The Best Medical Alert Systems of 2021
Reviewed by: Christopher Norman, Geriatric Nurse Practitioner
We created this guide to help seniors and their loved ones choose a reputable and affordable medical alert company. Our team spent over 400 hours researching medical alert devices, conducting hands-on testing, and consulting with experts to determine the best medical alert systems available today. Below, we provide details about the top 10 medical alert companies and their devices, explain common medical alert features, offer advice for choosing the right medical alert system, and answer frequently asked questions so you can feel confident you’re choosing the best device for you.
At a Glance: The 10 Best Medical Alert Systems
- Aloe Care Health – Best for Safety and Communication
- MobileHelp – Editor’s Choice
- Medical Guardian – Best for Premium Features
- Bay Alarm Medical – Best for Customer Service
- Medical Alert – Best for Low Startup Costs
- LifeFone – Best Standalone Mobile App
- GetSafe – Best Hands-Free System
- Medical Care Alert – Best for EMT/EMD Certified Monitoring
- QMedic – Best for Compliance and Activity Monitoring
- RescueTouch – Best for Two-Way Communication
|Overview Of The Top Recommended Medical Alert Systems|
Aloe Care Health
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Bay Alarm Medical
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How We Chose the Best Medical Alert Systems
We evaluated 25 medical alert companies for safety, quality of service, and product offerings and consulted with experts to determine our list of the ten best medical alert systems. The main metrics we considered in our assessment are:
- Device and Feature Availability: Companies should offer a range of medical alert system types and add-on devices. All companies on this list also offer extra features such as automatic fall detection, GPS location tracking, and/or a mobile app for caregivers.
- Costs and Contracts: We did not include companies that charge unnecessary equipment fees or require customers to sign restrictive multi-year contracts.
- Customer Service: All companies must provide live customer service and sales support over the phone or via online chat. We also carefully reviewed online customer testimonials and Better Business Bureau reviews and ratings, and did not include companies with a BBB rating below an A+.
- Monitoring Center Reliability: All companies’ monitoring centers must be third-party certified by an organization such as The Monitoring Association or Underwriter’s Laboratory, and monitoring centers should have a backup power system and/or a backup center where they can divert calls in the event of power outages. A live agent must respond to all emergency calls at the monitoring center- no companies that use an automated answering service were included in this list.
Expert Reviews of the Best Medical Alert Systems
Aloe Care offers highly-advanced, hands-free medical alert systems for independent older adults. Its voice-activated system keeps seniors safe and connected to their caregivers without the need to wear a personal alert device each day. Aloe Care’s mission is to “address the critical voids in supporting independent older adults” with its easy-to-use personal safety systems that enable elders to live independently while making it simple for caregivers to provide the best possible care for their loved ones.
Why We Chose Aloe Care
Aloe Care stands out for its hands-free devices and accompanying mobile app. The Aloe Care Health App allows for efficient communication between caregivers and family members with its advanced features that go beyond many other medical alert company’s apps. In addition to standard functionalities like alerting caregivers if their loved one places an emergency call, the Aloe Care Health app allows caregivers to place calls directly from the app to their loved one’s in-home Hub, enabling two-way communication. Both professional and informal caregivers like family and friends can use the app to communicate and collaborate with one another to ensure all parties are kept in-the-loop regarding their loved one’s health and safety.
- Hands-free, voice-activated system
- State-of-the-art privacy protocols and personal data protection
- Mobile app makes caregiver collaboration easy
- Built-in temperature and air-quality sensors
- All customers must pay an up-front device purchase fee of $100 or more
Pricing and Plans
Aloe Care’s plans range in price from $24.99 to $49.99, which users pay on a month-to-month basis. In addition to the monthly service charge, Aloe Care users purchase their equipment for an initial one-time fee of $100-$300, depending on which plan they choose. There are no additional startup fees for installation or activation, but customers may need to pay for shipping.
Aloe Care currently offers three service packages for in-home use, plus a mobile device. The four plans are as follows:
- Mobile Companion: The Mobile Companion is a portable device that provides emergency protection both in and out of the home. It is the only Aloe Care plan that does not include the in-home smart hub; users only need the small mobile device for all-around protection. The Mobile Companion has a built-in two-way speaker, is water-resistant, and is powered by 4G LTE cellular connection for nationwide coverage. It is the least expensive Aloe Care system at $24.99 a month plus a one-time $99 device purchase fee.
- Essentials: Aloe Care’s Essentials plan includes one proprietary Smart Hub with 4G cellular connection, a wearable Care Button, and access to the Aloe Care Health mobile app for caregivers. The voice-activated Smart Hub enables users to contact the emergency monitoring center and has built-in motion and temperature sensors for enhanced in-home safety. It also allows two-way calling between the Hub and caregivers using the mobile app. The Hub has a voice range of 10 feet, and the water-resistant, wearable Care Button has a range of 200 feet. This plan costs $29.99 a month plus a one-time product purchase fee of $150.
- Essentials Plus: The new Essentials Plus plan includes all of the protective features and devices as the Essentials plan, plus a mobile device for comprehensive on-the-go protection. The mobile companion device uses AT&T LTE network to provide nationwide coverage, and includes automatic fall detection and GPS tracking in the monthly base price of $39.99. Customers are also responsible for a $250 one-time equipment purchase fee. Users may also purchase the Mobile Companion as a standalone device for $99 and a monitoring fee of $24.99 a month
- Total Care: This comprehensive package includes all of the same top-of-the-line equipment as the Essentials and Essentials Plus plans (including the mobile companion), plus a Smart Fall Sensor and two motion sensors. The Fall Sensor uses radio-frequency sensor technology to detect any falls or abnormal movement and automatically sends a notification to caregivers via the Aloe Care mobile app if a fall is detected. This plan costs $49.99 a month and has a one-time product purchase fee of $300.
Aloe Care does not offer any extra features or accessories at this time, but it has several advanced features included in the monthly cost of its systems, such as:
- Temperature and Air Quality Sensors: The Smart Hub has these features built-in, providing all-around safety in the home. Caregivers can view weather and air quality alerts for their loved one’s area in the mobile app. The air quality sensors monitor VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) and CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) levels.
- Fall Detection: The Total Care plan includes a Smart Fall Sensor, which provides automatic fall detection without needing a wearable device. The sensor can be placed anywhere in the user’s home, typically the bathroom, and senses when a fall or abnormal movement occurs, automatically alerting the user’s caregivers via the app. Given the high prevalence of falls among seniors, a fall sensor can be a great safety-enhancing addition to one’s home.
- Aloe Care Health App: The mobile app is a central platform for both professional and informal caregivers of Aloe Care users to communicate and collaborate with one another. They can message one another in the app and leave notes about their loved one’s health, check the air quality in their loved one’s areas, and can even use the app to initiate contact with their loved one’s Smart Hub. Caregivers will also receive notifications via the app if their loved one falls or has another emergency.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
Aloe Care devices are monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by the professional emergency response center. The center is Five Diamond Certified by The Monitoring Association.
All Aloe Care systems come equipped with 4G LTE cellular service, so no landlines are required to use an Aloe Care device. WiFi is not required for the Essentials plan, but is needed for the Smart Fall Sensor included in the Total Care plan.
MobileHelp offers a large selection of reliable personal emergency response systems, ranging from basic in-home units to high-tech portable devices, giving users plenty of options to find the medical alert that works best for them. Its prices for both in-home and portable systems are some of the most affordable, and unlike many other medical alert providers, MobileHelp doesn’t charge extra for its cellular in-home systems. As a result, its classic plan with a cellular connection is the least expensive among the top companies we reviewed. And, the company’s online web portal and mobile app, MobileHelp Connect, and partnership with telehealth provider MDLIVE provide additional benefits for users and their caregivers.
Why We Chose Mobile Help
MobileHelp’s range of products includes smart-device Touch, the Duo plan for couples, an inexpensive cellular in-home system, jewelry-style pendants, and more, offering a system for all lifestyles. MobileHelp also has excellent customer service, a robust and informative website, and its monitoring center is staffed with well-trained operators and offers quick response times. Users may also add on a medication scheduling feature that can help them manage complicated medication regimens. Overall, MobileHelp is a top option to consider for those looking for quality service and devices at a reasonable price.
