Best Medical Alert System for 2021 (Reviews & Buyer’s Guide)

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Emergency response systems are a quick and simple way to get access to help wherever and whenever you need it. But how do you choose the best medical alert system for your needs? We’re here to help! We dedicated hours of research searching for the most reliable, practical, and affordable devices on the market. We also included a detailed guide to help you make an informed decision. Let’s get started!

A Brief Overview of Our Selection

Product
Rating
Key Features
Website
OVERALL RATING
10
Expert Review
  • Certified monitoring centers
  • Sleek and sophisticated design
  • Free caregiver platform
  • Automatic fall detection available
FROM: $ 29.95
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OVERALL RATING
9.9
Expert Review
  • 100% lifetime warranty on equipment
  • Free-of-charge spouse coverage
  • Locked-in subscription rates
  • Unlimited number of contacts
FROM: $ 24.95
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OVERALL RATING
9.9
Expert Review
  • Fastest response times
  • Access to services via smartphones
  • Small and lightweight design
  • Discounts with AARP membership
FROM: $ 19.99
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OVERALL RATING
10
Expert Review
  • Large at-home range
  • 240 languages supported
  • App for activity and location tracking
  • FDA compliant & FCC certified
FROM: $ 19.95
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OVERALL RATING
9.6
Expert Review
  • Made and monitored in the US
  • Superior customer support
  • Protection at home and on the road
  • A large selection of add-ons
FROM: $ 21.95
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OVERALL RATING
9.7
Expert Review
  • Excellent life alert system for caregivers
  • Only system with Alexa integration
  • A wide choice of services
  • CSAA Five Diamond certified
FROM: $ 22.95
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OVERALL RATING
9.9
Expert Review
  • Great system with fall detection
  • Free caregiver phone app
  • Personalized care plan
  • Superior location tracking
FROM: $ 29.95
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OVERALL RATING
9.8
Expert Review
  • An abundance of additional features
  • Nationwide coverage
  • Certified monitoring centers
  • Flexible payment options
FROM: $ 19.00
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OVERALL RATING
9.8
Expert Review
  • Alert system with activity tracking
  • Provides proactive care
  • No landline required
  • Award-winning devices
FROM: $ 300.00
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OVERALL RATING
9.7
Expert Review
  • In-home temperature monitoring
  • Locked-in monthly rates
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Two-way talk with ATD
FROM: $ 29.99
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Medical Alert System Reviewed

Medical Guardian

OVERALL RATING 10
  • Connectivity: Landline, cellular
  • Average response time: 8 seconds
  • Base unit coverage: 500–1,400 ft
  • Battery life: 32hrs–5 days
  • Monitoring center location: US
  • Payment plan options: Monthly, quarterly, or annual
  • Cancellations: Cancellation fees may apply
  • Price: $29.95–$44.95
  • Return policy: 30 days

Offering a total of five systems, this US-based provider has something for everyone. The company has two products available in the at-home category:

Classic Guardian

The Classic Guardian is the provider’s most traditional, landline-operated device. It comes with a base unit enabling clear, two-way communication with the monitoring center, as well as a lightweight, waterproof wearable device. Subscribers can choose between a help pendant and bracelet. The device boasts an impressive 1,400 feet of coverage from the base station, meaning you’re protected within and around the house at all times.

Home Guardian

This device, on the other hand, uses a cellular network to connect to the company’s monitoring centers. It offers the same benefits as the Classic Guardian, with the added system status you can check on the MyGuardian Portal.

Apart from providing top-notch home systems, Medical Guardian makes it easy for customers to stay safe on the go with its wide range of portable devices:

Mobile 2.0

This is a two-piece senior monitoring system, which works both as an in-home and mobile device. It consists of a portable unit with a two-way speaker and GPS tracking, plus a wearable emergency button that works up to 500 feet from the mobile unit.

Mini Guardian

Mini Guardian is small, sleek, and will keep you protected while you’re out and about. Its battery lasts for up to five days and you can purchase add-ons such as fall detection and on-guard notifications.

Active Guardian

The Active Guardian works very much like the Mini, except it’s a bit larger in size and has a three-day lasting battery. Just like the Mini, it’s also water-resistant, offers GPS location tracking, and purchasing add-ons.

