With nine-in-ten seniors hoping to age in place at home,1 it's more important than ever to find ways to keep our older family members safe when we're not around. If you're in the market for a medical alert system to do just that, you know how hard it is to pick the best system for your aging loved one. The choices are endless! Lucky for you, we've done the heavy lifting for you to make the choice simple. If you're looking for a veteran in the industry with decades of experience protecting seniors and working with their family members and caregivers, it's time to check out LifeStation.
LifeStation is a family-owned, privately held company that's been around for 43 years. The company has multiple monitoring centers that are Five Diamond certified by The Monitoring Association (TMA),2 an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau,3 and UL-listed equipment. While LifeStation's product lineup doesn't include add-ons offered by Bay Alarm Medical or Medical Guardian such as wall buttons or jewelry pendants, they do offer at-home and on-the-go systems with affordable monthly rates, high-quality equipment, and zero hidden fees. For this year's review I'll be testing out the In-Home No Landline system, so sit back, relax, and read on as I get into everything you need to know about LifeStation!
To decide which LifeStation system is right for you, first consider the type of user you're buying for. Do they spend most days at home or out in the yard? Or is the user a social butterfly, always out and about away from home? If the user is a homebody, you'll want to choose either the At Home or In-Home No Landline system. An on-the-go user will be best suited for the Mobile LTE with GPS system, as long as it fits in your budget. It's reassuring that LifeStation has a 30-day money-back guarantee and, like many other companies, has no long-term contracts. If you test out the system and wish you would've chosen a different one, you can return it, no problem. Take a look at the product table below for more details.
|Specs||At Home||In-Home No Landline||Mobile with GPS|
|Range||500 feet||600 feet||Unlimited range|
|Fall Detection||$10 per month||$10 per month||$5 per month|
|Monthly Base Price||$21.95 per month||$30.95 per month||$37.95 per month|
|Activation & Equipment & Shipping Free||✔||✔||✔|
|Equipment Protection||$5 per month||$5 per month||$5 per month|
|Additional Wall Buttons||$3.49 per month each||$3.49 per month each||Not applicable|
|Additional User||$3.99 per month||$3.99 per month||Separate Account|
First I looked through LifeStation's website. Pricing and product features were clearly listed online, but I still had a few questions so I decided to give LifeStation a call. After dialing and listening to a piano concerto for about 5 minutes I was connected to a warm and friendly representative named Corey. There was no sales pitch; Corey answered many, many questions and spent a lot of time with me. I wanted to know which system was the most popular, and he said it was the At Home landline system, which is also the most affordable option so I didn't feel like I was being upsold. I also wanted to test out fall detection, one of the most important features in my opinion, for $10 per month. Corey informed me that the monthly rate would be $31.95. Best of all, Corey told me about Life Station's Price Lock Guarantee: rates won't ever increase from the original contract, no matter how long you have your system.
When I opened the equipment box I found a beige base unit, a round grey and black pendant, phone cords with one already attached to the bottom of the unit in the “line” jack and a manual. By the way, I hadn't thought of this but the pendant cord is made to be choke resistant in case the wearer gets it hooked on something. LifeStation does not offer professional setup, which is pretty typical, but Corey assured me that everything could be easily set up by most users. If not, customer service would be happy to walk you through each step.
To set up my system, I first located a phone jack near an electrical outlet. For the landline system, it's important to find a jack near an outlet, as the base unit must be connected to both. I plugged the unit's power supply into the outlet. Then I just unplugged the phone jack from the wall and plugged it into the bottom of the base unit in the slot marked “phone.” Last, I plugged the unit into the wall jack, flipped the on/off switch on the bottom of the base unit to “on,” and put on my fall detection pendant. Easy-peasy!
Setup Advice: Set up was as easy as setting up a cordless phone! The best spot for set up is typically in a high-risk area or a central location in the home, like on the nightstand or in the living room.
I tested the system first by pressing the button on the pendant. An electronic emergency sound lasting about eight seconds came through the speaker. It took about 19 seconds until a loud voice came through the two-way speaker and identified herself as a LifeStation operator. When I told her I was just testing the system, she let me know that I was welcome to test the system as much as I needed and to be sure to call customer service if I had any questions. I did the same test by pressing the large base station emergency button and the voice came on the speaker in 22 seconds. Lifestation claims to have a 20 second response time which is among the fastest in the industry. I tried the same test again with the pendant in a room farther away from the base station, and the system connected without issue. I was also happy with the loudness of the two-way speaker, as I could clearly hear the operator without moving closer to the base station. If you're considering the system for someone who is hard of hearing, the volume should still be sufficient.
