Best Medical Alert Systems
Senior Products Contributing Editor
Updated on 03/19/2018
Medical alert systems may have come to prominence with a series of commercials featuring the line, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up,” but the security and peace of mind the systems offer is not a joke. A fall or injury can be devastating to an elderly person.
It can be difficult to talk to your loved one about getting a medical alert device, but the ConsumerAffairs community offers insight on how to start this conversation. Medical alert systems can help them get faster treatment and could mean the difference between a full recovery and a long-term disability.
Compare Top Medical Alert System Reviews
|Bay Alarm Medical|
Read 3138 Reviews
Bay Alarm Medical has been in business for over 60 years and has live operators on staff 24 hours a day who help to ensure customers are taken care of.
Read 1056 Reviews
LifeStation provides medical alert systems that work both at home and on the go. The company offers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week monitoring for wearers of the alert system. Each system comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Read 570 Reviews
Medical Alert offers personal emergency alarm systems focused on providing personal emergency monitoring and home alarm services to older adults with medical ailments who wish to live at home.
Read 259 Reviews
Medical Guardian offers a range of medical alert systems and devices, which range from in-home telephone devices to mobile devices that are connected to GPS.
Read 148 Reviews
MobileHelp is a provider of medical alert devices that work at home or on the go. The mobile devices use GPS technology to locate customers in need.
Read 611 Reviews
Since 1976, state-of-the-art equipment, consumer friendly policies and caring service focus LifeFone on one purpose: providing subscribers and their loved ones with security peace of mind. Protection at home & on-the-go.
Read 3038 Reviews
Philips Lifeline is the #1 medical alert service provider in the United States. Since 1974 we have served over 7 million people. Philips Lifeline offers a variety of service options designed to meet your specific needs.
Read 841 Reviews
Jitterbug Smart uses medical alert technology built into a cell phone. It's great for everyday cell phone use, taking pictures, internet access and emergency medical help at the push of a button.
|Life Alert Emergency Response|
Read 4331 Reviews
Life Alert is a provider of medical alerts that is endorsed by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. They were founded in 1987 and employ over 600 people in the United States.
Read 1060 Reviews
The Jitterbug Flip is a medical alert system that is built into cellphone technology, so wearers can make phone calls, take pictures, and also push an emergency alert button in case they are in need of assistance.
Read 1163 Reviews
Lively Mobile systems are durable, portable & easy to use. As part of the GreatCall line of health products, Lively Mobile can integrate with GreatCall’s app to help consumers stay connected to a team of care professionals.
Read 642 Reviews
BlueStar HonorCare is veteran-owned and provides medical alert systems starting at $24.95/month. Our 60-day, 100% money-back guarantee make us the preferred choice among seniors. Mention ConsumerAffairs for a special offer!
|Cox Homelife Care|
Read 25 Reviews
This senior care system is available in Oklahoma. It includes a hub, pendant and family app for a kit price of $199 and a service price of $27.99/month. Add a voice-enabled device for $60.
Read 1186 Reviews
Alert 1 works with healthcare professionals to provide medical alert systems to their patients. They have over 27 years of experience and over 250,000 families in their network.
|Walgreens Ready Response|
Read 12 Reviews
Walgreens, the world's largest national drugstore chain, offers a medical alert system with 24 hours per day, 7 days per week monitoring, as well as multilingual monitoring and support services.
What features matter most in medical alert systems?
Cost is often a major factor when looking at medical alert systems. Most people who are interested are also on a fixed income.
- Are prices fixed?: The more stable the pricing, the more likely a system is to be useful to those who need it most; if a senior buys the hardware and pays for monitoring, he may not be able to afford any price increases at the end of the year.
- Can customers pay in installments?: A monthly fee may be much more affordable than a lump sum, annual payment.
- Is there a contract term?: If the cost becomes too high, is there a contract with an early cancellation fee? Some companies have both month-to-month service and contract periods.
- Is there a cost for installation?: Some companies have these costs attached to their product.
Medical alert systems can function in a variety of ways, although the most effective tend to include two-way communication.
- Is there monitoring?: If something happens, is there a dispatcher at the other end of the medical alert device or pendant to talk with the injured person and determine the best course of action?
- Will an ambulance come automatically?: If the panic button is hit, will an ambulance be sent automatically or will the provider first try to make contact via phone or another communication method?
- Is the system only for falls?: What if there is a fire? Can a medical alert system help with that?
Independence and aging in place
The risk of injury is one of the major factors when seniors and their families decide it is no longer safe for seniors to stay at home, particularly when they live alone. Efficient medical alert systems can help extend that time and keep seniors out of nursing homes for as long as possible.
- Is the system safe?: For many seniors, one major danger in remaining at home is being alone. In the event of an emergency, the phone might be out of reach, or seniors may be nonresponsive. Can the medical alert system detect problems without someone pushing the button?
