With five packages to choose from—four medical alert systems and a bundle option (the one I chose) that combines two specific systems—deciding on one that best fits your current situation is no easy feat. I get it, which is why I did all the heavy lifting for you and compacted the information about the use and functionality of each system below. Let’s get to it!
Did You Know: Although Alert1 lets potential customers know that they can add a roommate or spouse to their plan, the Home Medical Alert and Home Fall Detection systems can actually support up to 10 help buttons.
|Monthly Subscription Plans||1-User||2-Users (Same Household)|
|Monthly||$28.95 per month||$38.95 per month|
|Quarterly||$25.95 per month||$35.95 per month|
|Annually||$19.95 per month||$29.95 per month|
|30-Months||$16.95 per month||$26.95 per month|
The Home Medical Alert is Alert1’s most basic system and is ideal for seniors who prefer to spend their time around the house. The system comes with a base unit that connects to the user’s power outlet and landline, so it would greatly benefit those who don’t have great cellular coverage in their area. The base unit has a loud and sensitive two-way speaker, so it’s great for those who are hard of hearing. This system comes with a showerproof help button, which can be worn as a necklace or wristband. The button works within a 600-foot range from the base unit, which is below average when compared to in-home systems from competing companies, like Philips Lifeline (up to 1,300 feet) or Medical Care Alert (up to 1,000 feet).
A Heads Up: Despite Alert1’s site stating that its medical alert button is “compatible with pacemakers,” the two components are separate from one another and do not act in sync. In the case of a health crisis, if your pacemaker vibrates or shocks you due to irregular heartbeat, you still need to press the button on your necklace or wristband to signal for help.
During my research, I found that this system would suffice for those looking for a basic at-home system with minimal monitoring requirements for a decent rate; the monthly rates can drop significantly if you sign up for their annual or 30-month subscription plan, which can bring your monthly costs down by $12. You can also opt for the 2-user selection. Some companies require spouses to pay for two separate systems which really adds up, so this affordable protection for two users is a great deal. Otherwise, the month-to-month payment plan is a bit high for what you’re getting; to be frank, you’ll get more for your money with other companies that offer similar at-home systems, like Medical Guardian and Bay Alarm Medical. If you don’t have a landline available, skip down to review the next at-home option—Home Fall Detection.
|Fall Detection Plans||1-User||2-Users (Same Household)|
|Monthly||$39.95 per month||$49.95 per month|
|Quarterly||$36.95 per month||$46.95 per month|
|Annually||$30.95 per month||$40.95 per month|
|30-Months||$27.95 per month||$37.95 per month|
As Alert1’s best-selling system, Home Fall Detection offers all of the same benefits as Home Medical Alert—and more. Given that 3 million older adults are treated for a fall injury each year2, I was glad to see that Alert1 created an at-home system equipped with automatic fall detection capabilities in the form of a waterproof pendant. From the shower to the kitchen, if the pendant senses a fall, it will automatically connect to the base unit and call for help, instead of requiring the user to press the help button to initiate the call for assistance. It can also run on the connection of a landline or T-Mobile network, with the flexibility to easily switch back and forth.
FYI: Keep in mind that the pendant does not always detect 100% of falls. To err on the side of caution, you should always press the help button during emergency situations.
All in all, the system was reliable and delivered on its promises. My biggest gripe was that it only covers up to a 400-foot range from the base unit, which is 200 feet less than Home Medical Alert. If you are interested in this system but need more range, I’d highly recommend upgrading to the On-the-Go + Home Fall Detection Bundle. I’ll get to this in a little bit!
