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Medical alert systems come in all shapes and sizes to meet the ever-changing needs of older adults. The standard, wearable pendant is still widely available, but many companies are stepping up their game, offering unique systems with high-tech features. Older adults are increasingly becoming more active,1 and to meet both their health and safety needs, we tested and reviewed Medical Guardian's wearable medical alert watch: MGMove.
The MGMove is a great system for seniors like my grandma who enjoy going out and staying active. Plus, it's stylish and discreet, and it has all the most important medical alert features, including a help button, 24/7 professional monitoring, advanced location tracking, and a waterproof design. For this review, my grandma and I put the MGMove to the test. Read on as we get into everything you need to know about MGMove and our experience using the smartwatch!
You can purchase MGMove over the phone with a customer-service representative or on Medical Guardian's website.
Before making the purchase, my grandma and I gave customer service a call to find out which add-on features we wanted. We 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. With the protection plan, you won't have to pay the full price for equipment replacements or repairs. Since my grandma is pretty hard on her watches (her words, not mine!), we decided to add the protection plan along with the Social Circle Apps, which include a reminders app and a messages app.
We also learned that by ordering over the phone, we had access to special deals you may miss if you purchase online. At the time we ordered, we received one free month of service, free shipping, and a free lockbox: a total savings of around $100.
You can also purchase the MGMove entirely online. The Medical Guardian website is easy to navigate, so I had no trouble finding the information I needed to make an informed purchase. Here's how to purchase online:
At every point in the decision-making process, you can click for more information. By the time you're finished, you'll know exactly what you're getting so you can feel confident about your purchase.
FYI: While online, I also chatted with Avant, a customer-service agent, using the website's Live Chat feature. Unlike other companies, Medical Guardian doesn't require any personal information — such as your phone number or address — to take advantage of Live Chat support.
The MGMove Smartwatch costs $199.95 up front. For comparison, the SOS Smartwatch from Bay Alarm Medical costs $159. I've tested both systems and discovered that the two watches look very similar and are likely made by the same manufacturer. The software and features are where you'll notice a difference. MGMove's more advanced features are worth the higher price, in my opinion.
Money-Saving Tip: Before making a purchase, call customer service or chat with a live customer-support agent. Medical Guardian offers promotions throughout the year to help you save. AARP members can receive discounts, too, but you'll need to call before purchasing.
Along with purchasing the watch, you'll pay a monthly monitoring subscription. The monthly and quarterly plans cost $39.95 per month, while the annual plan breaks down to $36.62 per month. Bay Alarm Medical charges $29.95 per month for monitoring, while WellBe charges $44.95 per month for its smartwatch. That places Medical Guardian in the middle.
Our unboxing experience may be a little different from yours. The box we received came with the MGMove and charging accessories, along with a branded water bottle, sticker, cooling towel, and T-shirt. That doesn't appear to be a normal promotion, but rather a special package put together for reviewers. We've been reviewing Medical Guardian products for a long time, and we really appreciate this extra perk!
Inside the small MGMove box, we found the smartwatch, a charge cable, a power supply, and a magnetic charging station. Medical Guardian also sent an EMT information card that you can fill out and leave on your fridge where emergency services can easily find it.
Setting up the MGMove was very simple. First I plugged the USB charging cable into the charging brick and the charging station. Then I placed the watch in the charging station and received audio confirmation of its charging status: “Your device is now charging.” I noticed that my watch displayed 89 percent battery life, so it didn't take long to reach 100 percent.
Once Voice Assist announced that the watch was fully charged, I tapped the watch face to view the home screen. I could swipe left to right to view the watch's features, including a settings option where you can change the watch face from digital to light or dark analog. On the time and date screen, I also noticed a yellow dot, which lets you know how strong your service is. You'll see either a green, yellow, or red dot.
Next I adjusted the band to fit my wrist. The metal clasp and anchor pin sizing mechanism is a little tricky to adjust. If you struggle with dexterity, then you may want a family member or friend to help you with the adjustment. Thankfully, you'll only need to adjust the watch band once, since removing it and putting it back on are simple once it's sized.