- What situations are dispatchers trained to handle?: The elderly can face a variety of health issues, and dispatchers need to be able to quickly get critical information from confused customers.
- How many falls does the system detect?: Medical alert systems can detect up to 95 percent of falls when used properly.
Additional needed equipment
Although most medical alert systems and medical alert pendants are not much larger than a key ring, some systems may need additional (and often larger) equipment in order to operate.
- Does it need a landline telephone?: Many medical alert systems require a landline telephone.
- Will the service offer all needed equipment?: With a monitoring service, most companies install any proprietary equipment needed.
- Who takes care of installation?: Many seniors are either not physically up to the task of installing the equipment or do not have the necessary technical skills. The service provider should take care of any installation requirements and should demonstrate how to wear and use the medical alert pendant or bracelet.
If something happens to the equipment provided, it is important to know who is responsible for repairs or replacement.
- Does the system need batteries?: Changing out batteries might be a necessity, in which case the system should provide a notification when the batteries are running low.
- Who is responsible for repairs?: Over time, equipment gets damaged and needs repair or replacement. Customers should check to see if the company offers free maintenance services.
- Are lines covered?: Much like phone companies, monitoring services may need to run lines throughout homes. If this is the case, customers need to find out if lines are insured or if damage is the responsibility of homeowners.
A system that only works inside the home has value but not as much as one that can go anywhere. The more portable the medical alert system, the more safety it provides.
- Will it work outside the home?: While the home is often the most dangerous place for an accident to happen, a more-mobile system helps ensure safety during shopping trips or while a senior is out visiting friends and family.
- Is there an app?: If the medical alert pendants or bracelets only work in the home, some companies have an app that offers the same services via a smartphone.
- What is the coverage limit?: If the service does not travel, it is important to know how far one can take their wearable device or medical alert pendant from the unit. For example, will the system cover the backyard, or would those areas be off limits when the senior is alone?
What are different types of medical alert systems?
Like alarm systems designed to protect the home, a monitored medical alert system has a live person tracking activity on the other end. Monitoring helps ensure that there are minimal false alarms and 911 calls.
Unmonitored systems have a series of numbers pre-programmed to call when the alarm is triggered. Instead of getting a guaranteed answer, the system just calls through the list until it reaches the final number, which may be 911.
Monitored with fall alert
This system is just as described; it is a monitored system that automatically detects falls. If the wearer falls and the medical alert pendant doesn’t manually trigger the alert, the system will still notify the monitoring company which will then try to contact the customer before notifying emergency services.
Unmonitored with fall alert
This type of medical alert system starts calling as soon as a fall is detected. The immediacy removes the necessity of triggering the medical alert pendant and can get help to a senior faster in the event of an emergency.
Who uses medical alert systems?
Seniors living alone or who may be left alone at times
A senior may be used to living alone and values their independence. Since no one lives with the senior, a fall or other simple injury could have dramatic consequences.
Persons who have recently retired
Although recent retirees are in generally good health, they may spend too much time alone at home. Many retirees have some difficulty adapting to a life that doesn’t revolve around work. They might spend weeks with very little contact to the outside world and their mobility may become decreased.
Persons with newly diagnosed or severe epilepsy
People with epilepsy generally respond very well to medication, but children and adult-onset patients may not be seizure-free until doctors find workable medication.
Persons with uncontrolled diabetes
Diabetics can fall into comas or have seizures when their blood sugar goes too far outside the normal range. They may not be able to dial 911 to summon help.
Persons who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease (or another dementia)
There is a 60 percent chance that a person with Alzheimer’s disease will wander at least once in their life. Wandering can meet with tragic results as the person may not know where they are, how to get back home or how to find help. Wearing a portable medical alert pendant or bracelet will ensure help can come, no matter where they go.
Caregivers of aging parents or loved ones who are ill may find great relief to know that if an accident occurs, their loved one will be able to receive help quickly.
Expert reviews for medical alert systems
With more than 7 million subscribers and 40 years of experience, Philips Lifeline is an industry leader in monitored medical alert systems.
Life Alert is far more than a medical alert system. It offers protection against carbon monoxide poisoning, home invasion, fire and smoke, and much more. It is an all-inclusive security package.
Twenty-five years of experience come to the fore to assist more than 200,000 annual customers. Alert1 is the recommended service from 10,000 healthcare professionals, making it one of the industry’s best options.
Sixty years in the business of protecting families has given Bay Alarm Medical critical insight into the needs of their customers. As a result, the company has won multiple awards for best provider in the medical alert system category.
BlueStar HonorCare is a security and medical device company that focuses on the needs of seniors living in the United States. While BlueStar HonorCare is primarily concerned about the well being of senior veterans, it also provides a wide range of devices and services for those who did not serve in the military.
