As a bit of a closet tech nerd, I’ve been looking forward to testing Medical Guardian’s latest smartwatch, called Freedom Guardian. The product originally debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show1 in Las Vegas in 2018 and has helped push the boundaries of the way we define a medical alert device. Who knows.. wearing a smartwatch might also give you “cred” with your grandkids!
While the Freedom Guardian is an exciting device for an active senior intrigued by the idea of a smartwatch, it’s not for everyone. So we also tested the company’s Classic Guardian, their entry-level in-home system that operates on a landline and functions like other in-home products in the space such as HomeSafe Standard by Philips Lifeline.
All in all, Medical Guardian's lineup of alert systems caters to a diverse range of needs and lifestyles, whether you’re on the hunt for a system used exclusively in the home, or a smartwatch you can hit the trails with. I also appreciate Medical Guardian’s customizable features, with everything from waterproof fall alert pendants to safety sensors for monitoring activity. Read on as I get into the nitty-gritty details of my experience with all of Medical Guardian’s offerings below!
Before we shift our attention to the product details of Medical Guardian’s alert systems, let’s get into all the details about my experience interacting with the company.
When I went through the buying experience with Medical Guardian, I discovered that the easiest way to choose your package is to hop on the phone with a representative. Talking to an expert who knows the ins and outs of each system will ensure you choose the one that will best fit your needs. When I called, I had a few questions about Freedom Guardian. Chelsea, the representative I spoke with, was friendly and patient. She let me know that the smartwatch’s battery lasts for about 48 hours, and it will vibrate to alert the wearer when the battery falls below 10 percent, which is a great feature for me since I always forget to charge my phone!
I browsed the company’s website before and after my call, which was easy to navigate, and it included all of the details for every product, so you don’t have to go hunting for information (or you can skip to the overview of systems and products in the next section of this review as I did a lot of the heavy lifting for you). There is also a live chat feature on the website, so if you have any questions, you can quickly get them answered. When I tested out the chat feature, I was pleasantly surprised by the representative’s response time. It only took around 5-10 seconds to get in touch with someone, and they answered all of my questions thoroughly. I wanted to know if there was an extra charge for Freedom Guardian’s text-to-speech messaging and reminders feature available through the smartwatch and companion mobile app. The representative informed me that these features cost an extra $5 per month, which is pretty cheap for caregivers or family members to stay in touch with the user instantly.
Did You Know: Medical Guardian products never require a contract, so you can return them and cancel your service at any time. If you’ve paid for service upfront that you haven’t yet used, the company will give you a prorated refund.
After all of my questions were answered, I was ready to get shopping and pick out my equipment. Once you select your package, you’ll choose your payment option: monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. Selecting the annual option will save you up to $80 every year, depending on the package you choose, which is a good chunk of change.
My Freedom Guardian package came with the black smartwatch (it also comes in white), an adjustable watchband, and a charger. Before testing out the system, Medical Guardian recommends fully charging the watch, which takes about two hours. To charge it, simply place the watch over the charger’s magnetic prongs so that the prongs on the back of the watch and the charger line up. You’ll know the watch is charging when a battery symbol appears on the watch face.
Once it finished charging, I held down the black button on the side of the watch for 3 seconds until the Medical Guardian logo appeared on the screen to turn it on. The watch’s home screen displayed the time and date, and I was able to navigate to the watch’s other features, like the weather and calendar reminders, by swiping on the screen from left to right or by quickly pressing the red button on the side of the watch. To test out the watch’s emergency help feature, I held down the red button for 3 seconds, which turned the watch’s face red, and the word “HELP” was displayed on the screen in white text. After about 30 seconds, the word “HELP” turned green, and the words “On Call” appeared at the bottom of the screen to let me know I was now connected to the operating center. From there, I was able to use the two-way audio feature to let the emergency operator know that I was running a test.
