Simple medical alert systems from a company with decades of experience keeping seniors safe
Approximately 1 in 4 American adults ages 60 and over live alone, while nearly half of older adults only live with a partner and no other family.1 With most older adults living away from family, it's important to find ways to stay protected as you age in place. One of the simplest ways to do this is to use a medical alert system. Rescue Alert is a company with nearly 40 years of history in the medical alert industry, and its two main priorities are simplicity and safety.
For this year's review, I tested Rescue Alert's MXD and GPS systems, along with their fall-detection add-on, to see what this industry mainstay is all about. Rescue Alert has a straightforward lineup, but they don't offer many extra features, high-tech systems, or a product warranty. Still, Rescue Alert's decades of experience and high-quality products focus on what matters. Below, I'll share my experience testing the company's products.
Signing up for Rescue Alert is quick and straightforward. If you only want an in-home base unit, you can easily order from Rescue Alert's website, but all other systems and equipment, like the Rescue Alert GPS, need to be ordered over the phone. Most medical alert companies allow you to order online, so this was a bit of a drawback; however, speaking with a representative is helpful because they can recommend the best system and add-on equipment for your needs.
Insider Tip: Every landline base unit comes with a free gift. You can choose either a lockbox or an extra help button on a necklace or wristband. Don't forget to pick the ones you want when checking out online!
You don't stay in business for almost 40 years without having great customer service. I found that Rescue Alert's team is great: They are kind, courteous, and patient. Plus, they have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau,2 which takes customer service into account.
The representative I spoke with answered all of my questions thoroughly to help me find the best deal. She told me that I could save some extra bucks if I paid for my bundle quarterly (four payments a year) or annually (one payment a year) instead of monthly. Paying quarterly saves you around $60 a year, while paying annually saves you over $80 a year, which adds up over time.
All medical alert systems are pretty easy to use, and Rescue Alert was no exception. The systems were ready to go with a few quick plug-ins. My bundle came with the MXD Landline Base Unit, two personal help buttons (my free gift!), the myActive Alert pendant (an add-on), the Rescue Alert GPS unit, a charging cradle, a USB charger, and a carrying case for the GPS unit with a belt clip. Below, I'll explain how to set up each system step by step.
Rescue Alert doesn't offer a warranty for any of its products. This surprised me, as product warranties are pretty standard across the industry. For instance, during our MobileHelp review, we found that the company offers a lifetime warranty. However, if you have any issues with your Rescue Alert system, you can return it at any time without penalty since there are no long-term contracts.
|Product name||Monthly rental rates||Connection type||Designed for||Fall detection|
|MXD Landline Base Unit||$32.95||VoIP, cable, or landline||At-home use||$10 per month|
|Rescue Alert GPS||$44.95||Cellular (AT&T)||On-the-go use||N/A|
|MXD and Rescue Alert GPS Bundle||$59.95 per month||Cellular (AT&T) and VoIP, cable, or landline||At-home and on-the-go use||$10 per month|
Monthly rental rates for the MXD Landline Base unit start at $32.95 per month. You can save a few bucks a month when you choose a quarterly or annual payment plan, which breaks down to $29.95 per month and $27.95 per month, respectively. Customers can also purchase the equipment for $199 and pay a $15.95 monthly monitoring fee. Or you can buy your system outright and receive monitoring included for a whopping $849.
The MXD system comes with a base station and wearable help button (either a necklace or wristband), which can be used to call for help anywhere in your home. When I tested the system, I placed the base station in the living room, a central location in my house where I spend a lot of time. I found that the two-way speaker on the base unit was really powerful. I like that the base station only has one button to press: the massive blue help button. If you need help, you won't waste time struggling to figure out which button to press or how to work the equipment.
Did You Know: Rescue Alert claims that its average response times are around 15 seconds, which is fast when comparing it to the industry average (15-45 seconds).
My one gripe with the MXD system is that the equipment is a bit bulky compared to other companies, and it's not exactly easy on the eyes. However, if your main concerns are safety and simplicity, not fashion, this isn't an issue.
I'd recommend the MXD in-home system for those who spend most of their time at home or for users who live in areas with spotty cell reception. You can upgrade your help button to the myActive Alert pendant, Rescue Alert's fall-detection button. I'd highly recommend this add-on, as falls can happen to anyone at any time. I made a test call with the fall-detection pendant in the bathroom by dropping it on the ground, and it automatically connected to the base station to call for help, no problem.
Buyer's Tip: If you only want the MXD unit and plan on using the system for at least a few years, I'd recommend purchasing your equipment upfront ($199) and paying a reduced monthly monitoring fee instead of renting the system. When compared to renting your equipment, you'll break even after a year and start saving money after that!
