Medical alert systems are designed to help seniors remain as independent as possible while ensuring help is always available. These compact, wireless devices connect with a monitored call center over landline phones or cellular networks, and newer models now feature additional services, such as GPS locating, automatic fall detection, and temperature sensing.

While medical alert systems can’t prevent medical emergencies, they can dramatically increase the odds that loved ones and first responders are able to provide immediate assistance. Most help buttons are designed to be completely waterproof, allowing users to wear them while showering or outside in rainy weather. In fact, these devices have been proven to help seniors stay safe — that’s why many insurance companies, and some Medicaid plans, cover the costs of monthly medical alert monitoring services.

To help you choose the right system for your loved one, we’ve collected in-depth information on the most popular medical alert systems and devices on the market today.

This guide compares two systems, LifeStation and LifeFone. Both of these companies are based in the United States and offer similar services, however, there are some notable differences in pricing and features that are worth considering.

Side by Side ComparisonMobileHelpLifestation
Up-Front Equipment$0
$349.95 for Smartwatch
Monthly Monitoring$19.95 - $41.95
+ $10/month for optional fall detection
+ $2/month for optional wall-mounted help buttons
+ $5/month for optional customizable medication reminders
$19.95 - $41.95
+ $10/month for fall detection with In-Home packages
+ $5/month for Mobile package
Activation FeeN/A$50 for Mobile GPS Standard plan only
ContractMonthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually
*Monthly payments require a one-time fee of $49.95
$0 cancellation fee
Optional Monthly Add-On Services$2/month for optional wall-mounted help buttons
$5/month for optional customizable medication reminders
$10/month for fall detection with In-Home packages or $5/month for Mobile package
Water-Resistant Wearable DevicesPendant and wristbandPendant and wristband
ConnectionCellular via AT&T networkLandline and Cellular via AT&T network
2-Way Voice CommunicationYesYes
Range (From in-home base unit for landline service)600' from home base for mobile devices650' for In-Home Plus
1,000' for In-Home Traditional
Battery life24 hours for mobile device
30-hour backup for home base
48 hours/charge for the smartwatch
48-hour backup for home bases
5 days/charge for mobile device
Fall DetectionAdditional $10/month
*not available with smartwatch
Additional $10/month for fall detection with In-Home packages or $5/month for Mobile package
GPS LocatorIncluded with mobile devicesIncluded with mobile devices
Coverage Away From HomeNationwide via AT&T cellular networkThroughout the US and Canada
24/7 USA Call CenterYes: via Rapid ResponseYes: located in New Jersey and Texas
Wall-mounted help button - $2/month
Customizable medication reminders - $5/month
Lockbox - included with plan
Mountable help buttons - $2.49/month
Additional help button - $3.99/month
Lockbox - $2.99/month

LifeFone Overview

Based in White Plains, NY, LifeFone is one of the oldest and most recognized names in medical alert systems. The U.S.-based call center is owned and operated by the company, and there are two back-up call centers to ensure that no call for help goes unanswered. LifeFone offers landline- and cellular-connected devices for at-home and on the go.

LifeFone stands out against the competition for its add-on options that are designed to provide day-to-day support for seniors who want to remain as independent as possible. These extra features, such as daily safety checks, fire/smoke detection, and personalized care instructions, are designed to give seniors and their loved ones extra protection and security that goes above and beyond what many other medical alert systems offer.

Pros of LifeFone:

  • Established U.S. company
  • Free lifetime replacement of defective devices
  • Small, waterproof user-friendly devices
  • No limit on the number of emergency contacts
  • Free second user at the same address
  • No contracts — users can cancel at any time
  • Prices are locked-in, so once a user subscribes, their cost won’t increase

Cons of LifeFone:

  • Users must replace batteries for call buttons themselves, which can be difficult for seniors and people with low vision
  • Wrist button available in black only

LifeStation Overview

Established in 1977, LifeStation offers in-home and mobile medical alert systems that connect users to a U.S.-based call center at the touch of a button on either the pendant or wrist-worn help button. A 30-day money-back guarantee is included for all systems, and there are no long-term contracts.

LifeStation’s call center is UL-listed and staffed by five-diamond rated call operators who have completed advanced training in medical alert call answering. Plans start at less than $1 per day, making this one of the more affordable options on the market.

Pros of LifeStation:

  • Setup can be completed in 5 minutes by the user
  • Every LifeStation medical alert system is tested weekly by the call center
  • Equipment repair and replacement is included in monthly fees
  • Offers a $25 American Express prepaid card as a referral bonus
  • Optional wireless help buttons available
  • Additional help button can be added for a spouse or roommate for a small monthly fee
  • Advanced fall detection and GPS locating
  • Pendant can be used to answer landline phone calls through the in-home base station

Cons of LifeStation:

  • Pricing is difficult to understand – prices are not fully disclosed upfront, so potential customers must call for current prices
  • Range of 500′ between the base unit and the help button is less than many other medical alert systems
  • Unclear if service is available in languages other than English

Pricing Comparison

Pricing for both systems is comparable and each company offers add-ons, such as lockboxes, wall-mounted buttons, and automatic fall detection. Shipping is also free with both systems, and users are able to set up their own help buttons without paying an extra fee or needing a technician to come to their home.

Our Pick

Although both LifeFone and LifeStation offer similar services and devices, we prefer the transparency in pricing offered by LifeFone. Users can quickly check the prices on the website before subscribing, while LifeStation only discloses the price of their basic service on their website. Seniors may have difficulty understanding the pricing and service options over the phone for LifeStation, and as a result, they may wind up paying for products and services they don’t want or need.

When comparing these two medical alert systems, we recommend LifeFone over LifeStation. As a longstanding company that offers consumer-friendly price plans, proven medical alert devices and a wide variety of medical alert solutions that operate using either a landline or cellular connection, LifeFone consistently receives high ratings from actual users.

We also like that LifeFone has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and offers an impressive 1300′ range from the in-home base unit. All of their equipment is backed by a lifetime warranty, and the company offers current users one month of free service for everyone they refer.

Compare More Medical Alert Systems

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