The Best Medical Alert Watches
How We Chose Our Top 2 Medical Alert Watches
We identified the top 5 medical alert watch brands and narrowed it down to 2 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 watches on the market. Take a look at the medical alert watches we have deemed the best of the best.
The smartwatch itself costs $99. That’s a one-time expense.
Next, Medical Guardian offers four subscription types for medical alert monitoring. Plans are monthly ($44.95), quarterly ($134.85), semiannual ($269.70) and annual ($494.45).
The monthly plan gets you the weather forecast, time and date, and emergency SOS service. The quarterly plan adds free ground shipping. Meanwhile, the semiannual plan throws in a free lockbox, and the annual plan includes a free month of service. When you break the annual plan down by month, it equals $41.20, a bit cheaper than the $44.95 you pay month by month.
A lockbox is a small device kept outside the senior’s home. It grants emergency responders quick access and can prevent damage to doors. You can get the lockbox for $2.99 extra a month if you choose the monthly or quarterly plan.
For $5 extra a month, you get the smartwatch’s text-to-speech messaging capabilities and the reminders and alerts.
A protection plan is available for another $5.99 a month. It covers damage from normal wear and tear, drops, accidents, spills, humidity, dust, heat and power surges. It also covers the watch in case of manufacturer defects and offers unlimited battery replacement. It’s good for one watch replacement during any 12-month period (so, seniors may be out of luck if they lose a watch twice in one year). Last but not least, the protection plan gets you unlimited technical support.
Suppose you opt for the monthly plan with the communications upgrades. You’d pay $49.95 per month before taxes kick in. If you add the protection plan, that’s $55.94 a month.
Paying $50 to $55 a month for emergency monitoring may seem like a lot. However, cellphones and cell service can be costly. If your parents don’t already have a phone and a plan, this watch means they may not ever need one. From that perspective, $50 to $55 a month could be a great bargain. Of course, if your parents already do have a phone, then that $5 monthly upgrade may not be necessary.
The communications options on the watch are somewhat limited. For instance, suppose you send your parents a message. They open it. The message displays on the screen and is read out loud to your parents. They can respond in one of three ways. They choose from “yes/no,” “OK,” and an audio response of up to one minute. Also, messages disappear from the watch once they’re acknowledged or closed. Seniors can still access them through the customer care portal or companion app. These limitations serve many situations just fine, but the smartwatch, although it has some mobile phone capabilities, is not a complete replacement for a phone.
The Freedom Guardian has an IPX7 rating, which means it can be immersed in water up to 1 meter (about 39 inches) for 30 minutes. Seniors can shower, wash their hands or get wet in the rain without damaging the watch. Swimming with the watch on is not a good idea, but for the most part, seniors can wear the watch anywhere, anytime, and be protected.
MobileHelp Smart comes with a $349.95 price tag for the watch itself plus $24.95 for monthly monitoring (emergency response).
However, you need at least $424.80, taxes not included, for your initial payment. That’s because the total includes the watch and three months of monitoring. If you have a promo code, it can offset some of that cost.
For many people, the decision of which watch to choose (MobileHelp Smart or Freedom Guardian) comes down to two factors: which look they prefer and whether they prioritize communications capabilities or fitness tracking.
The Smart could be ideal for independent, active seniors with fitness goals, and the Smart is a bit more durable than the Freedom. Seniors still shouldn’t swim with the Smart, though. The watch’s IP68 rating means that it is protected from harmful contact with dust and that it can be immersed in water 1.5 meters deep for 30 minutes. It’s fine for showers, rain and hand washing.
Pricing for both watches is a mixed bag. The Freedom has a lower upfront price but more expensive monthly monitoring. The Smart has vastly cheaper monthly monitoring but a higher upfront price. However, if seniors use the Smart long enough (about 12 to 15 months), the pricing eventually works out in its favor.
Either watch should make seniors feel less self-conscious about wearing a medical alert device. That said, the Freedom Guardian appeals to a larger base because it lets family members and caregivers be involved to a great extent.
Various types of medical alert systems exist. Some are for in-home use, while others employ GPS for both home and outside use. A medical alert watch (smartwatch) has GPS built into it. Emergency operators can see a senior’s location to send emergency help when needed. These watches generally have one or two help buttons and two-way communications capabilities with operators.
Perhaps the biggest benefit is that seniors don’t have to feel self-conscious about wearing a medical alert device. Medical alert systems are no good if seniors don’t use them.
Meanwhile, a smartwatch is sleek and multifunctional. It looks cool and does other things in addition to serving as a medical alert system. Seniors and their families may feel like they get more value for their money.
However, smartwatches don’t have fall detection. For that, seniors need to wear a button or pendant around their necks. If falls are a major concern for your family, a smartwatch may not be the best option. Of course, it could still be the best choice if it’s the only system your parents would wear.
One more thing: Seniors won’t be able to use their smartwatch’s monitoring service if they travel outside of the United States. That’s true for medical alert systems in general, not just smartwatches.
There tends to be an upfront cost for the smartwatch plus a monthly subscription for ongoing monitoring. The upfront cost can be as high as $350, and monitoring may cost between $25 and $60 a month. You don’t need to worry about setting up a cell plan for the watch, but look for companies that don’t make you sign long-term contracts or pay activation fees.