If you order one of Medical Guardian’s other five systems, setup will look a little different. For the Classic Guardian system I tested, which is the only landline model, my package came with a base station and wearable help pendant (there’s also a wristband option). I plugged the base station into a phone jack and wall outlet ( the other cellular models will just plug into an outlet). After that, I pressed the power button, put on your wearable pendant, and I was ready to go. To make a test call, I pressed the large black help button on the front of the base station until it turned blue, and I was connected to the monitoring center. I then tested out the wearable pendant by pressing the help button, and it quickly connected to the base station to call for help.
Advice From the Experts: For Medical Guardian’s exclusively in-home systems, including Classic Guardian, Home Guardian, and Family Guardian, it’s important to place your base station in a central location of the home, like the kitchen or a high-risk area like the bathroom.
If you have any questions about setup, feel free to ask the operator for help during your call.
All of Medical Guardian’s equipment comes with a lifetime warranty,2 so if something requires replacement due to normal wear and tear, you’ll be covered. Just keep in mind that some replacements or repairs might require a fee. The representative also let me know that Medical Guardian offers an add-on protection plan with a monthly cost if you want to avoid paying out of pocket down the road for lost, damaged, or stolen equipment.
When choosing which Medical Guardian system is best for you, first consider if you have a landline at home or if you plan to go with a cellular system. You’ll then need to think about what type of user the system is for. Are you shopping for a homebody, someone who’s always out of the house, or a user who is a bit of both? Let’s dive into all of the details for each of the systems so you can choose the one that’s best for your needs.
|Medical Guardian Product||Features||Prices and Fees||Connection Type|
|Classic Guardian||1,300 ft. coverage area, Two-way audio, 32-hour backup battery, Waterproof pendant||$29.95 per month||Landline|
|Home Guardian||600 ft. coverage area, 30-hour backup battery, LED display screen, Two-way audio, Waterproof pendant||$34.95 per month||Cellular|
|Active Guardian||GPS and Wi-Fi location tracking, Two-way audio, Waterproof pendant, Portable alert system, Battery up to 5 days||$44.95 per month||Cellular|
|Freedom Guardian||GPS and Wi-Fi location tracking, Text using your voice, Emergency assistance button, Companion mobile app||One time fee of $179.95 for equipment, $44.95 per month||Cellular|
|Mobile Guardian||350 ft. range, GPS location tracking, Two-way audio, Waterproof pendant||$49.95 per month||Cellular|
|Family Guardian||1,300 ft. coverage, Two-way audio, Activity monitoring using safety sensors, 32-hour backup battery, Waterproof pendant||$79.95 per month||Cellular|
This is Medical Guardian’s least expensive system, starting at $29.95 per month, and from my own experience with the system, it’s a great option for those on a tight budget or those living in areas with poor cell service. Built for in-home use, Classic Guardian is also the only model that uses a landline connection, which plugs into a phone jack. You won’t have to worry about your system not working during an emergency because of a bad connection.
The Classic Guardian comes with a base station that connects to your landline, along with a necklace or bracelet pendant (your choice!). The wearable, waterproof alert button works up to 1,300 feet from the base station, which is plenty of distance to cover a large home. That means you can use the system whether you’re taking a bubble bath, baking in the kitchen, or watching a movie in the family room. When I tested out the system, I pressed the help button on my pendant while I was in my upstairs bedroom, and it connected to the base station located downstairs in my kitchen without issue. I let the operator know I was just running a test and that was it! During an emergency, you can use the two-way talk feature on the base station to let them know what the problem is. If the user isn’t able to respond, the monitoring center will dispatch help straight away.
Pro Tip: With all six Medical Guardian alert systems, the average response time is around 30-45 seconds. The average response time for the medical alert industry is between 15-45 seconds, so Medical Guardian falls within the average.
I highly recommend Home Guardian if you’re looking for a simple at-home monitoring solution with a cellular connection and an easy-to-install base station. It works a lot like Classic Guardian, except for the connection type. Medical Guardian uses AT&T’s cellular network, so if you get strong AT&T coverage3 in your area, you should be good to go! However, if you don’t have strong cellular coverage where you live, I’d recommend going with Classic Guardian instead. The coverage range for this model is 600 feet, so you’re covered for the length of two football fields.
