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Best Medical Alert Watches of 2020

Our experts reviewed and researched 5 medical alert watches and narrowed the list to their top recommendation.

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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855-919-4522
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(866) 461-7793
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The Best Medical Alert Watches

Seniors don’t always like to use medical alert systems. Many feel self-conscious about wearing a button around their necks, and the system may remind seniors of their potentially fragile health. Fortunately, technology such as smartphones and smartwatches with medical alerts built in go a long way toward addressing these issues. The devices have multiple functions, some of which aren’t related to medical alerts. They look cool and don’t scream, “Medical alert device!” Many seniors are comfortable using them. There’s also the fact that seniors may remain active. They walk, hike, garden and bike even into their 90s. A smartwatch lets them do these activities without becoming a nuisance the way a neck pendant might. Moreover, a smartwatch gives seniors the confidence to actually engage in these activities. If an injury occurs, help is a button press away.

Here are the Best Medical Alert Watches for 2020

How We Chose 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:

  • Emergency Help Feature: The primary purpose of a medical alert watch is to keep you protected at all times. All of the watches on our list have at least one emergency help feature. Whether that’s a help button that contacts a 24/7 monitoring center during an emergency, the ability to call 911, or automatic fall detection, you’ll always be covered with our top picks.
  • Price Range: We understand that one price does not fit all. While some users may want the latest and greatest with the price tag to match, other older adults may need a more budget-friendly option. You’ll find that the watches on our list, in terms of both upfront equipment and monthly fees, offer a variety of options for most budgets.
  • Battery Life: There’s no point in wearing a watch if it’s going to die while you’re out and about. Every watch on our list has a battery life of at least 18 hours, so you can wear it for essentially a full day without worrying about a dead battery during an emergency or while you’re trying to track your daily steps or heart rate.

What Is a Medical Alert Watch?

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.

Do I Need A Medical Alert Watch?

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.

Medical Alert Watch Overview

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
Water-resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fall detection capabilities No Yes Yes No
Heart rate monitoring No No Yes No
SOS contact Yes Yes Yes Yes
  • 1. Freedom Guardian

    Why We Love Freedom Guardian

    Medical Guardian has made it their mission to tackle the negative stigma surrounding medical alert systems. Their aim was to create a preventative device that was sleek and discreet in design. And thus, the Freedom Guardian medical alert watch was created. As the name suggests, it provides freedom to active seniors; whether you’re on a run, golfing, or doing yoga, the watch won’t get in the way. You’re able to stay connected and protected without the bulky pendants or base stations of traditional alert systems. Freedom Guardian is water-resistant and has a two-day battery life, so you’ll be covered no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

    Every single aspect of the Freedom Guardian is specifically geared towards seniors, so there’s no paying for features that you won’t use. The watch comes with all the important safety features, like an emergency help button that connects to their 24/7 monitoring center, along with GPS and cellular tracking to keep you protected on the go. You’ll also be able to set calendar reminders so you can stay on top of taking your medication and making your doctor’s appointments.

    In addition to its health and safety features, Freedom Guardian also has a bright touch screen that displays the weather, time, and can even set your morning alarm. Another great feature for seniors is the voice messaging option, which was added to help reduce loneliness in the elderly.3 Your family members and caregivers simply need to download the companion mobile app on their phone, and you’ll be able to send messages back and forth with just the sound of your voice. These messaging features aren’t as advanced as texting via an Apple Watch, as you can only respond to texts on the watch with a “yes/no,” “OK,” or a short audio clip. However, if you’re just looking for a quick, basic way to stay in touch throughout the day, it’s still a great option.

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
    Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
    Please scroll to the right for more info.
    Pros
      • Easy, touchscreen navigation
      • Built-in GPS and cellular technology for on-the-go use
      • 24/7 professional monitoring
      • Health features for active seniors
      • Text-to-speech communication
      • Companion app for family and caregivers
      • Sleek, discrete design
      • Two-day battery life
    Cons
      • More expensive than traditional medical alert systems
      • No automatic fall detection available
      • Can only text companion mobile app users

    How Much Does Freedom Guardian Cost?

