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Best Medical Alert Systems of 2019

Our experts tested and researched 15 medical alert devices and narrowed the list to their top 10 recommendations.

Last Updated On: October 24, 2019
The 3 Best Brands
Accolades Best Overall Best Equipment Best Emergency Response
Contract No No No
Monthly Plan Cost Starts at $29.95 Starts at $19.95 Starts at $19.95
Fall Detection Available Yes Yes Yes
Cellular Coverage Yes Yes Yes
Activation Fees No No No
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Top 10 Highest Ranked Medical Alert Systems

Owning a quality medical alert system is often the difference between a small fall and a life-threatening injury. That’s why they are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for seniors. But how do you go about choosing one? Don’t worry, you’re in good hands. If you have made the decision to invest in this life-saving technology for yourself or a loved one, you know there are seemingly endless options. So we’ve made it easy for you by ranking the top 10 medical alert systems for 2019. See our picks below.

Here are the Best Medical Alert Systems for 2019

How We Chose The Top 10 Medical Alert Systems

We identified the top 15 medical alert brands and narrowed it down to 10 of our favorites based on a number of criteria. We looked at affordability, service, ease of use, response times, and other factors to rank the best medical alert systems on the market. Take a look at the systems we have deemed the best of the best.

15
Products considered
5
Experts consulted
10
Products selected
86
Hours of research
1. Medical Guardian
Ease of use Excellent
Equipment Excellent
Service & Response Excellent
Features & Tech Excellent
Pricing

Overview

This company boasts an A+ consumer rating with the Better Business Bureau, and is also highly rated on Google at a 4.4 user rating. Medical Guardian understands that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for personal alert systems or home safety. That’s why they offer systems designed to allow users to customize their medical alert equipment and accessory packages for in-home and portable GPS equipped devices.

Medical Guardian offers innovative fall-detection technology that alerts the monitoring company even if you’re unable to call for assistance. With waterproof pendants, fobs, bracelets, and a new watch option, Medical Guardian is designed for form and function, and remains on-guard no matter the user’s location. And if there are multiple seniors in the home who need protection, Medical Guardian has everyone covered with certain package options.

Pros
  • 24/7 US Based Emergency Monitoring Services
  • Landline and Wireless Connectivity Available
  • 32 Hour Battery Backup
  • Two-Way Communication
  • Fall Detection Available
  • GPS Enabled Portable Equipment
  • Free Equipment
  • No Shipping or Activation Fees
  • No Contract Required
  • Price-Lock Guarantee
Cons
  • Some Equipment Has Limited Distance Range
  • Activity Sensors Come With Premium Package Only
  • Premium Packages Can Be Costly

Pricing

You’ll be glad to know there are no equipment costs or hidden fees (with the one exception being the watch at a one-time $99 upfront fee). Otherwise, customers simply pay for month-to-month monitoring. Also, those who wish to go under contract will enjoy a price-lock guarantee on the cost of monitoring services. Medical Guardian offers a variety of packages for both home and travel use.

The three home packages range in price from $29.95 – $79.95 per month, and the three on-the-go medical alert options range from $39.95 – $44.95 per month. Fall detection options cost an additional $10 per month. You’ll be glad to know the portable devices are GPS enabled, while the Active Guardian is also Wi-Fi enabled. Finally, the pendants have reliable built-in speakers for two-way communication, and the company tends to offer regular specials to stay competitive with pricing.

The Bottom Line

Medical Guardian is the ultimate in peace of mind for seniors who seek the convenience of waterproof alert devices with two-way communications and fall-detection options. The equipment is GPS enabled and comes at no equipment cost to the user. Also, senior couples, or those with other family members in the home, can enjoy additional protection for their loved ones with a customized package. Read the Medical Guardian review here.

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Call Medical Guardian

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2. MobileHelp
Ease of use Excellent
Equipment Excellent
Service & Response Excellent
Features & Tech Excellent
Pricing

Overview

MobileHelp is a top-rated company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. They offer medical alert systems that work with or without a phone line. MobileHelp holds bragging rights with some of the fastest emergency response times in the industry, with an impressive average of 17 seconds. One thing that sets them apart from their competitors is their service known as MobileHelp Connect — an online tracking system and event notification alerts for family members and caregivers.

