SeniorLiving.org is compensated by some providers on this site. This helps us keep our content free. Read more
We earn commission from some links. Read more

Best Medical Alert Watches of 2021

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 Most user-friendly smartwatch
Medical alert capabilities Yes Yes Yes
Upfront watch fee $249.95 $49.99 $179
Monthly rates starting at $44.95 per month $24.99 per month $29.95 per month
How to Order
Call for best price:
855-919-4522
Call for best price:
(866) 461-7793
Call for best price:
844-946-1712
Scroll right for more options

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 2021

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 to six 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 safe and protected at all times. The watches that made 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 budget-friendly option. You’ll find that the watches on our list, in terms of both upfront equipment and monthly fees, cater to a variety of 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?

In the last few decades, watches have evolved from simple timepieces to multi-use gadgets. These days, in addition to telling the time, they can provide invaluable information about your health and help you stay protected during a medical emergency. Many top medical alert companies have branded these devices as “medical alert watches.” Medical alert watch features 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. That’s always convenient! Despite all the fancy-schmancy features, the primary goal 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 beneficial for those with existing health conditions, especially for seniors who want to remain active despite their diagnosis. It may well be the case that by wearing a medical alert watch, the person has more independence, giving them the confidence to go about their regular activities knowing that their watch can summon help for them with a simple press of a button.

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 cramp your style, 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 six models are, in our opinion, the best out there when factoring in value, features, and usability.

Medical Guardian’s Freedom 2.0 Lively’s Lively Wearable2 Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch WellBe Smartwatch From HandsFree Health Apple Watch Series 6 QMedic’s Wristband Monitor
Cost $174.95 + $49.45 monthly fee $49.99 + $299.88 – $479.88 yearly fee $179 + $29.95 monthly fee $99.95 + $34.95 $399 + cellular plan fees $300 yearly fee
Max battery Life 3 days 4 months One day One day 18 hours N/A
Water-resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fall detection capabilities No Yes No No Yes No
Heart rate monitoring No No No Yes Yes No
SOS contact Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

    Best for Active Users

  • 1. Medical Guardian’s Freedom 2.0

    Why We Love Freedom 2.0

    Medical Guardian has made it their mission to tackle the negative stigma surrounding medical alert systems. Their aim was to create a device that was sleek and discreet. And thus, the Freedom 2.0 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 provides medical alert protection that isn’t bulky like traditional systems. Freedom Guardian is water-resistant and has a two-day battery life. Wearers can also set calendar reminders to stay on top of taking medication and appointments.

    In addition to its health and safety features, Freedom 2.0 also has a bright touch screen that displays the weather, time, and can even set your morning alarm. Another great feature is the voice messaging option. We have to admit, the 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 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
    • Advanced location detection that uses GPS, WiFi and LTE
    • 24/7 professional monitoring
    • Health features for active seniors
    • Text-to-speech communication
    • MyGuardian companion app for family and caregivers
    • Sleek, discrete design
    • Three-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 2.0 Cost?

    This Medical Guardian system is on the pricier side compared to traditional medical alert systems, with a device fee of $174.95 plus a monthly monitoring fee of $49.95. You’ll also need to pay an additional monthly fee if you want to access the premium features. However, if you want a medical alert watch that offers high-tech features and solely caters to the needs of seniors, Freedom 2.0 may be right for you. Plus, when you compare the equipment fee of the watch to other smartwatches like the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2 ($299.99) and Apple Watch Series 6 ($399), it’s only a fraction of the price!

    The Freedom 2.0 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 review of Medical Guardian for more info!

  • Best Battery Life

  • 2. Lively's Wearable2

    Why We Love the Lively Wearable2

    Lively, formerly GreatCall, is a company we’ve featured several times before due to their senior-friendly phones, alert devices, and mobile app. In addition to providing medical alert protection, the Lively Wearable2 makes it easy to stay active and monitor your health. It comes with a built-in step tracker, daily health challenges, tips, and fun brain games to keep you on track for your goals! It’s great for those who want to stay protected and monitor their health without too many bells and whistles. If you’re interested, it can pair with Lively’s smartphone app to give you access to more features and let your loved ones and caregivers check in on you.

    Many of the health and safety features from Lively’s cellular plans also cross over into the Lively Wearable2. For example, the device comes with an urgent response button to contact their 24/7 monitoring center, urgent care and doctor consultations, and automatic fall detection services if you choose to select those add-ons. We also love the fact you can detach the main component and wear it as a pendant, so you can change things up if needed. Its simple design lends itself to the long four-month battery life, which far exceeds any similar model on the market.

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
    Above Average Above Average Above Average 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 pretty affordable 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 Lively’s three Health & Safety Packages to access all of the features available. These Lively plans 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 Lively.

    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 Lively review for more information on the Lively Wearable2.

