Senior-Friendly Cell Phones and Medical Alert Devices
SeniorLiving.org is compensated when you click on the provider links listed on this page. This compensation does not impact our ratings or reviews.
Ninety-two percent of Americans over 65 own a cell phone, most of which are smartphones.1 Smartphones are useful, but some seniors would benefit more from the extra safety features provided by a medical alert system. For those who want the best of both worlds, Lively provides a solution with its senior-focused phones that can double as medical alert devices, providing on-the-go protection.
Lively offers many devices, phones, and add-on features, which I see as both a drawback and a perk. With a variety of options, Lively's products can be customized to fit your needs, although the selection process can be a bit overwhelming at first. In this review, I’ll break down all of Lively’s products and packages, as well as my experience purchasing and testing the Jitterbug Smart3.
For this year's review, I tested out the Jitterbug Smart3. Overall, I found the device to be the right balance between sophistication and simplicity — excellent for seniors who may be new to technology or who want a simple smartphone. And, at $149.99, it's a great value (big-name smartphones can be more than $1,000!). Below, I share my hands-on experience using Lively.
FYI: Lively is running a Springs Savings offer with a 25 percent discount on devices.
I found Lively's website was user-friendly and informative. Before making any online purchase, I highly suggest calling the customer support line to clear up any questions you have. Lively's customer support agents can also give recommendations to help you find the device that best suits your needs.
Plus, I'll let you in on a little secret: You can unlock some savings by speaking with a representative. When I called, I spoke to a representative named Shirley, who informed me of a promotion expiring at the end of the month. I was able to get a discount on the Jitterbug Smart3 thanks to that simple phone call. High-five, Shirley!
Activating the Jitterbug Smart3 was simple. I took the wall charger and USB cord and plugged in the phone straight out of the box. Then, I turned on the phone and followed the instructions on the screen.
When it asks you to choose a home screen, select “Recommended Easy-to-Use Jitterbug Smart3.” After about 10 minutes, the Jitterbug Smart3 was ready to go. I was able to plug in my daughter's contact information and shoot her a quick text right away. Talk about easy!
Unlike other companies that offer discounts when you pay quarterly or annually, Lively only offers a monthly payment option. That's fine by me, since they have no long-term contracts and offer free cancellations.
Did You Know: If you aren't satisfied with your Lively product, you have 30 days to return it for a full refund.
Additionally, Lively provides a one-year limited warranty for all devices. For one year, Lively will cover the device, rechargeable batteries, and other accessories. In terms of the medical alert industry, this warranty seems rather short (many providers offer lifetime warranties), but one-year warranties are pretty standard in the cell phone world. Keep in mind that the warranty protects these items within normal use, not damage caused by accidents or incorrect use.
|Device||Jitterbug Smart3||Jitterbug Flip2||Lively Mobile Plus|
|Category||Phone||Phone||Medical alert device|
|Urgent Response button||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Fall detection available||No||No||Yes|
With the Jitterbug Smart3, you'll pay a one-time equipment fee, along with monthly fees for your chosen talk, text, and data package. If you want to add medical alert capabilities, you'll need to subscribe to one of Lively's three health and safety packages (more on those later). Below is a breakdown of the costs.
If you're looking for a device with the right mix of fun, tech, and practical features, the Jitterbug Smart3 checks all the boxes. The smartphone's home menu has all the features you need at your fingertips — phone, text, camera, internet, email, etc. — without the extra fluff that iPhones and Androids have. While scrolling through the menu, it was easy to find exactly what I needed without a lot of searching and tapping. Plus, the Urgent Response button is always easy to find if you need to connect with an emergency operator.
The Jitterbug Smart3 easily connects to hearing aids, making it ideal for seniors with hearing loss. I like the phone's 32 GB storage, perfect for storing precious photos of friends and family! If you take a lot of pictures or keep a lot of information on your phone, you can increase this storage to as much as 256 GB. I found that the battery lasted all day during my testing, and the screen works well for older eyes. It's big and bright with great contrast, and the oh-so-important Urgent Response button is always front and center.