- No need for a landline with any device
- No extra charge for cellular connection
- Range of premium features
- Some customers will need to pay an activation fee
- Fall detection not available for all devices
Pricing and Plans
*6-month minimum payment period
** Tablet and mobile device are not water-resistant; in-home device wearable help button is waterproof and showerproof
MobileHelp’s systems range in price from $19.95 to $59.45 a month, and can be paid for monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. However, the Touch only offers semi-annual and annual payment. Free shipping is included with quarterly, semi-annual, and annual payments. The longer payment periods also are slightly less expensive on a month-to-month basis. Customers who pay for their device on a monthly basis must pay $15 for shipping. All customers are eligible for MobileHelp’s 30-day free trial period for all of its devices.
MobileHelp’s offerings include in-home systems, mobile devices, and a “duo” plan, a combination of the in-home and mobile medical alert systems.
- Classic: This in-home system uses a base station and waterproof pendant which can be worn on the wrist or around the neck. The base station has a range of 600 feet and a fall detection pendant can be purchased for $10 a month.
- Wired Home: This is an in-home system that uses a landline connection rather than cellular. Like the Classic, users may choose to wear their personal help button as a pendant or wristband. The Wired Home has an impressive range of 1,300 feet from the base station.
- Solo: This plan consists of a mobile device which contains a two-way speaker and a waterproof pendant (the same pendant as the classic plan). GPS and cellular triangulation can be used to locate the customer when the help button is pressed. The battery on the mobile device lasts 24 hours between charges.
- Mobile Duo: The Mobile Duo includes two of the mobile devices available with the Solo plan. The devices may be used by two different people, such as spouses or roommates. At only $44.95 a month, this plan offers considerable savings compared to paying for two separate plans.
- MobileHelp Duo: This package is simply a combination of the classic and solo plans – both a cellular base station and a mobile device are included. The cost is only $4 more than the “Solo” plan at $41.95 a month.
- Touch: This comprehensive system includes an in-home wearable help button, a mobile device, and a tablet. The tablet functions as an in-home base station and medication management device. It can also be used for “brain games” and other recreational purposes that can help improve a user’s health and happiness. The total monthly cost for all three devices is $59.45 a month with a minimum 6-month payment period.
MobileHelp offers several different extra features, including:
- A wall mounted help button for $2 a month
- Customizable medication reminders for $5 a month
- A lockbox allowing EMS access to your home (currently, it’s included free with all plans)
- Jewelry pendants, which users may purchase for $69.95-$79.95
- MobileHelp Connect Premium, a service plan that includes device replacement, special discounts, and more. It costs an additional $5 a month.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
MobileHelp contracts Rapid Response to provide medical alert monitoring to its customers. The company is a member of The Monitoring Association (TMA).
MobileHelp devices use the AT&T network to connect to the monitoring center. The mobile devices will work nationwide anywhere there is AT&T cellular coverage.
Medical Guardian goes above and beyond by offering customers many extra features, such as a caregiver portal. This makes it a good choice for those who want added peace of mind or don’t like traditional medical alert options. On top of these extra features, Medical Guardian offers six device options, which is more than any other company on our list.
Why We Chose Medical Guardian
Medical Guardian stands out for its wide variety of premium features and diverse device offerings. Several of its devices include features that go beyond standard emergency monitoring. For example, the Freedom Guardian has a voice-to-text messaging feature, making it easy for caregivers to get in touch with their loved one. Some systems also have location and activity tracking and access to an online portal included in the monthly cost.
- Large selection of systems with prices starting as low as $1/day
- Availability of premium features
- Lightweight and waterproof devices
- No device or activation fees (other than Freedom Guardian smartwatch device)
- Mobile systems are pricier than the industry average
- Some customers must pay for shipping
Pricing and Plans
*One-time device cost of $99
Medical Guardian has six different plans to choose from, ranging from $29.95 a month to $79.95 a month. The company doesn’t charge device activation fees or installation fees for most of its devices. However, the “Freedom Guardian” (the smartwatch-style device) requires a one-time payment of $99. Currently, Medical Guardian doesn’t provide free shipping, but no cancellation fees are ever charged. Those who choose to pay for their service on an annual basis will receive a discount from the base monthly cost.
For in-home systems, Medical Guardian offers three different device options:
- Classic Guardian: This in-home system is the least expensive Medical Guardian device. The device has a range of 1,300 feet and comes with one waterproof neck pendant or wristband. Fall detection may be added to your plan for an additional $10 a month. The Classic Guardian must be connected to a landline- there is no cellular upgrade available for this device.
- Home Guardian: The Home Guardian uses AT&T’s cellular network to connect with the monitoring center. Its range of 600 feet is the shortest of Medical Guardian’s in-home devices. Users have the choice of the same neck and wrist pendant options as the Classic Guardian.
- Family Guardian: The Family Guardian package is rather expensive at $79.95 a month. But, it is a comprehensive protection plan that includes motion sensors, a door sensor, and access to a family and caregiver app. The base station uses a cellular connection, and the help buttons are the same waterproof neck or wrist pendants as the other two in-home systems.
For those who need to take their medical alert devices outside of their home, Medical Guardian provides three devices to choose from:
- Mobile Guardian: This package costs $39.95 a month which is the cheapest of the company’s mobile devices. The device uses GPS signals to relay a customer’s location to emergency services, as opposed to the other two devices that can also use WiFi signals. Fall detection is also not available with this device. The wearable pendant is water-resistant and the mobile unit has a battery life of 24 hours.
- Active Guardian: The Active Guardian is a water-resistant device about the size of a small flip phone. It contains a two-way speaker and a help button, and it can be carried in a pocket or purse or worn around the neck. It doesn’t come with a separate wearable pendant like the Mobile Guardian- it’s an all-in-one device. The monthly cost is $49.95 and fall detection is an additional $10 a month.
- Freedom Guardian: This smartwatch-style device offers medical alert features as well as extras like voice-to-text messaging, customizable alarms, and weather forecasts. Customers can call for help by holding down a side button for three seconds. This device is not waterproof and automatic fall detection isn’t available. Additionally, a companion app allows family and caregivers to monitor and track their loved ones and their daily activity.
Medical Guardian provides several different extra devices for an additional fee:
- Lockbox: At $2 a month, a lockbox allows emergency personnel to enter your home if you are unable to unlock the door without causing damage to your home. For customers with an annual subscription, the lockbox is included at no extra charge.
- Mounted Wall Button: This device costs an extra $2 a month. It provides added safety of a help button in high-risk areas in the event that someone isn’t wearing their pendant. The wall button is available as an add-on with both in-home and mobile device options.
- Voice-Activated Wall Button: This device is similar to the mounted wall button. But, rather than manually pressing the button, it is activated by voice. The monthly cost for this device is $5. It’s only available under the Family and Classic Guardian Plan.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
Medical Guardian uses a U.S.-based, third-party monitoring service. It is certified by The Monitoring Association (TMA) and is a member of the Electronic Security Association.
Medical Guardian cellular devices use AT&T’s network to connect with the monitoring center. Users are able to connect with the center anywhere in the United States with cellular service.
Bay Alarm Medical currently offers four medical alert systems, including its unique On the Road device for in-car emergency and accident monitoring. All Bay Alarm Medical devices are priced competitively, and customers who have a landline can take advantage of one of the lowest monthly monitoring costs among the top companies we’ve reviewed. Emergency monitoring with Bay Alarm Medical starts at just $21.95 a month with no activation, equipment, or installation fees.
The company is committed to providing excellent customer service, and has a LiveChat box on its website so prospective and existing customers can receive immediate assistance and support. Its U.S.-based customer service team is also available to assist customers via phone seven days a week. Bay Alarm Medical’s Customer Care Consultants undergo rigorous training to ensure that customer experience is positive, pleasant, and consistent.
