LifeFone Medical Alert System Review
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.
How LifeFone Compares to Other Top Medical Alert Systems
LifeFone earned the number two ranking out of 20 medical alert companies reviewed, with an impressive star rating of 4.7/5 stars. LifeFone received high scores in all of the rating categories thanks to its competitively priced devices and history of reliability, with 44 years of experience in the emergency monitoring industry and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
LifeFone performed best in the “Availability of Add-Ons” category, with a perfect 10/10 rating. It was one of the only companies to offer all of the add-on devices and features we included in our rankings, including activity tracking, on-demand location tracking, and medication reminders.
One of the company’s most useful add-on features is the Mobile Alert app. Mobile Alert has three different buttons users can press for assistance, depending on their needs: a panic button for emergency situations, a concern button, which turns into a virtual escort service when callers are alone and feel unsafe, and a medical button for users with medical conditions that require immediate attention. Users simply need to have the app open on their smartphone, and contacting the monitoring center is as easy as pressing one’s personal help button on their wearable device.
Caring.com’s Medical Alert Provider Rankings
Caring.com’s team of experts and researchers ranked the top 20 medical alert providers based on different features, price points, and qualities of the company. Those data points were split into 5 core metrics and 30 sub metrics that were weighted based on importance in determining the overall quality of the companies. Each company, including LifeFone, was scored and ranked based on those metrics and weights.
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Pros and Cons of LifeFone Medical Alert Systems
|Many add-on features and devices available||Fall detection not included in monthly cost for any devices|
|Impressive 30-day battery life for At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-In-Pendant|
|Free spousal monitoring|
|Detailed and easy-to-navigate website|
|At-Home Landline||At-Home Cellular||At-Home & On-the-Go GPS||At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-in-Pendant|
|Type of Device||In-home system||In-home system||In-home and mobile system||Mobile system|
|Battery Life||32-hour backup||32-hour backup||24 hours; 30-hour backup||36 hours|
|Range||1,300 feet||1,300 feet||600 feet in-home, 350 feet mobile||N/A|
|Fall Detection||$5 a month||$5 a month||$10 a month||$5 a month|
At-Home Landline costs $29.95 a month when paid for monthly. Quarterly and annual payment options are available, which cost $27.95 a month and $24.95 a month, respectively. All plans include free shipping. Fall detection costs an additional $5 a month.
This is a classic landline-based system, so users must have a landline connection in their homes. The base station has a range of 1,300 feet and a 32-hour backup battery. The wearable help button may be worn as a pendant or wristband and is waterproof, so it may be worn in the shower. Users have the option of purchasing a second wearable help button for $39.99. A second person may use this button to receive monitoring service under the same plan as the initial subscriber for no extra fee.
At-Home Cellular costs $34.95 a month with a monthly plan, $32.95 a month with a quarterly plan, or $30.95 a month with an annual plan. Fall detection is available for an additional $5 a month.
This cellular-based in-home system uses AT&T cellular service to connect with the monitoring center, and is ideal for seniors who want in-home protection but do not have a landline. Other than the connection type, the system is the same as the landline-based At-Home. The base station has a range of 1,300 feet and a 32-hour backup battery, and the included personal help button is showerproof.
At-Home & On-the-Go GPS
This system costs $39.95 a month when paid for on a monthly or quarterly basis. Annual plans are slightly less expensive, at $36.95 a month. Fall detection costs an additional $10 a month.
At-Home & On-the-Go GPS includes two different systems: the At-Home Cellular in-home system, and On-the-Go GPS mobile system. On-the-Go GPS is a portable device the size of a deck of cards, so it fits in a belt-clip holder or in a pocket or purse. It essentially functions as a portable base station, so users must still wear their personal help button while they have the mobile device with them. The range on On-the-Go GPS is 350 feet, and the battery lasts 24 hours between charges.
At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice in Pendant
This portable device costs $43.95 a month with a monthly payment plan. Quarterly plans cost $41.95 a month, and annual plans come out to $39.95 a month. Fall detection is available for an additional $5 a month.
At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice in Pendant is an all-in-one portable system. The lightweight device has a built-in two-way speaker and is worn around the neck, so there is no need to wear an additional personal help button. Users have a choice of utilizing AT&T or Verizon cellular and GPS location services so emergency monitoring operators and caregivers can locate the device at any time. The battery lasts up to 30 days hours on a single charge, and the device is waterproof so it may be worn in the shower.
Starting Costs and Contracts
LifeFone does not charge any activation, installation, or equipment fees. Some customers may have to pay approximately $15 for shipping.
