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|Medical Guardian||What we like||What to keep in mind|
|Life Alert||What we like||What to keep in mind|
Medical Guardian and Life Alert are two of the industry's most well-known medical alert system providers. They provide protection to thousands of older adults and ease the worries of their loved ones since help is available with a press of a button.
Though Life Alert and Medical Guardian are excellent companies with long-standing reputations, there are some factors to consider if you're choosing between the two. Life Alert is one of the most expensive providers on the market, but if you're looking for a simple system with quick response times and reliable service, they may be a great choice. Medical Guardian provides protection at a lower cost and has more bells and whistles for older adults looking for advanced technology and accessories.
Life Alert has been in the business since 1987 and employs over 600 people. If any company is an expert in providing emergency monitoring for seniors, it's Life Alert! The company has over three decades of experience backed by an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau1 and a Five Diamond2 certified call center, the highest certification given by The Monitoring Association. We wish that they offered more optional features with their six systems, such as fall detection, and we aren't thrilled with their three-year contract requirement. However, if Life Alert's systems meet your needs and budget, you won't be disappointed with their service.
Fun Fact: There are nine Life Alert offices located across the U.S., all dedicated to serving older adults and their caregivers with emergency monitoring services.
Medical Guardian, founded in 2005, is headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. The founder, Geoff Gross, was motivated to help seniors after his grandmother experienced multiple falls at home. We are impressed with their five systems to choose from, as well as a variety of features and add-ons such as fall detection and caregiver monitoring through their My Guardian customer care portal and app. The company is one of our top picks for medical alert systems.
Medical Guardian customers pay anywhere from $29.95 per month to $44.95 per month. Life Alert, on the other hand, is about $20 to $50 more expensive per month, and you'll have to pay a $197 installation fee.
|Provider||Life Alert||Medical Guardian|
|Starting rate||$49.95 per month when you select only the main system||$29.95 per month|
||$29.95 – $44.95 per month|
|Contracts||Yes, three years||No|
|Fall detection||No||$10 per month|
Medical Guardian's prices are comparable to other top providers. When purchasing a Medical Guardian system online, you'll see that there are three payment options: monthly, quarterly, or annual. We recommend selecting the yearly payment plan because it will save you up to $45 per year, and it includes free shipping and a free lockbox. We can't pass up a great deal, and you shouldn't either! Medical Guardian's online purchasing process is simple, and their website is easy to navigate. To make sure you're getting the best deal, call their customer service line before finalizing your online purchase. Inquire about seasonal specials, as they run them frequently, and you won't want to miss out.
Money-Saving Tip: Medical Guardian has a “refer-a-friend” program. Current customers will earn $25 when they refer a friend who joins.
Life Alert has an unusual pricing structure. All customers will need to select a bundled deal that includes the in-home Master Unit and at least one add-on device for $69.95 per month. Add-on devices from Life Alert include the Mobile + GPS unit and the Help Button. If you would like to add both the add-on devices, it will cost you $89.95 per month. Purchasing the Master Unit alone for $49.95 per month is not typically offered. If it is something you want, push the sales representatives on it because they sometimes make special exceptions. For older adults who want ultimate protection, we recommend going with the $89.95 per month package, which includes mobile and in-home protection as well as the wall Help Button that can be placed in the bathroom or other high-risk areas of the home. Purchases have to be made by phone since the company's website does not have an online purchasing option. Overall, Life Alert is more expensive than Medical Guardian, but their systems are simple, reliable, and have fast response times.
Both Medical Guardian and Life Alert offer in-home and mobile medical alert systems for seniors. Medical Guardian has five high-tech systems to choose from while Life Alert has a simplified selection with a Master Unit and two add-on options to boost protection in the home or on the go.