Why We Chose Bay Alarm Medical
Not only does Bay Alarm Medical offer a suite of affordable, reliable medical alert systems, but it also provides top-notch customer service. The company maintains a Code of Ethics which states that Bay Alarm Medical is “devoted to ensuring [customers’] satisfaction and well being.” Two of its eight ethics standards even focus specifically on customer service. One of these standards is that “Customer Needs Take Priority Over Sales,” proving that Bay Alarm Medical’s customer service team will never intentionally oversell customers on upgraded devices or accessories that they do not truly need.
- Geofencing available
- Monitoring service is available in 170 languages
- On the Road provides excellent coverage for seniors who drive
- Change or cancel plans at any time
- Limited accessories compared to other companies
- Most plans include basic coverage and will cost more as features are added on
Pricing and Plans
**Automatic crash detection is included
Bay Alarm Medical offers four devices, which cost between $21.95 for a basic in-home system and $24.95 a month for a fully mobile unit. All devices are paid for on a month-to-month basis; there are no long-term payment options. There is a 30-day cancellation window during which new customers may cancel their service and receive a full refund, minus shipping costs.
Bay Alarm Medical has four different device options, including its unique in-car device:
- In-home: The company’s in-home system is available with a landline or cellular connection. The only difference between the two is the $10 monthly charge for the cellular model. The base unit has an 800-foot range and a backup battery life of 32 hours. The help pendant is waterproof and can be worn around the neck or on the wrist.
- On the Go: Bay Alarm Medical’s mobile device is an all-in-one unit that is typically worn around the neck. The device is water resistant, runs on 4G-LTE cellular network, and has a battery life of 72 hours. On the Go costs $24.95 a month, plus a one-time device purchase fee of $79.99. Fall detection is available for an additional $10 a month.
- On the Road: Bay Alarm Medical is the only company to offer a medical alert device specifically designed for the car. This unit plugs into a cigarette lighter so it never needs to be charged. If you need help, you can press a button on the unit and you will be connected to a live emergency operator. The device will automatically send a signal for help in the event of a crash. On its own, this service costs about $30 a month, but it can be added on to another form of monitoring for only $20 a month.
- SOS Smartwatch: This recently-introduced smartwatch-style device offers the protection and peace of mind that Bay Alarm Medical is known for in a sleek, discreet package. The SOS Smartwatch has an SOS button that connects users to the emergency response center, plus a host of other high-tech features like a step tracker, built-in two-way speaker, and a crystal-clear touchscreen. This device is perfect for those who have a hard time complying with traditional personal emergency response systems, those who already wear a watch regularly, and those simply interested in the device’s many benefits.
Customers can benefit from the extra features and devices offered by Bay Medical Alarm:
- Wall mounted buttons are $2.95 a month or $10 a month for a pack of four.
- Extra wearable help buttons (wristband or lanyard) can be purchased for $1.95 a month.
- A lockbox which allows EMS easy access to a customer’s home can be purchased for $1.95 a month.
- Upgraded, artist-designed pendants for personal help buttons may be purchased for $27.95.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
Bay Alarm Medical partners with a U.S.-based call center with locations in Utah and Idaho for medical alert monitoring services. The company is UL-listed and 5 Diamond certified.
Bay Alarm Medical cellular devices utilize AT&T’s cellular network to connect with the monitoring centers. They can be used anywhere in the United States that has cellular service.
Medical Alert is one of the United States’ largest providers of medical alert devices, serving hundreds of thousands of users. Medical Alert offers three high-quality devices, none of which carry any extra fees. The company does not charge any activation, installation, or equipment fees for any of its devices, keeping costs low for seniors on a budget.
Why We Chose Medical Alert
Medical Alert makes our list of the top medical alert companies because of the excellent value it provides customers. All three Medical Alert systems offer around-the-clock protection and reliable equipment and services at a very reasonable cost. Medical Alert’s prices are even more reasonable when considering its lack of startup costs and discounts for semi-annual and annual payments.
- Free lockbox provided with annual subscription plans for in-home systems
- International coverage (U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands)
- No extra one-time fees
- No long-term contracts or cancellation fees, and offers prorated refunds
- Limited extra features and accessories
- Fall detection not included in monthly cost for any devices
Pricing and Plans
*Pendant coverage is subject to device location, environment, equipment and facility conditions.
Medical Alert’s devices range in price from $22.95 to $37.95 a month when paid for on a monthly basis. Semi-annual and annual payment options are also available and lower the cost by several dollars per month.
Medical Alert offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its systems. If a user is unsatisfied with their Medical Alert device, they can return it within the first 30 days for a full refund. Outside of the initial 30-day window, customers can cancel their service plan at any time without penalty and receive a prorated refund.
Medical Alert offers three devices, two of which are for in-home use and one that is portable.
- At-Home Landline: This classic system provides protection in the home and uses a landline to connect users to the medical alert monitoring center. Thus, users must have a working landline in their home to use this device. The complete system includes a base station with a 36-hour backup battery and a waterproof, wearable help button that may be worn as a pendant or wristband. Fall detection is available for an additional $10 a month.
- At-Home No Landline: Medical Alert’s second in-home offering is the perfect option for those who want emergency protection throughout their home but do not have a working landline. This system uses a cellular connection rather than a landline, but otherwise offers all of the same functionality as the At-Home Landline system.
- On the Go: On the Go is a completely portable medical alert device. It uses AT&T’s cellular network to connect users with emergency operators and has built-in GPS services. The all-in-one device is lightweight, water-resistant, and has a battery life of 5 days. Fall detection may be added for an additional $10 a month.
Medical Alert currently offers a limited selection of extra features, including:
- Medical Alert Connect: This mobile app is intended for caregivers and other loved ones of Medical Alert users. Using the app, these people can check their loved one’s device status, edit and manage the emergency contact list, and receive notifications if the user has an emergency.
- Protection Plan: Medical Alert’s device protection plan is an insurance policy that covers device loss, theft, and damage. The plan costs $5 a month and can save users hundreds of dollars compared to the cost of replacing their device without the protection plan.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
Medical Alert’s devices are monitored around-the-clock by trained operators. The monitoring center is completely redundant and UL-approved. Operators are trained to use the International Language Line for translation services, enabling them to offer emergency support in over 140 languages.
Medical Alert uses the AT&T wireless cellular network to connect users of its On the Go and At-Home No Landline to the monitoring center. The portable On the Go device works in all fifty states as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
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Our in-depth review on Medical Alert Read Review
Comparison of the top medical alert systems Get Details
LifeFone offers four high-quality medical alert device options. In addition, it has an easy to use smartphone app, Mobile Alert. Customers can use Mobile Alert to contact the call center as they would with their medical alert device. It can also be used as a “virtual escort service” if users are ever in a situation that makes them feel unsafe. The app is only $5.95 a month for existing LifeFone customers, and $7.95 a month for new customers.
Why We Chose LifeFone
As a completely standalone app, Mobile Alert sets LifeFone apart from other medical alert companies. Mobile Alert allows users to get help via the app even if they do not have a LifeFone medical alert device on them. Plus, the “escort” feature makes the mobile app useful beyond just emergency medical monitoring.
Pricing and Plans
LifeFone offers four different medical alert systems. All of the devices may be paid for on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis and come with a 30-day risk-free trial, during which customers can return the equipment for a full refund. Additionally, customers can cancel their subscription at any time and will receive a prorated refund for any prepaid months. LifeFone does not charge any shipping, equipment, or activation fees.
Use code CARE21 at checkout for a free month of service, free shipping, free activation, a free lockbox, and a price-lock guarantee.
There are two in-home device options:
- At-Home Landline: The At-Home Landline system is a basic medical alert device, and the least expensive of LifeFone’s offerings at $29.95 per month. The system must be connected to a landline, has a range of 1,300 feet from the base, and has a 32-hour backup battery. Fall detection can be added for an additional $5 per month.
- At-Home Cellular: This system has all of the same features as the At-Home Landline, but connects to AT&T cellular network rather than a landline. It is slightly more expensive than the landline system at $34.95 per month, but that includes cellular connection.
