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.

One out of five falls can cause serious harm, such as a head injury, dislocated hip, or broken bone. Moreover, more than 300,000 seniors are 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.

Comparison of the Best Medical Alert Systems with Fall Detection

Bay Alarm Medical

UnaliWear

MobileHelp

Monthly Cost

$19.95

$59.95 (Annual plan), $69.95 (Quarterly Plan)

$19.95

Startup Fees

$79 (mobile systems only)

Annual Plan: $199 (one-time setup fee)

Quarterly Plan: $299 (one-time setup fee)

$49.95

Device Range

1,000 ft (in-home systems)

Unlimited with cellular coverage

1,400 ft

Emergency Monitoring

Yes

Yes

Yes

Connection Type

Landline, Cellular

WiFi, Cellular

Landline, Cellular

Water Resistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Battery Life

32 hours (in-home system), 2 years (fall detection button), 6-18 hours (mobile system)

24-36 hours

24 hours (in-home system), 5 years (fall detect pendant)

Fall Detection

Yes

Yes

Yes

Warranty Plan

Yes

No

Yes

What Is 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 can push the button or not.

The wearer is encouraged to push the help button rather than simply relying on the sensor. Like many other developing technologies, it’s not entirely infallible. Reports indicate that the tech erroneously registers falls because it’s too sensitive rather than underperforming. Ultimately, having more solutions to mitigate falls is always a good thing.

Many medical alert companies offer systems with fall detection. Often, it’s an additional feature that requires a 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 tricky, 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 overwhelming. To simplify this critical decision, we have done all the research, composed brief descriptions of what each company offers, 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 UnaliWear as the top three medical alert system companies that offer fall detection.

Bay Alarm Medical

Bay Alarm Medical offers four device types to choose from, three of which support fall detection. Its devices are available in landline and cellular connection types.

The in-home systems utilize a base unit with a larger-than-average range of 1,000 feet. It also offers a mobile GPS-enabled device with 4G-LTE capabilities, a dedicated help button, and built-in two-way speakers. With the exception of the wearable SOS Smartwatch, all Bay Alarm Medical devices have an optional fall detection feature for an additional $10 per month.

Overview of Bay Alarm Medical Systems with Fall Detection

In-Home Landline

In-Home Cellular

SOS Mobile

Monthly Cost

$19.95

$29.95

$29.95

Startup Fees

n/a

n/a

$79

Device Range

1,000 ft

1,000 ft

Unlimited with cellular coverage

24/7 Emergency Monitoring

Yes

Yes

Yes

Connection Type

Landline

LTE Cellular 

LTE Cellular 

Water Resistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Battery Life

32 hours, 2 years (fall detection button)

32 hours, 2 years (fall detection button)

6-18 hours

Fall Detection Cost

$10 per month

$10 per month

$10 per month

Pros and Cons of Bay Alarm Medical Alert Systems with Fall Detection

Pros:

  • Fall detection available on all devices, except the smartwatch
  • Budget-friendly plans for both in-home and mobile systems
  • All devices are water-resistant and waterproof
  • No long-term contracts and cancellation fees
  • Available Caregiver Tracking app

Cons:

  • No voice activation feature
  • Equipment fees for mobile systems
  • Does not offer discount for longer payment cycle

UnaliWear

UnaliWear offers only one device with a fall detection feature, the Kanega Fall Detection and Medical Alert Watch. The company provides two all-inclusive plans for the Kanega Watch: Annual and Quarterly.

The Kanega Watch is a standalone fall detection device that works right out of the box and doesn’t require a smartphone. This wearable LTE-enabled watch comes with a standard fall detection feature and occurs in a wrist-only device. The device enables you to get help from emergency response operators in three ways: the dedicated “Help” button disguised as a watch crown, voice activation, and the fall detection capability.  