LifeFone customers are not required to sign long-term contracts, and users may cancel their service at any time without paying a fee. Customers who prepaid for longer service periods will receive a prorated refund for any unused months at the time of cancellation. All new customers are also eligible for a 30-day free trial, during which they can return their system for a full refund.
LifeFone operates its own monitoring center in White Plains, New York. They also work with third-party companies to monitor their backup centers, one which is located in New York and the other in California.
All LifeFone customers set their own Emergency Care Instructions, which outline important information such as medical history and emergency contacts. Operators will use callers’ Emergency Care Instructions to ensure that each user gets the help they need.
Caregiver Tools and Extra Features
Caregiver Portal and Location Tracking
Caregivers and family members of LifeFone users can use the Caregiver Portal to update their loved one’s Emergency Care Instructions. Caregivers of On-the-Go users can also use the portal to locate their loved one’s device. In the online portal, caregivers can view the device’s last known location on a map, as well as location history. The Caregiver Portal is included with LifeFone service, but location tracking costs an additional $9 a month.
For $6 a month, users or their caregivers can set medication reminders. In the Caregiver Portal, caregivers can set up to four medication reminders per day (with up to 10 medications per reminder) for their loved one. At the pre-programmed time, the user’s in-home base station will play an alert reminding the user to take their medication. Users must press a button on the base station for the alert to stop playing, or it will automatically stop after 30 minutes. Caregivers can then check the portal to see whether their loved one accepted the reminder. If the user never pressed the button, the medication reminder will be marked “ignored.”
Activity Assurance is designed to give caregivers peace of mind that their loved one is safe and going about their day as usual. To activate this feature, users set a time for an alarm to sound each day. Users must press a button on their base station, signaling to the monitoring center that they heard the alert. If the user does not respond to the alarm within 15 minutes, the monitoring center places an outbound call to the user. If this call goes unanswered, the operator will respond to the situation according to the procedures outlined in the user’s Emergency Care Instructions. Activity Assurance is only available for At-Home landline users, and costs $6 a month.
Daily Check-in Call
All LifeFone users are eligible for daily check-in service. Users who choose this feature will receive a daily call from a LifeFone care agent to simply check-in, make sure everything is okay, or provide them with a medication reminder or other type of reminder. Each user can customize the call to meet their needs. This feature works with all LifeFone devices, and costs $19 a month.
LifeFone also offers the following add-on devices:
- Vanity Pendants: These designer-inspired pendants are perfect for those who want to improve the aesthetics of their medical alert device. These pendants look like fashionable necklaces but function like LifeFone’s standard wearable help buttons to connect users with emergency assistance. A vanity pendant costs $71.95.
- Wall-Mounted Button: These buttons can be placed anywhere in the home where users would like extra protection. Like the wearable personal help button, pressing the wall-mounted button triggers a call to the emergency monitoring center. Wall-mounted buttons can be purchased from LifeFone for $39.95 each.
- Lockbox: Lockboxes provide an easy way for emergency services to enter one’s home if one is unable to answer the door after placing an emergency call. LifeFone sells a basic hanging lockbox for $29.95, and Master Lock lockboxes for $39.95.
- Second Wearable Help Button: Users of At-Home systems can purchase a second wearable help button for $39.95. The second button may be worn by a spouse, who can be monitored under the same plan as the initial subscriber, essentially receiving monitoring service for two people for the price of one.
Who Should Consider LifeFone
Seniors with a Fixed Income
LifeFone keeps prices low from the start with zero one-time fees. Some companies’ device, activation, installation, and equipment fees can total over $100, so LifeFone customers save money right away. Additionally, LifeFone guarantees a lifetime price-lock on all subscriptions. The price that users pay for their first billing cycle is the same price they will pay for years to come. This makes it easy for seniors with a fixed income to plan ahead, as they know exactly how much they will pay for emergency medical monitoring in the future.
Seniors Who Are Prone to Falls
Almost all medical alert companies offer fall detection with some of their devices, but typically there are limitations on which devices are compatible with fall detection. All four LifeFone devices may be used with the fall detection pendant, giving seniors who are prone to falls plenty of choice and flexibility when it comes to choosing their device. Since fall detection is available with all devices, LifeFone customers who need extra protection in case of falls will not feel that they must make their decision based on compatibility with fall detection.
Seniors with a Medical Condition
LifeFone offers extra features including medication reminders, activity assurance, and daily check-in calls, all of which can be extremely useful for seniors with a medical condition. Medication reminders and daily check-in calls help ensure that seniors stay on track with their medication regimens, while the check-in call and activity assurance can provide peace of mind for caregivers of seniors with high-risk medical conditions. Rather than wait for the user to place a call to the emergency monitoring center, these features allow LifeFone agents to be proactive and regularly check in on users to ensure that they are safe and healthy.