LifeFone also offers two mobile systems:
- At-Home & On-the-Go GPS: This system is actually both a mobile and in-home system. For $39.95 per month, users receive an in-home base unit with a range of 600 feet, as well as a waterproof mobile device with GPS. Fall detection can be added for an addition $10 per month.
- At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-in-Necklace: This all-in-one device is a completely mobile medical alert system. The only equipment is a lightweight pendant necklace or wristband, and a small charging dock. The two-way voice pendant also has mobile GPS tracking services, a 36-hour battery life, and is water-resistant. This system costs $43.95 per month, making it LifeFone’s most expensive. Fall detection costs an additional $5 per month.
Along with the Mobile Alert smartphone app, LifeFone customers have more add-on options, including:
- Lockbox: Customers can store a house key in a lockbox for EMTs or loved ones to use to enter their home in case of an emergency. LifeFone offers three different lockboxes. A hanging Master Lock Box and a wall-mounted Master Lock Box are both available for $39.95, and a basic hanging lockbox is available for $29.95.
- Wall-Mounted Button: For added protection, customers can purchase a wall-mounted button for $39.95. Users can mount the button anywhere in the home, and use it to contact the LifeFone call center during emergencies.
- Activity Assurance: LifeFone customers with an in-home device can add the Activity Assurance feature for an extra $6 per month. Each day at a set time, the base unit will beep until the user presses a button on the unit, letting LifeFone know that they are okay. If there is no response within 15 minutes, an emergency care agent will call the user. If there is no answer, the emergency care plan is put into place. The feature can give caregivers and friends and family peace of mind about their loved ones who use LifeFone.
- Complete Home Package: This bundle includes a medical alert device, a smoke detector, and a carbon monoxide detector for all-around protection in the home. The packages start at $42.95 a month for all devices, though prices can vary depending on the LifeFone medical alert device selected. Those interested in a Complete Home Package should call LifeFone to speak with an agent.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
LifeFone’s call centers are located in New York and California. Agents are available 24 hours-a-day and follow each user’s personal Emergency Care Instructions.
LifeFone’s cellular systems work using AT&T’s Nationwide Cellular Network. This allows customers to use it throughout the United States as long as they have a cellular connection.
GetSafe takes a modern approach to emergency monitoring with its voice-activated medical alert systems. Touting its devices as “the medical alert system you don’t have to wear,” GetSafe provides in-home protection without requiring that users wear a personal emergency button. Founded by home security industry experts, the company strives to provide customers with both the best user experience and the best protection and security.
Why We Chose GetSafe
GetSafe offers “passive” medical alert devices that provide industry-leading protection without needing to be worn. Its devices feature voice-activated, two-way speakers that replace the users’ need to wear a pendant or wristband personal emergency alert device (though GetSafe still provides customers with a complimentary lanyard button). Since the devices don’t need to be worn to provide protection, GetSafe eliminates the compliance element and ensures that users are protected even if they’re resistant to wearing a medical alert device.
- No need to wear personal emergency alert button
- Easy self-installation means no installation fees
- Low monthly monitoring fees
- 30-day free trial period
- Larger packages have high startup costs
- No on-the-go coverage is available
Pricing and Plans
GetSafe offers three service plans, the Starter, Standard, and Select. All use the same GetSafe equipment, but the Standard and Select plans include more equipment to cover larger homes. All plans include one base unit, at least one voice-activated alert system, and one complimentary personal help pendant. The standard and select plans also include at least one wall-mounted button. You can read more about the plan types and equipment below.
All GetSafe plans are paid for on a month-to-month basis, and all cost $24.95 per month. All plans have a one-time equipment purchase fee, which is higher for the Standard and Select plans because they include more equipment. There are no installation or activation fees, but users do need to pay for shipping. All customers are eligible for a 30-day trial period during which they can return their GetSafe system for a full refund.
All GetSafe plans use the same equipment, but are designed to meet the needs of seniors with a range of home sizes and types. The three plans are:
- Starter: Designed for smaller spaces like condos and apartments, the Starter plan includes one base unit, one voice-activated button, and one personal help button on a lanyard. The base unit comes equipped with 4G LTE cellular service (no landline required) and has a range of 1,000 feet from the pendant button. The voice-activated button has a range of 20 feet. The voice button can be placed anywhere in the home, but GetSafe recommends users place it in the bathroom. The one-time equipment fee for the Starter plan is $79.
- Standard: The Standard plan is best for 2-3 bedroom homes. It includes one 4G LTE base unit, two voice-activated buttons, one wall-mounted help button, and one lanyard help button and has a one-time equipment fee of $149.
- Select: GetSafe’s most extensive plan is the Select, which can accommodate 4-5 bedroom homes and has a one-time equipment cost of $229. To cover the larger space, the Select includes one 4G LTE base unit, three voice-activated help buttons, and two standard wall buttons, plus one personal lanyard button. GetSafe recommends this package for those who live in multi-story homes with several bathrooms, since the buttons can be spread out in different rooms.
GetSafe offers a comprehensive suite of add-on devices and features, including:
- Fall Detection: All GetSafe packages include one standard personal help button lanyard. For an additional $10 a month, users can upgrade to a fall detection pendant. These pendants use motion sensing technology to automatically detect falls and start a call to the monitoring center.
- Smoke Detector: In addition to its medical alert systems, GetSafe gives users the options to add a smoke detector to their package for a one-time fee of $80.
- Lockbox: GetSafe users can store a spare key to their home in a lockbox to enable emergency responders to enter the home even if the user cannot physically answer the door. Users can purchase a lockbox from GetSafe for a one-time fee of $30.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
GetSafe devices are monitored by a U.S.-based, UL-listed monitoring center. Operators are available to assist callers 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
All GetSafe base units come equipped with 4G LTE cellular service through AT&T’s Nationwide Cellular Network. No landlines are required to use GetSafe’s services, and service is available in all 50 United States.
Medical Care Alert only employs EMT/EMD-certified operators in its monitoring center. This ensures that all call center staff are well prepared to respond to emergencies. All operators also undergo a Security Industry Association-certified training program for extra assurance.
Upon dispatch, the monitoring center always sends a text message alert to users’ preferred contacts. This may include family, friends, caregivers, and even a doctor. This provides peace of mind and may even allow for nearby family or friends to provide help before EMTs arrive.
Why We Chose Medical Care Alert
Medical Care Alert stands out for its unparalleled medical alert monitoring. While all medical alert centers train their agents, Medical Care Alert operators all hold EMT/EMD certification. They all have first-hand experience responding to emergency situations, providing incomparable knowledge.
Pricing and Plans
The prices for Medical Care Alert systems only vary by $10, ranging from $29.95 for the least expensive system to $39.95 for the most expensive option. Customers can try any of the systems for 14 days, free of cost.
Customers can choose to pay for an annual, semi-annual, or quarterly subscription. The semi-annual and annual subscriptions save you a few dollars per month. If you do decide to cancel your subscription at any time, you’ll receive a prorated refund for any prepaid months.
New customers must sign up for a subscription plan. Month-to-month pricing is only available after the initial subscription period is over. If you do decide to switch to month-to-month payment, the monthly cost is the same as the quarterly plan. The prices listed below are for quarterly subscriptions.
Medical Care Alert offers both in-home and mobile devices. Of its four devices, three are intended for in-home use:
- HOME System: This is the most basic and least expensive device offered by Medical Care Alert, costing $29.95 per month. The HOME System is able to connect with a landline phone jack, be bundled with cable, or be used with cellular service. All HOME systems include two waterproof emergency alert buttons, which may be worn as either a pendant or wristband. The system has a range of 1,000 feet, and you have the option to add fall protection for an additional $10 a month.
- HOME-3G System: The HOME-3G system offers the same features as the HOME device but via AT&T cellular rather than a landline. It is a bit more expensive than the landline option, but it includes the cellular connection for the system in the monthly cost. Customers who purchase a HOME-3G system also have the option to add fall protection for $10 a month.
