Compare Medical Alert Systems 2018

Medical GuardianPhilips LifelineLife AlertADTLifeFoneMobileHelpLifeStationBay Alarm Medical
Compare Medical Alert SystemsMedical Guardian Alerts Philips Lifeline Medical Alert Life Alert ADT Medical AlertsLifeFone Medical Alert ServicesMobileHelp Medical Alert SystemsLifeStationBay Alarm Medical
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Starting Cost / Month$29.95$29.95$69.90$29.99$24.95$29.95$25.95$19.95
Range 1,300 ft 600 ft 420 ft300 ft 480 ft 600 ft500 ft 1,000 ft
Response Time25 sec 35 sec 33 sec 36 sec 48 sec 45 sec43 sec49 sec
Emergency Buttons21111211
Backup Battery Life 32 hrs 30 hrs 72 hrs48 hrs 32 hrs 30 hrs32 hrs32 hrs
Fall Detection$10/mo$15/mo N/AN/A $5/mo $10/mo$7/mo $9.95/mo
Wall Mounted Button$2/mo N/A N/A $39.95 $2/mo$3.49/mo$1.95/mo
Fall Detection Option
GPS Option
Smart Watch Option
Self-Install
Free Spouse Monitoring
Wellness Checks
Free Activation
Free Shipping
Free Cancellation
Free Return Shipping
Medical Guardian AlertsPhilips Lifeline Medical AlertLife AlertADT Medical AlertsLifeFone Medical Alert ServicesMobileHelp Medical Alert SystemsLifeStationBay Alarm Medical
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Best Medical Alert Systems

In-Home Medical Alert System

Our top rated in-home medical alert system belongs to Medical Guardian. In the 3 most important areas to compare medical alert systems (range, emergency response times, customer service) it came out on top. It also has great customer reviews, excellent equipment & the highest qualified emergency response staff.

Just as important, Medical Guardian is consumer friendly, with free cancellation, at no cost, anytime. Even if you subscribe to the annual pricing plan, you get a pro-rated refund for the unused portion of your contract - which is very different from most other medical alert systems. Medical Guardian will also pay for your return shipping! We also love its current promotion of 2 free months + free shipping + free activation + free lock box (Special promo ends September 23, 2018).

On The Go Medical Alert System

If you're looking for the best medical alert system to protect you outside your home the Philips Lifeline GoSafe 2 sets the mark. While not the cheapest medical alert device available, Philips Lifeline has developed the most reliable mobile fall detection and GPS tracking technology on the market for those on the go. We also love that its pendent contains all three technologies in the sleekest device on the market (fall detection, GPS and two-way talking). Limited time offer ends September 30, 2018 - Free first month + free shipping + free activation (up to $135 value) in celebration of Fall Prevention Awareness Day!

Call For The Best Deals

We recommend that you call to get the best medical alert system deal available (we've included each company's phone number in the chart above). Medical alert companies are quite often open to negotiating price and waiving certain fees over the phone that they don't offer over the internet. Sometimes they'll even throw in extras like an additional pendent, wall mounted button or free key lock box. Let them know you've done your homework and ask for their best pricing and promotional offer.

Once you've had your questions answered and received a quote, If you need time to think or discuss the offer with family members, ask the medical alert company to hold your offer and lock in your pricing - they'll do it for free if you schedule a follow-up call.

The Best Way To Compare Medical Alert Systems

If you're looking to compare medical alert systems, the number of options can be overwhelming. We'd encourage you to start by thinking about your needs. Know what problem you're trying to solve and then find the product that best solves for the problem without the unnecessary bells and whistles that may only complicate matters.

When you compare medical alert systems, first assess your individual needs and how they might evolve over time. Does your loved one leave the house unaccompanied often? If so, perhaps they need a mobile medical alert system. Does your loved one have dementia? Will they be able to operate the system or do they need something more automated like fall detection? Do they need GPS tracking in case they wander or get lost?

Most medical alert companies offer month to month contracts. Take advantage! We can't stress this enough. You won't know if your system is right for you or your loved on until you give it a try. Worse comes to worse, you return it and try a different technology from the same company or try a new company. That said, we'll do our best to help you make the right decision the first time!