MobileHelp is FDA registered and provides stateside customer service. Their devices are GPS enabled, and their newest offering is an impressive medical alert smartwatch powered by Samsung. Users enjoy nationwide coverage, without needing a landline. Finally, to ensure satisfaction, MobileHelp offers a free 30-day trial with no penalties or restocking fees.

Pros
  • USA Based Customer Service and Sales
  • No Long-Term Contracts
  • Two-Way Voice Communication
  • Wearable Watch Option Available
  • No Equipment Purchase Required
  • 30 Hour Battery Backup
  • FDA Registered Company
  • Fast Response Times
  • Nationwide Coverage
  • Data GPS Technology
  • Medical Reminder Service Available
  • 2 Redundant Emergency Call Centers
  • No Hidden Fees
  • Free Shipping
  • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee
Cons
  • Speaker Quality Could Use Improvement
  • In-home Range May Be Limited to 600 Feet From Base
  • Automatic Equipment Testing Isn’t Available
  • Secondary Mobile Devices Must Be Purchased

Pricing

MobileHelp has fairly affordable monthly monitoring rates for their top-rated response center services. There are three individual equipment packages to choose from, with the smart watch option costing an additional $349.95. Basic monitoring packages start at $19.95 per month and go up to $41.95 per month depending on the options you choose. Smart watch monitoring is an additional $24.95 per month, and MobileHelp Connect Premium only costs an additional $5 monthly. The basic MobileHelp Connect option is complimentary. Finally, there are discounts available for customers who wish to pay quarterly, semi-annually, or for a full year in advance.

The Bottom Line

Between low monitoring costs and reliable equipment, MobileHelp is quickly becoming a top choice for seniors. Families appreciate that the company offers an online tracking system and customized alerts for relatives and caregivers. Perhaps the best of all, there are no hidden fees or long term contracts required with MobileHelp. Read the MobileHelp review here.

Customize Your Package

Call MobileHelp

Call to speak with a MobileHelp representative. Get your questions answered, products recommended, and ask about current deals and promotions.

Call: 800-764-1095

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Answer a few questions on MobileHelp’s website to get a quote on the best product and plan for you. This process is slower than calling a representative.

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3. Bay Alarm Medical
Ease of use Excellent
Equipment Excellent
Service & Response Excellent
Features & Tech Excellent
Pricing

Overview

With a reputation of having the most reliable call centers in the nation, and low-cost monitoring packages that start at $19.95 per month, Bay Alarm Medical has easily earned a spot in our Top 3. And their Google ratings validate this, with a solid 4.7 across the board.

Bay Alarm Medical continues to innovate. Their products have built-in battery backups to serve users in the event of a power failure, and the web dashboard and mobile app options make it easy to keep track of users on-the-go.

They offer three levels of protection with an array of features, including fall detection. The company has recently introduced a service offering automatic vehicle crash detection and response systems. Crash detection systems are compatible with any vehicle, and they even provide location-based boundary alerts, real-time vehicle monitoring, and trip history.

Pros
  • 24/7 Nationwide Coverage
  • US Based Monitoring
  • Mobile GPS Features
  • In-Car Medical Alert Available
  • Automatic Fall Detection Available
  • Two-Way Communication Feature
  • Remote Call Answering Capability
  • Multi-lingual Support in 54 Languages
  • 3 Redundant Call Centers
  • 100% Waterproof Help Button
  • Lockbox Service Available
  • Compatible with Most Phone Lines
  • Lifetime Equipment Warranty
  • 30-Day Risk-Free Trial
Cons
  • Landline Plans are the Least Expensive
  • Cellular and Mobile GPS Options Cost Extra
  • Features Like Fall Detection Cost Extra
  • Package for Full Services and Coverage Can Be Costly

Pricing

Bay Alarm Medical offers four equipment packages, each with varying features which customers receive with no up-front fees (if they sign a monthly monitoring contract). Current packages range between $19.95 – $59.95 per month, with the option to add automatic fall detection for an additional $10 monthly. Finally, those who opt to bundle services can literally save a bundle with Bay Alarm Medical.