- HOME & YARD System: The HOME & YARD System is designed for those who frequently spend time outdoors, garden, or walk to the mailbox. The pendant has a two-way voice feature, so you can speak into the pendant, and even answer the phone via the pendant. The system comes with one water resistant pendant and has a range of 600 feet from the in-home base. HOME & YARD costs $34.95 per month.
If you or your loved one needs a mobile medical alert system that works outside of the home, Medical Care Alert offers one mobile device:
- HOME & AWAY ULTRA: The HOME & AWAY ULTRA System works from anywhere in the United States that has cellular service. The device costs $39.95 per month which includes location tracking using GPS, WiFi, and cellular signals; AT&T cellular service; and two-way voice communication. The device has a battery life of 3 days, and fall detection may be added to the HOME & AWAY ULTRA plan for an additional $10 a month.
In addition to fall detection which can be added to some of the systems for $10 a month, Medical Care Alert offers extra features including:
- Lockbox: Medical Care Alert includes a lockbox free of charge with its annual plans, and some semi-annual and quarterly plans. Otherwise, it’s a one time cost of $29.95 to purchase.
- Wall Mounted Button: If you purchase a HOME or HOME-3G system, you have the option of replacing one of your two pendants with a wall mounted alert button. The wall mounted button can be placed around the home in high-risk areas like the bathroom or by the stairs. It has a range of 1,000 feet from the base station. If you would like to keep both of your pendants, you can pay $29.95 for the button.
- Remote Care 24/7 App: This app allows a user’s authorized contacts to check their device’s location, battery life, and more. The app is included free for users of the HOME & AWAY ULTRA device. It is available for both Android and Apple devices.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
Medical Care Alert’s monitoring centers are located in New York and California. The centers are fully staffed by EMT/EMD-certified operators. Spanish-speaking operators and support for deaf and hearing-impaired customers are always available.
Medical Care Alert uses the AT&T wireless cellular network to connect users to the monitoring center, so the devices can be used nationwide.
QMedic devices are more than just emergency call buttons. The devices track users’ activity levels, sleep patterns, and compliance to give caregivers and family a clear picture of their loved one’s wellness. Caregivers can easily check the stats on the Caregiver Dashboard. This enables them to watch for patterns in their loved one’s behavior and make sure they are actually wearing their device.
Why We Chose QMedic
QMedic stands out for its unique compliance monitoring feature, which detects whether the user is actually wearing the device. This is crucial information, since the device only works if it’s actually being worn. Compliance monitoring gives caregivers peace of mind knowing their loved one is protected. Or, it allows them to take action if their loved one isn’t wearing their device. QMedic also offers activity tracking which monitors activity throughout the day and sleep data at night. A caregiver dashboard is available for caregivers to easily view this vital information.
- Compliance monitoring
- Simple and quick to install
- Caregiver dashboard provides easy access to valuable information
- Activity and sleep tracking provides valuable health insights
- Limited accessories
- No medication reminders available
Pricing and Plans
QMedic offers monthly and annual payment options. The annual payment plans save customers $60 per year with the in-home devices and an impressive $140 of savings per year for the mobile device. Free ground shipping is included with both monthly and annual plans.
There are no long-term contracts required, and customers may cancel their rental at any time. However, customers who paid for an annual plan will not receive a refund for the remaining months if they cancel before the year is over. There is also a 30-day money back guarantee on all systems.
QMedic keeps its offerings simple with one in-home and one mobile device:
- In-Home: QMedic offers its in-home system with either a landline or cellular connection for a monthly cost of $30 (there is no extra fee for the cellular version). This includes the base station, a waterproof help button, and 24/7 emergency and wellness monitoring. The emergency button may be worn as a pendant or wristband, has an 800-1,000 foot range from the base unit.
- Mobile GPS Medical Alert System: This is QMedic’s only mobile option. It costs $45 a month, including the device, charging cradle and cellular and GPS coverage. The portable device has GPS location services and is water-resistant so it can get wet in the rain. Unlike the in-home devices, the mobile device may only be worn as a neck pendant (not a wristband). The battery lasts 14 days between charges.
All QMedic devices come with free access to the Caregiver Dashboard. The dashboard gives caregivers, friends, and family members of QMedic users to access their loved one’s wear compliance, sleep, and activity data. Caregivers can also view the user’s call history with the monitoring center.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
QMedic devices are monitored by a UL-listed call center with locations in Utah and Idaho. According to the company website, it takes an average of 30 seconds for operators to respond to an emergency call.
QMedic uses the AT&T wireless network to connect users to the monitoring centers. Users are able to connect with the centers nationwide as long as there is cellular service.
RescueTouch was founded by a former EMT, Scott A. Lepper, who saw the importance of swift emergency response first-hand throughout his career. RescueTouch devices were created with the intention of keeping seniors safe while also improving their quality of life. As such, the devices come with unique features that are uncommon in the industry, such as two-way voice communication and guaranteed new equipment. The complete portability of the RescueTouch mobile SOS pendant and the ease of two-way calling makes this company a good option for active seniors and their loved ones who want to keep up with them.
Why We Chose RescueTouch
RescueTouch devices are not only used to connect users with emergency monitoring centers, but also their friends and family. Upon purchasing a device, users can add up to five personal contacts that they can choose to contact when they need help rather than emergency services.
The personal contacts also have the ability to call their loved one via the device. Each device is given a phone number, like a cell phone, that family and friends can call if they cannot reach their loved one for any reason. This is designed to give friends and family of RescueTouch users peace of mind when their loved one is not answering their phone.
- Both monitored and unmonitored plans available
- Unique two-way communication
- Lifetime price-lock, so users’ rates will never increase
- Fall detection and location tracking available with most plans
- No in-home device options
- All users must pay one-time equipment purchase fee
Pricing and Plans
RescueTouch customers have the choice of paying for their device on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. The six plans range in price from $30 to $75 a month, plus a one-time device purchase cost of $99 for single devices and $178 for the twin packs. Other than the purchase cost, there are no additional startup fees.
All of the payment options include free shipping and a 30-day money back guarantee. Customers may also cancel at any time without penalty. There is also a lifetime price-lock, so the monthly cost will remain the same over time.
RescueTouch actually only offers one device: the mobile SOS pendant. Customers choose the plan that meets their needs, and the device is programmed accordingly. The pendants are showerproof, worn as a necklace, and include a two-way speaker. All of the plans other than the 9-1-1 Caller include GPS capabilities. Fall detection is available with certain plans.
There are three family monitored plans. Customers who choose these plans alert their personal contacts (friends, family, and/or caregivers) when they press their emergency button, rather than the emergency response center. It is up to their personal contacts to determine whether to call 9-1-1 for the user or handle the situation on their own.
- Family Response: With this plan, users can add up to five personal contacts to be notified when they press their help button. Personal contacts can also check the location of the device via GPS, and have the option of initiating contact with their loved one. This plan is $35 a month, and does not include fall detection.
- Family Response with Fall Detect: This plan includes all of the same features as the Care Caller, plus fall detection. Fall detection is included in the monthly cost of $40.
- Chit Chat Twin Pack: The Chit Chat Twin Pack plan comes with two SOS pendants, so customers can use them as a “walkie-talkie.” Otherwise, the features are identical to the Fall Caller plan. The total monthly cost for both devices is $65, plus the one-time $178 sign-up fee.
RescueTouch also offers three professionally monitored plans:
- 9-1-1 Caller: This is the most basic and least expensive RescueTouch plan, at $30 a month. The device connects directly with 9-1-1 rather than a monitoring center. This is the only RescueTouch plan that does not include GPS location services or the option to connect with friends and family. Fall detection is not available with this plan.
- “The Whole Shabang”: Customers who select this plan will connect with the monitoring center when they press their help button. They can then tell the operator to contact their listed friends and family, or call emergency services (if the operator is unable to communicate with the user, they will automatically call emergency services). The monthly cost of $50 also includes GPS services, fall detection, and the option for friends and family to initiate contact.
- Chit Chat Monitored Twin Pack: This plan is identical to “The Whole Shabang”, with the addition of the chit-chat feature between the two included devices. The plan costs $75 a month including both devices, fall detection, and GPS.
