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 are wearable devices that allow communication when the wearer has a medical emergency, needs urgent care or assistance, or has wandered into an unsafe area. These devices are typically worn as a pendant or watch to monitor the wearer’s position and are designed for one-touch or voice-activated communication. These pager-style devices allow seniors and people with chronic health conditions or limited mobility to experience a greater degree of independence and have quick access to medical care without relying on a telephone. Knowing that a medical alert device protects their loved one can give friends and family members peace of mind.

There are dozens of makes and models of medical alert devices crafted by several leading companies. Many of the features are similar, but different styles are better suited for different needs. For example, someone hard of hearing may have difficulty with a voice-activated device, while a wearer with arthritis may lack the manual dexterity to operate a push-button pendant. Each company’s marketing language is designed to sell their product, which can be confusing, especially if the purchaser isn’t an expert in wireless medical communication devices.

Here are side-by-side comparisons of two popular devices to explain who each device may be best suited for and let seniors and their families compare the features and costs of each. We also provide thoughtful, neutral evaluations of the drawbacks of the device systems to help you or a loved one choose the best medical alert system.

In this guide, we’re evaluating the RescueTouch and LifeFone devices. Both provide two-way communication, although the leading-edge features of the RescueTouch pendants and its Chit Chat package that allows back-and-forth communication between two device wearers made RescueTouch our top pick. Read on to see the pros and cons of each system.

Category


Side-by-Side Comparison


RescueTouch


LifeFone


COSTS



Up-Front Equipment


$99 for a single device or $178 for a pair


$0 - $39.95 per device



Monthly Monitoring


$19 for 911-only


$24 - $39 for a single plan monitored by a caretaker or professional service


$54 - $64 for dual packages monitored by a caretaker, the other wearer or a professional service


$24.95 - $39.95


+$5/month for optional fall detection monitoring


+$10/month for On-The-Go fall detection necklace


+$19/month for daily check-in calls/medication reminders



Activation Fee


$0


$0



Contract


Month-to-month, quarterly or annually. No cancellation fees but no refunds on devices after 30 days


Month-to-month, a full refund of unused prepaid services



Optional Monthly Add-On Services


Several tiers of packages, each with inclusive services


Device Insurance - $5


Daily Check-In - $19


Medication Reminders - $6


GPS Location Service - $9


FEATURES



Water-Resistant Wearable Devices


Pendant only


Pendant and wristband


The wristband has a temperature sensor



Connection


Cellular through all carriers; contacts of the wearer call into the device using their network


Landline or cellular (AT&T and Verizon networks)



Two-Way Voice Communication


Yes, both device-to-device and device-to-contact


At-Home products use a home-base unit


On-The-Go service use the wearable pendant



Range (from the in-home base unit for landline service)


Unlimited


1300 feet for two-way communication


600 feet for fall detection



Battery Life


2.5 days with GPS on


5 days with GPS off


Up to 30 days or up to 5 days for devices with fall detection


32-hour battery backup in At-Home landline base unit


FALL DETECTION, LOCATION and RESPONSE SERVICE



Fall Detection


Not on family-monitored and 911-only base plans


Yes on all other plans


Optional monthly add-on with all packages



GPS Locator


Yes on everything except the 911-only base plan


Yes with On-the-Go GPS packages



Coverage Away From Home


Yes, unlimited


Yes with On-the-Go GPS packages



24/7 USA Call Center


Yes, through AvantGuard monitoring, a U.S.-based company


Yes


OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES





Available in four colors


Hanging and wall-mounted master lockboxes


Wall-mounted help button


Extra wearable alert buttons


Beaded lanyard

RescueTouch Overview

RescueTouch is a brand created by the Florida Health Alert & Technology company, which has been in business for over 40 years. This company focuses on the needs of people aged 55 and older and creates alert technology for individuals and medical professionals, such as nurse-alert systems. The RescueTouch devices incorporate GPS and cellular technology in a pendant that operates similarly to a cell phone.

