The Best Medical Alert Systems of 2019
Reviewed by: Christopher Norman, GNP
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every four older adults falls every year, and 20 percent of those falls are serious, resulting in a broken bone, head trauma or a similar injury. Seniors who experience a fall double their chance of experiencing another fall in the future. Unfortunately, the risk of falling can’t be completely avoided, so it’s crucial to provide immediate help and assistance if and when a fall happens – this is where home medical alert systems can be invaluable.
Medical alert systems allow seniors to retain their independence at home and in their communities, while minimizing the risk of further injury or death from falling being unable to receive immediate help.
While there are many quality, above-board companies in the home medical alert industry, there are also those that are overpriced, misleading or profiting from hidden fees. We’ve created this review to shed light on the top home medical alert options so that seniors and their loved ones can easily choose a reputable and affordable home medical alert company that works for them.
At a Glance: The 8 Best Medical Alert Systems
- Medical Guardian – Best for Premium Features
- MobileHelp – Best for Those Without a Landline
- LifeFone – Best Standalone Mobile App
- Life Alert – Best for Industry Experience and At Saving Lives
- Bay Alarm Medical – Best for Low Monitoring Costs
- Medical Care Alert – Best for EMT/EMD Certified Monitoring
- QMedic – Best for Compliance and Activity Monitoring
- BoomerAlert – Best For Advanced Fall Detection
Cost Comparison of Top Recommended Medical Alert Systems
|In-Home Cost||Mobile Cost||Starting Fees|
|Medical Guardian||$27.45- $79.95||$36.62- $49.95||$0-$99|
|MobileHelp||$19.95- $41.95||$37.95- $41.95||$0-$349.95|
|LifeFone||$20.79- $29.95||$30.79- $43.95||$0|
|Life Alert||$49- $68||$68- $88||$95-$198|
|Bay Alarm Medical||$19.95- $29.95||$29.95- $59.95||$0-$9.95|
|Medical Care Alert||$29.95- $34.95||$39.95||$0-$12|
|QMedic||$25- $30||$33.33- $45||$0|
How We Chose the Best Medical Alert Systems
In order to select the best medical alert systems, we looked at 25 different companies and ensured that their systems met 5 critical qualifications. If the medical alert systems did not meet these standards, they were eliminated from consideration.
We considered the following qualifications to find the best medical alert systems:
- All companies are the direct providers of their own medical alert systems. No large retailers that sell other companies’ systems were considered.
- All companies must offer systems that work in the home and on-the-go. No companies with in-home devices only were considered.
- All companies must provide live customer service and sales support over the phone to best serve their future and current customers.
- A live agent must respond to all emergency calls at the monitoring center.
- All monitoring centers must be based in North America.
Expert Reviews of the Best Medical Alert Systems
From smartwatch-style devices to remote activity monitoring, Medical Guardian provides numerous extra features for those who want the added peace of mind or don’t like traditional medical alert options.
Why We Chose Medical Guardian
Medical Guardian stands out for its wide variety of premium features. In addition to giving customers six different device choices- more than almost any other company we reviewed- several of those devices include features that go above and beyond standard emergency monitoring. For example, the Freedom Guardian has voice-to-text SMS messaging capabilities, making it extremely easy for caregivers to get in touch with their loved one. Some Medical Guardian devices also offer location and activity tracking included in the monthly cost, and family and caregiver portals bring Medical Guardian’s devices to the next level.
- Wide variety of device options
- Availability of premium features
- Free caregiver portal
- 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
|Monthly Cost||Type of Device||Battery Life||Range||Fall Detection|
|Classic Guardian||$29.95||In-home system||32-hour backup||1,300 feet||$10 a month|
|Home Guardian||$34.95||In-home system||30-hour backup||600 feet||$10 a month|
*One-time device cost of $99
For in-home systems, Medical Guardian offers three different device options:
- Classic Guardian: This barebones landline system is the cheapest option and comes with one waterproof neck pendant or wrist pendant. The system has a range of 1,300 feet and you are able to purchase automatic fall detection for an additional $10 a month.
- Home Guardian: This option uses AT&T’s cellular network for those who can’t or don’t want to use a landline connection. It’s similar to the Classic Guardian in that it uses the same neck and wrist pendant options, but its range of 600 feet is less than half of the other two in-home systems.
