Medical Guardian vs. Lively Medical Alert Systems
A medical alert system can alleviate caregiver concerns and give older adults the confidence to live independently. But how do you choose the right provider? Lively and Medical Guardian are two of our top recommendations. They offer reliable, discreet protection, and we are impressed with their long-standing reputation for excellent customer service, specifically tailored to older adults.
Lively is an ideal provider for seniors looking to turn their current mobile device into a medical alert system. You’ll want to be aware of Lively’s activation fees, which we will get into later. Medical Guardian offers high-tech features like a smartwatch-style device and discreet on-the-go systems, but the monthly service fees are some of the highest among leading medical alert providers. If you’re wavering between the two companies, we’ve dug into the product details and analyzed the fine print to give you a comprehensive comparison. Let’s dive in!
Getting Familiar With Lively and Medical Guardian
If you’re familiar with the popular senior-friendly flip phone, the Jitterbug Flip2, then you’ve probably heard of Lively.
The well-known company was established in 2005 by entrepreneur and investor Arelene Harris with the mission to make technology more accessible to seniors.2 Not only does Lively offer senior-centered cell phone service, but they also provide flexible, lightweight medical alert protection with their Lively Mobile Plus. In the last few years, Lively’s medical alert devices and cell phones have become available for purchase in multiple stores nationwide, convenient for seniors who prefer to avoid online transactions.
We like that Lively also offers the chance for your caregiver or loved one to check in with you through Lively Link, a free smartphone app that lets them monitor the wearer’s safety and health.
Geoff Gross, founder and CEO of Medical Guardian, was inspired in 2005 by his grandmother, who needed protection at home after experiencing multiple falls. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the company provides medical alert protection to more than 200,000 U.S. customers. With high-tech features, sleek equipment, and highly-trained call center representatives, Medical Guardian checks all the boxes of a top-tier medical alert provider.
What do Lively and Medical Guardian Cost?
If you’re budget-conscious like us, price is a major factor you’ll want to consider when selecting a medical alert provider. Both Lively and Medical Guardian have competitive rates compared to industry standards, but Lively’s Preferred plan is a few dollars cheaper than Medical Guardian's base packages.
FYI: Keep in mind that Medical Guardian's most inexpensive option is not a mobile system, which means it only monitors the wearer in the home. Since Lively’s devices are all mobile, seniors have medical alert protection both in the house and on the go.
*Monthly rates vary based on your chosen payment plan.
Lively has two health and safety packages to choose from for its medical alert system: Preferred and Premium. Each package comes with various health and safety features; we like that Lively offers different monitoring levels, so you can choose the plan that’s right for your budget and lifestyle. Prices for each package will vary between the phones and the mobile device. For phones, there are three plans to choose from. Below is a breakdown of Lively’s pricing for health and safety services with its medical alert system.
FYI: You can purchase Lively devices in-store at Best Buy, Rite Aid, Amazon, or Walgreens. This is great for older adults who prefer in-person purchases as opposed to online!
Lively’s Preferred Plan starts at $24.99 per month and gives wearers essential medical alert protection, including Urgent Response with 24/7 monitoring and access to Lively Link, an app that provides caregivers with location detection, activity monitoring, and more.
The Premium Plan begins at $34.99 per month and includes everything in the Preferred Plan. It also includes:
- Nurse On-Call: This is an on-demand telehealth service that connects you with a registered nurse or board-certified physician.
- Care Advocate: A program that links users to a trained advocate who provides resources and direction on wellness, financial matters, and more.
Finally, Lively now offers their health and safety services for use in conjunction with iPhones, Apple Watches, or Alexa-enabled devices. This enables older adults to customize devices they already own with protective features.
Medical Guardian Pricing
Though Medical Guardian costs slightly more, the company provides more variety in devices and add-ons than Lively. Medical Guardian has five systems to choose from and offers both on-the-go, in-home, and hybrid monitoring. When purchasing a Medical Guardian device, you’ll have the option to select a monthly, quarterly, or annual payment option. The quarterly and annual options offer discounted rates, and we recommend going with the annual payment plan because you’ll receive a free month of service. Plus, they throw in free shipping, a lockbox, and a second help button. What a deal!
Buyer’s Tip: Lively and Medical Guardian run specials throughout the year. To make sure you’re not missing out, call their customer service line and ask if they are currently running any special deals or discounts. Representatives will make sure you get the best rate and may even throw in some freebies!
Your monthly rates with Medical Guardian will vary depending on the system and payment plan you select, but they typically range between $29.95 to $44.95 per month before add-on features.
Equipment From Lively and Medical Guardian
Between Lively and Medical Guardian, there are six medical alert systems to choose from. Lively also offers two cell phones that double as medical alert systems. We’ll take a closer look at each system below.
Lively’s two alert systems, Lively Wearable2 and Lively Mobile Plus, are both mobile units, which means they can protect users within or outside the home. If you’re looking for an affordable mobile system, then Lively may be the provider for you. Keep in mind that mobile options need to be charged regularly, and they rely on strong cell service.
In addition to the Mobile Plus, Lively also offers a smartphone (Jitterbug Smart4) and flip phone (Jitterbug Flip2) for users who don’t want a wearable alert system. Since 81 percent of older adults ages 60 to 69 use a smartphone and 62 percent of those over the age of 70 use one,3 it’s an excellent option for tech-loving seniors.
|Lively Mobile Plus||Jitterbug Flip2||Jitterbug Smart4|
|Monthly price||$24.99 to $34.99 per month||$19.99 to $49.99 per month||$19.99 to $49.99 per month + data plan|
|GPS location tracking||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Fall detection available||Yes||No||No|
|Battery life||80 hours||Up to 12 hours of talk time||Up to 12 hours of talk time|
|Best for||Seniors looking for one-piece on-the-go protection||Seniors who want a basic phone with medical alert features||Those who want a smartphone with safety features|
Medical Guardian Equipment
Medical Guardian has a diverse lineup of systems ranging in features and prices. One that stands out above the rest is MGMove. The sleek smartwatch-style alert device is excellent for tech-savvy active seniors who want some extra protection. The wrist-worn gadget can send text messages, set calendar notifications, and track location. One downside to the MGMove is that it is the only Medical Guardian device without fall detection capabilities since it can't be worn as a pendant. The Mini Guardian, another standout system, is Medical Guardian’s smallest device and great for seniors looking for simple, sleek protection on-the-go with optimal battery life.
|Mini Guardian||MGMove||MGMini Lite||Home 2.0||Classic Guardian|
|GPS location tracking||Yes||No||Yes||N/A||N/A|
|Fall detection available||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Battery life||5 days||24 hours||36 hours||32-hour backup battery||32-hour backup battery|
|Best for||Discreet mobile protection||Mobile protection for active seniors||On-the-go protection||At-home protection with no landline||At-home landline protection|
*Monthly rates will vary based on your chosen payment plan.
Accessories and Add-ons
When it comes to accessories and add-ons, Medical Guardian takes the cake compared to Lively. Medical Guardian’s subscription packages are more customizable, while Lively doesn’t have any add-on equipment per se. Instead, their add-on features are built into its plans through health and safety services. The one exception is fall detection, available with Lively Mobile Plus. (It costs $9.99 per month.) If you’re looking for add-ons such as lockboxes, pendant jewelry, and wall buttons, then Medical Guardian is where you’ll want to look.
Keep in mind that most of these add-ons will add a few dollars to your monthly service fee. For seniors who are content with simplified packages, Lively can deliver that.
Comparing the Fine Print
- Lively’s products are covered by a standard limited warranty for one year after the purchase date. The provider will replace or repair any defective devices, but the warranty does not cover damage caused by the user.
- Medical Guardian offers a protection plan for $6.99 per month. If your equipment is damaged or lost, they will replace a base unit once per year and help buttons twice per year. Without the protection plan, you could end up paying $350 to replace a damaged or lost unit. With that in mind, we think the plan is worth considering!
- Lively has a 30-day refund policy. If you are unsatisfied with your device or service for any reason, they will refund you the activation fee, the first month's service charge, the cost of the device, and the applicable taxes. The shipping fees are not refundable, and you will have to pay a $10 restocking fee for the return.
- Medical Guardian does not offer a 30-day return policy like Lively. If for any reason you need to return your device and cancel service, you will not be refunded for the device fee or used service, but they will refund any unused months of service that you prepaid.
Contracts and Cancellations
The good news is that neither provider requires a long-term contract. That means you can bow out of service whenever you need to without penalties. They will refund you for any unused months of service that you already paid for.
Medical Guardian or Lively: Which Is Best Suited for Me?
We don’t take on a one-size-fits-all mentality when it comes to medical alert systems. Each senior has a unique budget, lifestyle, preference, and reason for purchasing a medical alert system. Medical Guardian and Lively are both excellent providers with A+ ratings4 from the Better Business Bureau.5 Though we do think choosing one over the other leans heavily on what exactly you’re looking for. Below we’ve listed out which provider we recommend for various seniors.
Lively is best suited for:
- Seniors looking for a mobile system
- Older adults who would like 24/7 access to a medical professional
- Seniors who want to turn their current smartphone into a medical alert device
- Those who have strong cellular coverage
Medical Guardian is best suited for:
- Tech-loving seniors
- Those who want a dedicated in-home system
- Older adults who don’t mind paying a little extra for all the bells and whistles
- Those who want a discreet, smartwatch system