The unique two-way communication system on all RescueTouch devices gives the wearer greater independence and autonomy and reduces the number of 911 emergency calls. The wearer can add up to five contacts, and either the contact or wearer can initiate contact. RescueTouch owners can ask for help from a friend or family member in cases where they may be tired or hurt but don’t require emergency rescue.

RescueTouch also offers a two-person monitoring system designed for couples. Each device allows back-and-forth communication with the other, as well as caretaker monitoring or professional monitoring services.

RescueTouch devices are all purchased new, which may be beneficial for those who aren’t sure about used or refurbished equipment and for people who may forget to return a leased device when their service ends. However, RescueTouch buyers only have 30 days to return the device if they choose to cancel the service. Once the 31st day arrives, subscribers may cancel at any time, but they’re full owners of the device.

The plans for RescueTouch may be purchased monthly, quarterly or annually, with discounts available for those who opt for the quarterly or annual payments. Once a subscriber commits to a plan, the pricing on the plan is locked in by the company’s PriceLock guarantee. This means that as long as the individual stays enrolled, their pricing won’t go up, even if the company changes its plan prices.

Florida Health Alert & Technology also offers discounts for veterans and their families, first responders and nurses, AARP members and people with a qualifying disability.

Pros of RescueTouch

  • An unlimited range is ideal for seniors prone to wandering.
  • Flexible Monitoring: Owners can choose who to add as a caretaker contact or opt for a 24-hour professional monitoring service.
  • Voice Connect Technology allows two-way communication with all devices and plans
  • Family Member Text Alerts: The device sends texts to family members or contacts in cases of an emergency or fall.
  • Waterproof and Durable: The device can be worn in the shower and won’t break if it drops or the wearer falls.

Cons of RescueTouch Technology

  • Pendant-style only: Some wearers may prefer a watch style.
  • Devices are purchased new: Returns are only valid within 30 days of purchase.

LifeFone Overview

LifeFone has been crafting wearable medical alert devices for over 40 years, giving those with chronic health conditions and the elderly a greater sense of independence knowing that help is just one button push away. All subscribers are monitored by a company-owned security center, with professionally trained operators based in the United States, to respond to urgent and emergency medical needs. LifeFone offers unlimited contact alerts, allowing the wearer to notify as many people as they wish in cases of emergencies.

In addition to the urgent care monitoring that LifeFone guarantees, the company also offers add-on services to help seniors maintain a higher level of independence. Daily or weekly medication reminders, safety checks or fall detection can be added to each plan for just a few dollars extra per month. These services are set up automatically, and the wearer can simply respond by pressing the button on the device.

Pros Of LifeFone

  • Zero activation fee
  • Discounts and free products available for subscribers who prepay
  • An option to add a second subscriber to the plan for free
  • Lifetime warranty on all units
  • Fall detection, daily or weekly medication reminders and push-button check-in services available as options

Cons of LifeFone

  • Battery life is just 30 hours, and batteries must be manually changed.
  • Pricing for plans can be hard to understand, and plans aren’t all-inclusive; some features cost extra.
  • Equipment may be difficult for some users to operate.
  • Refunds and cancellations can be troublesome.

Pricing Comparison

RescueTouch and LifeFone have fairly comparable pricing. However, while RescueTouch’s pricing is straightforward and inclusive for each plan, the add-ons for the devices that LifeFone offers can be confusing for some customers and add up quickly.

Both companies offer a lifetime price guarantee for services as long as the customer is continually subscribed, but canceling service is more complicated with LifeFone than RescueTouch.

Our Pick

We prefer RescueTouch devices, hands-down. From user reviews to independent testing, the devices are rated as durable, reliable and easy for seniors to use. The subscription plans for RescueTouch are easy to understand as each plan is all-inclusive without add-ons that quickly add up.

Other things that made the RescueTouch devices stand out were the unlimited range and the two-way contact with up to five people. RescueTouch seems perfectly designed for those with memory impairments who are prone to wandering; the GPS technology is comparable to the accuracy of most major satellite map services. The Chit Chat paired devices are also ideal for couples who wish to age in place. Communicating back and forth directly from the devices allows owners to monitor one another and lend a hand when aid, but not emergency response, is needed.

Compare More Medical Alert Systems

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