LifeFone Medical Alert System Review 2023
An Easy-to-Use System with Loads of Custom Options
LifeFone’s first medical alert system was launched back in the 1970s when my parents were wearing bell-bottom jeans and listening to The Who (yep, my parents are cool). And just like fashion and music, LifeFone’s products have evolved considerably over the last 40 years. While the medical devices of yesteryear were all tethered to a landline, providers now also offer GPS options that run on cellular networks for more flexibility. For this year’s review, I tested LifeFone’s cellular At-Home & On-the-Go package with fall detection.
LifeFone is recognized by many leaders in senior health, including the National Council on Aging and the American Stroke Association. After testing out LifeFone’s products, I give my stamp of approval for usability, price, and transparency (no hidden fees here). From the sign-up process and discounts to setup and testing, here’s everything you need to know about LifeFone.
Pros About Lifefone
- No upfront activation or equipment fees
- User-friendly systems
- Knowledgeable customer service representatives
- Best-in-class warranty
- Lifetime price guarantee
- Affordable fall detection
- Impressive in-home range up to 1,400 feet
- No long-term contracts
Cons About Lifefone
- Relatively high prices of add-ons
- No TMA Five-Diamond monitoring center certification
How Does LifeFone Compare?
LifeFone offers seniors a variety of affordable options for medical alert systems. Plus, with a lifetime price guarantee, you can rest easy knowing that your monthly payments will never go up. But if you want a lot of extra bells and whistles with your medical alert device, you may end up spending more than you bargained for with LifeFone. If you want to compare other medical alert system providers, be sure to check out the top providers that we have reviewed.
Overview of LifeFone
The Buying Experience
LifeFone's medical alert systems are easy to purchase through the company’s website or over the phone. I called to see if any discounts were available, and I’m glad I did! I learned that I could receive a free month of service for the package I was considering, and there was a further discount available if I chose the annual payment plan. I also asked about senior discounts, since some other providers offer them. The representative informed me that they have a modest discount for AARP members or veterans. Make sure to call to take advantage of this.
Buyer’s Tip: LifeFone offers a great referral program to help you save. For every customer you refer, you and your referral will receive a free month of service.
The Better Business Bureau1 gives LifeFone an A+ rating, partly based on interactions with customer service. After my interactions with their friendly team (and the very short hold time I experienced on the customer service line), I can see why.
Setting Up My System
LifeFone’s At-Home & On-the-Go system came in a small box with everything included. Inside was the base station, a wall plug, a help wristband, a waterproof pendant (I chose the fall detection option), a mobile device with a charging cradle, and an instruction manual.
The At-Home system only took a few simple steps to set up. I plugged in the base unit console, turned it on, and put on the pendant. The base station I tested was the cellular version, which has a digital display that says how many “bars” you have, just like a cell phone. I pressed the button on my pendant, and I was connected to a representative who asked if there was an emergency. I let them know I was just making a test call, and I was set!
To set up the On-the-Go unit, I plugged in the charging cradle and placed the mobile unit on it to let it fully charge. Once the mobile unit was charged, I pressed the gray help button to make a test call. After speaking with someone at the response center using the two-way audio, I felt confident that my system was ready and working.
Contracts and Warranty
LifeFone systems have a lifetime warranty, and all of the equipment is covered for normal wear and tear and includes battery replacements at no additional cost. In my experience, this warranty is solid; some other companies we’ve reviewed, like Lifeline, only offer a one-year warranty for select systems. To top it off, LifeFone offers a Protection Plan ($5 per month), which covers damage, loss, or theft. I’d recommend adding it for those who want some extra peace of mind.
LifeFone Systems at a Glance
|LifeFone product||Features||Starting price*||Connection type|
||$29.95 per month||Landline|
||$34.95 per month||Cellular (AT&T)|
|At-Home & On-the-Go||
||$39.95 per month||Cellular (AT&T)|
|At-Home & On-the-Go, VIP Active®||
||$43.95 per month||Cellular (AT&T or Verizon)|
|At-Home & On-the-Go, VIPx®||
||$45.95 per month||Cellular (AT&T or Verizon)|
|At-Home & On-the-Go Safe Watch Active®||
||$49.95 per month||Cellular (AT&T)|
*Discounts available with quarterly and annual payment plans
LifeFone System and Product Details
LifeFone offers six systems with a wide variety of features and prices. As you evaluate each system below for your needs, we recommend considering the following criteria, listed in order of importance:
- Safety features: Does this system offer all of the essential safety features you want, such as fall detection or 24/7 monitoring?
