|30 hours of research||32 products reviewed||18 companies considered||8 companies chosen|
In selecting the best eight medical alert system providers, we started with 18 companies and analyzed each on various criteria related to the monitoring services, equipment, and customer service.
Monitoring Center and Operator Qualifications
The companies must provide 24/7 live monitoring services with a live agent accessible in the event of a help button call. These centers must be based in North America and staffed with highly trained operators.
Wide Range of Device Options
All companies must offer both in-home and mobile medical alert devices. With respect to in-home devices, customers must have the option of either landline or cellular connectivity.
All products must have simple, easy-to-understand pricing structures with no hidden fees, no long-term contracts, and a customer satisfaction guarantee.
Customer Service Standards
All companies included must meet high standards of reputation, both within the industry and with respect to customer reviews. All companies quickly provide live customer service in the event of a help button press, and response times must be within one minute or less.
All companies listed rated highly on customer service based on customer reviews compiled from several sources. This was evaluated on dimensions such as how long they were placed on hold, willingness to help solve problems, patience, friendliness, and overall buying experience.
|In-Home Cost||Mobile Cost||Starting Fees|
|Bay Alarm Medical||$19.95-$29.95||$24.95-$29.95||$0|
Based in Florida, MobileHelp is an FDA-registered company with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. It offers top-of-the-line cellular and landline systems with award-winning equipment and a 24-hour United States-based response center. Specifically, it uses the reputable Rapid Response emergency monitoring call center.
This monitoring center employs highly trained and qualified emergency response operators certified by the Security Industry Association. No matter the product chosen, customers can look forward to fast response times, excellent customer service, and state-of-the-art, easy-to-install equipment options.
|Device||In-home system||In-home landline system||Mobile system||In-home and mobile system||Smartwatch|
|Operating Range||600 feet||1,300 feet||Unlimited; 350 feet for pendant||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Battery Life from Full Charge/ Power Outage Protection||30-hour backup battery||30-hour backup battery||Up to 24 hours||Up to 24 hours for mobile device||Up to 2 days (single charge)|
|Month-to-month cost||$19.95||$24.95||$37.95||$41.95||$29.95 + one-time device fee of $349.95|
|Fall Detection||$10 a month||Not available with device||$10 a month||$10 a month||Not available with device|
The MobileHelp Classic plan includes an in-home base station, which uses a cellular connection, and a waterproof wearable button that users may wear as a pendant or on a wristband. Once the help button is pressed or a fall is detected (if the fall detection feature is chosen), the base station connects with the MobileHelp 24/7 emergency call center that establishes a two-way connection. As a bonus, the base station displays the time, temperature, and date.
MobileHelp Wired Home
For customers looking for a landline-based in-home system, the company offers the MobileHelp Wired Home. This system operates with a wearable help button, available as either a wristband or lanyard. The wearable button functions within a 1,300-foot coverage area from the base station and no cellular signal is required. The base station features two-way communication with an emergency operator available 24/7/365.
The MobileHelp Solo package is comprised of both a GPS-enabled mobile system, which functions as a portable base station, and a waterproof pendant call button that communicates with the mobile system up to 350 feet away. It uses AT&T’s cellular service to connect to the emergency call center.
The mobile device features a two-way speaker, a low battery and GPS indicator, a USB charging port, and a cradle charger. The battery on the device lasts approximately twenty-four hours. The Solo package does not include automatic fall detection, but the fall detection button feature can be added for an additional ten dollars a month.
The MobileHelp Duo package is a combination of the classic and solo packages. Customers receive a cellular in-home system as well as an on-the-go mobile device. Like the Solo package, the Duo package utilizes patented GPS technology that quickly sends the customer ID and GPS coordinates to the 24/7 call center. From here, the center can quickly coordinate an emergency response to the individual’s exact location.
The MobileHelp Smart combines medical alert technology from MobileHelp with all the functionality of a Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch. Perfect for the active senior, this smartwatch features a built-in speaker and microphone, vital sign sensors, activity tracking, and Samsung Health apps. For continual medical coverage, the smartwatch uses GPS location tracking technology along with AT&T’s 4G cellular network. The battery life of the watch lasts for up to two days on a single charge. A USB wireless charger is included in the package.
MobileHelp provides a transparent fee structure, ensuring no long-term contracts, no hidden fees, and no activation fees. Prospective customers also have the ability to try out any product risk-free for 30 days. No matter the package chosen, MobileHelp currently offers a free lockbox with every order (a $29.95 value).
It also offers monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual payment plans, and customers can save more money by paying for longer periods upfront. Other helpful add-on services such as a wall-mounted help button and customizable medication reminders are available for $2 and $5 per month, respectively.
Medical Guardian is one of the fastest-growing medical alert system providers in the United States. Headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Medical Guardian boasts fully US-based 247/7 call centers with TMA Five Diamond-certified staff, indicating intensive staff training and second-to-none customer service. Medical Guardian uses nationwide AT&T coverage for its mobile devices and offers a wide variety of device options at an affordable price.
|Classic Guardian||Home Guardian||Family Guardian||Mobile Guardian||Active Guardian||Freedom Guardian|
|Device||In-home system||In-home system||Mobile system||In-home and mobile system||Mobile system||Smartwatch|
|Connection||Landline||Cellular||Cellular||Cellular||Cellular||pre-SIM installed, Cellular|
|Operating Range||1300 feet||600 feet||1300 feet||Unlimited, 350 feet for pendant||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Battery Life from Full Charge or Power Outage Protection||32-hour backup battery||30-hour backup battery||32-hour backup battery||24 hours||5 days||48 hours|
|Monthly cost||$29.95||$34.95||$79.95||$39.95||$39.95||$44.95 + one-time device fee of $99|
|Fall Detection||$10 a month||$10 a month||$10 a month||Not available with device||$10 a month||$10 a month|
The Classic Guardian is the most cost-effective package offered by Medical Guardian. The package includes a base station and waterproof wearable alert button (either pendant or wrist-based). The base station connects to the landline telephone for 24/7/365 monitoring and has a range of 1,300 feet. The Classic Guardian comes with a 32-hour backup battery to ensure peace of mind during a blackout.
The Home Guardian connects to Medical Guardian’s 24/7 monitoring center with AT&T’s cellular network rather than through a telephone landline. This package includes a two-way communication base station and waterproof medical alert button with wrist and neck pendant options. The alert buttons function within 600 feet of the base station.
The Family Guardian is the most comprehensive package offered by Medical Guardian. It includes a cellular-based medical alert system as well as three in-home sensors that monitor health and activity levels. The user’s daily activity can be monitored and tracked over time through the provided Family Guardian app. Similar to the Classic Guardian, the Family Guardian base station is a two-way communication device and has an operating range of 1,300 feet. This package can be customized with additional alert buttons if desired.
The Mobile Guardian is a mobile, two-way communication medical alert device ideal for active seniors. The lightweight, portable device is equipped with GPS-tracking technology and an AT&T cellular network connection so medical responders can know the caller’s precise location in the event of an emergency. Additionally, the package comes with waterproof wearable help buttons, available as either a neck pendant or wrist button, that work within a range of 350 feet from the portable device. The package comes with unique add-on accessories like a mobile car charger. When fully charged, the portable device battery will last up to twenty four hours.
The Active Guardian package provides a portable medical alert device enabled with GPS tracking and WiFi location technology. The mobile device features a speaker and microphone for two-way communication with the 24/7 emergency monitoring center. The water-resistant device is worn around the neck and can be equipped with upgrades such as automatic fall detection for an additional $10 a month. When fully charged, the Active Guardian’s battery can last up to five days.
The Freedom Guardian is a touchscreen, smartwatch-style medical alert device. It uses GPS triangulation and WiFi Positioning Systems to determine the wearer’s exact location for assistance. The smartwatch functionality also encompasses text-to-speech messaging, weather forecasts, and medication alerts. Users can reach the monitoring center by holding down the side button for three seconds. A companion mobile app is available for day planning, location tracking, alert history, and messaging.
Medical Guardian ensures no long-term contracts, no hidden fees, free activation, and free equipment (with the exception of the one-time smartwatch fee). Its fair pricing structure lets customers choose between month-to-month, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual subscription plans, the latter of which offers the most savings.
Medical Guardian also provides automatic monthly testing to ensure proper functioning of its systems. All packages can be customized with additional add-ons such as a lockbox, additional help buttons, wall buttons, voice-activated buttons, and a protection plan for lost or stolen devices. For an additional ten dollars a month, automatic fall detection can be added to all packages except for the Freedom Guardian.
Established in 1976, LifeFone is a premier medical alert system provider with a fully US-based monitoring center and over forty years of experience in the industry. LifeFone offers flexible equipment and pricing options, free spouse coverage, and guaranteed price locking on its subscriptions. If customers don’t like the service, it provides a 30-day money back guarantee. For all packages, automatic fall detection can be added for an additional five to ten dollars per month.
|At-Home Landline||At-Home Cellular||At-Home & on-the-go GPS||At-Home & on-the-go GPS, Voice-in-Necklace|
|Device||In-home system||In-home system||In-home and on-the-go system||Mobile system|
|Operating Range||1,300 ft||1,300 feet||600 feet (in-home system), 350 feet (mobile system)||N/A|
|Waterproof||Yes||Yes||Yes (pendant call button)||Water resistant|
|Battery Life from Full Charge or Power Outage Protection||32-hour backup battery||32-hour backup battery||24-hours for mobile, 30 hours for in-home system||30 day charge; 5 day charge with added fall detection feature|
|Fall Detection||$5 a month||$5 a month||$10 a month||$5 a month|
The At-Home Landline is a simple, easy-to-use in-home system that works by connecting to the telephone landline. The package comes with the base station and waterproof wristband or pendant help buttons. The base station has an operating range of 1,300 feet and is equipped with a two-way speaker to communicate with the 24/7 monitoring center. The long-lasting backup battery, at 32 hours, gives peace of mind during temporary power outages. A free spouse pendant is provided.
Landline accessories include a wall mount master lockbox, hanging lock box, additional medical alert buttons, wall mounted help button, and beaded lanyard. A protection plan is available for $5 a month and covers equipment repairs and replacements.
Instead of a landline, the At-Home Cellular uses AT&T’s nationwide cellular network to coordinate an emergency response. No prior cell phone service is required. The package features a base station and waterproof emergency call buttons in neck pendant and wristband form. Similar to the landline option, the base station has an operating range of 1,300 feet and is enabled with two-way communication through a sensitive speaker. A necklace with automatic fall detection can be added to this plan for an additional five dollars per month.
At-Home and On-the-go GPS
This package includes both an in-home system and on-the-go mobile GPS system. Both devices work via the AT&T cellular network provided by LifeFone. With a two-for-one value, this package is perfect for couples that both need medical alert system technology or someone who wants to be covered on all bases. The pendant wristband can activate the base system from 600 feet away or the mobile system from 350 feet away. A waterproof fall detection pendant can be added for an additional ten dollars per month.
At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-In-Necklace
This package is a two-way voice pendant enabled with GPS tracking for protection no matter where the wearer is located, provided there is Verizon or AT&T cellular coverage. The comfortable, lightweight pendant’s battery life lasts up to thirty days, or five days if the automatic fall detection feature is added.
LifeFone stands out as a top company for its transparent fee structure and spouse-friendly equipment deals. The company promises no installation, activation, or equipment fees, a subscriber price guarantee, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Customers may also cancel anytime and pay only for the time they used the service.
Caregiver features such as daily reminder services, location tracking, and medication reminders can be added on to any plan through LifeFone’s excellent standalone mobile app. A wide range of accessories are available for any plan, including wall mounted or hanging lockboxes, protection plans, wall mounted help buttons, and additional medical alert buttons. If needed, LifeFone even offers smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide alert systems for $42.95 per month.
LifeStation is a New Jersey-based company that has provided emergency monitoring services since 1977. It has become one of the leaders in the industry with budget-friendly, UL-certified equipment, fast response times of 20 seconds on average, and a competitive, transparent fee structure. The provider uses solely US-based call centers that are staffed with CSAA Five Diamond certified operators. LifeStation’s simple equipment options boils down to a traditional in-home landline system, a cellular in-home system, and a mobile + GPS system. Like the other companies, fall detection can be added for an additional monthly fee.
|In-Home Traditional||In-Home Plus||Mobile with GPS|
|Device||In-home system||In-home system||In-home and on-the-go system|
|Operating Range||500 feet||500 feet||600 feet (in-home system), 350 feet (mobile system)|
|Waterproof||Yes||Yes||Yes (pendant call button)|
|Battery Life from Full Charge or Power Outage Protection||32-hour backup battery||32-hour backup battery||24-hours for mobile, 30 hours for in-home system|
|Fall Detection||$7 a month||$7 a month||$7 a month|
This package consists of a two-way communication base station connected through the telephone line and a LifeStation help pendant. The waterproof pendant is operational within 500 feet of the base station. The base station contains a 32-hour backup battery in the event of a power outage.
This package is essentially identical to the landline option except the base station does not require a landline. Instead, the base station uses a nationwide cellular network to connect with the monitoring center.
Mobile with GPS
The mobile system uses GPS tracking technology so the wearer can be on-the-go anywhere and still be protected. The small, lightweight device can easily fit in a pocket or be worn around the neck. The mobile unit battery lasts five days on a single 3-hour charge. One unique feature of the mobile device is caregivers can know where their loved one is at any time because the unit integrates with Amazon Alexa.
All LifeStation systems and plans offer no long-term contracts, no upfront deposits, no hidden fees, no activation fees, and free shipping and equipment. The affordable monitoring service is the only cost users will face, unless additional services are requested.
Additional services and accessories may include a lockbox for $2.99 per month, bathroom and hallway help buttons for $3.49 per month, and monitoring for additional users for $3.99 per month. The provider’s equipment takes only five minutes to set up and is ensured to be fully functional with automatic weekly testing.
Bay Alarm Medical is a family-operated company that has been in business since 1946. Bay Alarm Medical, offers an in-home landline system, a cellular in-home system, a 4G LTE mobile system for on-the-go individuals, and an in-car medical alert system.
Among the companies selected, Bay Alarm offers one of the most cost-effective monthly subscription plans, starting at just $19.95 per month. Based on its customer reviews, it is well-renowned for its excellent customer service. Bay Alarm employs three fully US-based monitoring centers with CSAA-certified staff.
|In-Home Medical Alert||4G LTE GPS Help Button||In-Car Medical Alert|
|Device||In-home system||Mobile on-the-go system||Mobile on-the-road system|
|Connection||Landline or Cellular||Cellular||Cellular|
|Operating Range||1,000 ft||Unlimited||N/A|
|Battery Life from Full Charge or Power Outage Protection||32-hour backup battery||24-hours for mobile, 30 hours for in-home system||30 day charge; 5 day charge with added fall detection feature|
|Monthly cost||$19.95 or $29.95 (cellular)||$24.95||$29.95|
|Fall Detection||$10 a month||$10 a month||Not available with device; automatic crash detection included|
In-Home Medical Alert
The in-home medical alert system is the most cost-effective plan offered by Bay Alarm Medical. It is available as either a landline telephone or cellular-connected version (the cellular system costs an additional $10 a month). The base unit features two-way communication on a sensitive speaker and a 32-hour back-up battery for power outages. Along with the base unit, the package comes with a wristband or necklace waterproof help button. On the base unit is an extra large help button that will initiate a call to the 24/7 monitoring center. The waterproof help buttons will be functional within a 1,000 foot range from the base unit. If a fall detection pendant is purchased, this can be used within 800 feet of the base unit.
4G LTE GPS Help Button
This package uses AT&T 4G LTE GPS tracking technology so wearers can always be assured that the device has pinpoint location accuracy. The sleek, lightweight unit is worn around the neck. It’s water resistant and usable in the shower or rain. For a slightly higher fee per month, a caregiver tracking app is also available so caregivers can check in on their loved one’s location in real time, as well as view their location history and notification alerts. Optional fall detection can be added as well for more peace of mind. Lastly, the system comes with a “vial of life” kit that allows the wearer to list important medical information, such as medications and allergies, in an easily accessible location for emergency responders.
In-Car Medical Alert
Uniquely offered by Bay Alarm, In-Car Medical Alert is a medical alert system that is situated within the car in the event of a driving emergency. The driver can signal help from the unit and get in touch with the monitoring center through the two-way communication device, or if a crash is detected the device will automatically send for help. The unit plugs into the 12V cigarette lighter socket in the car console so it always stays charged (but there is a backup battery just in case). Caregivers and loved ones of users can use the accompanying app to view real-time information on the vehicle’s location, trip information, and more.
Bay Alarm Medical offers no long-term contracts, no startup costs, a price-lock guarantee, free spouse coverage, multilingual services, and a thirty day risk-free trial period. For the most comprehensive protection, customers can bundle multiple packages for as low as $39.95 per month.
Accessories such as extra wearable help buttons, personalized necklace-style help buttons, wall mounted help buttons, equipment protection plans, and lockboxes are available for a small fee ranging from $1.95 to $2.95 a month. Automatic fall detection can also be added onto any package for $10 a month.
Philips Lifeline has provided innovative medical alert system technology to over 7.5 million Americans since 1974. Its 24/7/365 response centers are based fully in North America and feature multi-lingual support, 12-second average response times, and over 200 intensively-trained staff. The company provides a wide range of devices for both in-home or on-the-go medical alert needs. All device packages except for the standard in-home system feature automatic fall detection for additional peace of mind.
|GoSafe||GoSafe 2||HomeSafe Standard||HomeSafe AutoAlert|
|Device||Mobile system||Mobile system||In-home system||In-home system|
|Connection||Cellular + landline||Cellular||Landline or cellular||Landline or cellular|
|Operating Range||Unlimited||Unlimited||~400 feet||~400 feet|
|Battery Life from Full Charge or Power Outage Protection||Up to 7 days||2-3 days||30-hour backup battery||30-hour backup battery|
|Monthly cost||$54.95 + one-time device fee of $149||$49.95 + one-time device fee of $99.95||$29.95 (landline) or $43.95 (cellular) + $50 activation fee||$44.95 (landline) or $58.95 (cellular) + $50 activation fee|
|Fall Detection||Included in monthly cost||Included in monthly cost||Not available with device||Included in monthly cost|
The GoSafe mobile system package features an in-home communicator, a waterproof pendant mobile button, a charger, and manual. The mobile system contains auto fall detection technology, is fully waterproof, and uses 6 locating technologies including WiFi and GPS triangulation. The rechargeable battery lasts up to seven days on the mobile system, and can be charged while being worn.
The Gosafe 2 mobile system from Philips Lifeline is ideal for on-the-go seniors. It operates through a nationwide cellular network and uses 5 locating technologies, including GPS and WiFi to determine the wearer’s precise location. It features auto fall detection, 2-way voice communication, and a rechargeable battery that lasts 2-3 days on a single charge. Being fully waterproof, the GoSafe 2 can be worn in the shower or bath.
The HomeSafe Standard is Philips Lifeline’s barebones in-home system. This package comes in either a landline or cellular connection option. It features two-way voice communication on the base unit and a water resistant pendant worn on the wrist or around the neck.
The HomeSafe AutoAlert includes everything in the Standard version, but it also features automatic fall detection in the included wearable. It is also available with either landline or cellular connectivity.
Philips Lifeline guarantees no hidden taxes or fees, no long-term contracts, and no service cancellation fees. With the basic package starting at $29.95 per month, Philips Lifeline’s baseline package is slightly pricier than other companies reviewed, but offers some of the most innovative features for precise location determination. If fall detection and precise location technologies are preferred, Philips Lifeline integrates these into their overall package price for all but the standard package.
Additionally, accessories such a key lockbox can be purchased for a one-time fee of $29.95. For an additional ten dollars a month, clients can purchase voice extension to expand the range of communication with a second in-home communicator. This may be a good option for a large home so clients can hear and be heard from more areas of the home.
All packages can be setup through a service representative who will install the device in-person for a one-time fee of $99. If preferred, users can choose the self-installation option, which costs $19.95. Users must choose one of these two installation options; there is no free installation available at this time.
Medical Alert is a medical alert system provider with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. The company is part of Connect America, the nation’s largest independent provider of medical alert systems technology. Medical Alert uses a 24/7 UL-accredited emergency monitoring centers are based in New York and California. Medical Alert offers user-friendly in-home and mobile systems, with advanced features like fall detection available for $10 more per month.
|At Home Landline||At Home no Landline||On the go (Mobile Elite)|
|Device||In-home system||In-home system||Mobile system|
|Operating Range||600 feet||600 feet||Unlimited|
|Battery Life from Full Charge or Power Outage Protection||30-hour backup battery||30-hour backup battery||Up to 3 days|
|Fall Detection||$10 a month||$10 a month||$10 a month|
At Home Landline
The At Home Landline medical alert system is the basic in-home option from Medical Alert. This package comes with the two-way communication base unit and a waterproof emergency neck pendant or bracelet. The setup for this device is very simple, all one has to do is plug the base unit into the power outlet and telephone landline and it is done.
At Home No Landline
This package includes everything in the At Home Landline package above except the system is cellular-based. Medical Alert uses the nationwide AT&T 4G LTE cellular network. It is best to check for coverage in your area before deciding on the cellular in-home system.
On The Go (Mobile Elite)
The On The Go package is Medical Alert’s comprehensive mobile device, great for both indoor and outdoor use. The package contains the handheld mobile device, lightweight waterproof wrist or neck help buttons, carrying case, a charging cradle, and a cord. The mobile device uses GPS-tracking technology for precise location determination.
Medical Alert offers some of the most cost-effective plans out of all the companies reviewed. The At Home Landline system starts at just $22.95 per month with even greater savings if one chooses the semi-annual or annual payment options. To top it off, the company regularly provides special offers, such as the current offer (as of November 2019) of one month free with free shipping and free lockbox.
Medical Alert guarantees no long-term contracts, no hidden fees, no equipment or activation fees, and a 30-day risk-free trial. For $5 more per month, clients can add a protection plan in case their system is lost, stolen, or damaged. One of the newest accessories offered by the company is the 365Access Caregiver app, which lets caregivers easily locate a loved one with location monitoring. It also features real-time alerts if there is ever a help request made to the monitoring center.
GreatCall is a senior-friendly medical alert systems provider that integrates many of its services with smartphones. Many of its products also feature add-on health and safety services to support healthy, active aging.
The Lively Mobile Plus is a mobile medical alert system ideal for in-home or on-the-go urgent response. It uses GPS-tracking technology for location determination and works over the nationwide Verizon cellular network. Automatic fall detection can be added to the package for extra protection. For a slightly higher monthly fee, the device also supports an Urgent Care feature that allows users to speak with a board-certified doctor or nurse.
|Device||Mobile system||Mobile system||Mobile system|
|Battery Life from Full Charge or Power Outage Protection||Up to 36 hours||Up to 36 hours||Up to 36 hours|
|Monthly cost||$49.99 (one-time device fee) + $24.99||$49.99 (one-time device fee) + $29.99||$49.99 (one-time device fee) + $39.99|
Lively Mobile Plus Basic
At $24.99 per month, this affordable plan gives you the Lively Mobile device as well as 24/7 5Star emergency response center access. No additional features are included in this plan.
Lively Mobile Preferred
The Preferred plan costs slightly more at $29.99 per month. This plan includes everything the Basic plan offers as well as features like Urgent Care and GreatCall Link. Urgent Care allows you to speak to a nurse or board-certified doctor at any time, as well as receive prescriptions for common medications over the phone. It also includes access to GreatCall Link, a mobile app for caregivers. With this app, caregivers can receive emergency alerts and be aware of both the location and battery level of their loved one’s device.
Lively Mobile Ultimate
For a monthly fee of $39.99, this comprehensive package includes everything in the Preferred plan as well as automatic fall detection and product replacement. Product replacement enrollment allows the owner to replace either the battery or the entire device in the event that it is lost or broken.
While GreatCall requires equipment fees (currently $49.99) and activation fees (currently $35), it does not have any cancellation fees, shipping fees, or long-term contracts. Its 100% US-based customer service is multilingual and highly praised in numerous customer reviews. Overall, the sleek and lightweight Lively Mobile device is a great choice for on-the-go seniors who wish to have medical alert technology with additional useful features for even more peace of mind.
A medical alert system can provide a higher degree of independence and peace of mind, but it is important to find the right company and product that is individually tailored to the needs of the wearer. We’ve broken down how to choose the ideal medical alert system for you into four steps that factor in individual needs, company and monitoring center competence, and budgeting tips.
It’s important to note that the best medical alert system for one individual may not be the best for another. Start by gauging your specific needs, and search out products with features that correspond to those needs.
In-home medical alert systems are offered with landline or cellular connectivity. Although most modern base stations contain back-up batteries, the most reliable in-home system is going to be landline-based. It won’t stop functioning based on coverage problems or in the event of a power outage. If you do decide on a cellular-based in-home system, make sure it is with a reliable and trusted network provider like AT&T or Verizon. The top companies won’t require any cell service contract prior to the purchase.
If you or your loved one find yourself frequently outside and on-the-go, a mobile system may be the best option. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, more falls occur outdoors compared to indoors for adults ages 45 and older. Mobile systems have the benefit of not having to be in the range of a base station in order to connect with the monitoring center. They do, however, require the battery to be charged regularly, though many modern mobile systems show a battery life indicator to make that easier.
Fall detection: Fall detection uses motion-sensor technology to sense when the wearer has moved unusually or erratically. It will then automatically signal for help once a fall has been detected. While this technology doesn’t detect 100% of falls, modern systems now have very high detection precision.
Lockbox: This can be a great option to prevent any unneeded property damage that could arise if emergency responders ever had to break open the door of the residence to gain entry. A secure lockbox allows you to store a key in a spot outside the home so that EMS can easily access it once the medical company’s operator gives emergency personnel the code to the lockbox.
Other helpful services: For the more tech-savvy clients, some companies will offer services such as medication reminders and smartphone apps. These apps may send emergency and non-emergency text alerts, track daily activity, give GPS location history (if the mobile system has GPS tracking technology), and more.
Additionally, many top companies provide automatic monthly testing to ensure that the system is functioning properly for maximum peace of mind. In terms of the monitoring services, if English is not your first language, consider providers whose call centers support alternate languages.
Medical alert system wearables generally consist of pendants worn around the neck or on the wrist. These can be one-way communication wireless pendants with lithium-ion batteries, or mobile devices with two-way communication. The one-way communication pendants standardly come alongside an in-home base station and are usually fully waterproof. Since 80% of falls happen on slippery surfaces, waterproof devices are strongly recommended.
Mobile GPS medical alert devices, typically available as either a wristband or pendant, allow for two-way communication with a built-in speaker and microphone. These tend to be water-resistant but not fully waterproof due to the electronics inside. These devices do tend to be bulkier, more expensive, and need to be charged daily. But the biggest benefit is the peace of mind they give when the wearer is outside the home, since these mobile devices do not require one to be within range of a base station to function and work both in and out of the home.
When choosing the best medical alert system for you, the service is arguably just as important as the system itself. If there’s an emergency, you want to know there is help on the other side of the signal at any point in time. Ensure that the provider’s call center is based in North America and properly staffed and trained.
For instance, if the company’s operators are TMA-Five-Diamond certified, this signals that the company follows the best practices in the industry and is committed to the highest level of customer satisfaction. Additionally, it is recommended to choose a provider with their own call centers or those that have a relationship with a reputable partner that provides monitoring services in the United States.
When making a price assessment with a potential provider, begin by making sure the provider is transparent and upfront about its pricing, terms, cancellation, and refund policies. Sometimes, extra fees can make their way into the final price, including activation fees, shipping fees, equipment setup fees, and early cancellation charges.
Many top companies will ensure a hassle-free return policy and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. In the latter case, customers can typically try out the product for 2-4 weeks in a risk-free trial period before they make a decision on whether or not it is the right fit for them.
Additionally, most companies offer prepay options that can save you money in the long run. Multiple payment options are usually available such as month-to-month, 3 months, 6 months, and annual subscriptions. Usually, the more money put upfront, the bigger the savings over time. But, be careful about cancellation charges. Some companies will not give a full refund if you cancel mid-subscription, even if you didn’t use the product in the remaining months. It’s best to settle on companies that don’t require long-term contracts and those that guarantee a price-lock so you know what charges you will be getting on a long-term basis.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to see if the provider offers any special discounts. Many companies offer discounts for clients that are members of organizations such as AARP and USAA. It never hurts to ask, especially if you are a veteran!
How does a medical alert system work?
Medical alert systems typically use a base station and a wireless emergency help button worn either on the wrist or around the neck. When the help button is pressed within range, the device communicate with the base station (this step is skipped if it a mobile on-the-go system, which requires no base station and includes built-in two-way communication), which quickly establishes a connection with the emergency monitoring center. From here, the trained operators can assess the situation typically through two-way communication and send the required help.
What are some important questions to ask a prospective provider?
Depending on your needs, these are some helpful questions to ask a potential provider before purchasing its system.
How do I know if I need a medical alert system?
Medical alert systems can benefit any older adult or disabled individual that wants immediate help in the event of a fall or life-threatening emergency. If you are an older adult living alone, at risk of falling or have fallen before, take medication with side effects that can affect gait or movement, or just want additional peace of mind, a medical alert system can be of great help.
What should I look for in a medical alert system?
Above all, medical alert systems should be comfortable, easy to use, reliable, and easy to install. The equipment should be UL-tested and the in-home base station should include a backup battery so it can still work during a power outage. No matter which company you decide to use, make sure that the fees are transparent and there are no long-term commitments required.
Additionally, look for a top provider that uses a 24/7 U.S.-based emergency monitoring center. Emergency response operators should be highly trained and known for their quick response times and outstanding customer service. Depending on your unique needs, automatic fall detection may be helpful.
Why not just use a cellphone to coordinate assistance in the event of a fall?
When it comes to falls, every second counts. If one were to use a cell phone during a devastating fall, there are many more steps involved in getting the help you need. This includes finding the phone, unlocking the phone, dialing the number, and giving all of the relevant information that can allow the 9/11 operator to coordinate a response.
On the other hand, a medical alert system requires just one step – simply pressing the help button- in order to get the required help. Since up to 30% of falls involve serious injury, cell phones are not a practical solution compared to medical alert systems. This is especially true given the fact that the top-of-the-line medical alert systems can automatically detect falls and the operators already have access to all of the relevant information (including name, location, and sometimes medication history) needed for an efficient emergency response.