All Medical Guardian’s mobile alert systems use the most reliable 4G LTE network, GPS, and WiFi tracking to determine your location within minutes, providing 24-hour protection no matter where you are. But it’s not just about the devices. Medical Guardian has plenty of extra features, including one of the most reliable fall alert systems, wall buttons, lockboxes, and protection plans, although they aren’t compatible with all systems.

PROS:
  • No long-term contracts
  • Substantial coverage from the base unit
  • Five systems available
  • Stellar customer service
CONS:
  • Restocking fees may apply when you cancel
  • No trial period

LifeFone

OVERALL RATING 9.9
  • Connectivity: Landline, cellular
  • Average response time: 25 seconds
  • Base unit coverage: 600–1,400 ft
  • Battery life: 16hrs–30 days
  • Monitoring center location: US (New York and California)
  • Payment plan options: Monthly, quarterly, or annual
  • Cancellations: Free
  • Price: $24.95–$41.95
  • Return policy: 30 days

LifeFone has been providing some of the most reliable, comprehensive, and trusted emergency response systems since 1976. With its selection of five high-quality systems, this company has a device to suit any user’s needs.

At-Home Landline

The At-Home Landline comes with all the essentials and plenty of extra features:

  • A base station equipped with a loud two-way speaker, a highly sensitive microphone, and a large emergency button with Braille lettering in the middle.
  • A waterproof help button (available as a pendant or bracelet).
  • 1,300 feet of coverage from the base unit.
  • A 32-hour battery backup in case of power outages.
  • Personalized emergency notification plans, which you can change at any time—you can even add your spouse to the basic plan free of charge.
  • Lifetime warranty on all equipment.

At-Home Cellular

The At-Home Cellular system is equipped with the same features, but uses AT&T’s cellular network instead of a classic phone line.

At-Home & On-the-Go

For active people who don’t want to lose the security of a home system, LifeFone offers a combo of both. With the company’s At-Home & On-the-Go system, you get a mobile device and a base station, GPS tracking and 600-1,400 feet of coverage from the base unit.

At-Home & On-the-Go VIP

If you want to go fully mobile, you can opt for the portable pendant, an all-in-one solution that can protect you both at home and on the move. It may not have an optional fall detection, but its battery can survive up to 30 days.

At-Home & On-the-Go VIPX

The smallest, lightest, and most advanced of LifeFone’s on-the-go devices, the VIPX offers the same as the original At-Home & On-the-Go with unlimited coverage range and optional fall detection.

LifeFone also has the biggest offering of optional upgrades and accessories, including:

  • A wall-mounted and hanging lockbox
  • Daily check-in calls
  • Medication reminder
  • Mobile apps—for individuals and families
  • 24/7 protection against fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide
  • A wall-mounted medical alert button
  • A protection plan providing free replacement of any defective equipment

It’s not just the devices that are extraordinary—the company is also flexible, dependable, and transparent. Unlike other providers that tend to outsource their monitoring services, LifeFone owns and operates its US-based call centers. This way, the company ensures fast, reliable, and uninterrupted access to trained and caring staff.

PROS:
  • 24/7 US-based call center
  • No hidden costs
  • A+ rating with the BBB
  • Easy to install, and setup videos available
CONS:
  • Mobile unit is not waterproof
  • Fall detection is only 95% accurate

GreatCall

OVERALL RATING 9.9
  • Connectivity: Cellular
  • Average response time: 13 seconds
  • Base unit coverage: Unlimited
  • Battery life: 80hrs–4 months
  • Monitoring center location: US (California and Nevada)
  • Payment plan options: Monthly
  • Cancellations: Free
  • Price: $19.99–$49.99
  • Return policy: 30 days

GreatCall does things a bit differently than the other providers as it doesn’t have an in-home system, but offers cutting-edge mobile solutions and smartphones that will protect seniors both at home and on the go. The company has two medical alert systems and two phones available.

Lively Mobile+

This is an all-in-one, portable alert solution that offers 24/7 protection anywhere you go. It has a one-button design that immediately connects you to GreatCall’s Urgent Response Center. An IAED-certified agent will then confirm your location, assess the situation, and provide you the help you need, whether you’re having a medical emergency or you need roadside assistance.