  • Most User-Friendly Smartwatch

  • 3. Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch

    Why We Love the SOS Smartwatch

    Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch is one of our top picks for seniors because of how intuitive it is to use. Some seniors may be deterred from purchasing a smartwatch system because they don’t want confusing, high-tech features. The SOS Smartwatch is a great solution for such users, as the watch’s design, features, and navigation are made as simple as possible. There are no extra buttons, complex features, or companion mobile apps to confuse things. Seniors simply navigate the watch’s features with the swipe of a finger, and large icons clearly display what each button does.

    In addition to its simplicity, the SOS Smartwatch also features step tracking and daily step goals, making it an excellent option for active seniors. You can stay protected on the go while monitoring your health with one simple device. The watch features a built-in speaker, microphone, and GPS tracking, so during an emergency the operator will be able to locate you and speak with you quickly and easily.

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
    Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
    Please scroll to the right for more info.
    Pros
    • Inexpensive systems
    • Sleek equipment
    • Price-lock guarantee
    • No hidden fees
    • 30-day risk free trial
    • Customizable packages
    • Bundling options
    • Smartwatch system
    Cons
    • Free shipping only for premium package
    • Certain add ons aren’t very durable

    How much does the SOS Smartwatch Cost?

    The SOS Smartwatch has a one-time $179 equipment fee. While there are a few less expensive smartwatches on the market, there are also much pricier ones, so it’s a middle-of-the-road option. In addition to the upfront fee, Bay Alarm Medical’s monthly cost for monitoring is $29.95 per month, which is very affordable for GPS systems.

    The SOS Smartwatch is Recommended For:

    • Active seniors who want to track their steps
    • Those who want a simple smartwatch
    • Seniors who don’t need fall detection
    • If you’re interested in learning more about the SOS Smartwatch, head on over to our latest Bay Alarm Medical review.

    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.

    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.

  • Best Health Support

  • 4. WellBe Smartwatch From HandsFree Health

    Why We Love the WellBe Smartwatch

    The WellBe Smartwatch made our list because it offers more than medical alert protection. The watch helps older adults stay healthy by monitoring heart rate and steps. Plus, when used with the WellBe Smart Speaker, this wrist-worn gadget can assist in keeping track of your medications, appointments, health insurance benefits, and more! The watch has two-way communication, so in an emergency, you can chat with a trained operator straight through the device. We are impressed with WellBe’s commitment to privacy as well, keeping users’ health information safe on a HIPAA-compliant platform.

    Please scroll to the right for more info.
    Pros
    • Advanced smart speaker
    • Activity tracking via smartwatch
    • Can accommodate up to six users
    • Caregiver integration via mobile app
    • HIPAA-Compliant platform
    • Medication and appointment reminders
    • Access music, news, and weather via smart speaker
    Cons
    • No fall detection available
    • Equipment fees

    How Much Does the WellBe Smartwatch Cost?

    This medical alert watch has a one-time $119.95 equipment fee plus WellBe’s subscription fee of $29.95 per month. For comparison, WellBe’s upfront equipment cost is $60 cheaper than the Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Watch, but both have the same monthly rate.

    The WellBe Smartwatch is recommended for:

    • Seniors who want a watch that can monitor activity
    • Those who are interested in purchasing a WellBe Smart Speaker
    • Users who are active and want on-the-go protection

    Visit our hands-on WellBe review to learn more about this smartwatch.

  • Best High-Tech Features

  • 5. Apple Watch

    What We Love About the Apple Watch

    The most famous smartwatch on the market is undoubtedly the Apple Watch. Despite not calling itself a medical alert device, the Apple Watch 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. Moreover, the Apple Watch has a ‘health’ category that monitors everything from your heart rate, oxygen levels, and activity level.

    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 6, 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 upfront 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
  • Best For Visually Impaired Seniors

  • 6. QMedic’s Wristband Monitor

    It’s estimated that one million American’s are registered as blind, a figure that’s set to double by 2050.3 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 and disabled in mind. The help button on the wristband is very tactile and has no visual interfaces. During an emergency, the user can press the button to be connected to a live operator at QMedic’s monitoring center who can send help as needed. The device is waterproof and never needs to be charged; that simplicity is a definite plus!

    Caregivers will appreciate that the watch tracks the wearer’s activity and sleep patterns, and detects any abnormal activity. It conveys this information to caregivers through their mobile app and online caregiver dashboard. Keep in mind that the QMedic wristband doesn’t include fall detection and 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 price for their at-home medical alert system, which comes with the Wristband Monitor, is $300 per year and is charged on an annual basis. This breaks down to $25 per month, which 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.

    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.4 So, it’s vital the watch you choose contains technology that can detect a fall 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. 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 homes.

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, opt for a simplistic model such as the Lively or QMedic device. Additionally, most medical alert watches will have video tutorials and a helpline if you run into a problem.

  • 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 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 it 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, the 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 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, Lively offers many different services over the phone that can even help you with a flat tire, in addition to medical emergencies.

Looking for Help Choosing a Medical Alert System?
We can help! Answer 5 simple questions and we'll make a recommendation for you or your loved one.
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

Jeff Hoyt

Editor in Chief

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