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Medicare Annual Enrollment is Happening Now! Everything You Need to Know

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Best Medical Alert Systems of 2021

Our experts tested and researched 20 medical alert devices and narrowed the list to their top recommendations.

How we wrote this guide:
  • 5 experts consulted

  • 300+ hours of research

  • 20 products considered

  • 12 products selected

Best Overall
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Most Affordable
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Best Two-for-One Systems
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Provider Medical Guardian Bay Alarm Medical MobileHelp ADT Health Aloe Care Health Medical Alert LifeFone Lifeline GreatCall WellBe QMedic Alert1
Prices Starting at $29.95 per month $21.95 per month $19.95 per month $29.99 per month $34.99 per month $22.95 per month $29.95 per month $29.95 per month $19.99 per month $44.95 per month $25 per month $19.95 per month
Fall Detection $10 per month $10 per month $10 per month $10 per month Included in some packages $10 per month $5-$10 per month Included in some systems $10 per month N/A N/A Included in some systems
Activation Fees No No No No No No No Up to $50 Up to $35 No No No
Connection Type Landline or Cellular Landline or Cellular Landline or Cellular Landline or Cellular WiFi or Cellular Landline or cellular Landline or Cellular Landline or Cellular Cellular WiFi or Cellular Cellular Landline or Cellular
GPS Equipment Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
In-Home Coverage Range Up to 1,300 feet Up to 1,000 feet Up to 1,400 feet Up to 600 feet N/A Up to 600 feet Up to 1,300 feet Up to 400 feet No in-home systems N/A Up to 1,000 feet Up to 600 feet
Waterproof Help Buttons Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Warranty Lifetime Lifetime Limited lifetime Lifetime 1 year Lifetime Lifetime Up to 1 year 1 year 1 year Lifetime Limited lifetime
Money-Back Guarantee None 30 days 30 days 30 days No 30 days 30 days 30 days 30 days 30 days 30 days 30 days
Long-Term Contracts No No No No No No No No No No No Optional but not required
Spouse Monitoring Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes

Medical Alert Systems

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How We Chose The Top Medical Alert Systems

After more than 300 hours of research, testing, and group discussion of all the medical alert devices we could get our hands on, our team narrowed down the list to our top eleven picks. We evaluated each system for quality, reliability, speed of emergency responses, price, aesthetics, extra perks, and overall value to create a well-rounded ranking for each product. We placed test calls to each response center and during the purchase process spoke to customer service representatives at each company.

In addition to evaluating every medical alert system based on our research and hands-on testing, every company had to meet the four standard requirements we find most important for all medical alert systems. Check out our requirements for making the cut below:

  1. No Long-Term Contracts: Some medical alert companies still require customers to sign long-term contracts for up to three years, which we’re not big fans of. All of the providers included in our top 12 offer month-to-month options to give customers the ultimate flexibility.
  2. 24/7 Professional Monitoring: In case of a fall or other emergency, fast response times and 365/24/7 monitoring are essential for getting the help you need. While some companies don’t include professional monitoring, we think it’s an essential feature, so our list only has those that do.
  3. GPS Options: All of the companies on our list offer GPS mobile options. For seniors that still spend time outside the home, it’s essential that the monitoring center can locate you and send help to your exact location during an emergency. GPS technology makes this possible.
  4. Monthly Rates Starting Under $40: Every provider on our list offers at least one system for under $40 per month. We want seniors to find an affordable system and keep them from breaking the bank just to stay protected. While monthly rates may be higher for premium plans, those on a budget will still have options with our top picks.

For more details on medical alert systems, jump down to our guide to choosing a medical alert system below.

What is a Medical Alert System?

So what exactly is a medical alert system and why do you need one? Personal medical alert systems are designed to keep seniors safe and prevent life-threatening injuries from falls and other health emergencies that become more common as we age. Systems typically come with a base unit equipped with a help button and two-way speaker, and a wearable help pendant or bracelet.

During an emergency, all the user has to do is press the help button on the base station or pendant and they’ll be connected to the company’s 24/7 monitoring center. A live operator will help the user get the assistance they need based on the situation, whether it’s a family member, neighbor, or first responders. If the operator is unable to get a response from the user, they’ll send help straight away. Some systems are designed for in-home or on-the-go, while others are a hybrid of the two, so users can stay protected whether they’re at home or traveling. Learn more about medical alert systems in our “Introduction to Medical Alert Systems” video below.