Current costs for 24/7 monitoring with Bay Alarm Medical are starting at:

  • In-Home Medical Alert – $19.95/mo.
  • Mobile GPS Help Button – $24.95/mo.
  • In-Car Medical Alert w/Auto Crash Detection – $29.95/mo.
  • Complete Protection Package – $59.95/mo.

The Bottom Line

Seniors can rest easy backed by the experience and solid reputation of this medical alert company. They offer ultra-fast response times and friendly customer service. Bay Alarm Medical is a family owned and operated business that has been around 70 years and still going strong. Features like crash detection and vehicle monitoring services make Bay Alarm Medical a standout choice for aging loved ones. And with two-way communication and remote call answering capabilities, it’s no wonder Bay Alarm Medical was voted as The Best Medical Alert Service Provider of 2018. Read the Bay Alarm Medical review here.

Fastest Option & Best Pricing

Call Bay Alarm Medical

Call to speak with a Bay Alarm Medical representative. Get your questions answered, products recommended, and ask about current deals and promotions.

Call: 833-269-9430

Visit BayAlarmMedical.com

Answer a few questions on Bay Alarm Medical's website to get a quote on the best product and plan for you. This process is slower than calling a representative.

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4. GreatCall
Ease of use Excellent
Equipment Above Average
Service & Response Excellent
Features & Tech Excellent
Pricing Excellent

Overview

5/30/19 UPDATE: The GreatCall Lively Mobile device has been temporarily recalled. We recommend choosing another GreatCall medical alert option or an option from another company until they relaunch the GreatCall Lively Mobile later this year.

Popularized with seniors with their innovative Jitterbug phones, GreatCall has been in business for over 14 years and enjoys an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. However, they now feature personal emergency alert system packages that are fully customizable to only include the features you desire, so seniors don’t have to pay for bells and whistles they don’t need or use. To attest to GreatCall’s reliability, they are powered by the highly reliable Verizon network.

With GPS enabled waterproof devices and easy to use apps, GreatCall can be used with or without a smartphone. Fall detection is also available, so that even if a wall button or phone cannot be reached the monitoring center is notified and sends help right away. Attractive low monthly rates and additional features for smartphone users make this company a top choice for seniors and their families. Those who already have Jitterbug phone services will appreciate the convenience of GreatCall.

Pros
  • No Annual Contracts or Cancellation Fees
  • 5-Star Award-Winning U.S. Based Customer Service
  • All-In-One Waterproof Mobile Devices
  • Fall Detection Available
  • GPS Enabled
  • Integrated Cellular Technology
  • Low Monthly Rates
  • Free Shipping
  • Daily Fitness Tracking Service (via smartphone)
  • Variety of Built-In Health and Safety Apps (via smartphone)
  • Product Replacement Option
Cons
  • Fall Detection Only Available With Certain Devices
  • Activation Fee Is Required
  • Product Line Is Limited

Pricing

GreatCall currently offers two types of personal alert devices that cost under $40 plus activation and monthly subscription fees. There are three health and safety packages that cost between $24.99 and $39.99 per month, which give customers access to urgent care with registered nurses and doctors and also includes a GreatCall Link to help users keep their caregivers and family members informed of their status. MediCoach is another option for smartphone users that helps with medication reminders, refill updates, brain games, daily health tips, automated check-in calls, and it even includes a fitness tracker. Bundling with Jitterbug service is clearly the best deal for current users or those looking for a simple cell phone to fit their needs and budget.

The Bottom Line

Known for their easy to use and affordable Jitterbug cell phones, GreatCall services are ideal for seniors looking for an all-in-one solution for communications and a built-in medical alert service. Perks to ease daily life such as medication reminders and a fitness tracker help those aging in place take better care of themselves and also coordinate with caregivers and physicians concerning their health. Rest easy with GreatCall’s award-winning 5-Star Urgent Response Service.

5. LifeStation
Ease of use Above Average
Equipment Above Average
Service & Response Above Average
Features & Tech Above Average
Pricing Above Average

Overview

With CSAA Five Diamond Certified and UL Listed emergency response monitoring centers and over four decades of experience in the medical alert industry, LifeStation is a primary player within the industry with an A+ BBB rating. They not only boast highly rated service across the United States and Canada, but they have a highly impressive fast response rate with an average of 20 seconds. LifeStation offers both landline and cellular options with an easy to use interface for app users. Fall detection services are available, and customers will appreciate the affordable introductory price of this medical alert company who also offers a price lock guarantee and annual pricing discounts.

