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Best Medical Alert Systems

Profile picture of Shelley Webb
by Shelley Webb

Senior Products Contributing Editor

Updated on 06/14/2018

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.

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    Compare Top Medical Alert System Reviews

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    MobileHelp
    Read 149 Reviews

    Provides in-home and on-the-go options. Pricing ranges between $29.95 and $41.95 a month. They run on either landline or cellular technology with optional fall detection. Also offers a smartphone with a medical alert app.

    Bay Alarm Medical
    Read 3150 Reviews

    Choose from 4 medical alert plans with prices ranging from $19.95 to $39.95/month. In-home plans come with a portable base station that includes a HELP button with a range up to 1000 ft, battery backup and 24/7 emergency access.

    Medical Alert
    Read 626 Reviews

    With 3 plans to choose from, pricing starts at $18.29/month. The At Home plans work with either landline connectivity or wireless connection. The On The Go option uses GPS technology to track location outside the home.

    LifeStation
    Read 1182 Reviews

    Offers 4 plan options with prices starting at $25.95/month. In-home plans work with or without a traditional landline. Other options provide automatic fall detection and access to help via mobile with GPS technology.

    LifeFone
    Read 650 Reviews

    Offers 4 alert plans starting at $24.95 a month: At-Home, At-Home with Landline, At-Home with Cellular and On-The-Go. Battery reserve is 30-32 hours, range is 300-1300 and fall detection is optional.

    Medical Guardian
    Read 260 Reviews

    Offers both in-home and on-the-go plans with prices ranging from $29.95 to $79.95/month. The systems work with either landline or cellular connectivity. They have a range of 600 to 1300 feet and 30 to 32 hour battery backup.

    Philips Lifeline
    Read 3210 Reviews

    Provides HomeSafe plans for home use and GoSafe plans to take on the go. Both systems work on a landline or cellular connection. GoSafe is equipped with GPS technology that reaches multiple locations.

    Lively Mobile
    Read 1209 Reviews

    This product is a mobile medical alert device with GPS capability. It uses cellular technology, has unlimited range and 36 hours of battery reserve. The device costs $49.99 plus a monthly plan payment of $19.99.

    Jitterbug Smart
    Read 861 Reviews

    At $149.99 apiece, this simplified smartphone has pre-installed urgent care apps. It can switch to the standard Android platform and integrate with GreatCall’s 5Star Urgent Response to send medical alerts.

    Jitterbug Flip
    Read 1087 Reviews

    Priced at $99.99, this phone has a large screen, large text, backlit keypad, big buttons, reading magnifier with LED flashlight and powerful speaker. It is easy to navigate and has a 5Star button.

    Life Alert Emergency Response
    Read 4406 Reviews

    This company’s Protection Services provide emergency response services during health emergencies, such as a fall, heart attack or stroke, with the push of a button or a dedicated cellphone to reach the emergency monitoring center.

    BlueStar HonorCare
    Read 643 Reviews

    Offers 7 in-home and mobile alert options. Prices range from $32.95 to $99.95/month. They Include a base station and help buttons for 24/7 monitoring. Fall detection is either optional or automatic depending on the type of plan.

    Cox Homelife Care
    Read 31 Reviews

    This alert system costs $27.99/month. The standalone base kit includes a hub, pendant and family app that costs $199. It includes fall detection, a 24-hour battery backup for the hub and 2-year battery life for the pendant.

    Alert1
    Read 1206 Reviews

    Offers 5 plans with a price range of $19.95 to $52.95/month. Except for the Home version, all plans require no landline connection and have unlimited ranges. Some are for use outside the home or have optional fall detection.

    Walgreens Ready Response
    Read 12 Reviews

    Prices start at $29.99/month for a package that uses a Vi Home Based Unit. It includes an emergency pendant, landline connectivity and a 390 ft range. Separate packages have GPS capability and optional fall detection feature.

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    Profile picture of Shelley Webb
    Shelley Webb

    Senior Products Contributing Editor

    View Profile

    Shelley Webb is a registered nurse, geriatric care manager and freelance writer who concentrates on the subjects of eldercare and health.

    What features matter most in medical alert systems?

    Cost

    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.

    Effectiveness

    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.

    System maintenance

    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.

    Portability

    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?

    Monitored

    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

    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

    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

    Philips Lifeline

    With more than 7 million subscribers and 40 years of experience, Philips Lifeline is an industry leader in monitored medical alert systems.

    Read More
    Life Alert Emergency Response

    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.

    Read More
    Alert1

    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.

    Read More
    Bay Alarm Medical

    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.

    Read More
    BlueStar HonorCare

    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.

    Read More
    Jitterbug Smart

    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.​

    Read More
    LifeFone

    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.

    Read More
    Medical Alert

    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.

    Read More
    Jitterbug Flip

    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.

    Read More
    Lively Mobile

    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.

    Read More
    Qmedic

    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.
    LifeStation

    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.

    Read More
    Cox Homelife Care

    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.

    Read More
    MediPendant

    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.

    Read More
    Medical Care Alert

    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.

    Read More
    Walgreens Ready Response

    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.

    Read More
    MobileHelp

    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.

    Read More
    Better Alerts

    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.
    Medical Guardian

    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.

    Read More

    Community insight

    Compare Top Medical Alert System Reviews

    Medical Care Alert
    Read 11 Reviews

    Choose from 3 offerings to cover protection at home, in the yard and when away from home. Pricing starts at $27.45/month for the Home Medical Alert that includes a base unit and emergency button with a 1000 ft range.

    MediPendant
    Read Reviews

    Prices range from $29.95 to $34.95/month. The system works with or without a phone line and includes a waterproof pendant through which the user can speak and listen. It has a range of 600 feet.

    Better Alerts
    Read Expert Review

    Prices start at $19.95/month for a standard plan. It includes a GPS locator that connects to a caregiver, 911 or emergency response center. Other plans feature a 1-mile range or optional automatic fall detection.

    Qmedic
    Read Expert Review

    At $30/month, this system includes a base station with a 1000 ft range and a wearable HELP button that detects inactivity and other abnormal activities. It then sends out alerts to the caregiver or other designated persons.

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