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Find the best medical alert with fall detection

Compare cost, features and monitoring service

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by Sandi Pope ConsumerAffairs Research Team

The following companies participate in our Accreditation Program: Bay Alarm Medical, Medical Alert, Medical Guardian and Philips Lifeline

senior pushing medical alert

Falling is always a risk, even in the comfort of your own home. Slippery floors, crooked throw rugs and even a misjudged step can make any senior susceptible to a catastrophic fall. Fortunately, medical alerts with fall detection allow them to continue living independently without the need for in-home caregivers.

Our 7 favorite medical alert systems with fall detection

When judging a medical alert system with fall detection, we look at cost, features and monitoring service to select our top choices. Each of these companies operates using monitoring centers, which act as a fail-safe against false alarms and allow seniors to push an emergency button themselves. None of these companies require long-term contracts, and each offers a water-resistant fall alert device so seniors can wear them in the shower. These companies offer varying benefits for users and caregivers at a variety of budget levels.

LabelAccredited PartnerCompany nameLogoContactSummary
ConsumerAffairs Accredited Partner IconAccredited Partner Call Now Toll Free (800) 863-6980 Learn More
  • $10/month fall detection
  • Available with Classic, Home, Family and Active plans
LabelAccredited PartnerCompany nameLogoContactSummary
ConsumerAffairs Accredited Partner IconAccredited PartnerLearn More
  • Free fall detection with qualifying plans
  • Available with HomeSafe and GoSafe 2 plans
LabelAccredited PartnerCompany nameLogoContactSummary
ConsumerAffairs Accredited Partner IconAccredited Partner Call Now Toll Free (800) 852-0856 Learn More
  • $10/month fall detection
  • Available with At Home and On The Go plans

How do fall detectors work?

Fall detection technology uses accelerometers and other sensors to detect fall movement and an algorithm to determine if the movement indicates an actual fall or a false alarm. For the most part, this technology is more effective in fall alert necklaces or pendants; however, some companies are beginning to develop fall alert bracelets and watches.

What happens when a fall occurs?

Sudden falls, whether at home or in public, are shocking. If you’ve fallen:

  1. Do your best to stay calm. Don’t try to get up too quickly. Instead, the National Institute on Aging recommends you stay on the floor, take a few deep breaths and evaluate whether or not you suffered an injury from the fall.
  2. If you have a medical alert device, hit the emergency button. Experts recommend hitting the button regardless of fall detection to be safe.
  3. If you have fall detection, your device triggers a call, either to a monitoring center or 911 directly.
  4. A trained representative from a monitoring center greets you and helps you figure out if you’re injured and in need of help.
  5. The representative then calls EMTs and/or loved ones, if necessary.
  6. If the representative tries to reach you through the two-way communication device and cannot hear a response, they call EMTs immediately. The lack of response could mean that you’re unconscious.

What to look for in a fall alert system

Many companies offer fall alert systems, and it’s hard to know which one to choose. With so many products on the market, it’s challenging to sift through the legitimate companies and the scammers.

Here’s what you should look for in a fall alert system:

  • Clear pricing: Fall detection is often an add-on to an existing medical alert device. Be sure you understand any fees for monthly monitoring, equipment, activation, cancellation and repair before signing a contract. If a company is not being transparent about pricing or fees, do not work with it.
  • Understandable cancellation policy: You may decide the fall alert system doesn’t fit your needs. To prepare for this possibility, understand your provider’s cancellation policy and any associated fees before you sign up.
  • Attractive, comfortable pendants: Fall alert devices do not work if you do not wear them. Look for a pendant that you’re happy to wear around the house and in public.
  • Water resistance: Slippery conditions in bathrooms and outdoors cause most falls for seniors. Be sure your fall alert device works when you need it by purchasing a waterproof or water-resistant system.
  • Truthful claims about accuracy: Fall alert technology is not perfect, and no company offers a fall alert system that is 100% accurate. If you find a company that does claim this, stay away. Scammers love to draw people in with claims that are too good to be true.

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Get matched with an Accredited Partner

    Our favorite medical alert with fall detection
    Medical Guardian

    Medical Guardian offers fall detection with four plans: Classic Guardian, Home Guardian, Family Guardian and Active Guardian. With each, the fall detection pendant sends a signal to the base station, which contacts a Life Safety Consultant at Medical Guardian’s monitoring center. The consultant then identifies the issue and immediately contacts first responders if they do not hear a response from the user.

    Company nameContact
    medical guardian classic guardian
    LogoSummary
    FEATURES
    • System: Starting at $29.95/mo
    • Fall detection: $10/mo
    • Activation/equipment fees: $0
    • Average first-year cost: $480

    Our pick for budget fall alert systems
    Medical Alert

    Whether you choose At Home Landline, At Home No Landline or On The Go, Medical Alert allows users to add fall detection to any of its plans. When adding fall detection, you’ll receive a wearable fall detection pendant in addition to the panic button that comes with the system. While fall detection is an additional $10 per month on top of your chosen plan, annual payments reduce that cost to just $9.17 per month.