FYI: LifeStation's pendants are completely waterproof, not just water-resistant, so your loved one can take it right into the shower and bath.
This system is best for seniors with a landline who spend most of the day at home, those who don't have reliable cellular service, or for active folks who still feel comfortable not being monitored when they're out and about. At $21.95 per month, this is LifeStation's most affordable system. My At Home system came with a fall detection pendant (I upgraded from the normal pendant) and a base unit. During setup, which I covered in-depth in the previous section, I placed my system on my bedroom nightstand near a phone jack and power outlet. During my tests using the pendant throughout the house, I had no trouble connecting to the base station and the system was reliable. Overall, I found that the operators were always friendly and quick to help, and the base station's two-way talk feature was top of the line.
One of the key factors in being able to choose a landline system is the user's type of existing landline. I hadn't thought of this but Corey, the representative I spoke with, explained that some of the newer digital modem landlines don't support landline alert systems. Luckily, my landline worked with the system, but you'll want to double-check with customer service that your landline will work before ordering.
The At Home landline system is also LifeStation's cheapest plan, and, as with many companies like ADT Health and Medical Guardian, fall detection costs an additional $10 per month. The system is simple and there are no parts to charge as the pendant battery lasts three years. All in all, I was impressed with the At Home station, and if my aging family members had this system, I would have total peace of mind even if I wasn't around.
One of the advantages of this system versus the At Home landline is that the base station can be put anywhere in the home regardless of where there is a phone jack, as it runs on a cellular connection instead of a landline. Other than its cellular connection and a bit more modern-looking, less clunky base station, In-Home No Landline works exactly the same as the original At Home model. The setup is so easy; it's basically a plug-and-play. You turn on the on/off switch at the bottom of the base station, plug the power supply into an outlet and you're finished. It takes about two minutes for the base to find the cellular connection and then it's ready for testing. It tests the same way as the landline system. While it's a bit more expensive than the At Home landline system at $30.95 per month, I'd recommend it for homebodies who don't have a landline or those who want the freedom to easily move the system anywhere in the house.
This LifeStation system, which starts at $37.95 per month, is for the on-the-go senior or the family who wants to keep track of their loved one's whereabouts. Whether the user is out golfing, hiking, or just hanging out with friends, they'll be covered at all times. The unit is equipped with GPS, WiFi, and AT&T cellular technology to constantly update the user's location in real time, so help can be dispatched to them during an emergency no matter where they are. The Mobile system costs $37.95 per month.
The Mobile pendant is bigger than the At Home pendant, weighing about two ounces (like an egg) and is almost three inches long. It's an all-in-one system with a built-in microphone, speaker, and emergency help button, so there's no base station or other equipment required except a charging cradle. The user can either wear the system like a necklace or put it in a pocket or purse. The GPS unit's batteries last for a full five days, so you won't have to worry about charging it all the time. Plus, it has voice prompts that will audibly let you know the battery level and alert you when it's time to charge the system. That way, you'll never have to worry about your aging family member hitting the town with a dead alert system.
Setup involves just plugging in the cradle, with the pendant resting in it, and sliding on the power switch for an initial three-hour charge. To test the unit after it's done charging, simply press the grey button on the front of the pendant. You'll hear a sound to alert you that a call is in progress, and you'll be connected to a live operator in under a minute.
The Mobile system pairs with LifeStation's “Find My Loved One” feature, which lets family members locate the user by sending LifeStation a quick text. LifeStation will respond with the user's exact location pinpointed on a map. Best of all, this feature works with Amazon Alexa devices. All you have to do is download an app called Alexa Skill and tell your Alexa-enabled device: “Alexa, Locate Mom.” These high-tech features make it so easy for family members and caregivers to keep an eye on their loved ones without much extra effort.
Pro Tip: Lifestation offers a discount for payments made quarterly and annually instead of monthly. The typical annual discount is about 15 percent.
LifeStation offers a lifetime warranty for all equipment that covers normal wear and tear and product defects. If the system is damaged or lost you'll have to pay for the replacements, costing a hefty $325 for the base station and $25 for the pendant. If you buy the $5 per month protection plan, it's nice that there aren't any deductibles as with some other companies' warranties.