One standout feature of this system—and other GreatCall devices—is exceptional audio quality, making this a good solution for hearing impaired users. Another is the unbelievably fast response times. Most of the calls are answered in under 15 seconds, while enhanced GPS tracking is used to determine your precise location, adding up to a quick response and overall superior service.

Lively Wearable2

If you already own a smartphone, you can take advantage of the new Lively Wearable2 medical device. This smartwatch-like device pairs with the Lively app on your phone, connecting you to GreatCall’s response centers with the push of a button. It also includes other useful features, such as fall detection and urgent care feature, step counter, and daily health tips.

GreatCall Smartphones

Besides these revolutionary emergency response systems, GreatCall also offers smartphones with incorporated alert technology, i.e., a 5Star App or an emergency button that instantly puts you through to its response centers.

You can choose from two phones:

  • The Jitterbug Smart2, dubbed the simplest smartphone, features a large screen, built-in camera, and mobile internet. Also included is the 5Star App to use in case of emergencies.
  • The Lively Flip comes equipped with an Urgent Response button that connects you to an emergency response agent, a powerful speaker, and Amazon Alexa integration. This allows you to use your voice to make calls, text, get medication reminders, and more.

With fast response times, an innovative design, unique features, and excellent service, GreatCall’s selection of medical and life alert systems is certainly worth trying.

PROS:
  • Faster way to reach help
  • Unique features and services
  • No long-term contracts
  • Keeps you connected and protected
CONS:
  • There’s an activation fee
  • There’s an activation fee

MobileHelp

OVERALL RATING 10
  • Connectivity: Landline, cellular
  • Average response time: 17–25 seconds
  • Base unit coverage: 600–1,400 ft
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Monitoring center location: US (New York and California)
  • Payment plan options: Monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual
  • Cancellations: Free
  • Price: $99.95-$54.95
  • Return policy: 30 days

MobileHelp provides the latest in emergency monitoring while still offering classic and comprehensive devices. They offer both at-home and on-the-go protection, as well as a combination of both.

At-Home Devices

MobileHelp offers three simple devices for monitoring your health and providing help for a safer and smarter life.

Classic

The most basic system, the MobileHelp Classic, is equipped with a base unit with an extended 1,400 feet of coverage, waterproof help button, and an optional fall detection button.

Wired Home

The only MobileHelp’s device that operates on a landline, Wired Home has all the essentials of a classic in-home system, offering 24/7 protection for up to 600 feet from the base unit.

Touch Classic

The Touch Classic combines all the features of an emergency response system packed in a sleek tablet. Besides the easy-to-read screen, the device also offers a rotating photo gallery, and cognitive games, such as Sudoku. Moreover, you can also add an automatic Fall Button.

On-the-Go Devices

For seniors on the go, the company offers two incredibly simple-to-use, sleek devices.

Solo

This set includes a mobile unit and a wearable help button—the perfect system for security on the go. It also features GPS tracking, remote activation, and a two-way speaker.

Micro

Micro is the smallest and lightest MobileHelp’s emergency alert device. Weighing only 52 grams, the waterproof Micro comes with a detachable lanyard, fast wireless data transmission, and loud and clear voice guidance.

Complete Protection

To stay safe at home and on-the-go, MobileHelp offers three handy and simple-to-use devices.

Duo

Consisting of two of the mobile devices available in the Solo package, this set provides inexpensive portable protection for you and your spouse or roommate.

Mobile Duo

MobileHelp Duo is the ultimate bundle for complete protection no matter where you are. Combining the Classic and Solo packages, this is the most comprehensive emergency alert system for older adults with an active lifestyle.

Touch Duo

Ideal for seniors interested in the latest technology, MobileHelp Touch includes a mobile unit, a help button, a fall detection device, and a tablet serving as a connection hub to monitor your health and medication schedule.

PROS:
  • FDA-registered and FCC certified
  • Dedicated personal consultants
  • Combo of at-home and on-the-go devices
  • A tablet for seniors interested in tech
CONS:
  • The Fall Button isn’t compatible with all systems
  • Activation fees apply to some plans

Bay Alarm Medical

OVERALL RATING 9.6
  • Connectivity: Landline, cellular
  • Average response time: 10 seconds
  • Base unit coverage: 1,000 ft
  • Battery life: 32hrs
  • Monitoring center location: US (Utah and Idaho)
  • Payment plan options: Monthly
  • Cancellations: Free
  • Price: $21.95–$41.95
  • Return policy: 30 days

With an extensive range of products, Bay Alarm Medical has a device to meet everyone’s budget and lifestyle.