Pros
  • 24/7 Reliable Monitoring
  • Landline and Cellular Options Available
  • No Contracts or Deposit
  • Price Lock Guarantee
  • No Hidden Taxes or Fees
  • Free Shipping
  • 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Waterproof Help Buttons
  • Secondary Occupant Coverage
  • Enhanced GPS Location Identification
  • Fall Detection Available
  • 32 Hour Battery Backup
  • Quarterly, Biannual, and Annual Pricing Discounts
Cons
  • Cellular Options Cost Extra
  • Pendant Range is Limited to 500 Feet In-Home
  • Activation Fee Often Required (May Be Waived As An Incentive)

Pricing

LifeStation offers three impressive medical alert systems designed for the convenience of seniors, and their monthly monitoring rates are some of the most affordable in the industry. Home and mobile options with GPS options range in price from $25.95 to $29.95 per month, especially if users enroll during a period with special incentives. Steeper discounts are available for customers who opt or pay quarterly, biannually or annually. Fees for fall detection services average around $10 per month, and monitoring fees for a second occupant or spouse is a bargain at $3.99 per month.

The Bottom Line

Because of affordable monthly rates and inexpensive add-ons like fall detection and secondary occupant coverage, LifeStation is an excellent choice for seniors. They also offer highly accurate GPS tracking for greater peace of mind for family members and seniors during emergencies. While no contract is required, it is recommended for those who want to take advantage of the price-lock guarantee from LifeStation.

6. ADT
Ease of use Above Average
Equipment Above Average
Service & Response Above Average
Features & Tech Above Average
Pricing Average

Overview

As the largest and one of the oldest security companies in the world, ADT has an A+ BBB rating and a solid reputation. As they join the ranks of medical alert system companies, they enter with a somewhat higher monthly cost to customers. However, they do have an ADT FOREVERate that can help prevent payments from ever going up for the duration of the contract. There are three system that ADT Medical Alert offers: Medical Alert Basic, Medical Alert Plus and On-The-Go.

The On-The-Go plan is a mobile emergency response system with two-way talk and GPS location services so it can be used outside of the home for those using smartphones. Automatic fall detection and in-home temperature monitoring are included in the two higher-tier plans. ADT owns and operates their monitoring centers privately, and offer discounts to current customers and those willing to pay bi-annually or annually.

Pros
  • No Long Term Contracts
  • 24-Hour Support
  • Fall Detector Option
  • Two-way Talk Feature Available
  • No Landline Necessary w/Cellular Option
  • Mobile GPS Option
  • Discounts For Advanced Payments
  • High and Low Temperature Monitoring
Cons
  • No Monthly Automatic Tests
  • No Activity Monitoring
  • No Pill Reminder Option
  • No TMA (CSAA) Five Diamond Certified Monitoring Center
  • No Carbon Monoxide or Smoke Detection
  • Extra Fees to Monitor a Spouse

Pricing

ADT’s medical alert systems require no upfront payments, but will incur steep charges if they need to be replaced. ADT offers a warranty protection plan to help defray these costs. Systems are self-installed, and the ADT Basic medical alert system cost is $27.00 monthly, $57 per quarter, and $228.00 per year annually. The Fall Alert add-on is available for an extra $8.00 per month.

ADT’s Plus medical alert system costs $33.99 per month, with fall detection being an additional $10.00 per month. ADT’s On-the-Go medical alert system with highly targeting GPS tracking is $37.99 per month with their fall detection add on costing an additional $10.00 monthly. AARP senior discounts are available, as are discounts for existing ADT home security customers.

Bottom Line

Seniors seeking a home security solution and medical alert services from one company will find ADT a hard choice to beat. With reliable systems, 24/7 US based monitoring and reasonable contract options, families give ADT top ratings. Senior discounts, two-way talk features and affordable fall detection options are other perks for choosing this long-standing company’s products and services.