- Price: Does this system fit your budget?
- Ease of use: Does this system seem like something you will actually use? Or is it too complicated?
- Extra features: Does this system offer the additional features that you want, like caregiver monitoring, a sleek design, or health tracking?
Starting at $29.95 per month, this at-home system is LifeFone’s most affordable package. There are a few less expensive options on the market, including Bay Alarm Medical’s prices, which start at $27.95 per month for in-home coverage. However, LifeFone is still decently priced. Customers can receive a monthly discount if they pay quarterly ($2 discount) or annually ($5 discount).
There are no activation or equipment fees, and you can add automatic fall detection starting at $5 per month, which is inexpensive for fall detection. For comparison, Medical Guardian’s fall detection costs $10 per month, a pretty standard price for the industry.
The At-Home Landline system comes with a base station with a 32-hour backup battery in case you lose power and a wearable help button. The base unit has a high-output speaker and a sensitive microphone for clear two-way communication. The wearable help button allows you to call for help anywhere in the 1,300-foot base-to-button range, so there’s no rush to get to the phone or base station.
Did You Know? LifeFone made our list of this year’s best medical alert providers.
This at-home system offers a few unique features that I like. If you have a home phone connected to your landline, you can answer calls using your LifeFone system. Simply press your wearable help button when you hear the landline phone ring. The base unit also has a built-in temperature sensor. If the temperature is out of the norm, the system will automatically send an alarm.
Service and Monitoring
At-Home Landline is for those who (you guessed it) have a landline. It’s also my pick for older adults who spend a lot of time at home or are on a tight budget. In an emergency, just press your wearable button or the help button on the base unit. The system will connect you to a live operator who can dispatch the right help for the situation. LifeFone’s monitoring center is available 24/7, so you’ll be covered at all times.
Starting at $34.95 per month, this system is $5 more than the landline option. You’ll pay $32.95 per month with the quarterly plan or $30.95 per month with an annual plan. Like the rest of LIfeFone’s systems, there are no activation or equipment fees. You can also add fall detection for $5 per month.
At-Home Cellular is essentially the same system as the landline option, with a base station and wearable help button. The main difference is that it doesn’t require a landline. The base station has a room-temperature sensor that sends an alarm if your home temperature falls below or rises above your customized settings. It also features optional medication reminders and other caregiver tools, which are great for older adults who have difficulty remembering to take their prescriptions.
Quick Tip: LifeFone offers an extensive selection of caregiver tools and add-on services. From medication reminders and daily check-in calls to location tracking and a companion mobile app, they’ve got family members and caregivers covered.
Service and Monitoring
LifeFone’s At-Home Cellular is excellent for those who like to spend a lot of time at home. This system doesn’t use a landline; it operates on AT&T’s cellular network. You don’t have to be a current AT&T customer to use it, because LifeFone provides the AT&T service. If you live in an area with reliable AT&T coverage and don’t have a landline, At-Home Cellular is a good option. If there isn’t solid coverage in your area, I’d recommend going with the landline system to save a few bucks.
At-Home & On-the-Go, VIP Active®
This hybrid system costs $39.95 per month on a month-to-month or quarterly plan and $36.95 per month on an annual plan. As always, there are no activation or equipment fees. Fall detection costs $10 per month for this system, which is slightly more than it costs for LifeFone’s other packages.
Buyer’s Tip: Want to compare providers that offer fall detection? Visit our list of the best medical alert systems with fall detection.