In-Home Medical Alert System

The company’s most traditional system comes with a home base unit equipped with 1,000 feet of coverage, 32-hour backup battery, high-output speaker, and an ultra-sensitive microphone for clear two-way communication. The unit works both with a landline and a cellular network, depending on the connection you have at your home. Moreover, you’ll get a waterproof help button, wall emergency call button, and coverage for your spouse or someone else in your household.

Besides basic home protection, Bay Alarm Medical has more helpful and unique devices, such as:

GPS Help Button

This portable device can quickly and accurately pinpoint your location, provide your location history, and even weather notifications, depending on the plan you choose.

SOS Smartwatch

A modern alternative to the traditional emergency alerts, the SOS Smartwatch is a portable, water-resistant device featuring GPS tracking and other useful features that will keep you safe wherever you are.

In-Car Alert

With automatic crash detection and real-time vehicle tracking, driving has never been safer thanks to this revolutionary solution that provides protection and assistance while you’re in the car.

Bundle Packages

Depending on which services you’re interested in, Bay Alarm Medical can bundle alert systems and tailor them to your needs.

PROS:
  • Classic and modern devices available
  • Unique in-car emergency alert
  • Emergency alert smartwatch
  • Tailor systems to your needs
CONS:
  • Refunds might take a few weeks
  • Warranty doesn’t cover replacement shipping fees

LifeStation

OVERALL RATING 9.7
  • Connectivity: Landline, cellular
  • Average response time: 20 seconds
  • Base unit coverage: 500–600 ft
  • Battery life: 32hrs
  • Monitoring center location: US (New Jersey and Texas)
  • Payment plan options: Monthly, quarterly, or annual
  • Cancellations: Free
  • Price: $22.95–$55.95
  • Return policy: 30 days

Age in peace and maintain your independence with LifeStation’s three top-rated medical alert systems for seniors.

At-Home Systems

The company offers a landline and wireless emergency alert systems.

At Home System

The company’s traditional system offers round-the-clock protection and security for you or your loved ones. Some of the basic features include:

  • A base unit with a loud speaker, sensitive microphone, and large round button with Braille characters, helping hearing and visually impaired users
  • A clear landline connection
  • A small, lightweight, and compact help button (available as a bracelet or pendant)
  • Second person coverage with no added monitoring fee

In-Home No Landline System

For homes without a landline, there’s LifeStation’s No Landline alert system. It has the same features as the At Home system, but it’s operated by AT&T’s 4G wireless network. It covers 600 feet from the base station, providing unparalleled monitoring services in and around the home.

On-the-Go Systems

There are also two systems for the elderly on-the-go.

Sidekick Mobile

This 100% waterproof mobile device has an extended battery life of five days. It also features coverage by AT&T’s fastest and most reliable network and fall detection—promising to never let you down in your hour of need.

Sidekick Smart Wearable

If you want to combine the benefits of an emergency alert with the stylishness of a smart watch, you should opt for the Sidekick Smart. Besides the enhanced location services and emergency support, it also offers a pedometer and a heart rate monitor.

What sets LifeStation apart from other companies is its commitment to modernization. LifeStation is the first company to offer smart tech integration with its alert systems. This is an invaluable tool for families and professional caregivers, especially those looking after seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia. To find out where users are in realtime, caregivers just need to ask their Alexa-powered device, “Where’s Mom,” for example, to get the exact location in seconds. Alternatively, they can use their Find My Loved One service and discover the location of parents, grandparents, or patients just by sending a text message.

Other available services include:

  • Weekly Wellchecks, which help the elderly stay connected, thus improving their mental health
  • CareAssist Concierge Service, which allows your alert device to contact pharmacies, transport, and meal delivery services

LifeStation also cooperates with Uber Health, offering transportation to seniors in need.