One-in-four seniors experience a fall every single year, which is also the leading cause of life-threatening injuries for older adults.2 Plus, once a senior has one fall, they’re twice as likely to fall again.3 Because falls are a very prevalent and serious danger to older adults, it’s important to be prepared for falls even before they happen. That’s where medical alert systems come in. They can literally save the user’s life by sending help immediately after a fall. These systems give both seniors and their loved ones an added layer of peace of mind and protection, especially for older adults who live alone or away from family.

What to Look for in a Medical Alert System

There are several types of medical alert systems tailored to meet the needs of different users. To decide which system is best for you and feel confident in your choice, here are the main topics to consider.

Landline vs. Cellular Systems

In-home alert systems will either run on a landline or cellular connection. If you live in an area with spotty cellular coverage, a landline system will be ideal for a steady and reliable connection. However, if you don’t have a landline or would rather not have to connect your system to a phone jack, a cellular system is a great option. For those looking for an on-the-go system, essentially all mobile systems run on a cellular connection, so again, you’ll want to ensure that the provider you choose uses a cellular network that’s reliable in your area.

Pendants, Smartwatches, or Portable Base Stations?

If you want a system that can be used on the go, you’ll need to decide how you want to carry or wear the system, as there are a few different options on the market. The first option is an all-in-one wearable system that can be put on like a necklace. These systems are great for those who don’t want to deal with keeping track of multiple pieces of equipment. However, they’re typically a bit bulkier than other options since everything is built into one piece of equipment.

The second option is a two-piece system that comes with a help button that can be worn as either a necklace or bracelet and a small, portable base station. For these systems, the base station is typically small enough to be thrown in a purse or put in a pocket, and the pendant is small and lightweight. These two-piece systems are good for those who want a more discrete pendant. Just know that you’ll have to remember both pieces of equipment whenever you leave the house, and you’ll need to keep the portable base station close by.

The last option is an all-in-one smartwatch system. The best medical alert watches function similarly to Apple Watches, as they track user activity and allow you to send and receive messages, but they also have medical alert features like a help button and 24/7 monitoring. Medical Guardian, Bay Alarm Medical, and WellBe are currently the three major medical alert providers that offer a smartwatch option, so it’s pretty unique. If you’re looking for this high-tech option, you’ll want to consider Medical Guardian’s Freedom Guardian, Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch, or WellBe’s smartwatch.

What is Automatic Fall Detection?

Medical alert providers typically offer automatic fall detection pendants in certain packages or as an add-on feature. With fall detection, the user won’t even have to press a button after a fall. The pendant will detect the downward motion followed by inactivity and automatically connect to the monitoring center. This is a useful feature for any users, but especially for those more prone to falls due to health conditions or mobility issues. When choosing a system, look into the company’s fall detection options. Consider if the person you’re buying for will need, or feel more secure with, fall detection and determine whether or not this add on will fit in your budget. To help your search, we’ve compiled a list of the best medical alert systems with fall detection.

How to Share Data with Caregivers and Family Members

Many providers, like Aloe Care Health and Bay Alarm Medical, offer companion mobile apps that pair up with your medical alert system. If you want to be able to keep track of your aging family member and receive real-time alerts to any incidents, you’ll want to make sure you choose a company and package that comes with mobile app access. Each app offers different features, but some of the most standard include GPS tracking, user call history, and real-time alerts for emergency calls.

Typical Costs of a System

You’ll need to make sure that the medical alert system you choose fits in your budget. The cost of a medical alert system varies greatly by the provider and type of system you choose. You’ll find that the most affordable systems on the market start at around $20 per month. For mobile GPS systems or more advanced in-home systems with activity monitoring or other unique features, prices typically jump to about $30 to $45 per month.