Active Guardian is great for those who are, you guessed it, active. This device doesn’t have a bulky base station. Instead, the entire medical alert system is an all-in-one wearable pendant, enabled with GPS4 and Wi-Fi5 technology. You can use it whether you’re gardening in the backyard or out running your errands. In case of emergency, all you have to do is press the help button, and you’ll be connected to the monitoring center. Use the two-way audio to tell the representative the problem, and help will be dispatched to your exact location.
My only complaint with this system is that the pendant isn’t exactly fashionable, but that’s standard across alert systems in the industry. It is fairly small and very lightweight, but it’s pretty noticeable. We don’t expect to see models wearing it on the runway any time soon.
If you’re looking for a discrete, wearable option to use on the go, Mobile Guardian is my recommendation. This model operates similarly to Active Guardian, but it has a small portable base station and a wearable help button. Whether you’re going for a drive, a walk around the block, or you just want a smaller device, Mobile Guardian is a good option. The base station is small enough to hold, attach to a belt, or throw in a purse, so it’s great for those out and about. While it’s a bit more of a hassle to remember two items when you leave the house, the Mobile pendant is much smaller and less noticeable than Active Guardian. However, if you just want a system with one piece of equipment, Active Guardian will be the better choice.
A Gentle Reminder: If you’re ever unsure or confused about what system or product is right for you, give Medical Guardian’s customer support line a call (I promise you won’t regret it). Speaking with a representative will help you understand more about the products and how they will (or won’t) serve your specific needs. Plus, Medical Guardian receives great ratings for their customer service so you know you’re in good hands!
Freedom Guardian is the perfect choice for anyone looking to live a healthy style, whether you’re a runner, cyclist, or just a brisk walker. I was excited to test out this medical alert watch that was first showcased at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in 2018 because few companies in the industry offer a smartwatch system. Freedom Guardian didn’t disappoint. It has several great features, including a touchscreen face with large, easy-to-read icons, location and activity tracking, calendar alerts, weather forecasts, and an emergency help button.
Freedom Guardian also has a companion mobile app called Care Circle that helps loved ones keep track of the user. Within the app, you can track the wearer’s location, send texts back and forth, view health alerts, and set up a schedule that sends reminders for important tasks like taking medication or drinking water. The app’s advanced features and being able to see exactly how the user’s day is going without pestering them gives caretakers and family members peace of mind.
One of my favorite Freedom Guardian features is the text-to-speech messaging, which you can add along with calendar alerts for $5 per month. Caregivers and family members of the subscriber can use Care Circle to send text messages straight to the smartwatch. The user can then read and respond to these text messages through the watch. There’s no cellular plan required! To test out this feature, I logged into the Care Circle app on my phone with the username and password I set up when purchasing the system. I clicked the messaging bubble on the app’s home screen and typed out a message to send to the smartwatch. Once it sent, the message appeared on the face of my watch. I pressed the checkmark icon on the screen, and the watch read my incoming message aloud. I then pressed the microphone icon and used my voice to record my response. Once I was finished, I pressed the checkmark icon again, and the message was sent back to the mobile app. This feature makes keeping in touch with loved ones so simple, which I really appreciate!
For those who have an aging family member with serious health conditions who is at higher risk of falling or for someone who you want to keep an extra close eye on, I’d recommend Family Guardian. If you’re concerned about the user falling or experiencing a health emergency without being able to press a help button, Family Guardian will provide added peace of mind. This system comes with a base station, a wearable alert button, and three in-home safety sensors to monitor a single user’s in-home activity. The sensors can be placed around the house to detect motion or doors opening and closing.
The sensors pair up with the Family Guardian mobile app, so family members can track their loved one’s activity during the day. You can set up real-time alerts on your phone to receive notifications of any unusual activity, like a door left open or low levels of movement throughout the day. Not all medical alert companies offer a mobile app or smart features that let you keep an eye on the user. I really enjoyed this added layer of protection.