PROS:
  • No lengthy contracts
  • Find users in realtime
  • Supports over 240 languages
  • Connects with Alexa
CONS:
  • You must call to order
  • Not many add-ons

Philips Lifeline

OVERALL RATING 9.9
  • Connectivity: Landline, cellular
  • Average response time: 12 seconds
  • Base unit coverage: 500 feet
  • Battery life: 2–3 days
  • Monitoring center location: US and Canada
  • Payment plan options: Monthly
  • Cancellations: Free
  • Price: $29.95–$49.95
  • Return policy: 30 days

Philips’ superior fall detection system, AutoAlert, incorporates advanced technology, including accelerometers, barometric sensors, and finely tuned algorithms. This proprietary equipment provides more accuracy and significantly reduces the number of false alarms that other fall devices are prone to. But, what about the systems themselves?

HomeSafe Standard

HomeSafe Standard is Philips Lifeline’s most traditional and least expensive home alert system for seniors. This sophisticated and reliable medical alert system offers many features:

  • A base unit allowing for crystal-clear, two-way communication
  • A waterproof help button with a long-lasting battery (users can choose between a pendant and wristband—both are light, comfortable, and adjustable)
  • 24/7 access to the company’s fully staffed Response Center
  • A personalized response plan, meaning you decide who the operators call and what action they take
  • Access to Philips Cares, a phone app that connects to your circle of friends and family, shares notifications about your health, and much more

HomeSafe With AutoAlert

If you feel that you need more security, try the HomeSafe with fall detection. It offers exactly the same features as the HomeSafe Standard, but it’s enhanced with automatic fall detection.

GoSafe 2

Looking for protection on the go? Then opt for the GoSafe 2. This latest innovation from Philips Lifeline incorporates five location technologies, a three-day battery life, and state-of-the-art fall detection. It’s all packed into a small, waterproof, and lightweight neck pendant.

PROS:
  • Accurate fall detection included
  • Supports over 140 languages
  • No long-term contract
  • Professional installation available
CONS:
  • One-time activation fee is required
  • Delivery takes 6–8 weeks

Alert1

OVERALL RATING 9.8
  • Connectivity: Landline
  • Average response time: 20–45 seconds
  • Base unit coverage: 400–600 ft
  • Battery life: 24hrs–30 days
  • Monitoring center location: US (Pennsylvania)
  • Payment plan options: Monthly, every ten months
  • Cancellations: Free
  • Price: $19.00–$49.00
  • Return policy: 30 days

Alert1 offers a variety of trusted medical alert services and devices to meet every senior’s needs. Its product line consists of three systems: a home system, a mobile device, and a bundle of both with added fall detection.

In-the-Home Medical Alert

Alert1’s In-the-Home system comes with:

  • A base unit (equipped with a two-way speaker and microphone)
  • A showerproof help button that works up to 600 feet from the stationary unit

Operating through a landline, the system connects you to one of the company’s US-based monitoring centers when you press the help button. Once you’re connected to a live operator, they will assist you based on the emergency plan you’ve set up beforehand.

In-the-Home + Fall Detection

Offering the same options as the original In-the-Home system, and a bit smaller range of 400 ft, this option is excellent if you think you need fall detection. Besides the showerproof button, you’ll also get a complimentary wristband.

On-the-Go Medical Alert

Don’t have a landline or internet connection? Not a problem! Alert1 also has an On-the-Go package with built-in location tracking, a loud speaker, a microphone, and a battery life of a whopping 30 days.

On-the-Go with GPS and Fall Detection

If you want to feel even safer, go for the On-the-Go with built-in GPS tracking that pinpoints your precise location and fall detection. You can carry it as a pendant, on your belt, or even in the pocket.

On-the-Go Wrist Watch + GPS + Pedometer

If you’re a very active senior and don’t want to choose between a stylish watch and an emergency alert system, then this is the device for you. The discreet design resembles a regular watch, but the device will help you in times of need, all while counting your steps and showing you the weather forecast.

On-the-Go + In-the-Home + Fall Detection

You can also opt for the all-in-one bundle deal. This comprehensive package includes the mobile device, the in-the-home alert system, and fall detection. Combining all the products into one convenient package, you get extra security, protection, and peace of mind both in and outside the house.