The Jitterbug Smart3 has my vote, but I know plenty of older adults who would prefer something more straightforward. If this is the case for you, the Jitterbug Flip2 may be a better option.
Lively phones use the Verizon network, which has an excellent reputation for reliable cell service. It's important to remember if you want to activate Jitterbug Smart3's medical alert features, you'll need to purchase a Health & Safety Package, which activates the Urgent Response button and other safety features.
Since the Jitterbug Smart3 has GPS technology, an emergency operator can send help no matter where you are when you press the Urgent Response button. I tested the emergency button while taking a walk around the block, and I was connected to an operator in under a minute. If you're looking for fall detection, then check out Lively's Mobile Plus.
Just like the Jitterbug Smart3, you'll pay a device fee and monthly fees for your
chosen plans. The Jitterbug Flip2 doesn't offer access to the internet or data, so you'll only pay for talk and text.
The Jitterbug Flip2 is the perfect phone for practical users. If you want medical alert features and the convenience of a cell phone without all the extra techy stuff that comes with a smartphone, this is a great option.
This popular flip phone features an easy-to-use dial pad with all the buttons you need ready and available, including a speakerphone button and an Urgent Response button. The Jitterbug Flip2 may be simple, but it has a few tricks, like a reading magnifier with a flashlight (perfect for reading menus in dimly lit restaurants) and Amazon Alexa technology that allows you to text, call, or navigate your phone using your voice! The long-lasting battery is ideal for older adults who don't want to charge their device every day. Want to learn more? Visit our Jitterbug Flip2 review.
As mentioned above, Lively partners with Verizon for service, so you'll want to make sure you live in their coverage area. Similar to the Jitterbug Smart3, simply pressing the Urgent Response button connects you with an operator who will already be familiar with your emergency information and send the help you need. To activate this feature, you’ll need to subscribe to one of Lively's Health & Safety Packages.
If you're looking for an inexpensive system, Lively Mobile Plus is a sensible option. Since it's a medical alert device and not a phone, you won't need to pay for talk, text, or data.
Lively Mobile Plus is a stand-alone medical alert device that gets back to the basics. This device is ideal for older adults who enjoy an active, independent lifestyle but may be at risk of falling. It has everything the wearer needs to go about their day safely and confidently.
Pro Tip: For a closer look at Lively's costs and how to get the best deal, visit our Lively deals and pricing page.
What I like about the Lively Mobile Plus is how comprehensive it is. It has everything you want in a wearable, mobile medical alert system: it's waterproof, offers built-in GPS, and fall detection is included for an additional $9.99 per month with either Health & Safety Package. Plus, it includes 24/7 emergency monitoring and two-way speaking capabilities. Just throw the device on like a necklace and take it with you everywhere you go. One minor drawback is that the device isn't stylish, and it's a bit clunky. However, that's pretty standard for medical alert systems; it keeps you protected, which is what matters most.
Whenever you need help, all you have to do is press the Urgent Response button on the Lively Mobile Plus, and you'll be connected to an emergency operator. According to Lively, you can even use this feature for situations that aren't technically emergencies, like a flat tire or getting locked out of your house.
Thanks to the device's cellular connection and GPS technology, you can access help from wherever you are. I was impressed with how Lively strives to help customers feel more at ease in any day-to-day situation, not just the big emergencies. After all, it's the little things that count!
Lively's Health & Safety Packages offer medical alerts and health features that other companies don't. Below is a breakdown of each package, along with automatic fall detection, and what features are included.
|Basic||$24.99 per month||Urgent Response
|Lively Mobile Plus
Lively on Apple Watch or iPhone
Lively on Alexa*
|Premium||$34.99 per month||Urgent response
|Lively Mobile Plus
Lively on Apple Watch or iPhone
|Fall Detection||$9.99 per month||Automatically detects falls||Lively Mobile Plus|
*The Basic package paired with Lively on Alexa does not feature Lively Link
Want to learn more about the features listed above? Let's take a look.