7. Philips Lifeline
Ease of use Above Average
Equipment Above Average
Service & Response Average
Features & Tech Average
Pricing Above Average

Overview

A longstanding provider of medical alert systems and monitoring services in North America, Philips Lifeline offers an extensive line of products designed to give seniors and their families greater peace of mind. With both landline and cellular options available, their most popular offerings today are HomeSafe Standard, HomeSafe with AutoAlert, GoSafe, and GoSafe2. GoSafe2 is a comprehensive choice which comes with fall detection and utilizes numerous locating technologies to pinpoint user’s location precisely in emergency situations. An added benefit of choosing Philips Lifeline’s services is their Medication Dispensing Service that can help seniors manage complex medication routines.

Pros
  • Free Shipping & No Activation
  • No Long-term Contracts
  • A+ Rated by the Better Business Bureau
  • FDA Registered
  • Fall Detection Included
  • Professional or Self-Installation Available
  • Reliable Response Times
  • Medication Monitoring Available w/Landline
  • High Quality Two-way Speaker on Devices
  • Uses Multiple Locating Technologies w/Wi-Fi and GPS Enabled Devices
  • Monthly Monitoring Price Includes Fall Detection
  • Low Battery Voice Prompt
Cons
  • Higher Monthly Monitoring Rates Than Competitors
  • Pricey Activation Fees for GoSafe Plans
  • No CSAA five Diamond Certified Monitoring Center
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detection Not Available
  • Equipment Not UL Listed
  • Currently No Mobile App or Web Portal for Family or Caregiver Tracking

Pricing

While Philips Lifeline systems are designed for a variety of needs, the initial investment can be a bit pricey. Current pricing as of publication include:

  • HomeSafe Standard Landline – $29.95
  • HomeSafe Standard Cellular – $41.95
  • HomeSafe AutoAlert Landline – $44.95
  • HomeSafe AutoAlert Cellular – $56.95

A $50 activation fee applies for the above plans.

  • GoSafe 2 – $44.95 w/$99.95 activation fee
  • GoSafe Landline – $54.95 w/$149.00 activation fee
  • GoSafe Cellular – $64.95 w/$149.00 activation fee

The Bottom Line

Beyond the traditional benefits of 24/7 medical alert monitoring from a trusted company, seniors will appreciate features such as complex medication management, included fall detection, detailed tracking and mobile alerts, and the multi-faceted tracking technology for both users and assigned vehicles if one cannot provide the information themselves. Family member add-ons are also possible for most plans for optimal home coverage.

8. Alert1
Ease of use Average
Equipment Above Average
Service & Response Average
Features & Tech Above Average
Pricing Above Average

Overview

With three decades of experience in the medical monitoring business, Alert1 has a solid reputation for friendly and outstanding customer service through their 24/7 response centers—which are CSAA Five Diamond Certified. While highlights of their services includes no limits on monthly button pushes and fall detection, a drawback is that they don’t offer activity detection services currently.

There are five alert device system options:

  1. Home Medical Alert: Uses a landline, VOIP or DSL
  2. Home Fall Detection: Also a fall detection that uses a landline, VOIP or DSL
  3. Mobile Medical Alert: On-the-go coverage using a cellular network
  4. Mobile Fall Detection: On-the-go coverage using GPS and a cellular network
  5. Mobile + Home Fall Detection: 2-in-1 mobile medical alert system and home unit
Pros
  • A+ Rating With the Better Business Bureau
  • Unlimited Talk Time and Button Pushes
  • Support in 190 Languages
  • Multiple monitoring centers
  • 30 Day Refund Policy
  • Affordable Pricing
  • No Long-term Contracts Required
  • No Landline Required
  • Free Equipment Use
  • Call 911, Family or Friends
  • Fall Detection
  • Speaker in the Button
Cons
  • Strict No-return Policy After 30 Days
  • Must Have Original Packaging for Returns and Pay Shipping Costs
  • Automatic Renewals of Membership Under Contract

Pricing

Equipment costs vary depending on the services one selects, and depending on current promotions Alert1’s systems can cost anywhere from nothing to $149.00. There is a self-installation option with shipping for $19.95 or a professional installation option regularly priced at $99.95. While there aare no senior discounts from Alert1, there are special prices for veterans and active service persons. Current pricing for monthly monitoring packages:

  • Home Basic – $19.95
  • Home w/Fall Detection – $30.95
  • On-the-Go – $30.95
  • On-the-Go w/Fall Detection – $41.95
  • On-the-Go + Home Fall Detection – $52.95

The Bottom Line

While even the basic kit offers a nice comprehensive coverage package, seniors can also opt for additional protections such as medical ID bracelets, medication dispensers and emergency lockboxes that allow emergency responders to enter the home. Overall, Alert1 is one of the more affordable systems that includes innovative features that benefit aging loved ones the most.