One of our favorite Medical Guardian systems is the MGMove; this unique system features a smartwatch design, step tracker, and weather app, along with other optional apps for texting with loved ones and calendar reminders. For older adults who want a small but mighty mobile device, the Mini Guardian is hard to beat. It is half the size of traditional mobile medical alert devices and holds a charge for five days. For a cheaper, classic option, older adults who mostly stay home will benefit from the Classic Guardian, but you'll want to make sure you have a landline to connect it to.
|Medical Guardian system||Mini Guardian||MGMove||Mobile 2.0||Home 2.0||Classic Guardian|
|GPS location tracking||Yes||Yes||Yes||N/A||N/A|
|Fall detection available||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Battery life||5 days||Up to 24 hours||5 days||32-hour backup battery||32-hour backup battery|
|Best for||Discreet mobile protection||Mobile protection for active seniors||At-home and on-the-go protection||At-home protection with no landline||At-home landline protection|
Life Alert offers bundles for homebodies and active seniors. The Master Unit comes with a base system and a pendant. As mentioned above, customers typically need to bundle the Master Unit with either the Mobile + GPS add-on or the Help Button add-on. You can also select both for $89.95 per month. The Master Unit has a base-to-button range of 800 feet, which is sufficient for most homes. It also has a two-way speaker and 72-hour backup battery in case you ever lose power. The pendant is waterproof and has a 10-year battery life. Their Mobile + GPS device has a 10-year battery life as well and GPS tracking. That's impressive since most mobile devices on the market require a charge every few days! The Help Button is equipped with two-way communication and is waterproof, so you can place it in the shower.
|Life Alert system||Master Unit||Master Unit and Mobile + GPS or Help Button||Master Unit and both add-ons|
|Monthly price||$49.95 per month||$69.90 per month||$89.95 per month|
|GPS location tracking||No||Yes||Yes|
|Fall detection available||No||No||No|
|Battery life||Pendants up to 10 years||Up to 10 years||Up to 10 years|
|Best for||All Life Alert customers||On-the-go seniors or those prone to falls||Seniors who want complete protection|
When it comes to add-ons, Medical Guardian has more to offer than Life Alert. Life Alert's add-ons are their Help Button and Mobile + GPS system. They don't have lockboxes, caregiver benefits, or fall detection available like Medical Guardian. For older adults who want to purchase some of these accessories and add-ons from Medical Guardian, keep in mind they each have an additional fee.
FYI: Life Alert's Wall Help Button is unique due to its two-way speaker. When pressed, you can speak with an emergency operator within seconds, just like you would on the Master Unit.
Since one in four Americans aged 65 and older experience a fall each year,3 it may be worth considering automatic fall detection from Medical Guardian. If you or your loved one has a history of falling or fainting, we recommend it. An emergency operator will be alerted and send help if a fall is detected, even if your loved one cannot press their help button.
Medical Guardian and Life Alert can both deliver reliable medical alert monitoring. Below is a breakdown of our recommendations for each company.
Before you finalize your purchase, you'll want to review the fine print and policies. Below are the main points to consider with Medical Guardian and Life Alert.
Life Alert requires all customers to sign a three-year contract, which is unusual since most medical alert providers do not require contracts. After three years, you can start paying month to month. Life Alert does allow you to get out of the contract under special circumstances, such as moving to a long-term care facility, with proper supporting documentation.
Medical Guardian does not require a contract, and if at any point you want to cancel your service, they will refund you for any unused months. Although you may have to pay a restocking fee.
Life Alert has a lifetime warranty for defective equipment or malfunctions. If you lose or damage the equipment, you will have to pay to replace the device.
Medical Guardian offers a protection plan for $6.99 per month, which covers a replacement for the base unit once per year and help buttons twice per year. Without the protection plan, you could end up paying a few hundred dollars to replace a damaged or lost unit. Depending on your lifestyle, we think it may be worth considering a protection plan from Medical Guardian.
Life Alert has an extensive history of serving older adults and their caregivers; according to the company, they save a life every 11 minutes. Though it does cost a pretty penny to become a subscriber, older adults who value brand recognition and simplicity may find their service worth the money. You'll want to keep in mind that you'll need to sign a three-year contract at the time of purchase. On the other hand, Medical Guardian is great for tech-loving older adults and those on the go. With a wide range of devices and prices, they offer a system for most budgets and lifestyles. Though we aren't fans of the device fee on some of their systems, they don't require long-term contracts, which is always an A+ in our book.
Better Business Bureau. (2020). Life Alert Emergency Response, Inc.
TMA. (2020). Five Diamond Designated Monitoring Centers.
NCOA. (2020). Fall Prevention Facts.