This feature connects you 24/7 to agents certified by The International Academy of Emergency Dispatch (IAED),2 aka the same company that certifies 911 operators. These agents will already be familiar with your personal health information, so the right help can be sent as fast as possible.
In partnership with FONEMED,3 the app lets you communicate with registered nurses and board-certified doctors, making it easy to get prescription refills and critical medical advice. This will save you the time and energy of making a trip to the doctor's office or frantically searching the internet for answers.
This app keeps caregivers and children informed at all times. For instance, if you call for help using your Lively device, Lively Link will send an instant update to all related subscribers, providing them with pertinent details. It's nice to see another service that strengthens family communication.
Did You Know: Lively is one of our top picks for medical alert providers. To find out why, visit our list of this year's best medical alert systems.
This concierge-like service helps with non-emergency situations, like contacting a caregiver. You can also contact Lively Rides, a Lyft transportation service with discounted rates for older adults. Despite a $0.99 charge for each request, it's great for those who no longer drive.
In the event of a fall, this service detects the fall and immediately calls an Urgent Response Agent to send help. I think this feature is essential since in 2018, approximately 35.6 million falls were reported, with 8.4 million of those resulting in an injury.4 This is sold separately from Lively's Health & Safety Packages for the Lively Mobile Plus, and it costs $9.99 per month.
If you're interested in Lively's health and safety features but you don't want to purchase a new device, the Lively mobile app is a great option. You can download this app on an iPhone, Apple Watch, or Alexa-enabled device and access most of Lively's health and safety features. To do so, you'll just need to sign up for a Health & Safety Package on the Lively website. Or, for a more guided experience, you can follow the prompts on the Lively app to sign up for whichever Health & Safety Package you prefer. Then, use the Lively app on your iPhone or Apple Watch to start using the service!
Lively also offers an excellent deal for customers who want a new Apple Watch. If you sign a two-year contract for a Health & Safety Package, you can get up to $200 off select Apple Watches at Best Buy.
While this review is full of prices, products, and other particulars from Lively, for a hands-on look at Lively's medical alert systems, watch our Lively video review below. Here, you'll see all of the Lively devices discussed in this review and hear some additional information about how they work and stack up to competitors.
Overall, l found Lively products to be user-friendly, easy to set up, and relatively affordable. However, prices can add up when you combine the health and safety packages and talk, text, and data plans, so you'll want to pay close attention to monthly fees.
Deciding on the right Lively device and health and safety package can be confusing, but a quick call to customer support goes a long way in clearing up any questions. I applaud the company for its innovative efforts to fuse the protection of a medical alert system with the convenience and portability of a cell phone. I recommend Lively for older adults looking for senior-friendly gadgets and reliable mobile medical alert protection.
Equipment and service fees for Lively will vary based on the product and add-on package you sign up for. Upfront equipment fees range from $49.99 to $149.99, while Health & Safety Packages cost anywhere from $24.99 to $34.99 per month.
Yes, you can keep your same phone number when you switch to a Lively phone. It is important to mention that you should not cancel your original service plan until the number transfer is complete.
Lively Urgent Response agents have access to your personal profile which contains pertinent confidential information that the agents can use to dispatch appropriate assistance when needed. The personal profile is customizable, so you can share information to help Lively agents understand your unique needs or concerns.
Unlike most cell phone companies, Lively does not require a long-term contract. This means you can end your service at any time without cancellation fees.
Yes. Seniors who are still getting behind the wheel can access the Google Maps app on their Jitterbug Smart3 for turn-by-turn directions. The GPS feature on all four of Lively’s devices also allows urgent response operators to pinpoint your location in an emergency.
Pew Research Center. (2021). Mobile Fact Sheet.
International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED). (2020). How It Works Best.
Lively. (2022). Urgent Care.
CDC. (2020). Trends in Nonfatal Falls and Fall-Related Injuries Among Adults Aged ≥65 Years — United States, 2012–2018