The Jitterbug Smart from GreatCall takes mobile alert technology to the next level by combining smartphone and medical alert technology. It is designed to create an all-in-one solution for those who need medical monitoring and their families.
As part of its commitment to providing emergency services, LifeFone includes a price lock, so the first price charged is the only price a customer will ever pay.
Connect America, Medical Alert and/or Alarm Company (Connect America) provides emergency monitoring and home alarm services to aging adults across the United States who have medical conditions but want to live independently at home. Choose from an annual, semi-annual or monthly plan.
The Jitterbug Flip from GreatCall is a flip phone that is easy for anyone to use. It has bigger buttons, a louder speaker and a brighter screen than traditional cell phones, and consumers can add health and safety features for a minimal cost.
Lively Mobile is a mobile urgent response device for consumers. As part of the GreatCall family of health products, Lively Mobile links up to a team of dedicated professionals who believe in helping older adults retain their independence while ensuring they can get the help they need during a medical emergency.
QMedic’s mission is to help families stay connected, healthy and safe.
- The pendants are waterproof: They can be worn in the bath or shower where many accidents occur.
- The system monitors sleep patterns and physical activity: If there is a change in sleep patterns, or physical activity, caregivers can be notified.
- Caregivers can sign up for the automatic alerts and wellness reports: Caregivers can choose to be notified via text message or email. The system also lets caregivers know if the device is not being worn.
- They offer free battery replacement: Battery levels are constantly monitored and they will send you a new wristband/pendant free of charge when it’s necessary.
- Best for: Seniors living alone, persons with newly diagnosed or uncontrolled epilepsy,, persons with uncontrolled diabetes and caregivers.
For over 30 years, LifeStation has been providing medical alert systems and peace of mind to senior citizens. It is a family-owned company that keeps plans affordable and flexible to fit your needs. LifeStation stands behinds its product with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Cox Homelife Care is a system of professionally monitored smart devices that help seniors keep their independence. It includes a hub, which provides two-way communication, a fall detection pendant and a family app for $27.99/month.
With three years of awards for best customer service and a commitment to using only the most up-to-date equipment, MediPendant has one of the most versatile systems on the market.
Medical Care Alert provides medical alert systems for seniors and high-risk individuals nationwide. With multiple awards from Angie's List and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, Medical Care Alert is renowned for delivering a high level of customer service through its EMT-certified agents.
Walgreens, one of the largest pharmacy chains in the U.S., knows health. It also knows that redundancy isn’t redundant when it comes to patient health. It backs up phone systems through multiple providers to prevent outages and has two call centers in dramatically different geographic locations, all to ensure the lines are always open.
MobileHelp stays on the cutting edge of medical alert technology. It combines GPS tracking and mobile service to create a system that always works and offers peace of mind to loved ones who just want to check in.
Combining the established medical alert systems with new, wearable technologies, Better Alert takes this industry to the next level. Partnering with Pebble Watch to create a wearable technology that can give caregivers and seniors peace of mind, Better Alerts offers next-generation technology, today.
- They partner with the Pebble Smart Watch: By using an existing wearable technology, Better Alerts allows users to minimize their cost when adopting a medical alert system.
- Their pricing is affordable for most: With two different pricing tiers, users can get as much or as little service as they want, but GPS location and medical alerts are included in either tier.
- They offer total coverage: Where other medical alert systems only offer emergency response, Better Alerts allows caregivers to track the user’s daily activity, send out medication reminders, and offers fall alert notifications.
- Their product is quick to set up: Where some medical alerts systems need professional installation, the Better Alerts system sets up in approximately 10 minutes.
- Best for: Seniors living alone, persons who have recently retired, persons with newly diagnosed or uncontrolled epilepsy, persons with uncontrolled diabetes, persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and caregivers.
Customer service is the priority for Medical Guardian, and to provide the personal touch, the company offers service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and a personal safety consultant for customized care solutions.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
Compare Top Medical Alert System Reviews
|Medical Care Alert|
Read 11 Reviews
Medical Care Alert is a multi-award winning medical alert service offered by American Response Technologies, Inc. Since 2007, it has played a key role in providing subscribers and their loved ones with confidence and security.
MediPedant is the first maker of a medical alert system that allows a wearer to summon help and communicate directly through the system's wearable device.
|Better Alerts||Read Expert Review|
Better Alerts is a medical alert company that created an alert technology that functions via a smartwatch, a smartphone app, and a subscription. The Better Alert watch contacts a wearer's emergency contacts.
|Qmedic||Read Expert Review|
QMedic is a waterproof medical alert service dedicated to eliminating unnecessary trips to the emergency room. It alerts care networks when sleep and mobility behaviors unexpectedly change so they can be addressed immediately.