9. ResponseNow
Ease of use Average
Equipment Average
Service & Response Average
Features & Tech Average
Pricing Average

Overview

ResponseNow offers two primary medical alert systems: In the Home and BELLE+. Those looking for a landline solution who spend the majority of their time in and around the home will enjoy the company’s basic In the Home plan that features an array of pendants that can work as a necklace or on the wrist. BELLE+ is a modernized system that includes a standard call button and pendant options with GPS capabilities. This system operates using a cellular connection and also features advanced fall protection included with the package price. BELLE+ uses a patented algorithm that can easily detect between falls or a user sitting or lying down to reduce false alarm calls to the 24/7 monitoring center.

Pros
  • Waterproof Pendants and Wristbands Available
  • Professional US Based 24/7 Monitoring
  • 24-hour Battery Backup
  • Landline and Cellular Packages
  • 30-Day Money Back Guarantee
  • Lifetime Price Guarantee
  • Advanced Fall Detection Included w/Belle
  • 5 Day Battery Charge on Mobile Units
Cons
  • Only Two Plans and Packages to Choose From
  • Early Termination Charges Will Apply
  • Professional Installation Not Currently Available

Pricing

Pricing for ResponseNow’s In the Home Plan is very reasonable at $29.95 per month, $83.85 quarterly or $414.40 when paid annually. The annual rate costs on $24.95 monthly and comes with a free emergency lockbox for customer’s convenience. The BELLE+ medical alert system includes automatic fall detection for $49.95 per month, $143.85 quarterly, and $539.40 annually. These are great rates for this type of protection, and the BELLE+ package comes with a lockbox when paid annually.

The Bottom Line

Seniors will appreciate the easy to use systems and reliable 24/7 monitoring services offered by ResponseNow. With features such as included lockboxes with annual plans, advanced fall detection, and convenient land and cellular options, this system is a great deal overall for seniors seeking greater safety at home or on the go.

10. Life Alert
Ease of use Average
Equipment Average
Service & Response Average
Features & Tech Average
Pricing Average

Overview

Made famous by their advertisements featuring seniors saying, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” Life Alert is a staple amid the medical alert industry. Since 1987, the company has grown to twice the size of similar companies and claims to field two million calls annually. While the company doesn’t have automatic fall detection and no longer offers smoke or carbon monoxide detection services, they still have three quality systems.

  • Life Alert In-Home System – Compatible with cell service or a landline for in-home protection.
  • Life Alert In-Home System with Help Button – Requires no landline and includes waterproof help button for shower use.
  • Life Alert In-Home, Help Button and Life Alert Mobile – Includes all the protections of the two in-home plans along with Life Alert Mobile for on-the-go coverage using precise GPS technology for cellular users.
Pros
  • Long Standing Company for Medical Alert Systems
  • Waterproof Help Buttons and Pendants
  • Wristband Option
  • Landline and Cellular Options
  • GPS for Safety Away From Home
  • 24/7 US Based Monitoring
  • Life Alert Owns Their Monitoring Center with is CSAA Five Diamond Certified
  • Advance Payment Discounts
  • 100% Refund of Life Alert Payments if User Passes Away at Home Alone
Cons
  • Three Year Contracts Required
  • Limited Cancellation Options
  • Higher Start Up Costs Vs. Competitors
  • No Automatic Fall Detection
  • No Wellness Monitoring or Pill Reminders
  • Limited Information on Website

Pricing

There is generally an up-front cost for Life Alert’s various systems that start at $95 and go up from there depending on the features you desire. However, the equipment fee covers installation, activation, equipment programming and lifetime maintenance of any components. However, most basic packages can be easily self-installed. The cost of monthly monitoring ranges between $49.95 per month and $89.85 per month with the higher end package including all the bells and whistles these systems have to offer. Life Alert does offer annual payment discounts, but they will lock you into a three-year contract.