Overview of UnaliWear Kanega LTE Watch with Fall Detection

Annual Plan

Quarterly Plan

Monthly Cost

$59.95 

$69.95 

Startup Fees

$199 (one-time setup fee)

$299 (one-time setup fee)

Device Range

Unlimited with cellular coverage

Unlimited with cellular coverage

24/7 Emergency Monitoring

Yes

Yes

Connection Type

WiFi, Cellular

WiFi, Cellular

Water Resistant

Yes

Yes

Battery Life

24-36 hours

24-36 hours

Fall Detection Cost

Included in price

Included in price

Pros and Cons of UnaliWear Kanega LTE Watch with Fall Detection

Pros:

  • Built-in fall detection feature
  • Voice command support
  • Available medication reminders
  • Looks and works like a regular smartwatch
  • Uses WiFi and cellular connections for a more reliable emergency response coverage

Cons:

  • Expensive one-time setup fees
  • Pricey monthly monitoring costs

MobileHelp

MobileHelp offers three in-home systems and two mobile devices that support fall detection for a small monthly fee. All MobileHelp cellular devices use the AT&T network to connect to its monitoring center. It also has a landline-based in-home system, but it doesn’t work with the fall detection pendant.

The Classic in-home system uses a waterproof pendant and base station with a 1,400-foot range, costing $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 combines the Classic and Solo offerings with a mobile device and base station costing $41.95 per month. All device packages (except the landline model)may include a fall detection pendant for an additional $10 per month.

Overview of MobileHelp Medical Alert Systems with Fall Detection

Classic

Touch Classic

Solo

Micro

Monthly Cost

$19.95

$54.95

$37.95

$33.95

Startup Fees

$49.95

n/a

n/a

n/a

Device Range

1,400 ft

1,400 ft

Unlimited with cellular coverage

Unlimited with cellular coverage

24/7 Emergency Monitoring

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Connection Type

Cellular

Cellular

Cellular

Cellular

Water Resistant

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Battery Life

24 hours (in-home system), 5 years (fall detect pendant)

24 hours (in-home system), 5 years (fall detect pendant)

Up to 48 hours

Up to 5 days

Fall Detection Cost

$10 per month

$10 per month

$10 per month

$10 per month

Pros and Cons of MobileHelp Medical Alert Systems with Fall Detection

Pros:

  • Majority of its alert systems have fall detection support
  • Wide range of in-home and mobile systems
  • Offers a modern touchscreen base station with Touch Classic
  • Free lockbox with all plans
  • Available telehealth platform

Cons:

  • The in-home landline system doesn’t work with fall detection pendants
  • Equipment replacement can be expensive without MobileHelp Connect Premium ($5/month)

Why Fall Detection is Important

Anytime somebody suffers an injury resulting from a fall, getting help fast is critical, especially for older adults. Lying on the ground, injured or not, for extended periods can cause catastrophic consequences for seniors. In addition, the longer it takes to get help, the longer it takes to recover. This often means extended hospital stays, more invasive treatments, and higher medical bills.

This is where automatic fall detection comes in handy. With the help of motion-sensing technology, fall detection devices can determine when a person has fallen and require immediate medical assistance. Although medical alert systems have dedicated “Help” buttons, falling may render the senior unconscious or physically unable to push the button and get help. Fall detection devices add another layer of security for instances where the user can’t press the help button.

In addition, fall detection systems will provide the user with much-needed peace of mind and independence, especially for seniors living alone. Family members and caregivers will feel more comfortable giving their loved ones more freedom. This reduces the need to constantly check on them and gives the wearer more confidence knowing that help is available whenever needed.

How Fall Detection Works

Fall detection devices can evaluate the user’s body position, physical activity, and movement velocity. While it may vary from one unit to the next, fall detection devices use a combination of detection sensors, accelerometers, and gyroscopes to identify a sudden change in velocity.

When the system detects changes in motion that resemble a fall, the device will initiate a call to the emergency response operators for assistance. If the user is unresponsive following a detected fall, the operator will reach out to the wearer’s care contacts or call emergency responders.

Although there’s no such thing as 100% accurate fall detection, the current technology is relatively advanced, and most common abrupt movements that resemble a fall can be detected accurately. Moreover, many fall detection systems benefit from calibration and machine-learning algorithms to improve accuracy.

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 or cancellation fees. Many companies don’t charge for either, and some even offer prorated refunds for unused prepaid months of service.
  • Contracts: Check for long-term contracts, cancellation policies, and refunds.
  • Price Locks: 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: Most insurance companies don’t cover medical alert devices. However, in some states, Medicaid may cover the partial or complete cost of the device as a personal emergency response service. Check your specific state laws and policy to see if you’re eligible for assistance.