Today, medical alert systems come in all shapes and sizes to meet the ever-changing needs of older adults. While the standard, wearable pendant is still widely available, many companies are stepping up their game, offering unique systems with high-tech features. Older adults are increasingly becoming more active1, and to meet both their health and safety needs, we tested and reviewed Medical Guardian’s wearable medical alert watch called Freedom Guardian. This smartwatch is a great device for seniors like my grandma who like to get active away from home, such as walking, hiking, and traveling, or those who want a less “medical looking” alert system.
After my grandma and I tested out Freedom Guardian for ourselves, we found that it's one of the most high-tech medical alert watches on the market (cue the “oohs” and “ahhs”), offering advanced features like a touchscreen, text messaging, calendar alerts, and medication reminders. Plus, it has all of the most important medical alert features like a help button, 24/7 professional monitoring, GPS tracking, and a waterproof design. While it's a bit on the pricier side with an upfront equipment fee and higher monthly rates, it's affordable when compared to traditional non-medical smartwatches. Read on as we get into everything you need to know about Freedom Guardian!
Freedom Guardian can be easily purchased through Mobile Guardian's website or over the phone with a customer service representative. We found that Medical Guardian's website is easy to navigate, and all of the important information is prominently displayed. As far as price goes, the Freedom Guardian device costs $249.95 upfront. You'll also need to pay for a monthly monitoring subscription, and there are quarterly and annual payment options as well. We did the math, and you can save a little over $3 per month if you opt for the annual subscription which adds up over time; we love a good deal more than anyone! As we've mentioned, you'll need to pay an extra monthly fee if you want to access all of Freedom Guardian's premium features.
Important Note:: We were a little disappointed to find out that Medical Guardian does not provide a warranty for Freedom Guardian. However, they do offer the Protection Plan detailed above for an additional monthly fee, which will save you on repairs in the long run.
Before purchasing, my grandma and I spoke with a Medical Guardian representative to find out which add-on features offered the most value. We gave the customer service line a call and were connected to a friendly and patient representative named Michael. Michael highly recommended adding the protection plan for $6.99 per month. This add on covers damage from wear and tear, accidents, dust or heat, manufacturer defects, and battery malfunctions. That way, you won't have to pay the full price for equipment replacements or repairs. Seeing as my grandma is pretty hard on her watches (her words, not mine!), we decided to add the protection plan. We also added the text-to-speech and reminders features based on Michael's recommendation.
|Monthly Rates Starting At||$41.20 per month with an annual subscription|
|Extra Optional Monthly Fees||Protection Plan: $6.99
Speech to Text + Reminders and Alerts: $5
Enhanced Emergency Notifications: $2.99
|Dimensions||Size: 9”L x .75” W x 1.5” H
Weight: 2.1 oz
|Battery Life||Up to 48 hours|
|Features||Water-resistant; SMS messaging; companion mobile app; one-tap alerts; calendar and weather alerts; medication reminders|
We'll walk you through our experience getting Freedom Guardian up and running, so you'll know exactly what to expect after you sign up!
Setting up the device was super simple. We first set up the charger by plugging the magnetic charging cable into the power adapter. During this step, make sure to line up the magnetic charging prongs to the prongs on the back of the watch and charge the watch to 100 percent (per Medical Guardian's recommendation). The battery symbol appears on the watch face to let you know that charging is in progress. It took about two hours for the watch to fully charge. We hadn't even finished the movie we were watching by the time it was all charged and ready to go!
Once the device was charged, we turned it on by pressing the top side button for three seconds and the Medical Guardian logo appeared. Once the watch face appears, you can easily scroll through the watch's different features, like weather alerts and your calendar, by swiping from left to right.
To link the watch to the companion mobile app, we created an account by visiting my.medicalguardian.com. We then entered our account number and created a username and password. Once we were registered, we downloaded the app, called Care Circle, from the Google Play store. It is also available in the iTunes store for iPhone users. Then, we were able to log in, navigate the app, and program the specific features of the watch such as reminders, alarms, and even track our activities.
Lastly, it was time to test out the watch's medical alert features. My grandma put on the watch and held down the red button on the side of the watch for three seconds, and the watch face turned red, displaying the word “HELP” across the screen. After around thirty seconds, the words “On Call” showed up on the screen, which meant we were being connected to the monitoring center. A live operator asked if we needed help shortly after, and my grandma used the watch's two-way speaker to let them know we were just running a test.
Once our Freedom Guardian watch was all set up, we were able to test out all of the bells and whistles (our favorite part of the review). Below are some of the highlights.