The Bottom Line

Seniors looking for a medical alert device that is easy to use and install will find Life Alert to be a solid option. The convenience of having three plans to suit both in-home needs and provide protection while away can meet most senior’s needs. Enjoy greater freedom with wristband options and top-notch GPS tracking services for cellular plans.

What is a Medical Alert System?

Also known as personal emergency response systems, these devices make it possible for users to get fast help during a medical or personal emergency that requires a fast response time. Medical alert systems are exceptional tools that can—and do—save many lives every year.  So what exactly are medical alert systems, what are the most useful and popular features, and how does one choose the best system to meet their specific needs and budget? This detailed guide answers those questions and many others to help you select the right personal response system so you and your family can enjoy greater peace of mind.

While medical alert systems are most popular within the senior community, they are ideal for anyone who has mobility issues, suffers from chronic health condition, and individuals who are home alone frequently. These devices allow users to simply press a button and reach out for assistance through a 24/7 monitoring center who will dispatch services such as the fire department or an ambulance depending on the situation at hand.

Depending on the device and the features you choose, there may also be no need to push a button if the system has auto detection features that can tell if you have fallen or if smoke or carbon monoxide is detected in the home. The capabilities of medical alert systems vary widely between brands, as does the pricing. Here is a rundown of the features, pricing, and pros and cons of the top five medical alert systems for seniors today.

Popular Features of Medical Alert Systems

There are an array of handy features that some seniors and their families may find useful. However, many of the top companies listed above charge additional fees for some of these services. Here is what you should know to determine if these are conveniences that you will benefit from and actually employ.

24/7 Emergency Response Services

Of course, it does not do much good to have a system without also having 24/7 monitoring in place. Essentially, the system serves as a quick emergency alert through physical, vocal commands or sensor activation to send help out immediately when the monitoring company is alerted.

Fall Detection

If you have ever fallen and struggled to get up by yourself, this is a must-have feature of wearable personal devices that immediately detects if the wearer has fallen. All of the top five choices listed here offer fall detection services, but some companies do not. Those with mobility issues or vertigo will definitely want to have this service, but fall detection is recommended for all seniors. After all, falls are the number one cause of injury within the home and members of the elderly population are at a much higher risk than the average person to suffer from a fall. Many packages include fall detection into their monitoring fees while others may charge up to $10 additional per month for the service.

GPS Mobile Tracking

Those looking for portable service or remote location service will definitely want to choose a GPS enabled medical alert device. GPS mobile tracking is almost essential to ease the minds of loved ones and caregivers who may need to pinpoint a senior with a diagnosis of Alzheimers or other forms of memory loss. If the user gets lost, they can use this device to not only contact help, but to allow assistance givers to find them even if they don’t know their exact location. Furthermore, authorized persons can contact the monitoring company to have their loved one tracked down to a precise location as long as they are wearing the device.

Easy Set-Up

Every medical alert system will have a specific set of instructions. While some are as simple to install and get up and running as plugging a base into an outlet and telephone line, others—particularly wireless systems—will be a bit more challenging. Setting up the Wi-Fi connection may require downloading an app and customizing option settings like notifications, GPS, and other features. Fortunately, top companies are reliable about providing online and phone support to assist customers with getting medical alert systems set up properly.

Multi-Lingual Support

If the senior, their family or their caregivers do not speak fluent English it is essential to consult with medical alert system monitoring companies about their ability to provide adequate translation services. Be sure to inquire about the predominant language you specifically need to ensure that you don’t get locked into a contract with a company that cannot provide such services.

Spouse or Additional Occupant Coverage

This is an excellent option to consider for married seniors or those who share a residence with another occupant who could also benefit from a personal emergency alert system. While some companies include this coverage with certain packages, others may charge a nominal fee to provide a secondary beneficiary with a medical alert device and monitoring services. This ensures that in times that the two individuals are not together that both of them have full access to 24/7 protection.

