According to information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of people aged 65 and older fall every year. Even if those falls don’t result in an injury, they can cause a person to become fearful and limit their daily activities. Unfortunately, falling once doubles your chances of falling again, and living independently may not be something you feel confident or safe doing anymore without help.

The fact is, one out of five falls can cause serious harm, such as a head injury, dislocated hip, or broken bone. Moreover, there are more than 300,000 seniors hospitalized annually for hip fractures and more than 95 percent of those are caused by falls. These types of injuries can make it difficult to live independently, do everyday activities and get around.

To help alleviate the danger and fear of falling for seniors living independently, seniors should consider using a medical alert system. Medical alert systems are personal devices that easily and quickly connect users to emergency services or their loved ones, making it more likely they get the help needed if an emergency occurs. While it can help in any crisis situation — including home invasions and fires — it’s primarily used for medical emergencies, such as a heart attack, stroke, or fall.

If fall protection is one of your primary concerns, choosing a medical alert system with fall detection is what you need. So, what is fall detection? Read on to learn more.

Fall Detection

This advanced feature of medical alert systems uses motion-sensing technology to detect when the wearer has rapidly changed from a vertical posture to one that’s horizontal. If the system detects a fall, it automatically triggers a call for help whether the wearer is able to push the button or not.

If the wearer is able to press their button, it’s encouraged to do so rather than just relying on the sensor- like many other developing technologies, it’s not completely infallible. However, any protection is better than none and reports indicate that the fault lies more with the tech being overly sensitive rather than underperforming.

Many medical alert companies offer their customers’ systems with fall detection. Often, it’s an additional feature that requires its own separate monthly charge. A medical alert system with fall detection is ideal for seniors who run the risk of falling, have health issues or simply want the added peace of mind to live their lives to the fullest. Choosing the right system can be a little difficult, though.

In This Guide

The popularity of medical alert systems has caused the industry to expand, and choosing between numerous companies and their various offerings can be difficult and a little overwhelming. To help make this important decision simpler, we have done all the research and composed brief descriptions of what each company has to offer and assembled the best options available.

In this guide, we looked at medical alert systems that provide fall detection services, and examined several factors, including costs and features, to determine which companies to include.

The Three Best Medical Alert Systems with Fall Detection

By weighing various options available with fall detection, such as the introductory and monthly costs, we have chosen MobileHelp, Bay Alarm Medical, and LifeStation as the top three medical alert system companies that offer fall detection.

MobileHelp

MobileHelp has three out of four plans that support fall detection. Only their smartwatch-style device excludes it.

All of MobileHelp’s devices use the AT&T cellular network to connect to its monitoring center, making a landline unnecessary. The in-home system, dubbed Classic, uses a waterproof pendant and base station with a 600-foot range and is $19.95 per month. The Solo plan includes a mobile device with GPS, cellular location services, a two-way speaker and the waterproof pendant for $37.95 per month. Finally, the Duo package is a combination of the Classic and Solo offerings with the mobile device and base station costing $41.95 per month. A fall detection pendant can be added to any of these plans for an additional $10 per month.

The company offers customers flexible terms with monthly, quarterly, semiannual and annual payment plans. The monthly plan requires a one-time fee of $49.95 plus shipping. No other payment structure has up-front costs, and shipping is free. Moreover, the company offers a 30-day free trial and no early cancellation fees.

Bay Alarm Medical

Bay Alarm Medical offers customers five plans to choose from, four of which support fall detection. Its offerings are available for landline customers as well as through the AT&T cellular network.

The in-home systems utilize a base unit that has a larger-than-average range of 1,000 feet. Mobile systems include a GPS enabled device and a pendant that can be worn around the neck or wrist. Fall detection can be added to any plan, except Bay Alarm Medical’s On The Road system, for an additional charge of $10 per month.

Customers can pay monthly or semiannually. However, unlike many other companies, Bay Alarm Medical doesn’t offer a discount for choosing a longer billing cycle. There are never any fees for early cancellation, equipment or activation. Monthly customers are charged shipping, and canceling within 30 days comes with a full refund of prepaid services minus the cost of shipping.

LifeStation

LifeStation provides fall detection with its service packages for an additional charge of $5 to $10 per month. It offers three plans: Standard, Select, and Supreme.

The In-Home Traditional plan costs $19.95 per month and operates using a landline. LifeStation also offers an In-Home Plus package that utilizes a cellular connection for $26.95 per month. Both of these packages have a 48-hour battery backup and wearable waterproof pendants for fall detection. For the Traditional package, fall detection is an extra $10 per month while it’s only $5 per month with the Plus package.

LifeStation also offers a Mobile with GPS package for $24.95 per month. It utilizes a cellular network to connect to the monitoring center and has a five-day battery life. Like the In-Home Plus package, fall detection is an additional $5 per month.

Why Fall Detection is Important

Anytime somebody suffers a fall with an injury, the most important response is to get help fast. This is especially true for older adults. Lying on the ground, injured or not, for extended periods of time can cause health problems. In addition, the longer it takes to get help for an injury of any kind, the longer it takes to recover. This often means extended stays at the hospital, more intrusive treatments and, consequently, a higher financial impact.

Tips for Choosing a Fall Detection System

The first step to choosing a medical alert system is to eliminate those companies that don’t offer fall detection. Next, you’ll need to decide what you want the system to do. Some contact emergency services only, some contact a predesignated list of caregivers, and others do both. Decide what features are important to you and eliminate those companies that don’t offer them.

Also, consider the standard features of a system, including:

  • Battery life and/or battery backup
  • Water resistance
  • Range
  • Connection type: cellular or landline
  • In-home or mobile

What You Can Expect To Pay

Medical alert device companies all have their own pricing plans and additional costs. However, they all share some cost points that you should consider:

  • Extra Fees: Look out for equipment, shipping, activation, and early cancellation charges. 
  • Cancellation Policy: Watch for companies that charge excessive return shipping fees or cancellation fees. Many companies don’t charge for either of these, and some even offer prorated refunds for unused prepaid months of service.
  • Contracts: Check for long-term contracts, cancellation policies, and refunds.
  • Price Locks: Getting a guarantee that the price won’t change over time is always a good idea and helps you plan for future expenses.
  • Discounts: It never hurts to ask, especially for veterans.
  • Insurance: Medical alert devices aren’t usually covered by insurance. In some states, however, Medicaid covers a portion or all of the cost of a system as a personal emergency response service. Check your specific state laws and policy to see if you’re eligible for assistance.

With fall detection, the danger of becoming seriously injured while living alone can be largely removed by enabling seniors to get help immediately even if they’re unable to call for it. Dispatchers at monitoring centers can send EMTs and nearby caregivers an alert right away, so response time is quick, and seniors get the help they need.