Check out our video review of the MGMove below for a closer look at setup and using the watch.
You don't need a smartphone or computer to use the MGMove and its basic features, such as SOS calls, weather, step counting, and test calls. If you add the Social Circles Apps to your plan, however, you will need to register for a MyGuardian account and use the web portal or mobile app.
To link the watch to the companion mobile app, I created an account by visiting mymedicalguardian.com. I entered my account number and chose a username and password. Once I was registered, I downloaded the MyMedicalGuardian app from the Google Play store. It is also available in the App Store for iPhone users. I was then able to log in, navigate the app, and program the watch's features, such as reminders and messaging with my grandma's Social Circle.
|Price||$39.95 per month or $36.62 per month with an annual subscription|
|Battery life||Up to 24 hours|
|Cellular network||AT&T 4G|
There are two ways to test the medical alert feature: use the Test button or the SOS button.
Medical Guardian recommends using the blue Test button on the watch's touch-screen menu when you want to test the system's signal connection. It's an automated test call that doesn't connect you with a live monitoring agent. I pressed the button and got connected to an automated system that asked me to state my name. I stated my name using the watch's two-way speaker, and it played back a recording of me saying my name, told me I was connected, and said, “Your test is now complete.”
I also placed a call using the SOS button. I pressed the red button on the side of the watch and held it for five seconds. The call connected and a very friendly agent answered in four seconds. Talk about speedy service! She asked why I was calling, confirmed my identity and address, and told me my test was successful.
I could tell Medical Guardian has an impressive 24/7 monitoring service, so I wasn't surprised to learn it has four major certifications for high standards of safety, reliability, highly qualified operators, and electronic security.2 It's also completely U.S.-based. The company's monitoring centers also have triple-redundant backup systems, so you always have access to support even during severe weather and power outages.
FYI: If you need to communicate in a language other than English or Spanish, Medical Guardian offers translation services.
You have two options for accessing Medical Guardian's monitoring center on the MGMove. You can hold in the red SOS button on the side of the watch for five seconds like I did or press the red SOS button on the watch's touch-screen menu. Simply tap it and a voice will say, “Calling for help” as a five-second countdown appears. During those five seconds, you can cancel the call if it was placed by mistake. I like this option for people who have arthritis or joint pain and may have trouble holding the physical button for the full five seconds.
You will be connected to an operator at the monitoring center who can walk you through the situation and send help. Medical Guardian's operators are trained for emergency and nonemergency response to help with both small and large situations. If the operator can't hear you or you are incapacitated, then they will call the designated phone number to confirm your well-being. If you are still unresponsive, then 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 to get the assistance you need.
To use the step-tracking feature, my grandma clicked the purple icon indicating a person walking. Then she opted in to step tracking. She took a walk with her dog and watched as the step counter increased. This was one of her favorite features!
Research shows that exercise and physical activity are incredibly beneficial to seniors' health and well-being, but some seniors may avoid getting active because of dangers they may encounter outside the home.3 After all, you never know when you'll need to call for help. If you're a klutz like me, that may include in the middle of a workout!
With the MGMove's advanced GPS, Wi-Fi, and LTE tracking, your exact location can be sent to the emergency call center and My Guardian mobile app in case of an emergency — even if you're unsure where you are. My family and I appreciated this feature, since it gave us peace of mind when we weren't able to get ahold of my grandma by phone.
While my grandma wore the watch and walked her dog, I tested the location tracking at home, checking the mobile app from time to time. The app's location tracking was always accurate, and I could see where my grandma was in real time. Since the watch weighs just over two ounces, my grandma hardly remembered she was wearing it!
The reminders app 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 on the screen. You'll never miss a doctor's appointment or an important meeting again! The watch has an audible feature that reads the date, time, and calendar reminders aloud, which is great for visually impaired users.
