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Best Medical Alert Watches of 2023

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

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Best for active seniors
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Most user-friendly smartwatch
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Best health support
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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.

Best Medical Alert Watch Comparison

Medical Guardian’s MGMove Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch WellBe Smartwatch From HandsFree Health Apple Watch Series 8 QMedic’s Wristband Monitor
Cost $199.95 + $39.95 monthly fee $159 + $34.95 monthly fee $119.95 + $29.95 monthly fee $399 + cellular plan fees $300 yearly fee
Max battery Life One day One day One day 18 hours N/A
Water-resistant Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fall detection capabilities No No No Yes No
Heart rate monitoring No No Yes Yes No
SOS contact Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
  • 1. Medical Guardian’s MGMove

    Why We Love MGMove

    Medical Guardian's MGMove

    Medical Guardian’s MGMove

    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 MGMove medical alert watch was created. 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. MGMove is water-resistant and has a one-day battery life. Wearers can also set calendar reminders to stay on top of taking medication and appointments and maintain their exercise routine using a step tracker.

    In addition to its health and safety features, MGMove also has a bright touch screen that displays the weather, time, and even has a “shake to wake” feature. Another great feature is the texting 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 MGMove Cost?

    This Medical Guardian system is on the pricier side compared to traditional medical alert systems, with a device fee of $199.95 plus a monthly monitoring fee of $39.95. 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, MGMove may be right for you. Plus, when you compare the equipment fee of the watch to other smartwatches like the Samsung Galaxy Watch4 ($209.99) and Apple Watch Series 8 ($399), it’s fairly inexpensive!

    The MGMove 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 our 2023 Medical Guardian review for more info!

  • 2. Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch

    Why We Love the SOS Smartwatch

    Bay Alarm Medical's SOS Smartwatch

    Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch

    While some seniors might be deterred from purchasing a smartwatch due to confusing, high-tech features—the SOS Smartwatch is simple and streamlined.

    The watch’s design, features, and navigation are intuitive to use. There are no extra buttons, complex features, or companion mobile apps to confuse things. Seniors can 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 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 can locate 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
    • Affordable pricing
    • Caregiver tracking app with SOS Mobile
    • 30-day risk-free trial
    • No contracts
    • 24-hour emergency response center
    • Unique smartwatch system
    • Bundle package options
    • Bundle discounts
    Cons
    • Small product lineup
    • Equipment fees on select systems

    How much does the SOS Smartwatch Cost?

    The SOS Smartwatch has a one-time $159 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 $34.95 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, read our 2023 Bay Alarm Medical review.

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  • 3. WellBe Smartwatch From HandsFree Health

    Why We Love the WellBe Smartwatch

    Wellbe Smartwatch

    Wellbe Smartwatch

    The WellBe Smartwatch by HandsFree Health 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
    • Voice-activated device; no pendant required
    • Information available from curated health database
    • Medication and appointment reminders
    • HIPAA-compliant
    • Bluetooth compatibility
    • Option to integrate with other smart home or smart medical devices
    • Music and audiobook streaming
    Cons
    • Fall detection only available with WellBe Pendant
    • Equipment fees
    • No customer service available via telephone

    How Much Does the WellBe Smartwatch Cost?

    The WellBe Smartwatch costs $119.95 plus WellBe’s subscription fee of $29.95 per month. For comparison, WellBe’s upfront equipment cost is around $40 cheaper than the Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Watch, and monthly rates are slightly cheaper.

    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
  • 4. 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.

    FYI: Apple Watches are customizable. There are a variety of watch bands to choose from, and bands are interchangeable, so you can build a watch that matches your style!

    All in all, the Apple Watch is ideal for tech-savvy seniors who enjoy being active. As with any Apple product, there are many 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 Apple Watch Series 8 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 $15 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
  • 5. QMedic’s Wristband Monitor

    What We Love About the QMedic Wristband Monitor

    It’s estimated that one million Americans are registered as blind, a figure that’s set to double by 2050.3 So, when using 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

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 medical alert watches to five 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.

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 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.

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Reviewed By

Linda Schlenker

Senior Safety Expert

Linda’s Acclaimed Career in Senior Care Linda Schlenker is a comforting voice for seniors and caregivers across the U.S. For nearly three decades, Linda has helped seniors remain safe in their own homes, while helping them to regain priceless independence and peace… Learn More About Linda Schlenker

Written By

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