- Family Guardian: The Family Guardian package is rather expensive at $79.95 a month, but the package includes two motion sensors and one door sensor that allows family or caregivers to stay updated on a loved one’s activity levels by using an included 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. However, the device solely relies on GPS signals to relay a customer’s location to emergency services, as opposed to the other two devices which can also utilize 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 contains a two-way speaker and a help button, and it can be carried or worn around the neck – it doesn’t come with a wearable pendant like the Mobile Guardian. WiFi location services and fall detection is available. The monthly cost is $49.95 and fall detection is an additional $10 a month.
- Freedom Guardian: This medical alert device is similar in design to a smartwatch and has some of the same functionalities expected with those devices such as voice-to-text SMS messaging with specific family and friends, customizable reminders and alarms, and the weather forecast. 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 additional $2 a month and is an option for those who want the added safety of a help button in a high-risk area in case they aren’t wearing their pendant. It’s available with both the in-home and mobile device options.
- Voice-Activated Wall Button: This device is similar to the mounted wall button, but it activated by voice instead of having to manually press the button. 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 third-party monitoring service that is 100% US-based and certified by The Monitoring Association (TMA). Additionally, the company 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.
Unlike many other companies, MobileHelp doesn’t charge extra for cellular in-home systems. As a result, its classic plan with a cellular connection is the cheapest among the top companies we reviewed. As a bonus, the company currently includes a lockbox for free with customer’s orders rather than charging a monthly or one-time fee (as is common).
Why We Chose Mobile Help
MobileHelp stands out for its inexpensive cellular device options. For users seeking an inexpensive device who are without a landline, MobileHelp offers an accessible range of products. The smartwatch option is even able to provide coverage for the most active of seniors. The company also offers a range of convenient extra features at a reasonable price – including a free lockbox allowing EMS access to the home. For a low cost, users can also add on a medication scheduling feature making this an excellent option for seniors with complicated schedules.
- No need for a landline with any device
- No extra charge for cellular connection
- Range of premium features
- Availability of device options
- Some customers will need to pay an activation fee
- Fall detection not available for all devices
Pricing and Plans
|Monthly Cost||Type of Device||Connection||Water Resistant||Battery Life||Range||Fall Detection|
|Classic||19.95||In-home system||Cellular||Yes||30-hour backup||600 feet||$10 a month|
|Solo||$37.95||Mobile system||Cellular||Yes||24 hours||N/A||$10 a month|
|Duo||$41.95||In-home and mobile system||Cellular||Yes||24 hours; 30-hour backup||600 feet||$10 a month|
|Smart||$24.95*||Smartwatch-style device||Cellular||Yes||48 hours||N/A||N/A|
*The smartwatch device must be purchased at $349.95
MobileHelp essentially has three device options – an in-home system, a mobile device and a smartwatch. The fourth plan consists of a combination of the in-home and mobile systems. All of the devices are cellular-based so no landlines are required.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Smart: This device is a smartwatch-style device created for MobileHelp by Samsung and it costs $349.95 to purchase, and then $24.95 a month for monitoring. It’s not a fully functional smartwatch – certain features such as messaging and receiving calls aren’t available. However, the watch does provide heart rate monitoring, step counting, and a weather report. The help feature can be accessed by holding down the side button and talking with emergency operators via the two-way speaker included in the watch.
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 at no cost)
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
MobileHelp contracts Rapid Response to provide monitoring to its customers. Rapid Response is a US-based monitoring company that provides services to security companies in addition to home medical alert companies. The company is a member of The Monitoring Association (TMA).
MobileHelp devices utilize the AT&T network to connect to the monitoring center. The mobile devices will work nationwide anywhere there is AT&T cellular coverage.
Why We Chose LifeFone
In addition to its in-home and mobile alert devices, LifeFone 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, and can also use the app as a “virtual escort service” if they 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.
- No need to have a wearable device for protections
- Variety of services help users feel protected in every situation
- No contract, startup or installation fees
- Free monitoring is available for a second family member
- Additional fees apply for add-ons that some other companies offer for free
- Shorter than average battery life
Pricing and Plans
|At-Home||At-Home Cellular||At-Home & On-the-Go GPS||At Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-in-Necklace|
|Type of Device||In-home system||In-home system||In-home and mobile system||Mobile system|
|Battery Life||32-hour backup||32-hour backup||24 hours; 30-hour backup||36 hours|
|Range||1,300 feet||1,300 feet||600 feet in-home, 350 feet mobile||N/A|
|Fall Detection||$5 a month||$5 a month||$10 a month||$5 a month|
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: The At-Home Cellular system has all of the same features as the At-Home Landline, but connects to AT&T cellular network, making it a good option for those looking for a basic in-home system but who do not have 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 system is the only LifeFone offering that does not require an in-home base. The only equipment is a lightweight pendant necklace or wristband, and a small charging dock. The two-way voice pendant also has GPS location services, a 36-hour battery life, and is water-resistant. This is the most expensive LifeFone system, at $46.95 per month. Fall detection is an addition $5 per month.