What To Look For When You Compare Medical Alert Systems


1. Medical Alert System Functionality & Services

  • Mobile coverage: Mobile medical alert systems work both in and outside the home. Instead of being connected through a base station that's attached to a landline, it's connected through cellular coverage, typically AT&T or Verizon. It's important that you check to ensure your area has good reception for the provider you're considering.

    Mobile is an excellent option for those who don't have a landline and leave their home frequently unaccompanied.

  • Fall detection: Automatic fall detection will call the emergency response center if the device detects a fall and the user is not able to press the emergency button themselves. The emergency response center will then try to contact the user, and if they get no response they will dispatch the appropriate authorities.

    Fall detection is especially valuable for people who have a high risk of black outs, fainting or loss of consciousness when falling or for those who fear that they will fall and not be able to press the emergency button.

  • GPS tracking: GPS tracking has two main purposes. First, in the event the user presses the emergency button outside the home, responders will be able to locate the individual through the GPS, even if the user is unable to talk or is unconscious. Second, in the event the user is lost or cannot be found, family members can locate the user - not everyone offers live tracking.

    GPS tracking is especially useful for those who plan to use their system outside their home unaccompanied. It is also very useful for those who are at risk of wandering or getting lost. Make sure to ask whether the system allows for live tracking for family members.


2. Medical Alert Equipment

  • Ease of Use: You want a system that is simple to install, easy to use and easy to maintain. Most systems are really easy to install, simply plug the system in the phone jack and an electrical outlet and you're ready to go. Second, you don't want to have to recharge batteries all the time - that's the one downside to some mobile alert systems.

  • Wearability: Having a medical alert system that is easy to put on, comfortable to wear and nice looking is essential. Medical alerts used to be large and bulky. Now they are much smaller and better looking. Some are so nice looking they actually enhance your look! When you compare medical alert systems, make sure you narrow it down to a company that offers both the watch band and the pendent.

  • Range: Range is the maximum distance the pendent can still work from the base station. Not everyone needs 1,300 feet (more than 3 football fields long), but having it can protect you when going to the mailbox, taking the trash to the curb or gardening in the backyard.


3. Emergency Response Service

  • Average response times: Response time is probably the most important feature to compare medical alert systems. Response time is the amount of time it takes for the emergency monitoring centre to answer you once you've pressed the emergency button on your pendent. In general, you should ask for an average response time of less than one minute.

  • Emergency contacts: One of the advantages medical alert systems have over 911, is that operators will dispatch ambulance services and contact listed family members. In some cases, after assessing a situation, they may determine that an ambulance is not necessary and only a family member needs to be called. Check to see how many emergency contacts you're allowed to list, and how many phone numbers per contact.

  • Reputation / experience: There are a LOT of medical alert companies out there. You do not want to put your or a loved one's life in the hands of an outfit that is just starting out, has a poor reputation or a bad track record. We believe our list above is a great starting point. Be wary of customer reviews as unethical companies can easily manipulate reviews in their favor through fake reviews and comments. Check their BBB rating for added comfort.

4. Finding The Best Medical Alert Pricing Plan

  • Free cancellation: Most reputable medical alert systems now offer free cancellation at any time. Essentially, they offer month to month contracts. Even if you pay for the year up-front to get the discount, if you cancel before the end of the year, you get the unused portion of the year refunded. Some companies, such as Life Alert, demand a long term contract, which makes no sense for an elderly population that may transition to a senior home at any stage and no longer need the service.

    When you compare medical alert systems, making sure you're able to cancel the contract whenever you need to, no questions asked, is a must.

  • Pro-rate refunds: Some companies offer discounts on monthly pricing if you pay for the subscription for 1 year up-front. It's a great deal, but make sure you that if you cancel before your year is up, you get a pro-rate refund for the unused portion of the contract.

  • Free return shipping: One way some medical companies recoup their costs and throw up a hurdle to you cancelling early, is by forcing you to pay for shipping. Make sure that if you cancel early, no matter the reason, the company will send you a return shipping label, with all costs paid for in advance.