    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!

    The Freedom Guardian is recommended for:

    • Active seniors
    • Those who want a more discreet medical alert system
    • Users who want a smartwatch designed specifically for older adults

    If that sounds like you, check out this year’s Medical Guardian review for more info!

  • 2. GreatCall’s Lively Wearable2

    Why We Love the Lively Wearable2

    GreatCall is a company we’ve featured several times before due to their senior-friendly phones, alert devices, and mobile app. So, knowing that they also provide watches is reassuring, especially if you already have a senior cellular plan with GreatCall. Lively Wearable2 is a small, lightweight, and sleek watch, so no one will even realize you’re wearing it. It pairs with GreatCall’s smartphone app to give you access to a wide range of features and let your loved ones and caregivers check in on you.

    Many of the health and safety features from their cellular plans also cross over into the GreatCall Lively Wearable2. For example, the device comes with a 5Star urgent response button to contact their 24/7 monitoring center, urgent care and doctor consultations, GreatCall Link to keep your loved ones in the loop, and automatic fall detection services. What’s great is that you can choose from three packages with different features to find the one that best suits your needs.

    The Lively Wearable2 watch makes it easy for you to stay active and monitor your health. It comes with a built-in step tracker, along with daily health challenges, tips, and fun brain games to keep you on track for your goals. Whether you just love taking long walks or you want to track your daily hikes or runs, this watch makes it simple to see your progress. While it doesn’t monitor your heart rate or come with advanced features like text messaging and built-in mobile apps, it’s great for those who want to stay protected and monitor their health without too many bells and whistles.

    As for the watch’s design itself, the standout feature has to be the fact you can also detach the main component and wear it as a pendant. This is ideal for scenarios such as showering, as the interface is also water-resistant. Its simplicity lends itself to the long battery life, which at four months far exceeds any similar model on the market.

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
    Above Average Excellent Excellent Above Average
    Please scroll to the right for more info.
    Pros
      • Inexpensive equipment fee
      • Advanced health and safety features available
      • Four-month battery life
      • Fall detection available
      • 24/7 monitoring
      • Simple to use
      • Small, lightweight design
      • Water-resistant
      • Medical alert features for on-the-go use
    Cons
      • Fall detection only available with premium subscription
      • No texting feature

    How Much Does Lively Wearable2 Cost?

    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.

    The Lively Wearable2 is recommended for:

    • Seniors who want a watch with fall detection
    • Those who want step tracking and health tips
    • Users who want advanced health and safety features

    Head over to our GreatCall review for more information on the Lively Wearable2.

  • 3. Apple Watch

    What We Love About the Apple Watch

    The most famous smartwatch on the market is undoubtedly the Apple Watch. But what makes it so special where seniors are concerned? If you are considering a medical alert watch but find the typical ‘elderly’ look of them off-putting, then an Apple watch is just the ticket, given they are worn by people of all ages.

    Moreover, the Apple Watch has a ‘health’ category that monitors everything from your heart rate, activity level, the decibel level of the room to prevent hearing damage, and links to a specific health app. Over time, it will track your readings and alert you of any worrying patterns. Plus, the Apple Watch gives you access to the Apple App store, so you can download mobile apps, whether they’re for health and fitness, leisure, or listening to music.

    Despite not specifically calling itself a medical alert device, the Apple Watch also has a built-in fall detection feature. For those who register their date of birth when signing up, this feature will automatically be switched on if you’re over 65. In case of a fall, the watch will sound an alarm and send you an alert. If you don’t respond right away, the watch will automatically call emergency services and send a message to your emergency contacts to let them know that a fall occurred. When traveling abroad, the Apple Watch will even connect you to international emergency responders.

