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.

With dozens of medical alert companies offering a wide range of emergency help buttons and personal call systems, finding the right medical alert system can feel like an overwhelming task. Not only does the sheer number of medical alert providers make selecting the right one difficult, but the fact that this is a largely unregulated industry means that the quality and reliability of the service and devices can vary significantly.

To help you narrow down your options, we’ve prepared this guide that outlines must-ask questions when searching for a personal emergency response system. We’ve also included a number of helpful tips to ensure you find the best medical alert system for yourself or your loved ones.

Questions to Ask When Looking for the Right Medical Alert System:

Begin your search for the right medical alert system by considering the following questions:

Who Will Be Using the Medical Alert System?

One of the most important factors to consider is who will actually be using the medical alert device. Many systems are designed to be maintenance-free and user-friendly, even for those who have limited dexterity, live with memory loss or want a simple, no-frills device that has little to no learning curve.

If you’re looking for a medical alert system for a senior, consider one that includes a waterproof help button that comes with a long-life, non-rechargeable battery. Other features that may help seniors retain their independence include automatic fall detection, GPS location tracking and real-time caregiver alerts that notify loved ones when the help button is pressed.

Where Will Your Medical Alert System Be Used?

Basic medical alert systems pair an in-home base unit with a wireless, wearable help button that works within 600-1500 feet of the base unit. When the button is pressed, the system automatically phones the emergency monitoring center, and callers can talk with the operator through a speakerphone on the base unit. These systems are ideal for those who only need medical alert coverage at home.

Users who want a medical alert system that offers 24/7 coverage virtually anywhere within the United States should look for a mobile help button. These devices, which are larger than the in-home help buttons and have a built-in two-way speaker, include a cellular SIM card that connects with nationwide cellular phone networks. Some mobile help buttons also come with GPS location tracking, automatic fall detection and an online app that lets users share their real-time location with authorized caregivers and loved ones.

What Kind of Personal Emergency Help Button Do You Prefer?

Most medical alert systems come with either a wrist-worn or pendant help button; although, there are a few medical alert smart watches available from select providers. Some companies offer jewelry-style help button pendants that look and feel like a piece of costume jewelry, and many systems can be paired with one or more wireless wall-mounted help buttons.

Keep in mind that automatic fall detection is only available with pendant-style help buttons, so if this feature is important, your help button choices are somewhat limited.

What Is Your Budget?

Pricing for monitored medical alert systems range from about $20 up to $80 per month or more. There can also be up-front costs for equipment, shipping and activation fees, so be sure to think about what your budget is when shopping for a medical alert system.

Once you’ve answered all of the above questions, take a look through our list of the best medical alert systems on the market today based on user reviews, prices and features. This list outlines the costs of each system along with an in-depth look at the pros and cons of the various medical alert companies, so you can find the right medical alert system for yourself or your loved one.