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.

Walmart is a leading retailer of everything from clothing to home goods, and many seniors wonder whether they can also get a medical alert system through their favorite big box store. The company is known for low prices, which could mean a bargain for seniors on a budget, and buying items from Walmart is typically an easy experience whether you go into the store or order online.

In fact, Walmart does sell medical alert systems, but they might not be as effective as systems sold through dedicated medical alert companies and could be lacking some of the features that are most important in these types of devices. Choosing a medical alert system can be complicated, but making the right decision can save you time, money and a lot of worry.

What Kinds of Medical Alert Systems Does Walmart Carry?

Walmart carries a wide variety of medical alert systems that initiate a call to 9-1-1 or to a number you select, such as a caregiver’s number, when you press the emergency button. Some units let you pre-record a message that plays when someone answers the call, so you can let that person know you need help even if you can’t speak. This is a stark difference compared to established medical alert companies that focus solely on providing monitoring and fast emergency responses.

The best medical alert systems have dedicated call centers, so your call goes to a professional operator who can determine what the emergency is, send the right emergency responders directly to your location, monitor the process to make sure you get help and alert relatives or caregivers, so everyone who needs to stay in the loop during an emergency gets notified.

What Are the Limitations of Walmart Medical Alert Devices?

One of the notable limitations of a Walmart medical alert system is that the company doesn’t operate its own call center, so there aren’t trained, dedicated operators to send the right kind of help when you need assistance. Instead, these units call predetermined numbers or your local emergency response number (9-1-1) when you press the button. If the call doesn’t go through or if the person on the other end doesn’t answer, you may not get help.

What Are the Benefits of Getting a Medical Alert System from Walmart?

The biggest benefit of getting a medical alert system from Walmart is the ease of buying one. You can pick up a unit in a store if your local Walmart carries them, or you can order online. Wait time is minimal, even for online orders, and set-up tends to be simple. Unmonitored medical alert systems from Walmart also don’t require a monthly fee because there’s no call center service included with the device. The upfront costs are fairly inexpensive, and the lack of monthly costs make these units an economical alternative for seniors with a low income.

While using a Walmart medical alert system isn’t recommended as a permanent solution, it might be an option for seniors who are visiting relatives in another city or who need a temporary system while waiting for their main device to be shipped and installed.

What Premium Features are Missing from Walmart Medical Alert Devices?

Most seniors and families who consider medical alert systems want a device that offers reliable performance and extra features that help keep them safe. Seniors with high-risk medical conditions might want optional fall detection, while active seniors may prefer a mobile device that lets them carry an alert button everywhere they go. Caregiver features are another premium feature you can’t get from Walmart alert systems, and these include attributes that let relatives detect where a senior is at any time or get an alert when inactivity is noted.

Should You Buy a Medical Alert System from Walmart?

In general, buying a medical alert system through Walmart isn’t the recommended route. You might get a great deal cost-wise, but the bargain price might come with less reliable service that doesn’t work when you really need it.

You’re buying a medical alert system to have peace of mind in emergency situations and to get help as soon as possible if an accident should occur. Walmart alert systems may not be able to get you the right kind of help when you need it, leaving you with the same worries and concerns you had before buying the device.