PROS:
  • A wide selection of upgrades
  • Assistance in 190 languages
  • Zero equipment fees
  • Low-battery detection warning
CONS:
  • Only a limited warranty for defective devices
  • Limited range for fall detection pendant

QMedic

OVERALL RATING 9.8
  • Connectivity: Cellular
  • Average response time: 30 seconds
  • Base unit coverage: 500–1,000 ft
  • Battery life: 24hrs–14 days
  • Monitoring center location: US (Utah and Idaho)
  • Payment plan options: Monthly (for existing customers only) or annual
  • Cancellations: Free
  • Price: $300.00–$400.00
  • Return policy: 30 days

Developed by MIT scientists, QMedic systems also track activity, compliance, and sleep patterns, providing precious insight into your loved one’s health and wellbeing. The company offers two systems: a cellular and a mobile plan.

Cellular Medical Alert System

This system has several features:

  • A clear, two-way communication base station
  • A portable help button that boasts a two-year battery life and 1,000 feet of coverage from the base unit. Small, light, and waterproof, this device doesn’t need charging, which means you never have to take it off. On top of that, it’s comfortable and stylish, particularly the wristband.
  • Self-testing function that also checks battery levels of both the base unit and the wearable device 24 hours a day. Once the battery on either unit is running low, the company will promptly send a replacement.
  • Personalized response—you decide how you want the operator to proceed when you press the help button and who you would like them to call. Note that you can edit your emergency contact list at any time at no additional cost.
  • Activity monitoring tracks movement, voice calls, activity, and sleep schedules. When it detects abnormal or unusual activity, like no movement for a certain amount of time, it sends notifications to caregivers. Notifications are easily accessed in real-time through the Caregiver Dashboard.
  • Compliance tracking—the device tracks whether or not the user is wearing the help button, an indispensable feature since alert buttons only work when they’re worn.

The only downside to the system is that subscribers must have steady cellular coverage.

Mobile GPS Medical Alert System

For seniors who like to be on the move, QMedic provides a fully portable device that you can take anywhere. Available as a neck pendant only, the device has an incredible 14-day battery life, offers advanced GPS tracking, and is water-resistant.

The one thing that both devices lack is fall detection. These devices can be prone to false alarms—something neither users nor their caregivers want—which is why the company doesn’t include them in its systems.

PROS:
  • 24/7 UL-listed care centers
  • Personalized response
  • Advanced activity detection
  • Two-week battery life on portable device
CONS:
  • No fall detection or add-ons
  • Only annual payment plans for new customers

ADT Medical Alert

OVERALL RATING 9.7
  • Connectivity: Landline, cellular
  • Average response time: About 20 seconds
  • Base unit coverage: 300–600 ft
  • Nattery life: N/A
  • Monitoring center location: US
  • Payment plan options: Monthly, quarterly, or annual
  • Cancellations: Free
  • Price: $29.99–$39.99
  • Return policy: Six months

As a company that has spent the last 140 years making sure people are safe and protected, ADT offers some of the most reliable medical alert systems for seniors. The company’s Health & Senior Safety product line may not be particularly diverse, but seniors are sure to find a system to suit their lifestyles and needs from its three available products.

Basic System

Do you spend most of your time in the house and have a standard landline connection? Then you would benefit the most from ADT’s Basic system. This system provides all the essentials, starting from a base unit with a two-way connection to the company’s operators to a help button in the form of a waterproof necklace or wristband.

The base unit only covers a distance of 300 feet, which may not seem like a lot, but it’s typically enough to keep you protected inside the house and around the yard. The device also offers home temperature monitoring, which isn’t considered a life-saving feature, but it’s useful, nonetheless.

Plus System

If you want more freedom in your movements, try the Plus system. The base unit covers twice the distance as the Basic device, i.e., 600 feet. It also shows time, temperature, and battery and signal levels on a clear LED display. Furthermore, it also offers fall detection.

On-the-Go System

ADT has a device for seniors who prefer an active lifestyle, as well. This system is a portable unit with built-in GPS tracking that will keep you safe wherever you go. For added security, you should consider adding fall detection to the package.

PROS:
  • Fast response times
  • Live chat available
  • Home temperature monitoring
  • Lifetime warranty
CONS:
  • Little coverage from base unit
  • No mobile phone app

Finding the Right Medical Alert System for You

What exactly is a medical alert system, and what does it do? Do you really need one? And how do you choose one from so many available options? Our detailed guide will answer these questions and more!