Automatic System Testing

This is now becoming more of a standard feature on modern alert systems, especially those connected to apps on smart devices. Automatic system testing can be set for daily, weekly, or monthly checks to make sure that they are properly set and functioning the way they should be. Periodic self-checks are advised just to make certain that no problems are going undetected by the automatic system.

2-Way Voice

Just about all personal monitoring alert systems come with devices that are equipped with speakers that enable vocal two-way communication. Two vocal transmissions allow users to speak directly with representatives within the monitoring center to communicate their specific issue needing to be addressed. Devices lacking this feature will only have a panic button to alert the call center, but they will be unable to offer any details concerning the nature of their emergency.

Long Range Coverage

In-home medical alert systems have a particular distance range that typically averages between 500-1500 feet from the base unit and the individual’s pendant device. While homebound individuals may not need and extended range, active seniors may want to consider a device activated through a cellular connection that boasts a GPS tracking feature. Many of the top companies offer a nationwide network and others may offer worldwide coverage to bring the ultimate sense of comfort to seniors and their families.

Wall Buttons

Wall buttons are a wonderful back up to pendants, watches, bracelets and other standard medical alert devices traditionally worn by seniors. The fact is, there are some individuals who can benefit from these devices that are reluctant to be seen wearing them, so a wall unit can be an additional way to keep loved ones safe. These should be strategically installed in higher risk areas like kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and stairs with caution taken to install them fairly low to the ground so that they will be accessible in case of a fall. Wall button units may be included with basic equipment packages or they may be purchased as an accessory. Additional monitoring fees may be ensued depending on the company and your contract’s specific details.

Water Resistance

Those planning to wear portable medical alert devices should pay close attention to the level of water resistance listed. There is a big difference between waterproof and water resistant, with the latter only able to resist small amounts of water for short time periods. In retrospect, waterproof medical devices can be submerged underwater for extended amounts of time and still maintain efficacy without damage. Clarify any devices you are considering purchasing to confirm their moisture resistance.

Medical Alert System Lockboxes

Lockboxes are essentially a place that is designated to hold a key to the home’s entry door in case emergency responders need to gain entry and no one can open the door from inside a locked door. How this convenient feature works is actually very simple. After a user activates the emergency alert system, the dispatch service notifies the EMS, fire department or appropriate responders to your location. If you cannot or do not open the door, having a medical alert system lockbox gives responders an option besides breaking down the door and causing costly property damage. Instead, your monitoring company’s dispatcher can give emergency personnel your lockbox code so they can access the key to open the door and begin administering assistance.

Payment Options for Medical Alert Systems

Besides paying out of pocket, there are a few options concerning paying for all or part of the cost of a medical alert system and monitoring expenses.

  • Medicare – Medicare Part B typically will not cover the cost of medical alert systems whatsoever, but some Medicare Advantage supplement plans may provide a certain level of coverage for seniors who qualify.
  • Medicaid – This government program varies from state to state, so one should consult with their local office to determine if coverage for medical alert devices is available under Medicaid. However, most Medicaid programs will cover certain devices and monitoring programs for qualified individuals.
  • Veterans Benefits – Qualifying servicepersons, veterans and surviving spouses may qualify for a free or reduced cost personal emergency response device and monitoring using their VA benefits. The VA itself offers a free phone dialer device similar to traditional medical alert systems. However, this basic equipment is only pre-programmed with a few phone numbers to dial if the emergency system is activated. It is not intended to serve as a full-fledged monitored medical response system.
  • Private Insurance – Comprehensive medical insurance often has allowances for medial alert system compensation. However, they often don’t cover monitoring fees even if they offer reimbursement for all of part of the equipment purchase price.

However you choose to pay for your medical alert system, be aware that while the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t specifically offer a tax deduction for equipment and monitoring costs, that they often do qualify as itemized medical expenses.

Where To Buy Medical Alert Systems

There are three primary ways to buy a medical alert system: through a local retailer, online or through the company directly. When buying through a local retailer or via online sources, it is important to remember that you will also need to find a monitoring service that is compatible with the brand of alert system you purchase. One advantage of buying online there is the convenience of having multiple user ratings, reviews and price comparisons available with just a few simple searches. However, buying directly from the provider has advantages such as lower monitoring rates, customized packages, and expert assistance concerning selections, services, setup and installation.

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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