Along with the Mobile Alert smartphone app, LifeFone customers can purchase additional accessories and features including:
- Lockbox: Customer 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. The button can be mounted anywhere in the home, and functions like the pendant or wristband 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 additional $6 per month. Activity Assurance is designed to give caregivers and friends and family peace of mind about their loved ones who use LifeFone. 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.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
LifeFone’s call centers are located in New York and California. Emergency Care Agents are available 24 hours-a-day, and will follow the personal Emergency Care Instructions that every user sets upon receiving their system.
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.
Life Alert is the industry founder and leader in personal protection. Established in 1987, Life Alert is the longest-standing medical alert device company in the United States and has decades of experience in the medical alert industry.
Today, Life Alert remains one of the largest companies in the field, handling over 2 million emergency calls per year, resulting in a life being saved every 11 minutes. The company is Five Diamond certified with the International Central Station Alarm Association and maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Life Alert is the first medical alert company to offer 4G LTE technology. It is also the only company that offers devices that do not need charging which allows for a truly 24/7 non-stop protection.
Why We Chose Life Alert
Life Alert stands out for its decades of experience in the medical alert industry. Because of this experience, customers are receiving the best customer support from the most knowledgeable agents, especially when compared to newer companies. In addition to the standard device options, Life Alert also offers users the option to contact their monitoring center through a smartphone app or over the phone, giving users a simple way to get help if they aren’t wearing their device.
- The most experienced company in the industry
- Cellphone emergency options add an extra layer of protection
- On-the-go battery lasts up to 10 years without charging
- No extra cost to use a cellular connection
- All users pay a one-time fee
- Mandatory 3-year contract
Pricing and Plans
|In the Home||In the Bathroom||On the Go|
|Monthly Cost||$49*||$19 additional**||$19 additional**|
|Type of Device||In-home||In-home||Mobile|
|Battery Life||72-hour backup||Up to 10 years||Up to 10 years|
|Water Resistant||Yes. Fully waterproof.||Yes. Fully waterproof.||Yes. Fully waterproof.|
|Range||800 – 1,000 feet||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Fall Detection||Not available***||Not available***||Not available***|
*One time fee of $95
**One time fee of $96 for any two services. One time fee of $198 for any three services. For example, a customer may have the Signature service and two Life Alert Help On the Go.
***Fall detection is not available with any device as Life Alert believes the technology is still inferior and customers become frustrated with the amount of false alarms.
Life Alert offers three “levels of protection:” In the Home, In the Bath and On the Go. The pricing structure is tiered, so you pay $49 a month for the first level (in the home), $69 for the second (both In the Home and In the Bath), and $89 for all three. You cannot select either the bath device or mobile device on its own.
There is a 3-year contract for services. Customers who break the contract without a qualifying reason (such as a moving to a nursing home) may be held responsible to pay part or all of the remainder due. Additionally, there is a $95 fee that covers shipping, in-home installation, and activation for the first level, a $96 fee for the second level and a $198 fee for the third.
Life Alert manufactures their own unique proprietary equipment, and each device comes with a lifetime warranty. The company has three equipment options:
- Signature In-Home Service: The in-home system is available with a landline or a cellular connection at no extra charge. The base unit has a range of 800 – 1000 feet and is paired with a waterproof pendant. There is a 72-hour battery backup in case of power failure. The pendant battery lasts up to 7 years and doesn’t need charging.
- Bathroom HELP Button: For added home security,Life Alert’s offers a wall-mounted emergency HELP button designed to be used in the bathroom. It’s a waterproof button with both a microphone and a speaker that can be placed in the tub in case of a fall. In case of a fall, you can talk directly to an emergency dispatcher. The button could also be placed anywhere else in the home.
- HELP On the Go with GPS: This small, portable device allows you to take Life Alert’s protection with you when leaving the home. This mobile unit uses a cellular connection and GPS to locate the user in case of an emergency. The mobile unit never needs charging and has a battery life of up to 10 years. Life Alert is the only company that offers a mobile unit that does not need charging and is available for use 24/7 with no interruptions for charging.
Life Alert has a mobile app that customers can download to their smartphone. The app connects them with the monitoring center if they ever are not wearing their device or simply find it easier to use their phone during an emergency. Users can also call the center via the app even if there is no emergency, but they just feel unsafe and want to have someone on the line for protection. There is an option to dial the monitoring center on a normal cell phone for those who do not have a smartphone.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
Life Alert owns and operates its own dispatch and monitoring center which is located in the United States and is UL and Five Diamond certified. Dispatchers spend up to one year in training. Agents notify users’ family members when an emergency call is made, and keep their health history on file to give to paramedics.
Life Alert uses GSM phone networks for cellular coverage and can be used nationwide.
Customers who have a landline can take advantage of the lowest monthly cost among the top companies we’ve reviewed for an in-home system. Monthly monitoring starts at just $19.95 a month with no activation, equipment, or installation fees.
Bay Alarm Medical’s in-home base units have an extremely large range: 1,000 feet. Additionally, the company offers a unique service called “On the Road.” This car-based system automatically calls for help in the event of a crash or customers can press the help button if there’s an emergency in the car.
Why We Chose Bay Alarm Medical
Bay Alarm Medical stands out for providing excellent coverage at lower-than-average costs. For seniors on a budget, using a Bay Alarm Medical system can save them $10- $20 a month compared to the average competitors pricing. And there are no device, activation, or installation fees to make the initial set up more expensive. For a small monthly fee, caregivers can gain access to Caregiver Tracking and geofencing tools, making this a great option for caregivers who want to keep a close eye on their loved ones.
- Lower than average pricing
- 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
|In-Home (Landline)||In-Home (Cellular)||On the Go||On the Road||360° Protection|
|Type of Device||In-home system||In-home system||Mobile system||In-car system||In-home and mobile system|
|Battery Life||32-hour backup||32-hour backup||3 days||N/A||32-hour backup; 3-day mobile battery|
|Range||1,000 feet||1,000 feet||N/A||N/A||1,000 feet|
|Fall Detection||$10 a month||$10 a month||$10 a month||N/A**||$10 a month|
*A cellular base station costs an extra $10 a month
**Automatic crash detection is included
Bay Alarm Medical has five different plan options which cost between $19.95 and $59.95 a month. While customers can choose to pay monthly or semi-annually, there’s no discount for choosing a longer billing cycle other than free shipping with the semi-annual billing plan. No activation, equipment, or cancellation fees are charged, and those who cancel within 30 days are eligible for a full refund (minus the cost of shipping).
Bay Alarm Medical has three different device options, including one unique offering:
- In-home: The company’s in-home system is available with a landline or cellular connection – the only difference 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. Customers also have the option of choosing a package that includes both the in-home system and a mobile device.
- 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, and runs on 4G-LTE cellular network. The battery lasts for 72 hours between charges and you can upgrade to automatic fall detection 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.
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.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
Bay Alarm Medical devices are monitored by a U.S.-based call center with locations in Utah and Idaho. 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 Care Alert ensures that all call center staff are prepared to respond to emergencies by only employing EMT/EMD certified operators in the monitoring center. In addition to their emergency medical certifications, all operators undergo a Security Industry Association certified training program.
Upon dispatch, the monitoring center automatically sends an SMS text message alert to a predetermined list of people, which can include family, friends, caregivers and even your 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 monitoring centers. While all medical alert centers train their agents, Medical Care Alert operators all hold EMT/EMD certification. This means that the operators have all had first-hand experience responding to emergency situations and can carry that knowledge over to the calls that come into the monitoring center. Whenever a user calls the monitoring center, preferred contacts receive a text alert that allows them to stay in the know about their loved one’s situation.
- EMT certified operators
- Home and Home & Yard are easy to use while on vacation
- Free lockbox provided with all annual subscription plans
- Great coverage for seniors who spend time outside
- Optional devices can be costly
- Fall detection is not available with all devices
Pricing and Plans
|HOME System||HOME-3G System (Cellular)||HOME & YARD System||HOME & AWAY ELITE (GPS)||HOME & AWAY PRIMO (GPS & Wi-Fi)|
|Type of Device||In-home system||In-home system||In-home system||Mobile system||Mobile system|
|Battery Life||72-hour backup||72-hour backup||24-hour backup||36 hours||4 days|
|Range||1,000 feet||1,000 feet||600 feet||N/A||N/A|
|Fall Detection||$10 a month||$10 a month||Not available||$10 a month||Not available|
The prices for different 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.
For each of the systems, new customers can choose to pay for an annual, semi-annual, or quarterly subscription. The annual subscription typically saves 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. Those looking for an in-home system have three options:
- HOME System: This is the most basic and least expensive device offered by Medical Care Alert, costing $29.95 per month. The HOME System connects with a landline phone jack and comes with two waterproof pendant alert buttons. 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: If you would like to stick with the basic, in-home system, but do not have a landline, 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 system that works outside of the home, Medical Care Alert offers two mobile options:
- HOME & AWAY ELITE: The HOME & AWAY ELITE System works from anywhere in the United States that has cellular service. It is more expensive than the in-home systems at $39.95 per month, but that price includes GPS services, AT&T cellular service, and two-way voice communication. Fall detection is available for an additional $10 a month.
- HOME & AWAY PRIMO: The HOME & AWAY PRIMO system is very similar to the ELITE mobile device, and is the same price. The main difference is that the PRIMO has a longer battery life than the ELITE, and upgraded location services with Wi-Fi capabilities. In addition to finding your location in case of an emergency, the location feature can also be used to help you locate the device if you misplace it. However, fall detection is not available with the HOME & AWAY PRIMO system.
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 their annual plans, and on certain devices, it’s also included for free with the 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.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
The Medical Care Alert monitoring centers are located in New York and California and are staffed by EMT/EMD certified operators. Spanish-speaking operators are on duty at all times, and support for deaf or hearing impaired customers is also available. The staff training program is certified by the Security Industry Association.
Medical Care Alert uses the AT&T wireless cellular network to connect users to the monitoring center and can be used nationwide.
QMedic devices are more than just emergency call buttons. The devices actively monitor users’ activity levels, sleep patterns, and compliance (whether they’ve been wearing the device) to give caregivers, friends, and family a clear picture of their loved one’s wellness. The stats are updated on the Caregiver Dashboard so caregivers can 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. This feature detects whether or not the user is actually wearing the device, which is crucial information since the device can’t work as intended if it isn’t being worn. This allows caregivers to be at ease knowing their loved one is protected, or take action. The company 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
|Type of Device||In-home||In-home||Mobile|
|Battery Life||24-hour backup||24-hour backup||14 days|
|Range||800-1,000 feet||800-1,000 feet||N/A|
|Fall Detection||Not available||Not available||Not available|
QMedic offers monthly and annual payment options. Equipment rental, free ground shipping, and 24/7 emergency and wellness monitoring are included with both monthly and annual plans.
There are no long-term contracts required, and customers may cancel their rental at any time (although customers who paid for an annual plan will not receive a refund for remaining months if they cancel before the year is over). There is also a 30-day money back guarantee on all systems
QMedic offers three devices:
- Landline Medical Alert System: This system requires an active landline connection in the user’s home. The monthly cost of $30 includes the base station, a waterproof help button that can be worn as a pendant or wristband and 24/7 emergency and wellness monitoring. The emergency button has an 800-1,000 foot range from the base unit and a battery that lasts for 2 years.
- Cellular Medical Alert System: The cellular in-home system is identical to the landline system, other than the cellular connection. This device is ideal for those who spend most of their time in the home but do not have a landline. It is also $30 a month – the same price as the landline version, providing cellular coverage at no extra cost.
- 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 in between charges.
All QMedic devices come with access to the Caregiver Dashboard. The dashboard is a free feature that allows caregivers, friends, and family members of QMedic users to access the wear compliance, sleep, and activity data tracked by the device. 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.
BoomerAlert provides a simple all-in-one emergency response unit for seniors living in Canada. The wearable device, which also serves as a two-way communicator, is equipped with multiple sensors allowing it to accurately and quickly detect falls. If the user is unable to communicate, the response team can quickly dispatch emergency services to the user’s exact location using GPS technology. Caregivers and family members will always know about any falls their loved one experiences through BoomerAlert’s notification system, which notifies users’ emergency contacts through email or Facebook messenger when a fall is detected.
Why We Chose BoomerAlert
BoomerAlert stands out for its dedication to providing leading fall detection technology. For seniors that are prone to falls, this technology can be life-saving. The waterproof and shockproof wearable device is equipped with multiple sensors that detect falls as well as a GPS chip that is able to pinpoint the user’s location. In the event that the user falls and is unresponsive and unable to push the help button themselves, the monitoring center will still be able to send an emergency response to the location. It’s also capable of sending caregivers notifications when a fall occurs or if the device detects inactivity, so they never have to wonder about their loved one’s safety.
- Advanced fall and inactivity detection
- BoomerAlert owns and operates its own monitoring centers
- Easy to install and set up
- No equipment or start-up fees
- Only one service plan available
- Higher than average monthly cost
Pricing and Plans
|Monthly Cost||$79.99 CAD|
|Type of Device||Mobile System|
|Battery Life||36 hours|
|Fall Detection||Included in monthly cost|
BoomerAlert offers one plan at $79.99 per month. This plan doesn’t have any equipment or start-up fees. There is no annual contract with BoomerAlert and no cancellation fees are charged – customers can choose to end service at any time by getting in touch with the company via phone or email. The device ships free throughout the Canadian provinces.
BoomerAlert offers a mobile unit for use in the home and on the go at $79.99 per month. It comes with one waterproof and shockproof pendant that can be worn on the wrist or as a neck pendant. It can be used in the shower, in the bath, and outside of the home so seniors are always protected anywhere there is a cell phone signal in North America.
The device is equipped with advanced fall-detection technology that will automatically connect with the response team when a fall is detected. GPS technology can pinpoint the user’s location in an emergency situation when the user is unable to communicate with the emergency monitoring center. The pendant also serves as a two-way voice communicator, allowing users to clearly communicate with the monitoring center wherever they are. Email and Facebook messages are sent to emergency contacts whenever a fall is detected.
The base station arrives pre-configured, making it simple to install anywhere in the home. This base station has a battery back-up in case of a power outage and voice prompts will alert users any time there is a problem with the system. The mobile pendant will stay charged for approximately 36-hours and takes about 6-8 hours to charge.
The unit is also entirely portable and can be moved around when users travel inside of North America so long as they update their contact information with the monitoring center.
BoomerAlert provides several extra features:
- Batteries: BoomerAlert will provide free replacement batteries for the device at any time. Devices also include a low battery alert, so users will know when it is time to order a replacement.
- Web-Based App: Users or their caregivers can access an online app that features location tracking and a “lost pendant alert.” If the user cannot find their pendant, they can go online and trigger the alert, which will cause the pendant to make a noise and become easier to find.
- Inactivity Alerts: If the device detects irregular inactivity, it will send a notification to the user’s loved ones and/or caregiver via email and Facebook message.
Monitoring and Cellular Provider
BoomerAlert operates a monitoring center based in Canada. There are backup facilities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, so callers will never be without assistance. It is an in-house center operated by BoomerAlert, unlike other companies that outsource monitoring to third-party centers.
BoomerAlert utilizes the Rogers cellular network. Customers can use the device across North America as long as there is a cellular connection available.
For a comparison of the top medical alert systems, click here.
Other Medical Alert Systems We’ve Reviewed
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 allow seniors to get the help they need should they suffer a fall or another medical emergency. There are two basic types of devices: the classic home unit and mobile units.
Home units provide medical alert systems within a limited range of your home.
With a home unit, a stationary base that is connected to power and the monitoring center via either a wired landline or wireless cell service. The home base contains a powerful speaker and microphone that allows you to communicate with an operator at the monitoring center.
The second part of the system is a small button that you can wear around your neck or on your wrist. In the event of an emergency, you push the button, and this activates the help function of the base. If for some reason you are not able to communicate with the operator (if you’re outside, for example), they will automatically put your emergency plan into place, such as calling loved ones or sending EMS.
Mobile units provide seniors access to emergency help wherever there is cell service.
These units use a cellular connection to communicate with the monitoring center and often use GPS and other location services to provide family or emergency personnel with your exact location in the event of an emergency. With quality, above-board companies, you aren’t required to pay additional 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 (with a button on the small, flip phone-sized device) or two-part systems. Both types have a small mobile unit with 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 wearable help button (necklace or wristband). 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.
Unlike home units, mobile units need to be charged regularly. The battery life varies (usually 1-5 days), but it’s normally recommended to place the mobile unit on its charging dock each night.
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 can especially benefit from the features provided by mobile devices, 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 those 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 details such as pricing and 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 fees. If it’s not readily available online or if representatives don’t offer straightforward answers to your questions, chances are good that you may be dealing with a shady company.
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.
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 researching for a loved one, it’s very important to take comfort and wearability 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. Some systems require you to wear the main unit around your neck or in another accessible place, while others allow you to stow 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.
3. Pay Attention to Battery Life
If you or your loved one is already plugging in a cell phone every night, they may be more comfortable with a mobile unit that requires nightly charging. However, if you or your loved one are especially forgetful, make sure to choose a system with a longer battery life or one that allows for battery monitoring (where alerts are sent to a loved one if the battery gets too low).
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.
- Lockbox: If EMS is called to a senior’s home and he or she doesn’t answer the door, they are obligated to break it down to enter the home. The repairs from this can be quite costly. Getting a lockbox allows EMS to access your home in case of an emergency without causing damage.
- 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 monitoring the battery level of the device, geofencing (getting notifications when seniors leave or enter a predetermined area such as their home), and location tracking.
5. Choose a Subscription Type
Most companies offer a discount and extras (such as free shipping and even free accessories) for those who agree to be billed quarterly, semi-annually or annually, with the largest discounts often offered for annual subscriptions.
As mentioned above, be very careful to find out whether you will receive a full refund if you cancel mid-subscription. For instance, if you decide to cancel after three months, but you paid for six months, will you receive a refund for the three months you didn’t use?
Overall, those who are able to pay for a year at a time usually pay the lowest monthly rates, but you should be very careful to choose a reputable company.
For more information and tips, read our guide on how to choose a medical alert system.
Who Should Consider a Medical Alert System
Modern medical alert systems don’t just provide security for seniors who are prone to falls, they have many other uses as well. Below is a list 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 give them and their loved ones peace of mind by knowing that help is available if they need it, and that their location can be tracked by emergency personnel and loved ones if necessary.
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.
- Wearable Help Button for Mobile Device: In addition to being more versatile and comfortable, a help button that you can wear on your wrist or neck allows seniors to use the mobile device in their home, as well as on-the-go. An all-in-one unit is cumbersome and not always shower-safe. Both MobileHelp and Medical Guardian provide these this feature.
- Pinpoint Location 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.
Aging in Place
75% of older adults plan to stay in their current home for the rest of their lives, but not having the constant presence of a caregiver in a long-term care facility creates a substantial risk of falling and not receiving the immediate care that is needed. 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.
A medical alert system enables aging in place for those with mobility issues (such as needing a walker or using a wheelchair) 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 with mobility issues and those who need in-home care should look for the following features in a medical alert system.
- Affordable Monthly Monitoring: In addition to paying for their home and living expenses, seniors who choose to age in place face the expense of paying for home care, and the last thing they need is another large, monthly expense. Seniors in this situation should compare companies and rates to find a quality, affordable solution such as Bay Medical Alarm for landline monitoring or MobileHelp for cellular in-home units.
- 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 is a relatively new feature that is offered by Medical Guardian and may be offered by additional companies in the future. Seniors can call for help by repeating “Call Medical Guardian” twice. This benefits seniors who may have difficulty reaching a wall button or the home station should they suffer a fall while not wearing their help button.
- Medication Reminders and Automated Dispensers: If you or your loved one lived 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 automated 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 such as his or her name, address or phone number. Wandering presents a serious risk for seniors with dementia, but medical alert devices can help caregivers locate their loved ones if they become lost.
In addition to mobile devices with location services, there are device options for seniors who have difficulty remembering to wear or charge their device.
- 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 they also can benefit from a home medical alert system that won’t stop working if they forget to charge their mobile device. 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: As mentioned above, caregiver tracking allows loved ones and emergency personnel to locate seniors in case of an emergency. Newer technology uses the cellular service, GPS, and nearby WIFI hotspots to provide the senior’s exact location, with a much greater degree of accuracy than older units that just use the cell service or GPS by itself.
- 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 (text message/email) when a loved leaves or enters a predetermined area, such as the area immediately surrounding their home.
- Battery Monitoring: Battery monitoring can take different forms – some devices automatically alert the senior when the battery is getting low and it’s time for charging, while others send alerts to loved ones via text message or email 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 automated medication reminders for those who often 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 such as diabetes or heart disease. Consider the following premium 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 for those at a high risk of falling or suffering a medical emergency. 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: Companies (like Medical Guardian) that offer this premium feature utilize extra motion sensors to detect a sudden change in activity level – such as when a loved one hasn’t been moving when they normally would. If that situation were to 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.
Tips for Caregivers of Seniors
Include loved ones in the purchasing process.
Whether you are purchasing a system for your loved ones or are 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 resistant to the idea of purchasing or wearing a medical alert device, it is especially important to include them in the purchasing process to 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, so 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 initially, but after wearing the device and 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 just choosing a different company doesn’t mean that you will get a different type of medical alert device. If it looks similar, chances are that it was manufactured by the same company.
Make sure your loved ones are using the device.
It does no good to pay for a medical alert system 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 use 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 and check-in regularly, especially at first and until they get used to wearing the device all the time, every day.
Emphasize the importance of wearing the device during high-risk activities.
Be sure your loved ones are wearing their devices at the times when they are most at risk of a fall. For instance, ensure that they have a waterproof device that they are wearing during the shower and that they sleep with it on in case they have to get up in the middle of the night.
Understanding Additional Device Features
Along with the basic function of alerting a monitoring center to a medical emergency, medical alert systems come with a host of other features (sometimes included and sometimes optional at an extra cost) 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 long-term injury for those who fall and aren’t able to press their button, such as those who fall and are knocked unconscious. It typically comes at an extra monthly cost (usually $5 – $10) and sometimes requires a separate device.
- Caregiver Tracking and Monitoring: This feature is designed for loved ones who care for a senior, and allows them to monitor his or her 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. While there are typically more expensive than landline systems, they are almost always cheaper than the cost of a landline medical alert system plus the cost of a landline-based 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 which 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, and can help to ensure that they don’t take too many or too few of their pills.
- Wall-Mounted Buttons: Some seniors or caregivers may want the added security of a wall-mounted button that will trigger the medical alert system in a high-risk area (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 very large houses or like to spend time in their yard can utilize a voice extender that extends the range of the microphone and speaker of the 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 companies allow seniors to use their home base to answer phone calls made to their landline without having to pick up a phone – essentially functioning as a speakerphone. Fire/Smoke/CO/Water Monitoring: These devices can alert the monitoring station when there is an emergency involving fire, carbon monoxide, or water leaks.
Medical Alert System Costs & Payment Assistance for Seniors
Most of the time, companies don’t charge for the actual medical alert devices – customers lease the systems for free and pay a monthly monitoring fee. This fee can range from around $20 a month to $60 a month, depending on the type of system and optional services you choose.
For a standard in-home medical alert system connected via landline, you can expect to pay between $20 and $30 a month. For cell-enabled, mobile units, you will typically pay $30-$45 a month.
For some low-income seniors, this monthly cost is out of reach. Additionally, Medicare and private insurance typically don’t provide coverage. That being said, there are some payment assistance options available to you depending on your income, personal situation and the state in which you reside.
The VA offers a number of services designed to help elderly or disabled veterans maintain their independence. One of those services is a device very similar to a medical alert system.
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 and the reason it’s not considered a “true” medical alert system, 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 medical alert systems. These are officially called “Personal Emergency Response Services” or PERS.
Whether through waiver programs or other programs, most states offer help to seniors who qualify for nursing home care but wish to remain more independent. PERS is often one of the many services that can be used by seniors to maintain their independence.
Non-Medicaid State Assistance
Most states also have non-Medicaid senior assistance programs that are designed to help seniors get the services and medical support they need. In many states, these assistance programs can help seniors purchase medical alert devices at a significantly reduced price, or free of cost. The assistance programs vary from state-to-state, but most can offer at least partial assistance or a suitable alternative.
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, or if you are confused about what assistance you qualify for.
Does AARP recommend a medical alert system?
While AARP highly recommends medical alert systems to help seniors live longer, more active lives, they don’t 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 other features like GPS monitoring and automatic fall detection that can alert the monitoring center of an emergency even when the user is unable to press the help button.
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. That’s why we highly recommend that each customer considers their individual needs so they can select a system that fits their unique lifestyle.
Are medical alert systems a good idea for seniors with memory impairment?
Medical alert systems can be an excellent 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, GPS location tracking can be life-saving and provide much-needed reassurance for caregivers.
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 matter a great deal to 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.