What Are Medical Alert Systems?

Medical alert systems are devices—usually consisting of a base unit and a wearable element—that provide seniors with help in the event of a fall or medical emergency. During an emergency, press the help button on the bracelet or pendant, and you’ll be connected to a trained operator who will get you the help you need as quickly as possible.

These operators are available 24/7 and have all your info, including your medical history, your allergies, and any treatments or medications you might be on. They will evaluate the situation and decide on the proper course of action.

Let’s say you’ve taken a slip and just need some help getting up. In this case, the operator will contact a neighbor, friend, or family member to come and help you out. They will also stay on the line with you until help arrives.

How Are Medical Alert Devices Different From Calling 911?

Let’s look at the same situation mentioned above.

When you call 911, the dispatcher will immediately send an EMS unit to your address regardless of the severity of your injury or condition. After dispatching a unit to your house, they will end the call and tend to other emergencies and callers. The EMS unit will most likely have to break down the door, causing considerable damage to your property in the process, which in this situation would be completely unnecessary.

With a medical alert system, an EMS unit is sent only if absolutely necessary—for instance, if you’re unresponsive or the operator can’t reach anyone on your emergency list. Moreover, most of these emergency alert systems come with plenty of extra features, from fall detection to location tracking, which you can’t get with a basic cell phone or a call to 911.

Who Should Buy a Medical Alert System?

The main purpose of these systems is to help you when you need it, but they can actually do so much more than that. They provide you with security and the chance to have an independent, active, and stress-free life.

So who can benefit the most from them?

  • Active seniors who enjoy the outdoors and an independent lifestyle would benefit most from a mobile unit, especially the one with GPS tracking.
  • Seniors who want to stay in their current home can age happily in place without the constant presence of a caregiver.
  • Seniors who have dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other age-related cognitive conditions and use emergency alert systems can help caregivers easily locate them if they wander or get lost and disoriented.
  • Seniors with high-risk medical conditions can benefit from even the most basic system. They can prevent serious injury or death, particularly among seniors with heart disease or other high-risk conditions.

Choosing an Emergency Alert System

Here are the most important aspects to consider when buying a medical alert system, whether it’s for you or for someone in your family.

Mobile vs. In-Home Alert Systems 

The first decision you have to make is choosing the type of system. Med alert systems usually fall into two categories: home-based and mobile.

Home medical alert systems consist of a stationary base and a wearable device. The base unit has a speaker and microphone for easy, two-way, hands-free communication with a dispatcher at the monitoring center. The wearable device, on the other hand, is a small help button that you can wear around your neck or wrist. These devices are usually lightweight, waterproof, and can communicate with the base unit within distances of up to 1,400 feet. This means you’re covered even if you’re taking a stroll in the backyard or live in a larger home.

An in-home alert system uses a landline telephone connection but can work with a cellular connection as well. For most older adults, a classic in-home system is a good way to go. It’s reliable, the connection is clear, and the device is always on because you don’t need to charge it. However, if you’re an active senior, investing in a mobile system is something to consider.

Mobile alert systems come with many advantages. They’re portable, so you can use them anywhere with good cellular coverage. Plus, they have GPS tracking, allowing medical services or a caregiver to pinpoint your exact location. The only downside to mobile systems is that you have to charge the devices. Some of these systems are equipped with an alarm reminding you that your battery needs charging, making this process easier for forgetful users.

Some users also report that mobile devices are bulkier than pendants or bracelets. However, thanks to advances in technology, there are now lighter and smaller mobile units that can fit in your purse or pocket or be clipped on your belt.

For seniors who can’t decide between the two, there are dual systems that combine at-home and mobile devices for full protection.