  • Hidden fees: Watch out for the small print! Many providers make big promises but then have hidden charges like an activation fee, installation fee, cancellation fee, shipping fee, annual price increase, etc... We've done some of the homework for you, but don't be afraid to ask and always review your contract before signing.

  • Special Note: Beware of companies that lock you into long term contracts. As you can see, if you compare medical alert systems on the chart above, even well known companies like Life Alert (who do a lot of advertising on TV) can be extremely expensive and lock you into 3 year contracts. If your needs change, or you want to try a new system, many companies now offer free trial periods and cancellable contracts with no penalties.

Most Common Questions (Q&A)

Do I Need A Medical Alert System?

Medical alert systems are good for people who meet the following criteria:

  • Live alone, or are alone for extended periods of time during the day
  • Have experienced a recent fall or feel increasingly unbalanced
  • Have a medical condition that may require an immediate emergency response (examples of conditions include seizures, heart condition, diabetes, allergies, emphysema, epilepsy, high blood pressure)
  • Use a mobility assisted device (walker, cane, crutches, stair lift, walk-in tub)
  • Have a sensory deficit (hearing or vision) - difficulty finding a phone or difficulty having a conversation over the phone
  • Have been hospitalized in the last 12 months
  • Had recent major surgery for heart, hip or a fall
  • Have a falling hazard in the home that can't be removed or is too expensive i.e. stairs, bathtub with step-over
  • Physically frail
  • Difficulty managing medications
  • Cognitive impairment (forget keys, disorientation, etc...)
  • Want peace of mind that help is nearby

Why Are Medical Alert Systems Important for Seniors Living Alone?

The reasons vary widely, but in the end, medical alert systems add an additional layer of security to seniors who often find themselves in need of help:

  • Over 93% of older adults want to age in their own homes
  • 50% of adults over the age of 80 fall each year, 30% of adults over the age of 65 fall each year
  • 82% of falls occurred when the person was alone
  • 50% of those who fall have problems getting up without help after they have fallen
  • Once you've fallen, your risk of falling again DOUBLES!
  • Every 18 seconds an older adults is treated in an emergency room for a fall
  • Every 35 minutes one of them dies as a results of their injuries
  • If you get help within the first hour of a fall, your chance of returning home from the hospital increases by 90%
  • For seniors who live alone, having a medical emergency or fall and not being able to get help is not uncommon. It often leads to the end of their independence.
  • The cost of supervision, whether an in home caregiver, or a senior community is often $3,000 to $7,000 a month, compared to $20 to $50 a month for a medical alert system.

How Do Medical Alert Systems Work?

  1. First: You press the emergency help button on your waterproof neck pendent or wrist watch, which sends an alert to the monitoring station of the medical alert company. Alternatively, if you have automatic fall detection, and the system detects a fall, it will automatically send an alert to the monitoring station.

  2. Second: A trained agent will contact you through the two-way voice base station or your mobile pendent.

  3. Third: The trained agent will then assess the situation and either send over emergency responders (ambulance, fire, police) or a family member or caregiver. Agents will stay on the line with you live until help arrives. If emergency responders are sent over, family members and caregivers on file will be notified.

Who Does The Medical Alert Company Call In The Event of an Emergency?

When you first sign-up with the medical alert company, you will be asked for a list of contacts you want to be called in the event of an emergency. The list can include family, friends, neighbors, caregivers, even the doorman to your apartment. Some companies limit the number of contacts, others do not. Most limit the number to 5.

When you press the emergency button, the agent from the monitoring center will determine, with the caller, whether they should contact emergency services (ambulance, fire, police) or someone on the contact list (maybe your locked out, lost or want help). If emergency services are sent over, you can have a protocol in place that a family member or caregiver will be called and notified as well.

Do I Need A Medical Alert Device If I Have A Cell Phone?

It depends on your needs and individual situation:

  • Cell phones can be out of reach during a fall or medical emergency
  • Medical alerts are waterproof and can be brought into the shower or bathtub
  • Medical alert buttons are easy to use. The single help button is easy to find and easy to press, especially during an emergency situation, where confusion and shock can make a cell phone hard to manipulate
  • Medical alerts can detect a fall, and call for help even if you're unconscious or physically unable to press the help button
  • In home medical alert systems do not need to be charged, turned on or off, they are always available
  • Cell phones cannot tell emergency responders your altitude. So if you're calling from an apartment building, they won't know which unit you're in if you're unable to talk
  • The medical alert company will dispatch appropriate emergency personnel, call and notify all listed family members, provide lock box information to provide easy entry if available and provide all listed medical information to emergency personnel
  • Most calls to the monitoring station are to speak to a live agent to ask non-emergency questions and feel protected.

