The Best Voice-Activated Medical Alert Devices
COVID-19 Update: Since the medical alert industry is considered to be “essential” during the COVID crisis, monitoring and customer service centers are still open and ready to help. To learn more about how a medical alert device can help keep you or your elderly loved one safe and connected during this pandemic, take a look at our list of essential products for seniors during COVID-19.
For millions of aging adults throughout North America, there comes a time when the question arises of how to remain independent and at home for as long as possible despite changing needs and increasing risks of falls, physical injury and illness. A senior’s loved ones may not be able to provide full-time care, and seniors may not be ready or able to pay for professional care or life in a designated senior care facility.
For these seniors and their caregivers, medical alert systems may offer an affordable way to provide quick and reliable access to emergency care. These systems include personal help buttons that can be used within the home or anywhere with cellular service through a specially designed mobile device. By simply pushing their help button or using voice-activated technologies and two-way speakers, seniors can connect directly with highly trained, professional operators at emergency call centers who can assess the situation and provide help.
In this guide, we specifically examine medical alert systems offering voice-activation, a technology that lets seniors simply use their voice to connect directly with a monitoring center operator, caregiver or other emergency contact. This is a potentially life-saving component of a medical alert device, especially for seniors with higher risks of falls, limited mobility, chronic diseases or memory impairments that make it more difficult for them to reach a wall-mounted device or press their wearable help button when they need assistance. Although few medical alert companies offer this feature, those that do have strong two-way speakers that let seniors communicate hands-free once the call center operator is on the line.
Below, we highlight what we consider to be the top four medical alert systems with voice-activated devices and two-way speakers. We discuss these companies’ specific device features and pricing levels and provide tips on how to find the voice-activated device or system that works best for you.
The 4 Best Medical Alert Systems with Voice Activation
We selected Medical Guardian as one of the top medical alert systems companies with voice-activation because the company is the only one to offer voice-activated wall buttons for in-home use. Unlike with a wearable device or typical wall-mounted button, users don’t need to physically reach or press a button to call the monitoring center. Instead, they can speak the words, “Call Medical Guardian” two times in a row to reach an operator. These buttons can be placed anywhere in the home and added to Medical Guardian’s Classic Guardian and Family Guardian plans for an extra cost of only $5 per month.
Additionally, Medical Guardian offers users six distinct plans so seniors can choose the plan and devices that work best for their individual needs and lifestyles. Plans include in-home systems for seniors with landlines or cellular devices and three distinct mobile devices. The in-home Family Guardian plan also equips a user’s home with motion sensors and includes a mobile caregiver app to keep loved ones informed. With the unique Freedom Guardian mobile smartwatch-style device, seniors can even stay connected to loved ones through its convenient voice-to-text SMS messaging feature.
While this company doesn’t specifically carry a purely voice-activated device, LifeFone is a reputable medical alert system that offers a simple, robust all-in-one necklace that seniors can wear both in the home and while traveling. The At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice in Necklace has a built-in, two-way speaker with a button that wearers can push to immediately connect with a monitoring center operator without needing to be near a separate base station.
The device is lightweight, waterproof and has a battery life of up to 36 hours. Additionally, the device uses GPS location services so caregivers and monitoring centers can quickly pinpoint a wearer’s location. Along with the Voice in Necklace, LifeFone’s On-the-Go GPS mobile system has a wearable portable device that seniors can use with a wearable pendant help button to speak directly to an operator.
Medical Care Alert hires specialized operators with certified EMT/EMD training and has five systems designed for use primarily within and around the home or on-the-go. All except one system can include fall detection, and three offer personal devices with built-in, two-way speakers.
Similar to LifeFone, Medical Care Alert doesn’t have a purely voice-activated device, but it does have a two-way speaker in its wearable pendants provided through its Home & Yard and mobile systems. Seniors can speak directly to call center operators through the pendant without needing to be directly near a base station. With the Home & Yard plan, users can be outside their home within a 600-foot radius of the base station, and Home & Away users can be anywhere in the world with cellular service.
The Apple Watch Series 5 has multiple senior-friendly features that can help wearers quickly and easily call for help in an emergency. While not a traditional medical alert system, the watch is a stylish, wearable device that uses cellular technologies and can act as a personal help button that can automatically call 911 and designated personal contacts if the wearer presses and holds its side button. Although the watch doesn’t connect wearers with a professional monitoring center, it’s similar to a voice-activated medical alert device because it allows senior wearers to place calls using only their voice through the Siri voice assistant. This hands-free option lets seniors simply speak out loud to tell Siri to make a call to any number, including personal contacts and 911.
Along with its voice-activated capabilities, the Apple watch provides seniors with heart-rate monitoring and fall detection. Fall detection is automatically turned on if a senior over 65 enters their information in the health app, but other users must activate it manually. The watch is designed to detect when a senior falls suddenly, and if the senior doesn’t deactivate a triggered emergency response or subsequent alarm, the watch automatically calls 911. Pricing for the watch starts at $399.
Why Should You Consider a Voice-Activated Medical Alert Device?
Voice-activated devices can be a valuable, life-saving component of a medical alert system for any senior who may not always want or remember to wear their help button. Many seniors may opt to sleep without their pendant device around their neck, for instance, and get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without it. In this instance, a voice-activated device could make an enormous difference if the senior fell or experienced an injury. They could use their voice to call for help and alert a monitoring center of any issue or needs. Voice-activated devices may also be a critical feature of any medical alert system for seniors with memory impairment, limited sight or paralysis or those who are prone to seizures.
Along with making it easier for seniors with a mobility issue or physical difficulty to alert a monitoring center when in need, any device with two-way voice communication can benefit seniors immensely by letting them speak directly to the call center monitors. This capability can let seniors voice their needs so an operator can make an informed assessment and determine the appropriate next steps. This feature can also help an operator give the senior potentially life-saving help over the phone, provide the comfort of staying on the line until emergency personnel arrives and troubleshoot any issues. Some seniors with mobile systems can even use their device’s two-way voice communication system to have an operator stay on the line if they ever feel unsafe in public or while walking alone at night.
Selecting the Best Voice-Activated Device for You
When considering a voice-activated medical device, it’s important to look at your overall medical alert system needs, your budget and the features you want in a device. With Medical Guardian, for instance, senior users of the base in-home plan and the more robust Family Guardian plan can add a voice-activated wall button for only $5 a month more, and the base system prices range from $29.95 to $79.95 per month. The Apple Watch has a high upfront cost, but it may be the preferable choice for seniors seeking a simple, stylish mobile device with a variety of features, especially if they feel more comfortable calling 911 instead of a monitoring center in an emergency.