If you purchase the Social Circle Apps add-on, then you can receive text messages from the MyGuardian companion app and respond to them. I tested this feature by typing and sending a message on the mobile app. The message popped up on the watch's face. My grandma then had the option to send a pre-typed response or to record. She pressed the microphone button to record her own response. She could review her message before sending it. Easy peasy!
The large touch-screen icons and high-resolution screen made the watch easy to use and see, especially for older eyes. MGMove also offers a read-out-loud function to help older adults who find it difficult to read on a small screen. There are no limits to 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, MGMove has low-battery notifications. The beeping indicator and on-screen message let you know when it's time to charge your watch. You can also swipe down from the home screen to view the watch's battery level or check the battery percentage in the companion mobile app. Medical Guardian advertises 18- to 24-hour battery life, depending on usage. That's what we found with our testing as well.
Simply click on the green sun-and-cloud icon to view the current weather. The watch automatically detects your location and updates the weather hourly. We think it's a handy feature, especially for seniors who don't own a smartphone.
Medical Guardian's MyGuardian mobile app and desktop portal help caregivers, family members, and seniors manage their MGMove device. From our test runs, the app was user-friendly. We were able to easily access and track the MGMove's functions, such as the schedule, activities, and location.
Helpful Hint: Turn on Shake to Wake mode under User Settings if you'd like your watch screen to turn on whenever you shake your wrist. Alternatively, you can press the side button to wake up the screen.
My grandma and I 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 for the wearer, such as medication or appointment reminders. Most importantly, the app can show the wearer's real-time location.
While chatting with Avant from Medical Guardian, we learned that you don't have to worry about long-term contracts with MGMove. You can cancel your monthly subscription at any time to receive a full prorated refund of the unused service. Since you're purchasing the watch up front, it's yours to keep. There's also a 14-day window at the beginning of your service during which you can return the watch for a refund if you're not satisfied with your device.
Avant also told us that the MGMove is protected by a 90-day warranty that covers malfunctions or technical issues. We were a bit disappointed by the warranty, but Medical Guardian offers a protection plan for $6.99 per month. Under the plan, your device will be replaced if it's damaged from normal wear and tear, accidents, spills, drops, dust, heat, humidity, power surges, or manufacturer defects. Plus, you get unlimited battery replacements.
For $2.99 per month, you can add Guardian Enhanced Emergency Notifications to your plan. This keeps your Care Circle connected with real-time email and text notifications during emergencies. If your loved one places an SOS call, for example, their Care Circle will be notified.
For $5 per month, you can purchase the Support Circle Apps add-on, which grants access to messaging and reminders. The messages app lets you use your smartwatch to chat and text with your loved ones. The reminders app helps you track tasks, events, medication reminders, appointments, and more. You can add reminders yourself, or your loved one can add them for you using the Medical Guardian web portal or app. If you're forgetful or struggle to keep track of your medications, then this feature is invaluable.
For $9.99 per month, you can purchase an Alert 911 one-button speaker box that lets you talk directly with a 911 operator at your closest response center. You can use it on any cell network for coverage across the U.S. and Canada, and you'll never have to charge it.
For $2.99 per month, Medical Guardian will send you a secure lockbox. Place it somewhere on your property so first responders can retrieve a key if they need to access your home during an emergency. You'll list the lockbox code and its location when making the purchase.
Provider Perk: If you purchase an annual plan, then Medical Guardian provides a free lockbox, free ground shipping, a free month of service, and around $3 off your monthly rates.
Overall, we were impressed with this new offering from Medical Guardian. The MGMove is a top medical alert system for seniors who are on the go or want a more discreet alert system. We're big fans of the MyGuardian app and web portal that allow caregivers to keep track of the wearer and send important reminders and messages right to the MGMove. We recommend spending the extra $5 per month for this service. If the MGMove sounds right for you or you'd like to learn more about Medical Guardian's other offerings, then check out this year’s Medical Guardian review.