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.

In the time it takes you to read this sentence, another senior may become injured from a fall. An elderly adult visits the emergency room every 11 seconds for fall-related concerns, and approximately 25% of seniors aged 65 and older fall at least once per year. Falls can happen to any aging adult, even if they have home modifications that help with mobility. Stiff joints and brittle bones make it difficult for some seniors to navigate their surroundings, while others struggle from hearing and vision impairments.

Regardless of the cause, a medical alert system can help seniors receive prompt care if a fall occurs. Medical alert systems come in a variety of styles, from wall-mounted units for in-home use to smartwatch-inspired bands that provide on-the-go tracking. When a senior needs help, they can press a button and speak with emergency operators or call a loved one. Some devices even offer automatic fall detection, so seniors can receive assistance when they’re unconscious or too injured to request help.

Choosing a Medical Alert System

Because every elderly adult has different needs, choosing the right medical alert system can be difficult. It doesn’t help that some companies lack transparency when describing their pricing or features, forcing consumers to make important decisions without all the information they want. That’s why we’ve created this helpful guide for seniors and caretakers interested in learning more about medical alert systems. Rather than providing a full list of companies, we’ve created a side-by-side comparison of two of them: LifeStation and Life Alert.

LifeStation is our preferred pick out of the two, but Life Alert still has some benefits. Life Alert is a familiar favorite when it comes to medical alert systems, but it lacks many of the features that LifeStation and other companies offer. It’s best for elderly adults who don’t mind paying a premium price for a dependable device with a traditional design. LifeStation is ideal for seniors who want a budget-friendly system that still has essential features and add-ons, such as fall detection and a lockbox. Discover the differences between LifeStation and Life Alert in our convenient table below, then review pros and cons in our detailed descriptions.

Side By Side ComparisonLifeStationLife Alert
COSTS
Up-Front EquipmentN/AN/A
Monthly Monitoring$19.95—$26.95$49—$89
Activation Fee$50 Activation Fee for Customers with a Standard Plan Subscription for the Mobile with GPS Device$95—$198 --- Includes Shipping and Installation
ContractMonthly3-Year Contract
Optional Monthly Add-On Services+$10/Month for Fall Detection
+$2.99/Month for Lockbox
+$2.49/Month for Wall-Mounted Unit
+$3.99/Month for Extra Help Button
N/A
FEATURES
Water-Resistant Wearable DevicesYesYes--Pendant
ConnectionLandline or CellularLandline or Cellular
2-Way Voice CommunicationYesYes
Range (From In-Home base unit for landline service)650' to 1,000'800' to 1,000'
Battery life48-Hour Backup for In-Home Traditional and In-Home Plus
Up to 5 Days for Mobile with GPS
72-Hour Backup for in the Home Base Station
Up to 7 Years for in the Home Pendant
FALL DETECTION, LOCATION and RESPONSE SERVICE
Fall DetectionYes--As a $5 or $10 Monthly Add-OnN/A
GPS LocatorIncluded with Mobile with GPS DeviceIncluded with HELP On-The-Go with GPS Device
Coverage Away From HomeIncluded with Mobile with GPS DeviceIncluded with HELP On-The-Go with GPS Device
24/7 USA Call CenterYesYes
OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES
Lockboxes
Wall-Mounted Units
Extra Medical Alert Buttons
N/A

LifeStation Overview

LifeStation is one of the most affordable medical alert system providers, especially when compared to Life Alert. The most expensive monthly LifeStation subscription plan costs just over half of what Life Alert charges for its lowest-priced plan. Adding fall detection increases your monthly rate by $5 to $10, but it’s still lower than Life Alert’s plans.

Landline and cellular connections are available, and subscribers can receive device protection via the Select and Supreme plans. The company also offers fall detection for all of its devices, a feature that Life Alert units lack. Lockboxes, extra buttons and wall-mounted units are available for additional fees.

Pros of LifeStation:

  • Affordable monthly plans
  • Cellular and landline connections
  • Fall detection
  • Device protection plans
  • Water-resistant devices
  • No activation fees for some products

Cons of LifeStation:

  • Add-ons such as lockboxes and wall-mounted units are not free
  • Some plans have an additional fee if you choose a cellular connection over a landline connection
  • Short battery life compared to Life Alert products
  • $50 activation fee for customers who select the Mobile with GPS device via the Standard plan

Life Alert Overview

Life Alert boasts that it saves the life of a senior every 11 minutes, but this claim carries a hefty price tag. The lowest-price Life Alert plan still costs more than the most expensive LifeStation subscription, yet Life Alert offers fewer features. However, some seniors still choose Life Alert because it’s a familiar brand they may have seen advertised on television or in magazines. The 10-year battery lifespan is another popular selling point for Life Alert subscribers.

Despite Life Alert’s high monthly prices, which range from $49 to $89, customer reviews are typically positive, and the company is highly rated by the Better Business Bureau. After reading online reviews, you may feel more confident about being locked into a 3-year Life Alert contract.

Pros of Life Alert:

  • Mobile app for seniors lets subscribers call for help without their pendant or wall unit
  • Long battery lifespan of up to 10 years
  • Water-resistant help buttons offer peace of mind in bathrooms and other slippery areas
  • U.S.-based call center provides around-the-clock support
  • Favorable customer reviews
  • Rated an A+ by the Better Business Bureau

Cons of Life Alert:

  • High monthly expenses when compared to LifeStation and other medical alert system providers
  • No fall detection available for any devices
  • Long-term contract requires a 3-year commitment
  • No special features
  • No accessories or wristbands
  • No device protection plans

Pricing Comparison

LifeStation’s medical alert systems cost significantly less than the products offered by Life Alert, even when you consider add-ons and special features. Costs range from $49 to $89 per month for Life Alert products versus the $19.95 to $26.95 monthly fees for LifeStation units. Adding fall detection increases LifeStation subscription costs by $5 to $10 per month, but this is still lower than the most affordable Life Alert plan.

Lockboxes and wall-mounted units aren’t available for Life Alert customers, but LifeStation subscribers can add them to their plans. Expect to pay $2.49 per month per wall-mounted unit and $2.99 per month for a lockbox. On-demand location tracking is free for LifeStation subscribers who have the Mobile with GPS device.

It’s also important to remember that Life Alert requires a 3-year contract. This requirement is not ideal for seniors whose income or monitoring needs may change.

Our Pick

LifeStation and Life Alert are both trusted companies in the medical alert system industry, but LifeStation is our top pick. LifeStation has short-term subscriptions, affordable plans and essential add-ons, including fall detection. Life Alert requires a 3-year commitment, and prices are approximately twice as much as LifeStation’s fees and subscriptions.

However, seniors who want a simple device with a long battery life may still appreciate Life Alert’s products. The company offers devices that don’t require users to recharge them regularly, which is great if you have a mobile senior who needs continuous protection. Life Alert devices are also ideal for dementia patients who may not remember to charge devices.


Compare More Medical Alert Systems

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