Find a Reliable Company

The next step is finding a trustworthy company. When looking for a reliable manufacturer, consider:

  • Transparency: Does the company post all its fees on the site? Do its sales representatives give clear answers to all your questions? Does its website include both positive and negative comments by customers? If the answers to any of these questions are no, then you’re likely dealing with a shady company.
  • Reputation: Look at customer reviews and the Better Business Bureau. When it comes to medical alert systems, ratings like these offer a better understanding of the company so you can decide whether it’s trustworthy or not. It’s also a good idea to look for certifications—such as TMA’s Five Diamond certification and the Electronic Security Association—to check the company’s dedication to quality and safety.
  • Look at the return policy: Before you buy a medical alert system for yourself or a family member, carefully read the terms and conditions, particularly in the area of refunds and returns. Try to find companies that allow you to return equipment or cancel a subscription or service without additional charges. Steer clear of companies that require you to sign lengthy contracts, and focus on flexible plans instead.
  • Check locations of monitoring centers: Stick to companies with monitoring centers in North America for the fastest access to trained agents. In addition to being located in the US, the company should have trained staff consisting of nurses or medical supervisors who can offer their expertise, especially during high-risk calls.

Comfort and Convenience

For a medical alert system to work properly, it has to be worn at all times. This means the wearable elements or mobile device must be comfortable, light, and waterproof so they can be worn in the shower, where most slips and falls happen.

Extra Features

Advanced medical alert systems come with a wide range of additional features, from intruder alerts to consults with board-certified doctors. Some of the most common and useful features include:

  • Automatic fall detection: This is one of the most common and helpful features of alert systems. Medical alert systems with fall detection have built-in sensors that detect falls and automatically call the dispatch center.

You should remember, though, that this technology isn’t 100% reliable. The device is prone to false alarms and might register a fall even when you’ve only lost your balance or dropped the pendant by accident while you slept. However, if you’re one of the 25% of Americans over 65 who experience falls every year, it might be wise to invest in a fall alert system.

  • Caregiver tracking: Depending on the system, this extra feature can track your location, monitor battery life, and notify your caregiver when you leave a predetermined area, such as your home. The latter feature, known as geofencing, is a handy tool, particularly if you have Alzheimer’s or dementia, as it allows your caregiver to determine your exact location, or at the very least, your last known whereabouts.
  • Medication reminder: Having your base or mobile unit remind you when it’s time to take your medication can be extremely helpful, especially if you live with a chronic condition or have a complex medication schedule.
  • Wall buttons: Wall buttons are battery-powered and can be placed anywhere in the house, including high-risk areas like the bathroom, stairs, or by the bed. This is a great backup solution if you’ve damaged or lost your wearable device or simply don’t feel like wearing it.
  • Lockbox: A safety lockbox is used to store an extra key so that emergency services won’t have to break down the door to enter your home. A simple solution like this can save you a lot of money in terms of damaged property, as well as the hassle of home repairs.

Some Final Tips

  • Whether you have a home-based or mobile system, be sure to check the connection immediately after installation to see if everything is working.
  • It’s a good idea to get a base unit with a built-in battery backup in case of power outages.
  • If English isn’t your first language, look for companies that offer several language options. Some providers support over 200 languages.
  • Consider plans that allow for multiple contacts to be added to your emergency list, just in case.
  • A word of caution for caregivers: If you’re thinking of buying an emergency alert system for your parents, grandparents, or other family members and friends, consider their needs. A senior alert system isn’t a gift, so make sure you discuss the purchase beforehand.

Final Thoughts 

Medical alert systems are the ideal solution for older adults who want to age in place, preserve their independence, and continue to lead active lives. They’re also an excellent tool for caregivers, providing them with security and peace of mind regarding their loved ones’ health and well-being.

FAQs

How do medical alert systems work?

Medical alert systems are incredibly easy to operate. 

  1. In a medical emergency, push the button on the bracelet, pendant, or mobile unit. 
  2. Once you press the button, a call is sent to the response center.
  3. The call is answered by trained operators who will do everything they can to help you, from summoning your family or friends to calling 911, if necessary. 

Does Medicare cover medical alert systems?

Medicare doesn’t usually cover medical alert systems. However, some seniors may receive coverage under Medicare Part C if they can prove that the system is medically necessary. Check your insurance plan to see if you’re covered or not.

Does AARP recommend a medical alert system?

Even though AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons) highly recommends the use of medical alert systems, it doesn’t endorse a particular system. 

What is the best medical alert system?

Each of the systems listed above meets all the criteria of a high-quality, functional, and safe system. However, to find the perfect one for you, you need to consider your individual needs. Decide what kind of device would benefit you the most and then look for one that matches your requirements and lifestyle.