    All in all, the Apple Watch is ideal for tech-savvy seniors who enjoy being active. As with any Apple product, there is a wide range of features to discover that go way beyond the health aspects. Yet equally, the safety of its users has not been overlooked either. If you’re very technology averse or you don’t want a watch that’s too complicated, we’d recommend looking into one of the other watches on our list. On the other hand, if you want all the latest and greatest features, an Apple Watch is for you.

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
    Above Average Excellent Above Average Excellent
    Please scroll to the right for more info.
    Pros
      • High-tech, advanced features
      • Superior design
      • Variety of health and lifestyle features
      • Talk and text capabilities
      • Pairs with iPhones
      • Customizable wristbands and accessories
      • Fall detection available
      • Can be used at home and on the go
    Cons
      • Might be too complicated for seniors who struggle with technology
      • Limited built-in medical alert features
      • Expensive equipment fee

    How Much Does an Apple Watch Cost?

    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.

    The Apple Watch is recommended for:

    • Active seniors who want the latest smartwatch features
    • Those who don’t want a traditional medical alert device
    • Users looking for advanced talk and text features
  • 4. QMedic’s Wristband Monitor

    What We Love About the QMedic

    It’s estimated that one million American’s are registered as blind, a figure that’s set to double by 2050.4 So, when it comes to being able to use a medical alert watch, poor eyesight could potentially exclude many people. This is where QMedic’s Wristband Monitor really shines, as it has been specifically designed with the visually impaired, elderly, and disabled in mind.

    The watch contains a sensor that tracks user activity and sleep patterns in detail, and it detects any abnormal activity. It then emits this information to caregivers, via a two-way communication system through their mobile app and online caregiver dashboard. However, QMedic is keen to stress the device is not designed for fall detection, because, in their opinion,false alarms can be very frustrating for users and discourage them from wearing their device at all times, thus reducing their safety. Instead, the QMedic’s Wristband Monitor tracks activity, sleep, and the wellness of the user.

    The best part for the visually impaired is that the help button on the wristband is very tactile, and there are no visual interfaces. During an emergency, the user just needs to press the button and they’ll be automatically connected to a live operator at QMedic’s monitoring center who can send whatever help is needed. The watch is completely waterproof and never needs to be charged, so you can stay protected at all times.

    Although this device may be too simplistic, as it doesn’t come with any advanced features like a touchscreen, step tracking, or texting, or too ‘elderly looking’ for some, it would be a real lifeline for any senior who struggles to use more complex devices. When the key goal is safety, a user-friendly experience could not be more important. It’s also important to note that this wristband is only available for in-home use, so if you spend a lot of time away from home it won’t be the best option. On the flip side, it’s our top pick for homebodies or those who are visually impaired.

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
    Average Average Average Above Average
    Please scroll to the right for more info.
    Pros
      • One of the only systems on the market tailored to the visually impaired
      • Affordable monthly rates
      • No upfront equipment fee
      • Simple design
      • Detailed activity tracking
      • Caregiver dashboard for loved ones to stay in the loop
      • No charging required
    Cons
      • No advanced smartwatch features
      • No automatic fall detection
      • Systems require a base station
      • Only available for at-home use

    How Much Does QMedic’s Wristband Monitor Cost?

    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.

    The QMedic is recommended for:

    • Visually impaired seniors
    • Homebodies
    • Those who seek advance activity tracking
    • Users who want a simple medical alert watch

    For more details on QMedic’s offerings, take a look at this year’s QMedic Review.

A Buyer’s Guide to Purchasing a Medical Alert Watch

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.

Automatic Fall Detection

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.

GPS Technology

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.

Battery Life

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.

Water-Resistant Design

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Alert Watches

  • Are medical alert watches complicated to use?

    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.

  • I’m worried about my elderly parents. Should I buy them a medical alert watch?

    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.

  • Is it better to wear a medical alert watch or a lanyard?

    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.

  • Who will be alerted if I have a fall?

    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.

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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