|The 3 Best Brands|
|Accolades||Best for Active Seniors
||Best Battery Life||Best High-Tech Features
|Medical Alert Capabilities||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Upfront Watch Fee||$249.95||$49.99||$399.00|
|Monthly Rates Starting At||$44.95 per month||$24.99 per month||$10.00 per month|
|How to Order||
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The Best Medical Alert Watches
After hours of intensive research, hands-on product testing, and chats with customer service, we narrowed down our top list of watches down to four contenders based on what we consider to be the most critical factors. This includes whether the watch consists of senior-friendly features, how easy it is to operate, and price. Below are the most important criteria that each medical alert watch on our list had to meet:
Watches have come a very long way from simply being a device that’s used to tell the time. These days, they can also provide invaluable information about your health and help you stay protected during a medical emergency. For seniors, this is explicitly known as a medical alert watch. The features for a medical alert watch vary from model to model, but some of the most common include GPS technology, emergency help buttons, step or vital tracking, fall detection, and the ability to communicate with others through the watch. Some watches such as the Apple Watch also double up as handy communication tools, and can even be synced with your other devices. Though the primary aim of a medical alert watch is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the person who is wearing it.
The medical alert device industry is set to be worth $9.6 billion by 2025.1 Given all the features available, like fall detection, 24/7 monitoring, GPS, and caregiver tracking, not to mention the peace of mind these devices can provide, it’s no surprise that they have become so popular. So is a medical alert watch right for you?
Regardless of your age, all of us can be susceptible to health problems. Medical alert watches are extremely useful for those with existing health conditions, especially for active seniors. It may well be the case that by wearing a medical alert watch, the person has more independence because help will be called immediately during a health emergency.
Plus, medical alert watches are a lot less clunky and obvious than traditional medical alert systems. So if you’re looking for protection that doesn’t look so “medicalish,” an alert watch is a great choice. The health features, including step tracking and vital monitoring, can help you stay active and on track for fitness goals, which are oh-so-important as we age.2 So, if you are worried about your health or just want that reassurance that you’ll be able to access medical assistance should you need it, then a medical alert watch is a great investment.
There are many medical alert watches on the market, so narrowing down the best was tough. However, the following four models are, in our opinion, the best out there when factoring in the various health needs and challenges seniors often face.
|Medical Guardian’s Freedom Guardian||GreatCall’s Lively Wearable2||Apple Watch Series 5||QMedic’s Wristband Monitor|
|Cost||$249.95 + $494.45 yearly fee||$49.99 + $299.88 – $479.88 yearly fee||$399 + cellular plan fees||$360-$540 yearly fee|
|Max battery Life||48 hours||4 months||18 hours||N/A|
|Fall detection capabilities||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Heart rate monitoring||No||No||Yes||No|
This model is on the pricier side compared to traditional medical alert systems, with a device fee of $249.95 plus monthly subscription rates starting at around $45. You’ll also need to pay an additional $5 per month if you want to access the text-to-speech and medication reminders features. However, if you want a medical alert watch that offers high-tech features and solely caters to the needs of seniors then the Freedom Guardian may be right for you. Plus, when you compare the equipment fee of the watch to other smartwatches like the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 ($429.99) and Apple Watch Series 5 ($399), it’s only about around half the price!
If that sounds like you, check out this year’s Medical Guardian review for more info!
Lively Wearable2 has an upfront equipment fee of $49.99, which is very inexpensive compared to other medical alert watches on the market. In addition to this one-time fee, you’ll also need to pay for a monthly subscription to one of GreatCall’s three Health & Safety Packages to access all of the features available. These packages range in price from $24.99 to $39.99 per month. Keep in mind that automatic fall detection only comes with the top-tier package, so you’ll be paying $39.99 per month if this feature is important to you. While this might sound a bit steep, it’s a great option for those who are prone to falls or struggle with mobility. Plus, some smartwatches don’t even offer fall detection, so we appreciate that it’s available with GreatCall.