LifeFone’s At-Home & On-the-Go system is the way to go for older adults with an active lifestyle. With an at-home base unit and a mobile device, it’s like two systems for the price of one. The base station features a backup battery, two-way talk, and a lighted display with the time, date, and ambient temperature. The coverage range from the base station to the wearable button is 1,400 feet, which is more extensive than the coverage ranges for other popular companies. Some providers we’ve reviewed, like ADT Health, have a range of just 600 feet. I tested the system’s range by pressing my wearable button in rooms throughout my home and found that the connection was reliable no matter where I was.
The mobile unit can be worn like a necklace or thrown in a pocket or purse, so you can take it wherever you go. It’s small and lightweight; when testing it out, I forgot I was even carrying it! Keep in mind that the unit will need to be charged once a day, just like a cell phone.
Service and Monitoring
Whether you’re taking a morning walk with your dog or finally going on that cross-country road trip, LifeFone can take care of you anywhere that has AT&T coverage. Both the at-home and mobile units use a cellular connection, which is perfect for older adults on the move. This bundle also has optional caregiver tools, including location tracking and medication reminders.
I tested the mobile system’s cellular connection while running errands, and it worked like a charm. I simply pressed the button and was connected to LifeFone’s response center in about 30 seconds. I could hear the responder loud and clear, and she could hear me.
At-Home & On-the-Go, VIP Active®
This system costs $43.95 per month, and you can save a few dollars if you choose the quarterly or annual payment plan. You’ll pay $5 per month if you add fall detection.
The Voice-in-Pendant Active system is a convenient, all-in-one wearable unit. Everything you need is built right into the pendant, so all you have to do is wear the necklace wherever you go. The black pendant features a two-way speaker and offers vibration feedback to help those with vision or hearing loss. This system has a five-day battery life. If you have a hard time remembering to charge your devices like I do, this is a major selling point.
Service and Monitoring
This system is as streamlined as it is low-maintenance; it works through LifeFone’s AT&T or Verizon cellular network. The necklace is equipped with Wi-Fi and GPS location technology, so help can be sent straight to you, and caregivers can quickly access your location through a text to LifeFone or the LifeFone mobile app.
At-Home & On-the-Go, VIPx®
The At-Home & On-the-Go, VIPx® costs $45.95 per month. Although a few dollars more than a comparable system from another brand, keep in mind that LifeFone does not charge an equipment or activation fee, and fall detection only costs $5 per month rather than $10, the price you will find from most other brands.
The “x” in VIPx® is definitely there for a reason. Compared to the VIP Active®, this system has lots of extras. First, the device is tiny and featherlight, only weighing 1.3 ounces. It also comes in three different colors: black, white, and silver. And, the battery life is 16 days, which means that you don’t need to worry about charging it every day.
Service and Monitoring
Like the VIP Active®, you can choose a VIPx® unit that runs on Verizon or AT&T’s cellular network. Location tracking is available and is considered advanced, as it uses both Wi-Fi and GPS to pinpoint a user’s location. Finally, this all-inclusive system offers optional fall detection for $5 per month (through a pendant) and a caregiver’s app loaded with additional functions.
At-Home & On-the-Go Safe Watch Active®
LifeFone’s most expensive system, the Safe Watch Active®, costs $49.95 per month. However, like LifeFone’s other systems, it does not have an equipment fee, and its fall detection is less expensive than most other brands.
The Safe Watch Active® is LifeFone’s latest product. It is sleek and discreet, with a black face and band, and your choice of an analog or digital display. It is chock-full of features including a step tracker, heart monitor, weather app, two-way talk, and vibration feedback.
Service and Monitoring
Unlike Lifefone’s other on-the-go systems, the Safe Watch Active® offers only one cellular option for connection: AT&T. Still, this is comparable to what you will find with most other brands. In addition to advanced location tracking, it also offers optional fall detection, a rarity among other medical alert smartwatches.
Add-on Features and Accessories
LifeFone offers a ton of add-on services and accessories, which can be daunting. Here are a few of my favorites to consider.
- Activity Assurance caregiver tool ($6 per month): To help with daily check-ins, this tool allows a caregiver to pick a custom check-in time for the user. If the user doesn’t call within 15 minutes of that time, LifeFone will call them.