The MXD performs regular self-diagnostic tests to ensure the system is running correctly and the batteries are charged for both the base unit and help button. If anything goes wrong with the system during one of these tests, Rescue Alert will notify the monitoring center, and an operator will call and alert you right away. This was a huge plus for me, as self-tests aren't standard across the industry.
Rescue Alert GPS costs $44.95 with a monthly payment plan, $39.95 per month with quarterly payments, or $37.95 with an annual plan. Rescue Alert’s prices are slightly higher compared to other mobile medical alert systems. On the other hand, Bay Alarm Medical's monthly costs for their on-the-go systems start at $29.95 per month.
This is an all-in-one wearable system, so you put it on like a necklace or throw it in a pocket or purse and take it with you anywhere. If you're always on the go – whether you love hiking or are always up for a night on the town – this GPS unit will keep you safe. Rescue Alert says that the GPS pendant's battery lasts at least 48 hours, and when I tried it out, it lasted for two full days. This has a pretty solid battery life as far as GPS systems go.
Rescue Alert's GPS tracking technology updates every 15 minutes, so help can be dispatched no matter where you are. My only complaint with the Rescue Alert GPS system is that it doesn't come with automatic fall detection, while most other on-the-go cellular options in the industry from companies we’ve reviewed, including Lifeline, do. This GPS unit runs on an AT&T 3G cellular connection, so if you go fishing alone in the wilderness or live in an area with poor AT&T reception,3 this may not be the best product for you.
When you bundle the MXD unit and Rescue Alert GPS together, you receive significant savings on the MXD unit. To get this bundle, choose a monthly, quarterly, or annual rental plan for the Rescue Alert GPS system and add the MXD unit for an additional $15 per month. You'll pay between $52.95 and $59.95 per month, depending on the payment plan you choose.
This bundle comes with the MXD Landline unit and the Rescue Alert GPS system, offering all of the same features.
If you spend your days out running errands and nights at home binging Netflix, I'd recommend bundling the Rescue Alert GPS and MXD base unit. That way, you'll be protected no matter where you are. Just remember that the bundle is only suitable if you have strong AT&T coverage, as the GPS unit runs on a cellular connection.
Rescue Alert offers three basic add-on accessories. While this is a pretty small accessory lineup compared to other providers we’ve reviewed, like Medical Guardian, Rescue Alert focuses on the equipment that really matters for keeping older adults safe.
|myActive Alert||$10 per month||– Detects falls immediately
– Water-resistant pendant
– Works within 600-1000 feet of base station
|Wall Button||$5 per month||– Waterproof help button
– Sticks to the wall for easy setup and use
|Lock-Box||$39.99 (one-time fee)||– Gives first responders access to your front door in an emergency|
I'd recommend myActive Alert, an automatic fall-detection pendant, for any seniors at-risk of falling or those who are more active. With nearly 1 in 4 seniors experiencing a fall every year,4 fall detection is a must have in my book. Wall buttons are helpful for users who don't want to wear their help pendants at home all the time. For instance, if you take it off in the shower or before bed, a wall button in the bathroom or bedroom would be a lifesaver during an emergency. In my opinion, the Rescue Alert Lock-Box is a great add-on for any user, as it can save a boatload of money when first responders don't have to knock down your front door.
Rescue Alert has a long-running history working with older adults and their families. You can trust that they'll be there for you during an emergency because they've been doing it for decades. I appreciated how simple the systems were to use during my tests; Rescue Alert is great if you're looking for a straightforward, no-nonsense system that is dependable and easy to use. While Rescue Alert doesn't have a ton of options for their products, they are a suitable option if you don't care about extra bells and whistles.
Rescue Alert can cost as low as $27.95 per month with an annual plan, with systems ranging up to $44.95 per month. Accessories for Rescue alert systems are priced at an additional $5 to $10 per month.
If for any reason you’re not satisfied with Rescue Alert, they have a no-contract policy, so you can cancel your service, and you will be refunded for a prorated amount. You will need to notify them in writing of your intention to cancel.
The monitoring with Rescue Alert is consistent, and the monitoring team will contact you in the event of an emergency, fall, or any other concerns. The call center is U.S.-based, with an office in Utah.
The GPS medical alert device relies on the AT&T 3G cellular network and updates the wearer’s location automatically every 15 minutes. In areas where AT&T cellular service is available, the Rescue Alert GPS monitoring system is reliable.
Rescue Alert’s myActive Alert pendant has automatic fall detection. MyActive Alert can be added to the MXD landline unit.
Pew Research Center. (2020). Older people are more likely to live alone in the U.S. than elsewhere in the world.
Better Business Bureau. (2013). Business Profile Rescue Alert of California Inc.
AT&T. (2020). Coverage maps: AT&T services you can count on.
National Council on Aging. (2020). Falls Prevention Facts.