|Kelsi Plans||1-User||2-Users (Same Household)|
|Monthly||$49.95 per month||$69.95 per month|
|Quarterly||$42.95 per month||$62.95 per month|
|Annually||$36.95 per month||$56.95 per month|
|30-Months||$33.95 per month||$53.95 per month|
For seniors who live an active, on-the-move lifestyle, the On-the-Go system may be the best option as it’s the size of a Tic Tac box. With a 30-day long battery life, it’s designed to be worn around the neck, but can be carried with a belt attachment as well. This system makes it so easy to transition from lounging around the house to heading out for errands and lunch with friends. Operated on cellular networks, you have the option to choose between Verizon and AT&T3. As long as the device is charged and within cell coverage, the wearer can have around-the-clock protection wherever they go. Should the wearer need help while they’re out and about, all they need to do is press the button on the unit and they will be connected with a trained operator in Alert1’s Command Center, who can locate them (if needed) using 911 technology and can dispatch emergency services or connect them with a custom responder.
|Kelsi Pro Plans||1-User||2-Users (Same Household)|
|Monthly||$55.95 per month||$63.95 per month|
|Quarterly||$52.95 per month||$72.95 per month|
|Annually||$46.95 per month||$66.95 per month|
|30-Months||$43.95 per month||$63.95 per month|
Kelsi Pro On-the-Go Fall Detection functions similarly to the previously mentioned system but it offers automatic fall detection (no brainer there!) and GPS tracking. It’s also the second system included in my bundle (more details to come in the next section) and does not require a landline or phone to operate, as the user can communicate to the monitoring center through the built-in two-way speaker. The GPS feature can track your location no matter where you are, which is a great option for active seniors who are always on the move—from hikes to bike rides to the dance floor. When I tested out my system during a walk along the beach, I was connected to the operator within 25 seconds to verify my location. They knew my exact location, so I’m confident in the GPS tracking.
The On-the-Go Fall Detection system has a 5-day battery, which is significantly shorter compared with the last system. While dipping from a 30-day battery life to a 5-day battery life seems extreme, I find that this is standard for devices using GPS—it’s nothing bad, the user just needs to stay on top of charging it! I’m pretty forgetful when it comes to charging, so I just plugged mine in every night before bed.
|On-the-Go + Fall Detection Bundles||1-User||2-Users|
|Monthly||$61.95 per month||$91.95 per month|
|Quarterly||$58.95 per month||$88.95 per month|
|Annually||$52.95 per month||$82.95 per month|
|30-Months||$49.95 per month||$79.95 per month|
Fusing the safety features of the On-the-Go and Home Fall Detection, the bundle is a match made in heaven for seniors opting for the highest level of protection. To top it off, this bundle is a great deal (which is why I purchased it), as it only costs around $6 more per month than purchasing the Kelsi On-the-Go Fall Detection on its own. You basically get two systems for the price of one! Since you know what you’re getting into based off the product rundown above, let’s dive into my setup experience for each system.
I started by setting up the Home system, first plugging the power cord of the base unit into an electrical outlet. The unit beeped and the green power light turned on. I then plugged the included phone cord into the back of the unit and connected the other end with my wall’s phone outlet. After this, I tested the system by pressing the emergency button on the unit. This illuminated the red “Alarm Status” light, and when the operator answered the call, I let him know that I was testing the system. The next thing I needed to do was pair my fall detection pendant to the base unit. To do this, I held down the green “Reset” button on the base until I heard four beeps and I released the button. Then I held the button down again until I heard three beeps. After, I held down the green “Reset” button and the button on my fall detection pendant and released both buttons when I heard a beep from my base unit. Lastly, I pressed the button on my pendant and let the operator know I was testing the system once again.
To set up my On-the-Go pendant, I plugged the charging cord into a power outlet and plugged the other end into the unit’s charging port. The unit started blinking red to let me know it was charging, and once it was fully charged the light started blinking blue. I then connected the lanyard clasp to the unit and put it around my neck. To test the system, I pressed the black help button until the status light turned blue to let me know the call was being made. After about 30 seconds I was connected to an operator and, again, just let them know I was running a test.
Setup Advice: More of a visual learner? Alert1 provides installation videos for each system, which can be found on their website4.
Once my systems were up and running, I called Alert1 to set up my Circle of Care, AKA my custom responders. Overall, the devices were really easy to set up, but Alert1 is always ready to help guide customers through installations over the phone if needed.
Alert1 offers a multitude of add ons and accessories to supplement any system, but not every one is a necessity. While I appreciate that the company offers stylish options such as colorful silicon wristbands and beaded necklaces, I found that the most important items to consider are functional add ons such as the Advantage Plan and the Medication Reminder and Organizer. Even though some of these items seem extraneous, I was really impressed with the amount of add ons offered by Alert1.
The Advantage Plan ($8.33 per month) protects customers from paying for any damage to their devices. There are three payment plans available: quarterly, semi-annually, and annually. Pay close attention to which one you choose, though—the quarterly and semi-annual plans equate to $8.33 per month, but the annual plan gets bumped up to $9.72 per month!
In 2018, a study by AARP found that 3-in-10 adults, 50 and older, would share their homes with another person5 (other than a spouse). For seniors who are living with a spouse or roommate, Alert1 offers an over 60% discount on the Kelsi Pro On-the-Go Fall Detection system and an over 50% discount on all other systems when a second user is added to the plan.
While some companies like LifeFone offer a monthly medication reminder service, Alert1 has created an affordable option to help seniors keep their medications organized for a one-time fee of $149.95. Alert1’s tamper-proof Medication Reminder and Organizer holds up to 28 doses, and it allows seniors to program up to four medication reminders per day—a task that’s similar to setting a digital clock.
Even though Alert1’s base unit has a 600-foot range and can easily pick up sounds, in-home landline system users may want to consider purchasing a voice extender. This device was specifically designed to extend the two-way voice feature of the system throughout larger homes or homes with multiple stories, and can easily be mounted to the wall or tabletop. The add-on price is $99.
Alert1’s Fall Protection Package costs $200 and is perfect for seniors who are at risk of falling and want an extra element of safety in certain areas of the home. The package comes with two Wall-Mounted Emergency Buttons, two wireless motion-sensing night lights, 12 corner guards, and adhesive tub grip strips.
Many medical alert companies offer emergency lock boxes in order to avoid the cost of broken-in doors during an emergency. Alert1’s Emergency Lockbox is $39.95 and can be set up on the front doorknob or any other secure item near the door, can hold up to five keys, and its four-digit pin can be set and changed at any time.
Alert1’s Wall-Mounted Emergency Buttons are wireless, equipped with a battery that lasts for over two years, and are mounted to surfaces using Velcro adhesive strips so they can be placed anywhere. The buttons are also 100% showerproof, making them perfect for the bathroom as well as the bedroom or the stairs. Note that the button does not have a two-way speaker, so voice communication will still happen through the base unit. Each button costs $39.95.
Alert1 offers a Monitored Smoke Detector for a low monthly price of $10. While it serves the same purpose as a regular smoke detector, Alert1’s goes the extra mile by automatically connecting the customer with an operator. Other companies like Bay Alarm Medical and Medical Alert don’t offer smoke detectors, so it’s a unique add on.
Alert1 also offers additional pendants and wristbands, including the Mobile Fall Protection Pendant ($46.95), the Fall Detection Pendant ($30.95), the PAX Plus Classic Wristband ($29.95), the Alarm Bracelet ($19.95), and the Alert Pendant ($19.95). Keep in mind that the prices are for the devices only, and must be paired with the proper medical alert system.
For Alert1’s home emergency buttons, the company offers fun silicon wristbands in grey, blue, and purple for $9.95. These are not compatible with mobile or fall detection pendants.
Alert1 offers stainless steel stretch band Medical ID Bracelets for $34.95 in large and small sizes. The bracelet features an accessible panel with space for patient information—the perfect addition for seniors with allergies and specific emergency instructions.
For seniors with a passion for fashion, adding a touch of color or bling can make medical alert pendants fun to wear. These necklaces come in three different options, Stained Glass, Elegant Onyx, and Treasure Pearls and cost $19.95.
Whenever I’m scoping out a company, the first place I look is its website, so any company that is as transparent and informative on its website as Alert1 automatically earns a huge plus for me—especially since more and more seniors are shopping online. Alert1’s website made it really easy for me to learn about the products, services, and add ons the company has to offer. Still, even with all this information, I wanted to learn more, so I called their customer service.
After a very quick wait, a friendly, helpful woman named Alicia answered my call. During our discussion, she advised me that their best-selling product is the Home Fall Detection, which is one of the systems I ended up reviewing in-person. Alicia let me know if I wanted to try out the On-the-Go system as well, it would be the most cost-efficient to bundle the two together. She looped me in on their referral program, an easy way for customers to earn a free month of service for themselves and their friend. Alicia also filled me in on a little secret: I could avoid the one-time $50 activation fee by choosing any payment plan other than month-to-month. This isn’t the most expensive activation fee I’ve ever seen (Life Alert’s is nearly $200), but every bit of savings counts!
Buyer's Tip: Save money with opting for the 36 for 30 plan or the annual payment plan. With the 36 for 30 plan, you pay for 30 months of service and get six months free. With the annual plan, you get two months free.
Alert1 offers a limited warranty that covers equipment that has become inoperable due to product defect, or if the transmitter’s battery needs to be replaced. The warranty does not cover loss or damage caused by accidents, negligence, or repairs performed by an unauthorized service.
According to Alert1, three out of four customers opt to add on the Advantage Plan for an additional $8.33 per month. This plan protects customers from paying for a new system or device in case of non-defect-related damage or loss. In my eyes, paying less than 30 cents a day to help protect a device I rely on daily is more than worth it!
All in all, I was impressed with the quality of service offered by Alert1’s lineup of systems with landline and cellular options for in-home and on-the-go use. Though I was unenthused about the lack of a lifetime warranty and the restrictive base range with the at-home systems, the company’s life-saving features and affordable subscription plans made it worthwhile—especially if you opt for the 36-month option. Plus, the On-the-Go + Home Fall Detection bundle is a great deal, so you can save on a well-rounded, reliable system.
The company is clear and transparent with its information both online and over the phone. They provide a level of care that other companies simply don’t—offering assistance in multiple languages, discounts for veterans, and nonverbal protocol for the hard of hearing community. When reviewing a medical alert system, I’m not only looking at how the company will treat a customer in case of emergency, I’m also looking at how they treat their customers on a day-to-day experience, and Alert1 exceeded my expectations.
Monthly costs will depend on your choice of system and payment plan. The cost can range from anywhere between $16.95 to $61.95 for the system, not including add ons or protection plans. While this seems like a wide range, it’s mostly due to how many options Alert1 has for its customers.
Alert1 offers a 30-day risk-free refund policy for new customers. In order to qualify for the refund, the customer must subscribe to a payment plan, test the system, and mail it back within 30 days from the date it was received. Should a customer decide to return the device mid-service plan, they can donate their remaining time to a veteran or low-income individual through the Alert1 Cares Program.
Alert1 offers a free month through its refer-a-friend program. The company also offers discounts for AAA members, AARP members, and veterans.
No, there is never a charge for pressing the emergency button with Alert1. Each system is set up for unlimited button pushes, so you or your loved one can feel comfortable asking for help with big and small emergencies.
Don’t worry—Alert1’s customer service advises to just let them know that you’re testing your system if you set off the system by accident.
An Alert1 operator in the Command Center will respond and have the customer’s account information up in 20-45 seconds. They will talk to the customer to learn more about their situation, contact whomever the customer wants, and stay with them on the phone until help arrives.
Linda’s Acclaimed Career in Senior Care Linda Schlenker is a comforting voice for seniors and caregivers across the U.S. For nearly three decades, Linda has helped seniors remain safe in their own homes, while helping them to regain priceless independence and peace… Learn More About Linda Schlenker
Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt