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 affordable devices that help seniors live active, independent lives while having immediate access to assistance in the event of a fall, health concern or emergency. Through these systems, users are equipped with conveniently wearable wristbands or pendants with buttons that connect them directly to 24/7 emergency call centers. Often, additional features, such as fall detection, long battery life spans and GPS tracking, mean seniors and their loved ones can tailor system plans to their unique needs and lifestyles.

Tens of companies provide these potentially life-saving systems for low introductory costs and customizable payment plans. Medical alert systems can be used as a backup to part-time caregivers, as a way to track those with dementia who are prone to wandering, and as an alert system to monitor those with medical conditions. As it can be difficult and time consuming to wade through the many available system options, we’ve developed informative, side-by-side comparisons of the most reputable companies’ devices, features and service plans.

ResponseNow and GreatCall are two medical alert companies with innovative plans for active seniors. Below, we compare ResponseNow’s wearable home-based and mobile options with GreatCall’s lightweight, GPS-tracking Lively Mobile device. We found that while GreatCall has some unique, value-rich features and lower monthly rates, ResponseNow may appeal to those who value a long battery life, optional accessories and worry-free device protection plans.

Side By Side Comparison LifeStation ResponseNow
Up-Front Equipment Included with quarterly and annual plans
$14.95 shipping with monthly plans
$39.99 device purchase cost
$10 shipping
Monthly Monitoring $29.95-$49.95
+$11.95/month for optional fall-detection pendant with In the Home plan
Activation Fee $0 for In the Home plan
$35 for Belle and Belle+ mobile plans
Contract Monthly, quarterly or annual plans; 30-day money back guarantee 30-day free trial period with $10 restocking fee
Month-to-month plans with no cancellation fees and prorated refunds if cancelled mid-billing cycle
Optional Monthly Add-On Services Care(+) device protection plan – $3.95
Lockbox – $3.95 (included with annual plan)
Extra help button – $2.95
Water-Resistant Wearable Devices Pendant and wristband Lively Mobile pendant and wristband
Product replacement included with Ultimate plan for lost, stolen or damaged devices
Connection Landline or cellular (AT&T network) Cellular (Verizon network)
2-Way Voice Communication Through In-Home base wearable help button and wearable mobile device Through wearable Lively Mobile device
Range (From in-home base unit for landline service) Up to 500′ from in-home landline base N/A
Battery life 24 hours with In the Home system
30 days with Belle mobile device
5 days with Belle+ device and 3-hour charge time
24 hours
Fall Detection Optional monthly add-on with In the Home plan; Included with Belle+ plan Included with Ultimate plan
GPS Locator Included with Belle+ plan Yes
GreatCall Link caregiver mobile app included with Preferred and Ultimate plans
Coverage Away From Home Included with Belle and Belle+ plans Yes
24/7 USA Call Center Yes Yes
Urgent Care feature with Preferred and Ultimate plans includes access to medical advice and prescription refills
Wall-mounted help button
Hanging and wall-mounted master lockboxes
Additional wearable alert buttons
Beaded lanyard

ResponseNow Overview

With ResponseNow, seniors can choose between a purely landline-based alert system or AT&T cellular mobile devices with long-lasting batteries that are perfect for hassle-free independence. The U.S.-based company employs highly-trained operators who work around-the-clock to provide personalized, regional customer support. These skilled agents answer alerts within 30 to 60 seconds and can quickly inform, at a user’s request, specified loved ones or emergency personnel of a health concern or urgent need.

Because ResponseNow doesn’t require users to purchase their devices, start-up costs consist of only an activation fee and shipping costs. With multiple plans available, optional features and monthly, quarterly and annual payment plans, users may receive discounts or complimentary accessories depending on the package they choose.

Pros of ResponseNow:

  • Lifetime price-lock guarantee
  • Optional lockboxes with monthly and quarterly plans and a complimentary lockbox with annual plans
  • Full device coverage through affordable, optional Care(+) protection plan
  • Impressive 30-day battery life and three-hour charge time with Belle mobile device
  • Discounts with quarterly and annual payment plans
  • Free battery replacement and repairs for defective equipment
  • GPS tracking feature allows loved ones to receive texts revealing a user’s exact location

Cons of ResponseNow:

  • Device shipping fee for monthly payment users
  • Mobile plans require an activation fee
  • Fall detection not available with all plans
  • Higher-than-average mobile device monthly plan fees
  • Above average fall detection and lockbox prices

GreatCall Overview

While GreatCall doesn’t offer a purely landline-based service, its unlimited-range Lively Mobile device can be worn either at home or on the go. With each of its three Verizon-enabled service packages, seniors can press a button to connect almost instantaneously to a 5Star Urgent Response Agent. These agents can help users contact loved ones for assistance, dispatch emergency medical services, obtain roadside help or aid in any unsafe situation.

Unlike some medical alert system companies, GreatCall requires users to purchase its device and pay a one-time activation fee. The singular device available with each no-commitment plan and upfront pricing makes it easy for seniors to understand what benefits they’ll receive. While its most inexpensive plan only includes the Lively Mobile device and emergency monitoring service, the two higher-tiered plans include a unique caregiver mobile app and an Urgent Care feature that connects users directly with a nurse or doctor. Through this feature, seniors can use the device to discuss any health questions or concerns with a medical professional or request prescription refills.

Pros of GreatCall:

  • Simple, easy-to-comprehend pricing and plan options
  • Unlimited range for all plans
  • Water-resistant and shower-proof
  • Urgent Care feature gives users immediate access to expert medical advice, answers to health questions and prescription refills
  • 30-day free trial period, no contract and free cancellation
  • IAED-certified call operators
  • GPS location tracking with all plans
  • GreatCall Link app allows caregivers to track seniors’ device use, monitor battery life and receive call notifications
  • Product replacement program included with Ultimate plan

Cons of GreatCall:

  • Fall detection and device protection only available with highest-tiered Ultimate plan
  • Higher upfront costs, including device purchase, activation and shipping fees
  • No device extras available, such as wall-mounted devices or home lockboxes
  • Shorter 24-hour battery life

Pricing Comparisons

In terms of pricing, GreatCall’s device purchase requirement makes its upfront costs higher than ResponseNow’s. However, GreatCall’s monthly rates are notably lower than each comparable ResponseNow package. Even with ResponseNow’s discounted quarterly and annual payment options, prices for each of GreatCall’s plans are generally at least $5 less per month.

Seniors should also note that while all of GreatCall’s plans are mobile and have an unlimited range, ResponseNow’s lowest priced plan is home-based. Unlike GreatCall’s base plan, however, ResponseNow’s In the Home option comes with a fall-detection option. This may be an advantage for those who are mostly home-bound and would like fall-detection services at more affordable price than ResponseNow’s offerings. As another perk, ResponseNow’s mobile devices’ batteries last much longer than GreatCall’s, meaning its users won’t have to worry about remembering to charge their device every day.

GreatCall’s GPS tracking feature is included with each of its plans, whereas GPS tracking is only available with ResponseNow through its highest-tiered Belle+ plan. Additionally, GreatCall’s in-depth caregiver app allows loved ones to check the device’s battery life from afar, monitor the user’s exact location and receive alerts whenever the device is used. GreatCall also boasts its unique Urgent Care feature that allows users to consult directly with health care professionals at any time.

Device Protection Plan

Another pricing factor to consider, however, is ResponseNow’s optional affordable Care(+) device protection plan. For an extra $3.95 per month, seniors can have their device replaced anytime, at no additional cost and for any reason. This can help users (particularly of its home-based and basic mobile plans) prone to losing or damaging their devices save more money over time than with GreatCall, which only offers device protection with its highest-tiered Ultimate plan.

Our Pick

While ResponseNow and GreatCall offer desirable features designed with active, mobile seniors in mind, each have particular strong points that outshine the other.

Ultimately, we believe GreatCall’s clearer, slightly more affordable monthly costs and unique, value added offerings of its Urgent Care feature and caregiver mobile app make its plans a better choice for most active seniors. We would recommend ResponseNow’s In the Home option over GreatCall’s plans for seniors who are home-bound and seeking a lower-priced alert system with fall detection. Additionally, for some, ResponseNow’s much longer battery life and option of additional features and device protection plans may make it a better personal choice.

Compare More Medical Alert Systems

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