- Family Guard app ($9.95 per month): This is sort of like Find My iPhone for your medical alert device. Using a smartphone app, caregivers and family members can track the user’s location in real-time.
- Fall detection ($5 to $10 per month): I’d highly recommend this add-on if it fits in your budget. The fall detection pendant will automatically sense a fall and call for help, even if you can’t press your help button.
Here are some of the other useful add-on services available:
- Daily check-in calls ($19 per month): With this service, a LifeFone agent will call and check in with you daily and provide medication reminders if needed.
- Medication reminders ($6 per month): You can receive reminders to take your medications daily or weekly straight through your base unit.
- Location services ($9 per month): Caregivers and family members can access your location through an online portal.
- Protection Plan ($5 per month): Protects you from needing to spend several hundred dollars on a new system if yours is lost, damaged, or stolen.
- VIPx® Caregiver App($8 per month): Allows caregivers to be alerted to the first motion of the day, check the button press history, and more.
- Mobile Alert App: For those who do not want to use a medical alert device. It works on the user’s cellular network.
And here are some additional add-on products:
- Lockbox: You can store an extra key outside your door in this box so first responders can easily access your home without breaking down your door.
- Wall-mounted help button: This button adheres to a wall or surface for extra protection in high-risk areas like the bathroom or stairs.
- Vanity pendant: You can spruce up the design of your pendant with this stylish necklace.
- Mobile device charging cradle: Add an extra charging cradle for your At-Home and On-the-Go system. It makes charging your device more convenient and less easy to forget.
- Mobile device carrying case: This leather pouch protects your At-Home & On-the-Go mobile device and can be attached at the hip.
As I said, this many add-on options can be overwhelming. I’d recommend chatting with a LifeFone representative to learn more and help you choose the right accessories for your needs.
LifeFone Medical Alert Video Review
While there is a lot of material about LifeFone's lineup of products and services in this review, seeing is truly believing, as I get my hands on everything mentioned here in the LifeFone Medical Alert Systems Review from the Senior Living YouTube channel. Here, I go over everything in this written review and more! Plus, you get to see what these devices look like and how they function in realtime. Take a moment to check out this review before you make your final medical alert device decision.
The Bottom Line on LifeFone
In my view, LifeFone is a solid choice for a medical alert device. The company’s systems offer the essential features you need to stay protected, including fall detection, wide coverage ranges, 24/7 monitoring, and caregiver tools. With lifetime warranties, no upfront costs or activation fees, and seasonal discounts, there is an option for most budgets. You’ll also have a 30-day money-back guarantee, which I appreciate. While there are some higher-tech systems on the market, LifeFone is still an excellent option in my book.
For a closer look at LifeFone’s systems, watch this video review with our editor-in-chief, Jeff Hoyt.
Want to know how we rate and review medical alert providers? It all starts with researching the provider until we have a thorough understanding of their product offerings. Then, we test the systems out for ourselves whenever we can and rate them for several criteria. This criteria includes price, value, ease of use, response times, customer service experience, available features, and more. We then use our experience with the systems to give every provider a star rating. This allows our readers to easily compare and contrast their options. To learn more about our review process, head to our medical alert system methodology guide.
Frequently Asked Questions About LifeFone
How much does LifeFone cost per month?
Pricing varies by the product you go with and how you pay for service. Prices start as low as $24.95 per month when you pay annually and range up to $49.95 paid monthly for top-tier packages.
What is the return policy for LifeFone?
LifeFone allows you to cancel service at any time, for any reason. There are no long-term contracts, and you will receive a refund if you paid for your service in advance.
What happens if I push the button and I’m not able to communicate?
If you push the button and LifeFone’s care agent can’t hear you, they will call your home phone. If they can’t reach you there, they’ll follow your previously provided emergency care instructions and dispatch emergency services to your location.
Can I take my device with me when I go on vacation?
Regardless of how long you will be relocating, all it takes to change your system’s location for a vacation is a simple phone call to LifeFone’s emergency response center. If you use the At-Home Landline system, you just need to make sure your new location has a landline.
Better Business Bureau. (2021). Lifefone.