Most of LifeStation's add-on services are typical for the industry, such as fall protection, lockbox entry, and an equipment protection plan. Some of the more techy features like medication reminders, activity sensors, and in-car alert devices are not offered by LifeStation. However, they offer all of the essentials to keep your loved one protected. Now let's dive into all the details for LifeStation's add ons!
According to studies conducted by the CDC and the National Council on Aging, every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall, and every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall.45 Because seniors are so prone to falls, automatic fall detection is a must in my book.
If a first responder or family member needs to enter the house during an emergency and they don't have a key, this lockbox will be a godsend. Instead of breaking down the door, causing expensive property damage, they will be given a code to unlock the LifeStation lockbox and retrieve a key.
With this protection plan, you won't have to pay the full price for lost or damaged equipment. This could save you hundreds of dollars for just a few bucks a month.
You can add an extra pendant and a second user to your At Home or In-Home No Landline system for just $3.99 per month. Adding a second user with other companies like Alert1 can cost $10 per month or more, so this is an affordable option. Just remember, this add on isn't available for the Mobile GPS unit, so you'd have to buy two separate systems. If you're looking for an affordable on-the-go GPS system for two users, check out MobileHelp's MobileHelp Duo system.
LifeStation has 43 years of experience in the business, so you can trust its reputation and products. With so many years in the industry, they know how to work with seniors and keep them safe.
You can try out the system and see how it fits into your senior's lifestyle without any risk. In case she or he is resistant or skeptical, you can quit anytime down the line and get a prorated refund for the unused time.
LifeStation takes away all of those annoying extra fees, so there aren't any barriers or big upfront costs to trying out their systems.
The monthly costs for LifeStation systems are among the lowest in the industry, especially for their on-the-go system, beating out mobile systems from companies like Philips Lifeline and Medical Guardian.
Even though LifeStation has very basic, traditional products, the “Find My Loved One” feature and Alexa-pairing technology takes it to another level. You can know where your grandma is at any time by using your phone or your Amazon Echo.
While LifeStation's products are high quality and reliable, which are the most important qualities for a medical alert system, they aren't exactly stylish. They're pretty traditional and look quite “medical-ish,” as my mom would say. If you're hoping for a more modern-looking system, check out Bay Alarm Medical and Medical Guardian's sleek systems.
There aren't too many bells and whistles to add on such as pill reminders, activity sensors or other high-tech features that some companies offer. If you're looking for lots of add-on accessories, such as wall help buttons or medication reminders, Alert1 or Bay Alarm Medical may be more up your alley.
The In-Home No Landline system and the Mobile LTE with GPS system both rely on AT&T's cellular coverage. If you live in an area with little to no AT&T service, you'll want to stick with the traditional At Home landline system.
I found LifeStation offered a well-priced lineup of products built for solid, straightforward performance. The equipment is plain and simple, so it's user-friendly for senior customers. No overly complicated bells and whistles here! While the equipment isn't exactly stylish, LifeStation focuses on the features that really matter for keeping your family members safe, like fast response times, location tracking, powerful two-way communication, and 24/7 professional monitoring. Plus, LifeStation's packages are affordable, and with no long-term contracts, no hidden fees, and a price-lock for life, you're really getting the most bang for your buck. With 43 years of experience in the industry, you know LifeStation will be around for years to come, keeping your loved ones safe while they age in place in the comfort of their own home.
LifeStation systems range in cost from $21.95 per month for the At Home system up to $37.95 per month for the Mobile GPS system. Other add ons like fall detection ($10 per month) may add to your monthly costs.
Since there are no contracts, systems can be cancelled and equipment returned anytime. With their 30-day return policy, the company gives you a full refund any time within the first month of service.
The battery for the At Home pendant lasts about 3 years, at which time LifeStation will give you a reminder call and send you a new pendant. For the mobile pendant, the battery lasts about five days, and the system will audibly alert you when the battery is running low.
This is a wristwatch option for the At Home landline system. However, if you upgrade to the fall detection pendant it must be worn around the neck to work properly.
Even though there is no contract, LifeStation locks in your rate for life with their Rate Lock Guarantee.
LifeStation’s AT Home base stations have a 32-hour back-up battery so you won’t have to worry about a gap in service. If this battery ever gets low, the base speaker will notify the user to replace it.