    Company nameContact
    medical alert at home landline
    LogoSummary
    FEATURES
    • System: Starting at $18.29/mo*
    • Fall detection: Starting at $9.17/mo*
    • Activation/equipment fees: $0
    • Average first-year cost: $330*
    *With an annual plan

    Our pick for fall alert system battery
    LifeFone

    LifeFone offers the best battery for any fall alert system on the market. Its battery lasts two to five years, and LifeFone offers a battery replacement guarantee for any spent batteries. For as little as $5 per month, you can add fall detection to any of the company’s four plans, which include both At Home and On The Go GPS plans. Any customer that is not satisfied with a LifeFone plan within 30 days of service can receive their money back.

    Company nameContact
    lifefone at home landline
    LogoSummary
    FEATURES
    • System: Starting at $24.95/mo*
    • Fall detection: $5/mo
    • Activation/equipment fees: $0
    • Average first-year cost: $360*
    *With an annual plan

    Our pick for caregivers
    Bay Alarm Medical

    Bay Alarm Medical offers fall alert devices with In-Home and GPS Help plans for an additional $10 per month. Loved ones can receive notifications of activity using the Caregiver Tracking App, available as an add-on. This app alerts loved ones of a senior’s location, emergency call history and, if they’re using a fall necklace, any falls.

    Company nameContact
    bay alarm medical in home medical alert
    LogoSummary
    FEATURES
    • System: Starting at $19.95/mo
    • Fall detection: $10/mo
    • Activation/equipment fees: $0
    • Average first-year cost: $360

    Our pick for multilingual support
    LifeStation

    If your loved one speaks a language other than English, LifeStation may be the right option for them. Like most providers, LifeStation employs speakers of commonly spoken languages, but LifeStation also uses a translation service to interpret others. Customers can add fall detection to LifeStation’s At-Home plan, which does not require an additional pendant.

    Company nameContact
    lifestation in home console
    LogoSummary
    FEATURES
    • System: Starting at $19.95/mo
    • Fall detection: $10/mo
    • Activation/equipment fees: $0
    • Average first-year cost: $360

    Our pick for fall alarm with voice extension
    Philips Lifeline

    A common issue with in-home fall alert systems is the user’s distance from the base station. Since customers use the base station for two-way communication, it's usually impossible to talk to a monitoring representative if you're too far away. Philips Lifeline solves that problem by offering voice extension. For an additional $10 per month, users can expand their range by putting an extra Lifeline Communicator somewhere else in their home. This way, when a fall occurs, they're more likely to be close to a communicator.

    Company nameContact
    philips lifeline homesafe with auto alert
    LogoSummary
    FEATURES
    • System: Starting at $44.95/month
    • Fall detection: Included
    • Activation/equipment fees: $50
    • Average first-year cost: $590

    Our pick for mobile fall alert device
    GreatCall

    GreatCall’s fall detection is available exclusively with its on-the-go device, the Lively Mobile Plus. This fall button comes with an internal GPS and a battery life of up to 80 hours. The fall alert pendant is safe to wear in the shower, and when you press the button, it contacts one of GreatCall’s 5Star agents. Users can speak to a representative through the pendant, and 5Star agents then contact loved ones, emergency responders or even a locksmith.

    Company nameContact
    greatcall lively mobile plus
    LogoSummary
    FEATURES
    • System: Starting at $39.99/month
    • Fall detection: Included
    • Activation/equipment fees: $49.99
    • Average first-year cost: $530

    Does fall detection work?

    Fall detection is a wonderful new tool that helps monitor for most falls that may occur during a senior's daily activities. However, since the technology is relatively new, it still has room for improvement. Fall detection adds extra protection for seniors who are prone to imbalance, but it does not work 100% of the time.

    Because fall detection is not 100% accurate, consumers should follow these tips.

    • Test your fall detection device: When you first receive your fall alert device, test out different movements with a caregiver or loved one to see when it triggers. Since most fall alarms work after a sudden movement followed by stillness, be sure to stay still after your fake fall. Note that harder falls and sudden movements are more likely to trigger the alarm. Gradual falls like sliding out a wheelchair may not trigger your fall alert.
    • Learn how to cancel a false alarm: Whether you’re testing your fall protection device or you’re just bending over to pick something up, you’re likely to trigger a false alarm at some point. Upon receiving your fall alert system, learn how to cancel a false alarm. Typically, you can do so by pushing another button or by speaking to a representative.
    • Wear the pendant outside of your clothes: For the best results, wear your fall necklace outside of your clothes. A fall pendant that gets caught up against your skin and shirt is not likely to register a fall. When shopping for fall alert necklaces, find one that you're comfortable wearing on the outside of your clothes. Some buttons are more subtle and attractive than others.
    • Upon falling, press the button if you can: Whether or not your fall detector triggered an emergency call, you should push your button if you can. Fall detection safeguards you in case you fall and can't push a button, but if you can push the button, do so.

    Bottom line

    Though fall detection technology is not perfect, it provides an additional layer of protection against fatal accidents for seniors. If you can, choose a company that offers a monitoring service. Monitoring connects you with a professional who can quickly dispatch emergency assistance if necessary. Above all, choose a pendant that is comfortable and find a company that suits your lifestyle and needs.

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    Profile picture of Sandi Pope
    by Sandi Pope ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    Sandi Pope previously worked in the nonprofit sector as an advocate for environmental and social change and believes information access is a human right. As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, she seeks to provide consumers with the necessary information needed in making life-altering decisions.