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 provide a simple, cost-effective solution to anyone who wants to call for help at any time, even if they’re unable to dial a phone. These wireless devices are usually connected to a professional monitoring center staffed by trained emergency operators who are able to quickly assess the situation and dispatch whatever assistance is needed.

Because these personal emergency response systems are designed to be user-friendly, reliable and affordable, they’ve become popular among seniors who want to stay independent, for as long as possible. Wearable help buttons are also used by people living with disabilities, lone workers and anyone else who wants the reassurance that comes with having a discreet, always-on monitored help button.

If you’re considering a medical alert system for yourself, an aging parent or anyone else, take the time to review the following tips on how to select the best system and provider for your particular situation. After all, when it comes to medical alert systems, there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all, and taking the time to pick the right system can make all the difference in an emergency.

Consider Why You Want a Medical Alert System

Start your search for your medical alert system by making a list of the reasons why you need a personal emergency response button. Perhaps you’re looking for a low-cost way to improve your overall safety and security while at home, on the job or in the community.

You may have recently suffered from a fall or other medical emergency that made you realize you need to take steps to ensure you can always call for help, even if you can’t reach a telephone, or your loved ones are worried about your ability to live independently.

No matter what your reasons are for wanting a medical alert system, identifying what you want to use the device for will help you narrow down your choices.

Which Features and Options Make Sense for You or Your Loved Ones

Medical alert systems range from simple, maintenance-free devices that can be worn in the shower right up to high-tech smartwatches complete with advanced features, such as messaging apps, location tracking and fitness monitoring.

Think about whether you’re looking for a straightforward medical alert system that virtually anyone can use, or if you’re comfortable with a personal emergency response system that requires some familiarity with digital devices.

You’ll also need to decide if common add-on features, such as GPS location tracking, fall detection and a caregiver app make sense for you, or if a basic, entry-level in-home medical alert system meets your needs.

Mobile or Landline?

Another key question to ask when choosing a medical alert system is whether you need a device that only works in the home, or if you require coverage both in-home and in the community.

Many medical alert companies now offer landline and cellular-connect help buttons, and most mobile medical alert systems work nationwide; however, the cost for cellular systems tends to be higher than the cost of comparable landline-based systems.

Ask Friends and Caregivers for Recommendations

If you have friends or family members who use medical alert systems, ask them what they like and dislike about their particular help button and monitoring company.

Doctors, nurses, occupational therapists and personal care workers can also be a good source of information when it comes to choosing a medical alert system. These professionals often have first-hand experience with patients who use personal emergency response systems.

The right medical alert system can make all the difference for those who are at an increased risk of falling or suffering from a medical emergency. Many systems cost less than $1 per day, making a medical alert device an affordable way to provide seniors and their loved ones with added peace of mind.