Research continues to show that exercise and physical activity is incredibly beneficial to seniors’ health and wellbeing, but some seniors might avoid getting active because of possible dangers they may encounter outside the home2. After all, you never know when you'll need to call for help, and if you're a klutz like me, that might include in the middle of a workout! With the Freedom Guardian's advanced GPS and WiFi tracking system, the wearer's exact location can be sent to the emergency call center and companion mobile app in case of an emergency, even if they're unsure of where they are. This can provide both the wearer and their loved one's peace of mind and security if they decide to partake in outside activities. As someone who gets lost more than I'd like to admit, this is one of my features!
My grandma threw on the watch during a walk with her dog to test its location tracking while I stayed at home and checked the mobile app from time to time. We found that the app's location tracking was always accurate, and I could see where my grandma was in real-time. Plus, since the watch weighs just over two ounces, my grandma said she hardly remembered that she was wearing it!
The reminders & alerts feature turns your watch into a calendar to give you real-time notifications for appointments, medication reminders, and other daily activities. When you set up alerts on your watch, they'll pop up at a designated time across the screen. You'll never miss a doctor's appointment or an important meeting again! The watch has an audible feature that allows for the date, time, and calendar reminders to be read aloud as well, which is great for visually-impaired users.
One of the features we think is most useful to seniors is the text-to-speech messaging that allows the wearer to easily receive text messages from the companion app and respond to them. I tested out this feature by typing out and sending a message on the mobile app. The message popped up on the watch's face, my grandma pressed the microphone button to record a response, and then she tapped the checkmark icon to send it to the mobile app. Easy peasy!
The large touch screen icons and high-resolution color screen made the watch easy to use and see, especially for older eyes. Freedom Guardian also offers a read-out-loud function to help older adults who might find reading on a smaller screen difficult. It's important to note that there are no limits on the number of text messages you can send and receive or the number of emergency calls you can make!
The last thing you want is to be stuck with a dead watch while you're out in the middle of the day. Luckily, Freedom Guardian comes with battery notifications that let you know when the battery is running low. Typically, during our testing, the battery held a charge up to 48 hours, and this will vary depending on your usage, so you'll only need to charge it every few days.
Medical Guardian's Care Circle mobile app helps caregivers, family members, and seniors manage their Freedom Guardian device. From our test runs, the app was user-friendly. We were able to access and track different functions of the Freedom Guardian such as the schedule, activities, and location. We also liked that we could send messages directly to the device from the app. It's helpful that the app allows caregivers or loved ones to schedule daily tasks such as medication or appointment reminders for the wearer. Most importantly, the app can show the real-time GPS and WiFi location of the wearer in case they need to be found quickly and accurately.
Provider Perk:: If you purchase an annual plan, Medical Guardian provides a free lockbox and free ground shipping in addition to around $3 off your monthly rates.
Freedom Guardian's medical alert features are made possible by Medical Guardian's 24/7 monitoring services. We were impressed to find out that Medical Guardian's monitoring service has four major certifications for high standards of safety, reliability, highly qualified operators, and electronic security3. Their monitoring center is 100 percent U.S.-based, reducing the possibility of language barriers, but they also have translation services in case you need to communicate in a language other than English or Spanish.
To access Medical Guardian's monitoring center, simply press the red Medical Alert Button on Freedom Guardian. You will quickly be connected to an operator at the Medical Monitoring Center who can walk you through the situation and send help. Medical Guardian's operators are trained for both emergency and non-emergency response services to help with both small and large situations. If the operator can't hear you or you are incapacitated, the operator will call the designated phone number to confirm your well-being. If you are still unresponsive, they will send emergency medical services to your location. For situations that don't require emergency services, the operator will alert your family, friends, or neighbors of your situation to give you the assistance you need. Their monitoring centers also have triple-redundant backup systems, making sure you always have access to support even during severe weather and power outages.
To sum it all up, we found the Freedom Guardian to be a top medical alert option for seniors who are on the go or want a more discreet alert system. We're big fans of the mobile app that allows caregivers to keep track of the wearer, as well as send important reminders and messages. One drawback is that the watch doesn't include fall detection, so if balance is an issue or you're prone to falls, you may want to consider another Medical Guardian system. Also, we consider the monthly monitoring fee to be on the more expensive side, but in our opinion, the convenience of having a watch that also serves as a medical alert system is worth the cost. The company is also known for its quick response time of under 30 seconds, which means you'll receive the help you need in no time. If Freedom Guardian sounds like the right choice for you, check out this year's Medical Guardian review for even more details.
Linda’s Acclaimed Career in Senior Care Linda Schlenker is a comforting voice for seniors and caregivers across the U.S. For nearly three decades, Linda has helped seniors remain safe in their own homes, while helping them to regain priceless independence and peace… Learn More About Linda Schlenker
For over five years, Taylor has been writing, editing, and researching products and services covering topics such as senior care and technology, Internet and the digital divide, TV, and entertainment, and education. Her research on media consumption and consumer behavior has been… Learn More About Taylor Shuman