With increased age comes a greater risk of suffering from a fall or other medical emergencies. One in four seniors aged 65 and older fall every year, and one in five falls results in a serious head injury and/or broken bones. In the case of an unexpected medical event, the sooner help arrives, the greater the chance for a positive outcome, which is why medical alert systems have become so popular among older adults who want to remain independent without compromising on safety.

Today’s medical alert devices come in a wide variety of styles with features ranging from fall detection to GPS location tracking, activity monitoring and medication reminders. There are dozens of companies that offer emergency call buttons that connect users with a 24/7 monitoring center that can dispatch loved ones, caregivers or first responders immediately. To help seniors and their families find the best medical alert system for their needs, our team of senior care experts have researched all of the major medical alert companies in the United States.

In this guide we’re comparing Life Alert and ADT — two medical alert systems that offer landline and cellular-based services. While both companies provide around-the-clock monitoring and call center services, ADT is the better of the two systems because they offer fall detection, a lifetime price guarantee and unlike Life Alert, ADT customers do not have to sign up for three years of medical alert monitoring service.

Side By Side ComparisonLife AlertADT
Up-Front Equipment$95-$198$9.99 +Shipping Fee
Monthly Monitoring$49$29.99-$39.99
Activation Fee$0$28.99
ContractThree-Year Contract--Can Be Cancelled, If Subscriber is Institutionalized or Passes AwayMonth-to-Month--Full Refunds for Early Cancellation
Optional Monthly Add-On Services+$19/Month for Optional Wall-Mounted Help Button Service
+$19/Month for An On-the-Go Device
+$10/Month Fall Detection (On Cellular-Based Systems Only)
+$2.50/Month ADT Wall Mounted Help Button
+$9.99/Month ADT Go Mobile Safety App
Water-Resistant Wearable DevicesPendant and WristbandPendant and Wristband
ConnectionLandline or CellularLandline or Cellular (AT&T Network)
2-Way Voice CommunicationThrough In-Home Base Unit or Mobile Pendant/Wrist ButtonThrough In-Home Base Unit or Mobile Pendant/Wrist Button
Range (From in-home base unit for landline service)800'-1000'300' for Medical Alert Basic System
600' for Medical Alert Plus System
Battery lifeCall Button Battery is Non-Rechargeable--Battery Rated for Up to 10 YearsNon-Rechargeable Batteries in Wristband/Pendant Of At-Home, Landline-Based Devices - Free Battery Replacement Provided By ADT
Fall DetectionNot OfferedOptional on Cellular-Based Systems
GPS LocatorIncluded in Mobile DevicesIncluded in Cellular-Based/Mobile Devices
Coverage Away From HomeIncluded in Cellular-Based DevicesIncluded with Cellular-Based Devices
24/7 USA Call CenterYesMultiple Response Centers Throughout The United States
Wireless, Waterproof Wall Buttons
Extra Medical Alert Buttons
PIN-Protected Lockbox
Additional Pendants, Waterproof Fall Detection Pendants and Wrist Buttons
Wall-Mounted Help Button

Life Alert Overview

Life Alert is one of the oldest and best-recognized names in medical alert systems. It’s the company that coined the tagline, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” and its five-diamond CSAA certified call center handles more than two million calls every year. The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and it’s the only medical alert provider to be endorsed by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Kopp.

Life Alert offers landline and cellular-based medical alert systems, and the cellular-based devices come with GPS location tracking services that allow emergency operators to pinpoint the exact location of the subscriber in an emergency.

Despite being one of the more popular medical alert providers, Life Alert pricing is higher than many of its competitors, and the company has been criticized for requiring subscribers to sign up for a three-year service contract.

Pros of Life Alert:

  • Well-known, long-standing medical alert company based in the United States
  • Simple, senior-friendly devices that are waterproof
  • Offers GPS tracking on cellular-based systems
  • Discounts are offered for spouse and/or roommate coverage
  • Subscribers can add a wireless, non-rechargeable waterproof bathroom help button to their system

Cons of Life Alert:

  • Life Alert doesn’t post their prices online — potential customers must phone a commissioned salesperson for details about system costs
  • No fall detection offered
  • Activation and up-front equipment fees are high
  • The 3-year service contract can only be cancelled if the user passes away, is institutionalized or needs around-the-clock care

ADT Health Overview

ADT is a popular provider of home-security systems, and they now offer medical alert services through their ADT Health brand in conjunction with their existing network of emergency call centers located nationwide.

ADT systems include basic in-home, landline-based medical alert systems as well as cellular devices with optional fall detection and GPS location. ADT retains ownership of its medical alert systems, and the first month monitoring, activation and shipping fees are due at the time of purchase. Periodic specials are offered with perks, such as a free ADT lockbox, free activation and billing credits.

Pros of ADT:

  • Fall detection available on Medical Alert Plus and On-The-Go Medical Alert systems
  • No long-term contracts
  • GPS location tracking on cellular-connected devices
  • The Basic and Plus systems include home temperature monitoring
  • Subscribers can temporarily reset their home location when visiting family members or while on an extended vacation for free
  • Cellular services provided through the AT&T network
  • In-home base units include temperature sensors, which automatically alerts the ADT call center if the temperature rises above or falls below safe levels
  • Multiple monitoring centers throughout the country

Cons of ADT:

  • Subscribers must pay annually to get the lowest possible monitoring price
  • The range between the Basic base unit and the medical alert buttons is just 300 feet, making this system only suitable for users who don’t have large yards
  • New subscribers must pay for shipping and activation

Pricing Comparison

At a starting price of $48, monthly monitoring fees through Life Alert are significantly higher than ADT, which has comparable monitoring services starting at $29.99 per month. ADT also guarantees that the price of monthly monitoring will never increase for new subscribers under the ForeveRate program, while there is no price guarantee with Life Alert.

Life Alert charges a one-time equipment fee ranging from $95-$198, while ADT charges a $9.99 shipping fee and a $28.99 activation fee. Overall, the cost of medical alert monitoring is much lower through ADT than through Life Alert.

Our Pick

Although both companies offer similar service options and comparable devices, ADT is clearly the better choice due to its lower prices, consumer-friendly policies and the added safety of the optional fall-detection service. Life Alert requires that subscribers sign up for three years of medical alert monitoring service and only allows cancellations under specific circumstances, while the vast majority of medical alert companies don’t require a contract and let subscribers cancel at any time.

We do recommend that seniors take the time to consider the size of their home and where they need medical alert system coverage, because there are notable differences in the coverage areas offered by different systems and devices. The range between the in-home base station and the medical alert buttons on ADT’s entry-level Basic system is a mere 300 feet, making this system only serviceable for seniors who live in a small apartment or mobile home. On the other hand, the range for Life Alert’s home-based landline system is 800 feet.

When choosing between Life Alert and ADT, our pick for the best option for seniors is ADT.

Compare More Medical Alert Systems

Click on the links below to read about Medical Alert system comparisons.