Head over to our GreatCall review for more information on the Lively Wearable2.
There are several models of Apple Watches, and you can often find older or refurbished models on sale at a discount. The latest model, the Apple Watch Series 5, currently costs $399. You’ll also need to pay a monthly fee for a cellular plan if you want to be able to use your watch when you don’t have WiFi or if you don’t have an iPhone. These plans can vary in price by cellular provider, but they typically cost $10 per month. With all of the features of an Apple Watch, this is a very affordable price. While you’ll be paying more up front compared to other smartwatches, the monthly fees are much lower than they are for traditional medical alert systems.
QMedic’s Wristband Monitor comes with the provider’s at-home medical alert system, which costs $30 per month. This is very affordable for traditional medical alert systems. Plus, there’s no upfront equipment fee, so you’ll be saving up to a few hundred dollars off the bat. If you’re looking for more ways to save with QMedic, you can also pay for your system on an annual basis for $300 instead of paying monthly, which will save you $60 per year.
For more details on QMedic’s offerings, take a look at this year’s QMedic Review.
With the medical alert watch market expanding at a record pace, there are various models to choose from. Some can even show text messages and remind you of appointments, or help you stay connected with loved ones. Keeping health-related features at the forefront is what you should prioritize, here is what to look out for when buying a medical alert watch.
Sadly, every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall.5 So, it’s vital the watch you choose contains technology that can detect if you’ve fallen or slipped over if you’re prone to falls. This should then link to either a specific contact, 911, or an emergency monitoring center. Keep in mind that not all medical alert watches come with automatic fall detection. If you are more prone to falls due to chronic health conditions, mobility issues, or even just the layout of your house, we’d recommend considering a watch with fall detection.
For your watch to work properly both in and out of the home, it needs to have built-in GPS technology. During an emergency, you’ll be able to call for help no matter your location. Even if you don’t know where you are, help can be sent straight to you. Plus, it’s also a useful feature for family members and caregivers who just want to check in and see where you are. This is especially the case for active seniors who exercise and take trips away from their home.
The one downside of a digital watch versus a traditional one is that the battery life will be far shorter. So, look for a watch that is easy to charge and has good battery life. Or, a watch where you can disable unnecessary features to conserve battery life. The last thing you want is to be walking around with a dead watch. We’d recommend a watch that holds a charge for at least a day. That way, you can charge your watch every night before bed. Making a daily routine of it will make it easier to remember.
Medical alert watches are usually waterproof or water-resistant, which offers peace of mind while showering, as bathrooms pose a major slipping hazard for seniors. This is also great for active seniors who swim, or those who spend a lot of time outside and live in a rainy area.
Depending on your technical ability, everyone will have a different definition of what’s complicated. However, if the complexity is something you are concerned about then opt for a simplistic model such as the GreatCall or QMedic device. Whatsmore, most medical alert watches will have video tutorials and a helpline if you get stuck.
Absolutely, and the good thing about a medical alert watch is that they come in so many different styles. While a medical alert watch can’t prevent a fall or medical emergency, it will ensure help arrives at them promptly. So, if you are worried about your parents or any other elderly family member, it’s worth getting them one.
It depends on how you intend to use it. A watch is worn on the wrist so looks a lot sleeker, but might not be as practical to wear in the shower as a lanyard would be. If you are stuck trying to decide, GreatCall’s Lively Wearable2 offers the best of both worlds with both a lanyard and wrist watch option.
Every medical alert watch operates slightly differently. However, the majority are linked to a 24/7 monitoring center or 911. Sometimes medical alert watches are also linked to caregivers, family members, or specific helplines. For example, GreatCall offers many different services over the phone that can even help you with a flat tire, in addition to medical emergencies.
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
CDC. (2020). Older Adults.
CDC. (2020). Alzheimer's Disease and Healthy Aging.
National Council on Aging. (2020). Falls Prevention Facts.