While reading through reviews is a great way to gain information on medical alert systems, I also create videos on our YouTube channel for you to see the products in use and learn a bit more about them. If you like learning about products like Medical Guardian through video, then here are some reviews for you.
In this video, I review Medical Guardian's medical alert systems for the home, including the Classic Guardian, Home Guardian, and Family Guardian. Here, I cover the advantages and disadvantages of Medical Guardian's home systems, and I test them, so you can see how they function in the real world.
In this video, I review Medical Guardian's on-the-go devices, including the Mobile Guardian, Active Guardian, and Freedom Guardian. Here, I look at the pros and cons of a mobile system versus a home system, and I take a closer look at Medical Guardian's innovative technology by testing it firsthand.
The fall alert pendant will automatically alert Medical Guardian’s monitoring center when it detects a fall. The user won’t even have to press a button. Fall detection costs an extra $10 a month, which is totally worth the cost if you ask me.
You can add a wall-mounted button to your system for an added level of protection, and they cost $2.99 per month. When pressed, these buttons wirelessly connect to the monitoring center. They’re easy to set up and move, just stick them to the wall; I like that they don’t require any complicated wiring or installation.
This button works like the basic wall-mounted button, but it is also voice-activated and features a pull cord. The user just has to say “call Medical Guardian” twice or pull the cord to connect to the monitoring center wirelessly. I’d recommend this button over the basic model because the voice-activated feature is really useful when the user can’t reach the button. Plus, it costs $5 per month, which is just $2 more than the standard wall button.
If you choose one of Medical Guardian’s on-the-go medical alert systems, this car charger comes in handy. You can plug it into the auxiliary power outlet in your car to charge the system’s battery, so you don’t have to worry about it dying while you’re out and about. The charger costs a one-time fee of $25.
You can store a spare house key in this lock box outside of your house for just $2.99 per month. That way, during an emergency, the EMTs won’t have to break down your door to get inside. You’ll get the help you need as quickly as possible, and, as a bonus, you won’t have to replace the front door.
One of my major complaints about medical alert systems across the board is that alert pendants are not discrete. Oftentimes, they’re bulky and really just don’t go with any outfit. So, Medical Guardian designed jewelry alert pendants that are compatible with the Home and Mobile Guardian packages, and you can add them for a one-time fee of $49 and a monthly fee of $2.99 thereafter.
These pendants look like stylish necklaces, and there are several different designs to choose from. You really can’t tell that they’re alert buttons. I so appreciate that Medical Guardian strives to make equipment that fits into the lifestyles of their customers, not the other way around. These necklaces are a prime example of that.
All in all, I was very happy with Medical Guardian’s alert systems. They really stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, which you can see from their advanced features, versatile equipment options, and mobile app. I was totally impressed with the Freedom Guardian’s high tech features, like text messaging, calendar alerts, GPS tracking, and a touchscreen. Plus, I love that it looks like a smartwatch, not a medical alert system pretending to be a smartwatch!
Medical Guardian strives to keep users safe without compromising their lifestyles or giving up their passions. If you have stubborn, independent family members like I do, you know how important it is to find a system that won’t interrupt their daily routines. Medical Guardian allows you to keep an eye on the user even when you’re not around without making them feel like you’re babysitting. I can honestly say that you’ll be in good hands with Medical Guardian!
Medical Guardian alert systems start at a cost of $29.95 per month. Top-of-the-line models can cost up to $49.95 per month.
No, Medical Guardian is not covered by Standard Medicare, which doesn’t cover any medical alert systems. Some private insurance and Medicare Advantage plans may cover alert systems or offer reimbursement.
Yes, Medical Guardian’s wearable alert buttons are waterproof, so you can even wear them in the shower or bathtub.
Medical Guardian’s headquarters are located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The company’s alert systems are available in all 50 states, along with Puerto Rico and Canada. Equipment options outside the U.S. may be more limited.
If you are unhappy with Medical Guardian for any reason, you can cancel your service at any time, as there are no long-term contracts. Once you give Medical Guardian’s Returns & Cancellations Department a call and return your equipment, your cancellation will be processed within 30 days.
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
Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt