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. 

Medical alert systems allow seniors to stay independent while making sure help is available when needed. The devices can help prevent further injury or death after a fall or other emergency. 

While many companies in the home medical alert industry are trustworthy, there are also those that mislead customers or try to profit from hidden fees. We’ve created this review to shed light on the top home medical alert options to help seniors and their loved ones choose a reputable and affordable home medical alert company.

At a Glance: The 8 Best Medical Alert Systems

Overview of the Top Recommended Medical Alert Systems

In-Home Range

Lowest Monthly In-Home Cost*

Lowest Monthly Mobile Cost

Initial Fees

Monthly Fall Detection Cost 

Medical Guardian

600/1,300 feet

$27.45

$36.62

$0-$99

$10

MobileHelp

600/1,300 feet

$19.95

$37.95

$0-$349.95

$10

LifeFone

600/1,300 feet

$20.79

$30.79

$0

$5-$10

Life Alert

800-1,000 feet

$49

$68

$95-$198

Not Offered 

Bay Alarm Medical

1,000 feet

$19.95

$39.95

$0-$9.95

$10

Medical Care Alert

600/1,000 feet

$29.95

$39.95

$0-$12

$10

QMedic

800-1,000 feet

$25

$33.33

$0

Not Offered

BoomerAlert

N/A

N/A

$79.99 CAD

$0

No Extra Cost

*Note: The prices in this column represent the lowest possible cost based on promotions and other discounts offered by the companies, including discounts for paying for 3, 6, or 12 months of service at a time.

How We Chose the Best Medical Alert Systems

To choose the best medical alert systems, we looked at 25 companies to determine if their systems meet 5 important 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

Overview

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.

Best For

Premium Features

Best For

Premium Features

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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.

Pros:

  • Wide variety of device options
  • Availability of premium features
  • Free caregiver portal
  • No device or activation fees (other than Freedom Guardian smartwatch device)

Cons:

  • Mobile systems are pricier than the industry average
  • Some customers must pay for shipping

Pricing and Plans

Classic Guardian Home Guardian Family Guardian Mobile Guardian Active Guardian  Freedom Guardian
Monthly Cost $29.95 $34.95 $79.95 $39.95 $49.95 $44.95
Type of Device In-home system In-home system In-home system Mobile system Mobile system Smartwatch-style device
Battery Life 32-hour backup 30-hour backup 32-hour backup 24 hours 5 days 2 days
Range 1,300 feet 600 feet 1,300 feet Unlimited  Unlimited Unlimited
Fall Detection $10 a month $10 a month $10 a month Not available $10 a month Not available

*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.

Device Options

guardian medical device

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.

Extra Features

Medical Guardian provides several different extra devices for an additional fee:

  • LockboxAt $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. 

To contact Medical Guardian for a quote, click here.

For more, read our in-depth review on Medical Guardian.

For a comparison of the top medical alert systems, click here.

Overview

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. In total, MobileHelp offers six high-quality, reliable medical alert systems, giving users plenty of options to find the device that works best for them.

Best For Those

Without a Landline

Best For Those

Without a Landline

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Why We Chose Mobile Help

MobileHelp stands out for its inexpensive cellular device options. For seniors seeking a medical alert system but who do not have a landline, MobileHelp offers an accessible range of products. The company also offers a range of convenient extra features at a reasonable price – including a free lockbox allowing EMS access to the home. Users may also add on a medication scheduling feature that can help them manage complicated medication regimens.

Pros:

  • No need for a landline with any device
  • No extra charge for cellular connection
  • Range of premium features

Cons:

  • 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 Battery Life Water Resistant Range Fall Detection
Classic $19.95 In-home system Cellular 30-hour backup Yes 600 feet $10 a month
Wired Home $24.95 In-home system Landline 30-hour backup Yes 1,300 feet Not available
Solo $37.95 Mobile system Cellular 24 hours Yes N/A $10 a month
MobileHelp Duo $41.95 In-home and mobile system Cellular 24 hours; 30-hour backup Yes 600 feet $10 a month
Mobile Duo $44.95 Mobile system Cellular 24 hours Yes N/A $10 a month
Touch $59.45* In-home, mobile, and tablet Cellular 24 hours; 12-hour backup for tablet Yes** Yes** $10 a month

*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.

Device Options

mobilehelp medical device

MobileHelp’s offerings include in-home systems, mobile devices, and a “duo” plan, a combination of the in-home and mobile 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.

Extra Features

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 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.

To contact MobileHelp for a quote, click here.

For more, read our in-depth review on MobileHelp.

For a comparison of the top medical alert systems, click here.

Overview

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.

Best Standalone

Mobile App

Best Standalone

Mobile App

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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.

Pros:

  • Large range on in-home devices
  • Variety of services help users feel protected in every situation
  • No long-term service contract or extraneous startup fees
  • Free monitoring for a second family member/person who lives in the same household

Cons:

  • Additional fees apply for add-ons that some other companies offer for free

Pricing and Plans

At-HomeAt-Home CellularAt-Home & On-the-Go GPSAt Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-in-Necklace
Monthly Cost$29.95$34.95$39.95$43.95
Type of DeviceIn-home systemIn-home systemIn-home and mobile systemMobile system
ConnectionLandlineCellularCellularCellular
Battery Life32-hour backup32-hour backup24 hours; 30-hour backup36 hours
Water ResistantYesYesYesYes
Range1,300 feet1,300 feet600 feet in-home, 350 feet mobileN/A
Fall Detection$5 a month$5 a month $10 a month$5 a month

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.

Device Options

lifefone medical device

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 system is completely mobile. 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 system costs $43.95 per month, making it LifeFone’s most expensive. Fall detection costs an additional $5 per month.

Extra Features

Along with the Mobile Alert smartphone app, LifeFone customers have more add-on options, including:

  • LockboxCustomers 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.

For more, read our in-depth review on LifeFone.

For a comparison of the top medical alert systems, click here.

Overview

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. 

Today, Life Alert remains one of the largest companies in the field, handling over 2 million emergency calls per year.  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.

Best For Industry

Experience and At Saving Lives

Best for Industy

Experience and At Saving Lives

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Why We Chose Life Alert

Life Alert’s decades of experience in the medical alert industry helps it stand out from other providers. Life Alert customers can feel confident that they’ll be working with experienced agents.

Along with its standard devices, Life Alert users can contact the monitoring center through a smartphone app or over the phone. This gives seniors a simple alternative way to get help if one isn’t wearing their device at the time of an emergency.

Pros:

  • 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


Cons:

  • All users pay a one-time fee
  • Mandatory 3-year contract
  • Higher-than-average prices

Pricing and Plans

In the HomeIn the BathroomOn the Go
Monthly Cost$49*$19 additional**$19 additional**
Type of DeviceIn-homeIn-homeMobile
ConnectionLandline/CellularLandline/CellularCellular
Battery Life72-hour backupUp to 10 yearsUp to 10 years
Water-ResistantYes. Fully waterproof.Yes. Fully waterproof.Yes. Fully waterproof.
Range800 – 1,000 feetUnlimitedUnlimited
Fall DetectionNot 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.

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 have to pay part or all of the remainder due. There is also 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.

Device Options

lifealert medical device

Life Alert manufactures its own 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.

Extra Features

Life Alert has a mobile app that customers can download to their smartphone and use as a back-up personal help button. Users can also call the center via the app even if there is no emergency, but they feel unsafe and want to have someone on the line for protection until the situation has passed. 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.

For more, read our in-depth review on Life Alert.

For a comparison of the top medical alert systems, click here.

Overview

Customers who have a landline can take advantage of one the lowest monthly costs among the top companies we’ve reviewed. Emergency monitoring with Bay Alarm Medical 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. This makes the company a great choice for seniors who live in larger spaces. Additionally, the company offers a unique service called “On the Road.” In addition to functioning as a medical alert system, this car-based device automatically calls for help in the event of a crash.

Best For Low

Monitoring Costs

Best for Low

Monitoring Costs

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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 competitor’s pricing. Additionally, for a small monthly fee, caregivers can gain access to Caregiver Tracking and geofencing tools. Both of these features are an invaluable asset for caregivers who want or need to keep a close eye on their loved ones.

Pros:

  • 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


Cons:

  • 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 GoOn the RoadFull Coverage
Monthly Cost$19.95$29.95$39.95$29.95$59.95
Type of DeviceIn-home systemIn-home systemMobile systemIn-car systemIn-home and mobile system
ConnectionLandlineCellularCellularCellularLandline/Cellular*
Battery Life32-hour backup32-hour backup3 daysN/A32-hour backup; 3-day mobile battery
Water ResistantYesYesYesN/AYes
Range1,000 feet1,000 feetN/AN/A1,000 feet
Fall Detection$10 a month$10 a month$10 a monthN/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 for a basic in-home device and $59.95 a month for a comprehensive bundled plan. 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.

Device Options

bayalarm medical device

Bay Alarm Medical has three different device options, including one unique offering, plus one bundled plan:

  • 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.
  • Full Coverage: This plan includes In-Home, On the Go, and On the Road devices all for a bundled price of $59.95 a month. A cellular base station for the in-home system costs an extra $10 a month. There is also a one-time purchase fee of $79 for the On the Go unit. Additionally, fall detection is available as an add-on feature for $10 a month.

Extra Features

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 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.

For more, read our in-depth review on Bay Alarm Medical.

For a comparison of the top medical alert systems, click here.

Overview

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.

Best For EMT/EMD

Certified Monitoring

Best for EMT/EMD

Certified Monitoring

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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. They all have first-hand experience responding to emergency situations, providing incomparable knowledge.

Pros:

  • 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


Cons:

  • Optional devices can be costly
  • Fall detection is not available with all devices

Pricing and Plans

HOME System HOME & YARD System HOME & AWAY ULTRA
Monthly Cost $29.95 $34.95 $39.95
Type of Device In-home system In-home system Mobile system
Connection Landline Landline Cellular
Battery Life 72-hour backup 24-hour backup 36 hours
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes
Range 1,000 feet 600 feet N/A
Fall Detection $10 a month Not available $10 a month

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.

Device Options

medical-alert medical device

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 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 & 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 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.

Extra Features

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:

  • LockboxMedical 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.

For more, read our in-depth review on Medical Care Alert.

For a comparison of the top medical alert systems, click here.

Overview

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.

Best For

Compliance and Activity Monitoring

Best for

Compliance and Activity Monitoring

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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.

Pros:

  • Compliance monitoring
  • Simple and quick to install
  • Caregiver dashboard provides easy access to valuable information
  • Activity and sleep tracking provides valuable health insights


Cons:

  • Limited accessories
  • No medication reminders available

Pricing and Plans

In-Home Cellular Mobile GPS
Monthly Cost $30.00 $30.00 $45.00
Type of Device In-home In-home Mobile
Connection Landline Cellular Cellular
Battery Life 24-hour backup 24-hour backup 14 days
Water Resistant Yes Yes Yes
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. 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.

Device Options

qmedic medical device

QMedic offers two devices:

  • In-Home: QMedic offers its in-home system with landline connection for a monthly cost of $30. 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.
  • Cellular Medical Alert System: Other than the cellular connection, this system is exactly the same as the landline option. 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 between charges.

Extra Features

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.

For more, read our in-depth review on QMedic.

For a comparison of the top medical alert systems, click here.

Overview

BoomerAlert provides a simple all-in-one emergency response unit for seniors living in Canada. The wearable device has multiple sensors, allowing it to accurately and quickly detect falls. If the user is unable to communicate with the response team, they will send emergency services to the user’s exact location using GPS technology. BoomerAlert’s notification system immediately alerts users’ emergency contacts about any falls.

Best For Advanced

Fall Detection

Best for Advanced

Fall Detection

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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 has 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 unable to push the help button themselves, the monitoring center will still be able to send help to the location. Caregivers will receive an automatic alert via email or Facebook messenger, so they never have to wonder about their loved one’s safety.

Pros:

  • 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


Cons:

  • Only one service plan and device available
  • Higher than average monthly cost
  • Difficult to get in touch with customer service

Pricing and Plans

BoomerAlert
Monthly Cost$79.99 CAD
One-time feesN/A
Type of DeviceMobile System
ConnectionCellular
Battery Life36 hours
Water ResistantYes
Shower-proofYes
RangeN/A
Fall DetectionIncluded in monthly cost

BoomerAlert offers one plan at $79.99 per month. There is no annual contract and no cancellation fees with BoomerAlert. The company doesn’t charge any start-up fees, and the device ships free throughout the Canadian provinces.

Device Options

boomeralert medical device

BoomerAlert offers a mobile, waterproof, and shockproof unit that can be worn on the wrist or as a neck pendant. The device comes with fall detection and GPS technology. 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 unit also serves as a two-way voice communicator, allowing users to clearly talk to the monitoring center wherever they are. 

The base station arrives pre-programmed, making it simple to set up anywhere in the home. The 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 unit will stay charged for about 36-hours, and takes about 6-8 hours to fully charge.

Extra Features

BoomerAlert offers 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.
  • Lockbox: Users can store a spare key to their home in a lockbox to give emergency services access to the home. BoomER Alert offers lockboxes for device users for a small extra fee.

Monitoring and Cellular Provider

BoomerAlert operates its own monitoring center in Canada. There are backup facilities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, so callers will never be without assistance.

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

Comparisons of the Top Medical Alert Systems

Christopher Norman, GNP

Our Contributing Senior Care Expert

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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 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.

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.

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, poor response from the monitoring center, 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.

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.
  • 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 battery level monitoring, 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 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.

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 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.
  • 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.

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 TrackingNewer 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.

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.

Understanding Additional Device Features

Along with the basic emergency function, 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.

Medical Alert System Costs & Payment Assistance for Seniors

Typically, companies do not charge customers for the medical alert devices themselves. Rather, customers pay a monthly monitoring fee, which includes a free lease of the actual medical alert device. The monthly cost for monitoring ranges from approximately $20 to $60 a month, depending on the type of system, company, and add-ons.

The cost of a basic 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 medical alert systems, 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.

Free Medical Alert Systems for Veterans

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 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. 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 programs that can help seniors get the services and medical support they need. In many states, these programs can help seniors purchase medical alert devices at a significantly reduced price, or free of cost. The programs vary from state-to-state, but most can offer at least some 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. 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?

The cost of medical alert systems varies between companies and by feature. In-home budget-friendly options are widely available as are more technologically advanced mobile systems. Generally speaking, the more features a system has, the more expensive it will be.

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, GPS location tracking can be life-saving and provide 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 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:

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