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.
Medical alert systems are designed to provide an added layer of security for seniors, people living with a disability and anyone else who may want easy access to emergency assistance. Most of these systems pair a small, wearable help button with a base unit that automatically dials an emergency monitoring center that can dispatch first responders immediately.
Personal call buttons are usually included in the monthly monitoring fees charged by medical alert companies, but there are a few emergency call systems available that consumers can buy and use without signing up for a monitoring service. These standalone help button devices can be a good option for seniors and others who want the benefits of a medical alert system without the recurring monthly monitoring costs.
FreedomAlert Two-Way Voice Pendant
One of the best non-monitored medical alert systems available is FreedomAlert, an in-home system that combines a wearable two-way voice pendant with a programmable dialer that can be linked up to four customized contacts as well as 911. Consumers can also simply program the device to dial 911 directly when the button on the small, wireless pendant or the base unit is pressed.
With a monitored medical alert system, subscribers are connected to a call center when they activate their help button, and an operator speaks with the caller to determine what type of assistance is needed. The FreedomAlert system isn’t linked to a monitoring service, therefore, subscribers need to program their own personal emergency contacts, which may include a neighbor, caregiver, family member and/or 911.
When a FreedomAlert user presses the help button on their pendant, the base unit automatically dials the emergency contact numbers until a connection is made. Call recipients need to press ‘5’ on their phone to accept a call from a FreedomAlert user to eliminate delays should the call be routed to voicemail. The system also has a feature allowing an emergency contact to dial 911 from their own phone while on the line with the FreedomAlert user.
The FreedomAlert system is produced by LogicMark, an established provider of two-way, voice-enabled personal response systems. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, LogicMark has been in business since 2006 and they currently produce a complete line of mobile emergency call buttons sold through a nationwide network of authorized dealers. LogicMark also makes a number of wearable two-way pendant systems that are used by monitored medical alert providers.
FreedomAlert’s Best Features
For consumers who are looking for a cost-effective emergency call button, the most notable feature of the FreedomAlert system is the lack of a recurring monthly, semiannual or annual monitoring fee. The system retails for around $220-$280 and can be found at many big box stores.
The actual system consists of a base unit that plugs into a power outlet and a landline telephone jack. This base unit is paired with a small, water-resistant pendant that’s equipped with a user-activated help button, a microphone and a speaker that works up to 600 feet from the base unit. The latest FreedomAlert version operates on the 1.9 GHz frequency to eliminate interference and improve call quality.
The pendant can be worn on the enclosed lanyard, mounted on a belt clip or fastened to a wrist strap. Extra pendants and wall-mounted wireless help buttons are available for purchase separately, and up to four help buttons can be connected to one base unit. Power for the pendant comes from a lithium-ion battery that lasts up to six months, and there’s a charger on the base unit.
Another notable feature is that the pendant can be used to answer regular incoming calls, much like a wireless home phone. This feature means that users won’t have to rush to pick up the phone, and it gives caregivers added peace of mind knowing they can reach their loved ones at any time.
Pros and Cons of the FreedomAlert Medical Alert System
As with every medical alert device, there are pros and cons to the FreedomAlert system. Here’s some important points to consider:
Pros of FreedomAlert
- No recurring monitoring costs
- Users choose who’s contacted when the help button is activated
- The pendant includes a speaker and microphone for clear two-way conversations
- Up to four custom contacts can be added
- Users decide if they want the system to call 911
- The system automatically checks the battery in the pendant and alerts users when the battery needs charging
- Users can answer regular incoming phone calls through the pendant
- Purchase price may be covered through a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA)
- Wall-mounted help buttons available at an additional cost
- Up to four pendants and/or wall buttons can be linked to a single base unit, making this system suitable for use by multiple people in the same home
- System is compatible with landline phones and most VoIP phones
- The pendant weighs just 1.4 oz and is water-resistant
- 24 hour emergency battery back-up on base unit
- Over time, the cost of FreedomAlert may be significantly lower than a comparable monitored medical alert system
Cons of FreedomAlert
- The system may be difficult to program for some seniors
- No fall-detection option
- No GPS-location tracking
- The range between the base unit and the help button is 600′ or less, which may be restrictive for those who live in larger homes
- Landline-only service
- No online caregiver dashboard or app
- Users need to recharge pendant batteries every six months or less
- Extra pendants and wall help buttons must be purchased separately
Who Should Buy the FreedomAlert System?
While FreedomAlert lacks many of the common features offered through monitored medical alert companies, this stand-alone personal call system may be the ideal solution for a wide range of users.
The FreedomAlert system works well for seniors and others who want to call a friend or family member for help instead of speaking with an emergency call operator. This may help address anxieties or concerns some users have about contacting a monitored help center, as many people who need a medical alert system are reluctant to call an emergency operator for assistance.
FreedomAlert also makes an ideal gift for anyone who wants to remain independent but needs the protection offered by an emergency help system. This can include older adults, people with disabilities and medical conditions, new parents and people recovering from illness or injuries. Because the only costs are the up-front purchase price of the system any extra pendants or wall help buttons, over time this system may offer significant savings by eliminating recurring monitoring fees.
On the other hand, FreedomAlert may not be the best medical alert system for those who need extra features, such as automatic fall detection and GPS locating, as these services are only available through traditional, monitored medical alert companies. And because FreedomAlert isn’t monitored, this system isn’t suitable for those who don’t have many trusted contacts who can respond to a call for help in a timely manner.
Remember, when it comes to picking out a medical alert system, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Take the time to carefully consider your particular needs, think about which features make sense and decide what your budget is. After all, the right medical alert system can make all the difference in an emergency situation.