The mobile SOS pendant is an all-in-one device, and RescueTouch does not offer any additional features at this time.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
RescueTouch devices connect with a monitoring center based in Utah. All operators undergo thorough training to handle medical, fire, and security emergencies.
Other Medical Alert Systems We’ve Reviewed
- Philips Lifeline
- GreatCall Lively Mobile
- MobileHelp Smart Watch
- BrickHouse Alert
- Walgreens Ready Response
- Apple Watch Medical Alert
- Medical Care Alert System
- The Tempo Medical Alert From CarePredict
- Freedom Guardian Watch
- Active Guardian Medical Alert
- Connect America
- One Call Alert
- Jitterbug Smartphone
- MobileHelp Solo Medical Alert
- Jitterbug Flip Phone
- MobileHelp Duo System with Fall Button
- MobileHelp Classic Medical Alert System
- Medipendant Medical Alert
Comparisons of the Top Medical Alert Systems
- Alert1 vs Life Alert
- Alert1 vs MobileHelp
- Bay Alarm Medical vs GreatCall Lively
- Bay Alarm Medical vs LifeStation
- Bay Alarm Medical vs Philips Lifeline
- Life Alert vs ADT
- Life Alert vs Bay Alarm Medical
- Life Alert vs Medical Alert
- Life Alert vs Medical Guardian
- Life Alert vs Philips Lifeline
- Life Alert vs QMedic
- LifeFone vs LifeStation
- LifeStation vs Life Alert
- LifeStation vs ResponseNow
- Medical Guardian vs Bay Alarm Medical
- Medical Guardian vs Medical Care Alert
- Bay Alarm Medical vs Medical Alert
- Medical Guardian vs Philips Lifeline
- Medical Alert vs Philips Lifeline
- Medical Guardian vs Medical Alert
- RescueTouch vs. MobileHelp
- RescueTouch vs Medical Guardian
- RescueTouch vs. LifeFone
- RescueTouch vs. Bay Alarm Medical
- RescueTouch vs. Medical Care Alert
- RescueTouch vs. QMedic
- RescueTouch vs. BlueStar Senior Tech
- RescueTouch vs. LifeStation
- RescueTouch vs. Lifenet
- RescueTouch vs. Rescue Alert
- RescueTouch vs. ResponseLINK
- RescueTouch vs. Numactive
- RescueTouch vs. Philips Lifeline
Christopher Norman, GNP
Our Contributing Senior Care Expert
Christopher Norman is a Board-Certified Geriatric Nurse Practitioner and Advanced Practice Holistic Nurse. Christopher holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the State University of New York at Geneseo, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Dominican College of Blauvelt, a Master’s of Science in Nursing degree with a Global Health Concentration from Yale University, and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Gerontology from New York University; he is currently considering doctoral programs.
Since graduating from Geneseo in 2004, Christopher has spent his Nursing career working almost exclusively with older people: first as a Nurse’s Aide (Mental Health Worker) on a geriatric unit in an inpatient psychiatric hospital, then as a Registered Nurse on a medical-surgical floor specialized for the elderly, and finally as a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner across all levels of care – home, continuum of care residences, assisted living facilities, inpatient hospitals, and skilled nursing homes. Christopher currently works as a GNP with a managed long-term care program in Central New York.
What Is a Medical Alert System?
Medical alert systems, sometimes referred to as personal emergency response systems, are wearable devices that make it easy for seniors to get the help they need in the event of a fall or another medical emergency. There are two basic types of devices: the classic in-home systems and mobile units.
In-home units provide emergency protection within a limited range of your home and yard.
An in-home unit includes a stationary base station and a wearable component. The home base contains a powerful speaker and microphone that allows you to speak with an operator at the monitoring center.
The second part of the system, the wearable component, is a small button that is typically worn around the neck or on the wrist. In the event of an emergency, you push the button, which activates the help function of the base. If you are not able to communicate with the operator for any reason, they will put your emergency plan into place. Depending on your personal preferences and needs, this may involve calling loved ones or sending EMS to your address.
Mobile units provide seniors access to emergency help wherever there is cell service.
These units use a cellular signal to connect with the monitoring center. They often also use GPS and other location services to provide family or operators with your exact location in the event of an emergency. With trustworthy companies, you won’t have to pay extra fees or add the device to your cell phone plan – the cell service is included in the monthly fee.
Mobile medical alert systems may be all-in-one devices or two-part systems. Both types have a two-way speaker that allows users to speak with the operators at the monitoring center. The main difference is that the two-part system has a separate wearable help button. This allows you to use the device while it’s charging or not on your person for some reason, such as if you stow it in your purse or another bag while on a walk.
Understanding Additional Medical Alert System Features
Along with the basic emergency function, personal medical alert systems come with a host of other features that can benefit many seniors.
- Fall Detection: Fall detection is a newer technology that automatically detects when you fall down. While it’s not 100% accurate, it can be life-saving or prevent further injury for those who fall and aren’t able to press their button. It typically comes at an extra monthly cost (usually $5 – $10) and sometimes requires a separate device.
- Caregiver Tracking and Monitoring: This feature allows caregivers to monitor their loved one’s activity as well as their device. This is most often used with mobile devices. For example, you can log into an online or mobile application to see the battery level of the senior’s device, find the location and set up alerts. One popular option is geofencing which allows you to receive a text message or email when your loved one enters or leaves a set area.
- In-Home Cellular Devices: Cell-enabled home bases serve the same function as landline bases, they just rely on cellular service instead of a phone line. Although they are more expensive than landline systems, they are almost always cheaper than the cost of adding phone service.Keep in mind that it’s not always as reliable as a landline system if you have spotty cellular coverage in your area.
- Medication Reminders and Automatic Dispensers: Some companies offer automatic medication reminders that alert the senior when it’s time to take their medicine. Another option is a separate device that automatically dispenses the correct medications at the right time. This can help seniors who struggle with remembering if they’ve taken their medication.
- Wall-Mounted Buttons: Some seniors or caregivers may want the added security of a wall-mounted button. The buttons serve as a backup in high-risk areas (such as a bathroom or kitchen) in case the senior isn’t wearing their pendant/help button for some reason.
- Voice Extender: Those who don’t want a mobile device but have a very large home or like to spend time in their yard can use a voice extender. The device extends the range of the microphone and speaker of the in-home base. For instance, those who like to garden could install a voice extender on the outside of their home so they can hear and speak with an operator. This also is also helpful to avoid accidentally calling EMS if you press your button but can’t hear the home base to cancel the alert.
- Remote Phone Answering: Some base stations can be used to answer phone calls made to a user’s landline without them having to pick up a phone. So, the in-home base station essentially functions as a speakerphone.
- Two-Way Communication: Some medical alert devices allow users’ loved ones to initiate communication with their loved one via the medical alert device. Typically in these cases the devices are assigned a phone number, like a cell phone, that will send an alert to the senior’s medical alert device. Using the two-way speaker included in all medical alert devices for contacting emergency operators, seniors and their loved ones can have a conversation.
How to Choose the Best Medical Alert System for You
Decide Which Type of Medical Alert System Is Best for You
The first step is to decide which type of medical alert system will work best for you or your loved one. You can choose a traditional home system, a mobile system (preferably one that will be practical to use in your home as well), or a bundle of both.
This decision mainly hinges on whether you or your loved one spends time out of the home unaccompanied. Active seniors or those who wander out of the home will benefit from a mobile device, while those who mostly stay at home can opt for an in-home device that doesn’t require charging.
1. Find a Quality Company
Finding a quality company is important since there are some that provide sub-par equipment at a higher price without quality customer service. As a starting point, you want to consider two main aspects of a company.
Is the company transparent?
Companies that provide concrete information about things like fees are better to work with since they don’t have anything to hide. Be sure to get clarity about every aspect of the contract, return policy and pricing. If the details are not available online or if representatives don’t offer clear answers to your questions, chances are good that you may be dealing with a shady company.
Is there a risk-free trial?
Some medical alert companies offer a 2-or 4-week risk-free trial for all new customers. This shows that the company is confident in their product, and isn’t worried about too many customers returning their systems after the trial is over. A risk-free trial can be a great way to test a medical alert system without having to make a large financial commitment.
What is the return policy like?
It’s important to choose a company that allows you to return equipment and cancel your service without extra charges. You will almost always pay return shipping, but other than that they shouldn’t charge any fees. If you opt for quarterly, semi-annual, or annual billing, be sure that you can get a refund for the unused portion of your subscription.
Is the company reputable?
The best way to know if a company delivers on its promises is to hear about other customers’ real experiences. Check several websites, such as Google reviews and Thumbtack, for reviews from past customers or those who have dealt with the company. If any reviews mention faulty equipment, ineffective medical alert monitoring, sneaky pricing, or any other negative experience, think twice before choosing the company. There are many reputable and reliable medical alert companies you can work with instead.
2. Prioritize Comfort and Convenience
A medical alert system only works if you wear it. Whether you are researching for yourself or you are a caregiver looking for a loved one, it’s very important to take comfort into consideration. Some mobile units are more comfortable and convenient than others.
Most of the home systems have very similar help buttons/pendants, and you typically can choose to wear it around your neck or on your wrist. However, mobile units are not all the same. All-in-one systems require you to wear the main unit around your neck, wrist, or belt, or keep it stowed somewhere accessible. Others allow you to keep the base unit in a bag, purse, or on your belt, and you only have to wear a small, lightweight button on your wrist or neck.
To make their medical alert systems more appealing and easier to blend in with one’s outfit, some companies are now offering jewelry-style medical alert necklaces. These pendants look like a normal, stylish necklace but still have a personal help button attached to the back. These jewelry medical alert pendants can be a good solution for seniors who may feel self-conscious about wearing a traditional medical alert pendant or seniors who have been resistant to regularly wearing a medical alert device in the past.
3. Pay Attention to Battery Life
A medical alert device will ultimately be useless if it is left uncharged, and portable devices do require regular charging. Seniors who are used to plugging in a cell phone every night may be more comfortable with a mobile unit that requires nightly charging. For more forgetful seniors, look for a system that allows for battery monitoring so loved ones will be alerted if the device’s battery gets too low. Wearable help buttons for in-home systems do not need to be charged.
4. Consider Optional Features
There are a large number of optional features to consider. Some of the most helpful ones to consider are listed below.
- Fall Detection: It’s important not to fully rely on this technology as it doesn’t work 100% of the time, but for seniors at risk of falling, it can be life-saving. If a senior isn’t able to press their button, this can automatically detect the fall and call for help.
- Caregiver Tracking: Caregiver tracking is a huge bonus for those who care for seniors. It allows you to monitor a number of aspects, depending on the specifics of the system. Some of the most useful features include battery level monitoring, geofencing (getting notifications when seniors leave or enter a predetermined area such as their home), and location tracking.
- Medication Reminders: Some systems allow seniors or their caregivers to program medication reminders. The system will sound an alert at the preprogrammed time, reminding seniors to take their medication. More advanced versions of this include an automatic dispensing system which makes the process even easier. Either version of medication reminders can be extremely helpful for seniors living with chronic conditions or who otherwise have a complicated medication schedule.
5. Choose a Subscription Type
Most companies give customers several options for payment periods. Many also offer discounts and extras, such as free shipping, for those who agree to be billed quarterly, semi-annually or annually. The largest discounts are typically for annual subscriptions, so those who are able to pay for a year at a time usually pay the lowest monthly rates.
But, if choosing a quarterly, semi-annual, or annual payment option, be very careful to find out the company’s refund policy. Many companies offer a prorated refund if you cancel mid-subscription. For instance, if you decide to cancel after three months, but you paid for six months, you receive a refund for the three months you didn’t use. Choosing a company with this type of policy will protect you from losing money down the line.
For more information and tips, read our guide on how to choose a medical alert system.
Tips for Caregivers of Seniors
Include loved ones in the purchasing process.
Whether you are purchasing a system for a loved one or just helping them to make the choice, be sure to include them in this process as much as possible. At the end of the day, it’s of no benefit if you convince them to get the system, but they don’t wear it consistently. If your loved one is unhappy about wearing a medical alert device, it is especially important to include them in the process. This can help them get more comfortable with the idea and increase the likelihood that they’ll actually use the device.
Consider your loved one’s specific needs.
There are many different features you can choose from when purchasing a medical alert device. Consider which ones your loved one will get the most use out, and which features will be most vital in keeping him or her safe. For example, if they have dementia, a device with location services may be a good idea in case of wandering. Likewise, fall detection may be necessary if your loved one is prone to accidents. Make sure you check which specific features and tools a device has and whether it will meet all of your loved one’s needs prior to making your purchase.
Be prepared to try several different options.
You might have an idea of what system will be best, but if your loved one doesn’t like it, be willing to return it and try something different. Either you or they may love the idea of a certain type of system, but after trying it out, they may realize it doesn’t work as anticipated or it isn’t comfortable.
In that case, you should return the device and try something different, whether from the same company or a different company. This highlights the importance of choosing a company with a gracious return policy. Also, keep in mind that many companies offer the same devices, so choosing a different company doesn’t mean that you will get a different device. If it looks similar, chances are that it was manufactured by the same company.
Make sure your loved ones are using the device, especially during high-risk activities.
A medical alert system does no good if your loved one isn’t actually using it or is using it improperly. Upon purchasing a device, take the time to walk your loved one through how to wear it and use it in case of an emergency. You may want to consider the simplicity of a device if you have any concerns that it may be difficult for your loved one to adjust to using it. It may also be wise to drop in (if possible) or call your loved one, especially at first and until they get used to wearing the device all the time, every day.
Who Should Consider a Medical Alert System
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every four older adults falls every year. Of those falls, 20 percent are serious, resulting in a broken bone, head trauma, or a similar injury. And, falling once doubles one’s chance of experiencing another fall in the future. There’s no way to completely prevent falls, so it’s crucial to provide immediate help when a fall does happen. This is where home medical alert systems can be invaluable.
Christopher Norman, GNP, explains that there are a variety of factors that contribute to seniors’ fall risk, including “changes in sensoria (vision/hearing/sensation), increased likelihood of weakness related to more sitting / less walking, too many medications, changes in center of gravity due to bone loss and height, improper footwear, and hazards in the home.”
There’s no way to completely prevent falls, but there are things seniors and their families can do to make one safer at home. Christopher suggests home modifications like installing grab-bars in bathrooms, as well as simpler changes such as removing throw rugs, rearranging furniture, and decluttering. “The long-term success of aging at home can be highly influenced with proactive steps,” he says.
One such action families can take is purchasing a medical alert system. The devices allow seniors to stay independent while making sure help is available when needed and can help prevent further injury or death after a fall or other emergency.
And medical alert systems don’t just provide security for seniors who are prone to falls- they have many other uses as well. Below, we offer examples of those who may benefit from medical alert systems.
Independent & Active Seniors
Falls don’t just happen indoors – a 2017 study shows that 48% of the most recent falls for seniors happen outdoors. Seniors who enjoy an active lifestyle and the outdoors can use medical alert devices to maintain that freedom as long as possible. Mobile medical alert devices ensure that help is always available and that emergency personnel can find a user’s location.
Seniors who fall into this category should look for a medical alert device with the following features:
- Mobile Device: This gives seniors and their loved ones’ peace of mind, and it allows seniors to maintain an active lifestyle for as long as possible.
- Mobile GPS Tracking: Devices with the newest technology can be located with a much greater degree of precision, since they don’t just rely on cell service tracking. The best systems use multiple tracking methods including cell service, GPS, and WIFI hotspots.
Seniors Who Wish to Age in Place
Aging in place is becoming more and more popular, with 75% of older adults saying that they plan to stay in their current home for the rest of their lives.But, not having the constant presence of a caregiver creates a risk of falling and not receiving the necessary care.The risk is substantial for seniors – every 11 seconds an older adult is treated for a fall in an emergency room, and 25% experience a fall once a year.