In addition to monthly monitoring fees, you’ll also need to consider the cost of any add-on equipment or features. Fall detection, the most common add-on feature, typically costs around $10 per month, while some providers offer it for a few bucks more or less. Other add ons like protection plans, jewelry accessories, and additional equipment can cost anywhere from $5 to $15 per month, or you may just pay a one-time fee for extra equipment. Once you’ve chosen your ideal system, be sure to do the math and add up all of your monthly costs along with any upfront fees so you know what to expect on your bill.

What Type of Maintenance is Required?

Medical alert systems are built to be durable and last for years to come, so typically there isn’t a lot of required maintenance. Most help pendants have batteries that last for a few years, and providers will usually replace them when they die at no extra cost. If your system is malfunctioning and it’s not due to user error or intentional damage, most providers will fix or replace the equipment for free.

When choosing a system, be sure to check the company’s warranty and what exactly it covers. Some providers offer a lifetime warranty that will cover all maintenance, while others are more limited or short term. Many companies that don’t have lifetime warranties offer monthly protection plans instead for around $5 per month that will cover expensive equipment replacements.

FAQs About Medical Alert Systems

  • What is a medical alert system?

    A medical alert system usually comes with one or more devices that helps the user stay safe. The device comes in the form of a bracelet, necklace or pendant. It is connected to a speaker that allows the user to come into contact with a trained operator with the simple press of a button. The trained operator can determine whether to send emergency help.

  • Who will benefit from wearing a medical alert system?

    It’s not uncommon for people to believe that seniors are the only ones to benefit from wearing a medical alert system. Truth is, though, anyone of any age can benefit from a medical alert system, particularly those who want peace of mind in knowing they will receive around-the-clock protection during medical emergencies, fires, and break-ins.

  • What should I look for in a medical alert system?

    The most important aspect to look for in a medical alert system is reliability. No matter how well the medical alert system performs, unless it’s connected to a live agent who can instantly take your call, then the system will prove of little value. Beyond reliability, it’s important to look for a system that is easy to use and install. Always get a system that offers a backup battery, as well. With a backup battery, you obtain peace of mind in knowing the system will still operate during a power outage.

  • How do medical alert systems work?

    A medical alert system is worn by the user. Many systems also come with a base in which the medical alert device sends a signal to. All the user has to do to call for help is press the HELP button on the base or device being worn. Once the signal from the device reaches the base, it is immediately forwarded to the system’s monitoring center, which includes trained emergency response operators. The operator will answer your call and using two-way voice communication, you will hear the operator ask you questions. If you can speak, you tell the operator what type of help you need. If you can’t speak, you can simply stay on the line with the operator in silence. The operator will assess the situation and determine what type of emergency help to send.

  • What to look for in a medical alert system provider?

    You should shop for a medical alert system that comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a hassle-free return policy. Also, check the provider’s ranking with the Better Business Bureau.

  • What are the different types of medical alert systems?

    Medical alert systems are available in many forms. Some connect to a home’s landline, some are wireless, and some are considered mobile. A landline medical alert system comes with a phone cord that connects from the base device to the phone jack on your wall. Wireless medical alert systems connect to a wall outlet and works off of a cellular network, meaning you don’t have to connect it to a landline. Mobile medical alert systems come with a mobile device that easily fits in your hand or is worn around the neck or wrist. You get a carrying pouch as well and a charging cradle along with a power cord. No matter the type of system that you choose, fall detection is usually optional. Please keep in mind that wireless systems usually work all throughout the United States. Mobile systems work all throughout the 50 states, however, they only work outside of the country when you are in an area that has cellular network coverage.

  • Do medical alert systems come with GPS tracking?

    Yes, they do! And that’s another great reason you need one. You never know what situation you may find yourself in. Sometimes, GPS tracking may be the difference between saving your life and losing it. Anything from memory loss to a seizure can cause you to wander off to places where you aren’t safe, but with a medical alert system with GPS tracking, both you and your caregivers can keep track of your location. If you go missing, your caregivers will know to call your monitoring service provider to get your GPS coordinates.

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Reviewed By

Linda Schlenker

Senior Safety Expert

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

Written By

Taylor Shuman

Senior Tech Expert & Editor

For over five years, Taylor has been writing, editing, and researching products and services covering topics such as senior care and technology, Internet and the digital divide, TV, and entertainment, and education. Her research on media consumption and consumer behavior has been… Learn More About Taylor Shuman