Medical alert systems can make aging in place safer for those with mobility difficulties and for those who receive in-home care. It’s especially necessary for those who don’t have a loved one or caregiver who stays home with them 24/7.
Seniors who plan to age in place should look for the following features in a medical alert system:
Automatic Fall Detection: Those who struggle with mobility are at a higher risk of falls, so it’s wise to invest in as much protection as possible. Automatic Fall Detection doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it can be a lifesaver for those who fall and aren’t able to press their button.
Voice Activated Wall Button: This feature allows seniors to call for help to connect with an operator rather than needing to physically press a button. This is helpful for seniors who may struggle to reach a wall button should they suffer a fall while not wearing their help button.
Medication Reminders and Automated Dispensers: In an assisted living facility, staff would be available to provide reminders and assistance with medication. Those who choose to age in place and opt for home care don’t always have caregivers present to provide this service. Some companies, such as MobileHelp, provide medication reminders for those who often forget when to take their medications.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
60% of those with dementia will wander, and a senior with Alzheimer’s will often be unable to remember important information. Medical alert devices can help caregivers locate their loved ones if they become lost.
Seniors with memory impairment should look for the following features:
- Mobile and Home Device Combination: Seniors who may wander off or become lost can benefit from a mobile device that allows their loved ones to track their location. But, a home medical alert system that won’t stop working if they forget to charge their mobile device is also very useful. MobileHelp is an example of a company that offers an affordable bundle of a mobile and home medical alert system. The cost is $41.95 a month for both systems.
- Wall Buttons: Wall buttons are helpful in high-risk locations (such as the restroom) if you or your loved one forgets to wear the help button. Simply press the button and the monitoring center will be notified that help is needed.
- Pinpoint Location Tracking: Newer location tracking technology uses cellular service, GPS, and nearby WiFi hotspots to provide a user’s location. The location data is more accurate than location tracking on older units.
- Geofencing: Seniors who tend to wander can especially benefit from this service. Some companies (such as Bay Alarm Medical) allow loved ones to set geofencing alerts that send notifications when a loved one leaves a set area.
- Battery Monitoring: Battery monitoring can take different forms. Some devices alert the senior when the battery is getting low and it’s time for charging. Others send alerts to loved ones when a mobile device’s battery reaches a critical level. This is helpful for seniors who tend to forget to charge their devices.
- Medication Reminders: Some companies, such as MobileHelp, provide medication reminders for those who may forget when to take their medications.
Seniors with High-Risk Medical Conditions
Almost 70% of older adults with diabetes will die due to some type of heart disease, and about 1 in 6 will die due to a stroke. Many deaths could be prevented if the senior was able to get the help they needed in time. Medical alert devices can be lifesaving for seniors with serious medical conditions. Consider the following features that provide extra protection for those with high-risk conditions.
- Automatic Fall Detection: While not 100% reliable, automatic fall detection is an extra line of protection. If you can’t push your button during an emergency, automatic fall detection can prevent further long-term damage and may even save your life.
- Activity Monitoring: This premium feature uses extra motion sensors to detect a sudden change in activity level or lack of activity. If these situations occur, the system sends an alert to a loved one that something may be wrong.
For more on how seniors can live independently using assistive technology and home modifications, read our guide on the subject.
Medical Alert System Costs & Payment Assistance for Seniors
Companies typically do not charge customers for the medical alert devices themselves. Instead, customers pay a monthly monitoring fee. A “free” lease of the actual medical alert device is oftentimes included in this fee, so as long as the user is paying for monitoring, they can continue to use the device. They will need to return the device to the company once they are no longer using the services. The monthly cost for monitoring ranges from approximately $20 to $60 a month, depending on the type of system, company, and add-ons.
On the more affordable end of the price range, an in-home medical alert system connected via landline is typically between $20 and $30 a month. Cell-enabled, mobile units tend to be more expensive. For this type of device, you can expect to pay $30-$45 a month.
Medicare and private insurance typically don’t provide coverage for personal medical alerts, making the typical monthly cost out of budget for some low-income seniors. That being said, there are some payment assistance options available. Which specific options are available to you will depend on your income, personal situation, and the state in which you reside.
The main difference is that the device which you wear around your neck only dials pre-programmed numbers and isn’t professionally monitored. The downside of this setup is that loved ones aren’t always near their phones or able to receive a call or text. For example, if you were to suffer a fall in the middle of the night, your call or text could go hours without being noticed.
That being said, this type of system is better than nothing if you absolutely can’t afford the monthly cost of a medical alert system. For more information and to apply, visit your nearest VA location or call (844) 698-2311.
Medicaid Coverage of Medical Alert Systems (PERS)
In most states, Medicaid covers some or all of the monthly cost of personal emergency response systems. Under Medicaid, medical alerts are officially called “Personal Emergency Response Services” or PERS. PERS is often one of the many services that can be used by seniors to maintain their independence.
Long-Term Care Insurance
If you have long-term care insurance, you may be covered for the purchase of a medical alert device. Most long-term care insurance policies cover durable medical equipment and will provide coverage for services or equipment that help individuals remain in their home rather than relocate to residential care. Check the details of your policy to see if durable medical equipment or other in-home services are covered.
Contact Your Local Area Agency on Aging
Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) is a nationwide network of organizations that provide services and assistance to seniors. Your AAA may be able to direct you to state or local assistance for obtaining medical alert devices. Contact your local AAA to find out if any financial help for medical alert devices is available in your state or city. Your local AAA can also help you if you are confused about what assistance you qualify for.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does AARP recommend a medical alert system?
The AARP highly recommends medical alert systems to help seniors live longer, more active lives. They do not endorse any specific system. However, many medical alert system providers will give discounts to AARP members.
How much does a medical alert system cost?
How do medical alert systems work?
Medical alert systems typically consist of two components – a base station and a wearable device. When the user presses the help button on their wearable device, a call is initiated to a monitoring center. The user is connected with an operator who can help to assess the situation and dispatch the emergency services to their location. Some systems will come with extra features like GPS monitoring and automatic fall detection.
What is the best medical alert systems for seniors?
All of the medical alert systems on this list meet the minimum criteria that keep users protected and connected to help whenever an emergency may occur. But each system has different features that make it stand apart from the rest. We highly recommend that each person considers their individual needs so they can select a system that fits their lifestyle.
Are medical alert systems a good idea for seniors with memory impairment?
Medical alert systems can be a great aid for seniors with memory impairment and early-stage dementia. The help button is far easier to use in an emergency than trying to remember phone numbers. Some medical alert systems also offer medication reminders that help seniors stick to the correct schedule and dosage. For seniors that may wander or get lost, mobile GPS tracking can be life-saving and provide reassurance for caregivers.
Are medical alert systems covered by Medicare?
Medicare does not pay for medical alert systems. However, Medicare Advantage plans may cover some or all of the cost of a medical alert system as an additional benefit. If you qualify for Medicaid, you may also be eligible for coverage.
Are there any free medical alert systems?
There are not currently any medical alert systems that are free for everyone, nor a widespread financial assistance program for medical alert systems. However, you may be able to find a medical alert system for free or get reimbursed for a large portion of the cost. Potential ways to get a free medical alert system include through local senior organizations, health insurance reimbursement, and veteran’s benefits.
What are the most important medical alert system features?
When faced with an emergency, the ability to access trained and reliable agents is of the utmost importance, which is why every one of the medical alert systems on our list has live customer support and monitoring centers in North America. The importance of other features will vary from customer to customer. For example, mobile service would not matter so much to someone who is housebound, while it would be crucial for someone who drives or goes for walks. This is why it’s so important for each customer to weigh the unique features of every system before deciding which one fits them best.
If you have more questions about medical alert systems, you can see articles on additional FAQs below:
- Does the VA pay for medical alert systems?
- Does Tricare cover medical alert systems?
- When should you get a medical alert bracelet?
- How to order a medical alert bracelet
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- What are the risks and limits of medical alert systems?
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- How can I get a medical alert system for free?
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