Can I Wear the Unit In The Bath or Shower?

Almost every medical alert pendent on the market is water resistant. Some are waterproof. A water resistant pendent can typically go under 3 feet of water for 30 minutes at a time.

Are Medical Alert Systems Easy To Self-Install?

Yes. Self installing a unit is as simple as plugging the base station into a phone jack and an electrical outlet. You then press the emergency button for a test and talk to a representative at the monitoring station to confirm activation.

Mobile systems are also easy to install. Simply plug in the charger cradle. Charge the medical alert device and call to complete activation.

Before agreeing to paying extra for installation, we recommend you try installing your system on your own. The systems are now designed for self-installation. If you're having difficulty, call the medical alert company and ask for customer service to help you.

What Happens If I Leave The Phone Off The Hook?

If you leave the phone off the hook, the landline based in-home system will not work. However, the cellular based in home system will work, even if the phone is off the hook, because it operates through a wireless cellular network, not the landline (you do not pay extra for the cell line, it should be included in your monthly charge). Most medical alert companies offer a cellular in home medical alert system.

Can I Bring My System With Me On Vacation?

All of the providers we listed above offer national coverage. Some local medical alert companies do not. Simply call your medical alert company in advance, notify them of the new phone number and address, plug your system into the new location, test it, and you're all set.

If you're using a mobile medical alert system, you do not need to notify your company of any changes in location. Although you'll want to test the system in any new location to make sure you're getting cell coverage.

Can I Use A Medical Alert System In A Rural Area?

If you have a landline the answer is 100% yes. If you don't have a landline, you will have to determine if you get a clear cellular signal in your home from the carrier used by your medical alert company. Most medical alert systems use AT&T. A far fewer number use Verizon.

What is Automatic Fall Detection?

Automatic fall detection is a feature that automatically detects if you've fallen. If the system detects a fall, it sends an alert to the monitoring center. Agents then contact you through the two way voice base station or pendent. If no one answers, they will send over emergency responders.

Automatic fall detection is ideal for those worried about falling and losing consciousness, or for those who frequently lose consciousness from a medical condition and are unable to call for help themselves.

Fall detection systems use a combination of sensors, accelerometers and gyroscopes to detect a fall. Although most medical alert companies will have a disclaimer that says their fall detection system may not detect 100% of their falls, a good fall detection system will come pretty close to 100%.

The biggest challenge to fall detection systems has been over-sensitivity, not under sensitivity. In other words, some systems detect false positives and send alerts to the monitoring station because you sat down too fast, bent over too quickly or hopped out of bed with a spring in your step.

How Much Do Medical Alert Systems Cost?

Medical alert systems vary in price depending on the type of system you're getting as follows:

  • In-home landline medical alert system average: $20 - $30 per month. Outlier $70 per month
  • In-home cellular medical alert system: $25-$35 per month
  • Mobile system (separate pendent from speaker/GPS): $30-$40 per month
  • Mobile system (all in one pendent, speaker, GPS, fall detection): $45 per month plus hardware costs ~$100
  • Smartwatch: $25-$45 per month, plus hardware costs between $100-$350

Fall detection is typically sold separately and can be added for an additional $5 to $10 a month.

Don't only focus on price when you compare medical alert systems. Make sure you're subscribing with a reputable company, with good service, reliable equipment and no hidden fees.

What Type of Medical Alert Systems Are Available?

  1. Landline in-home medical alert system: The base unit plugs into your phone jack, and you wear a separate help button around your neck or on your wrist. The help button will work from up to 1,300 feet from the base station (length of 3 football fields) for some units.

  2. Cellular in-home medical alert system: If you or your loved one does not have a landline, the base unit uses a cellular connection, and you wear the separate help button around your neck or on your wrist. It's just like the landline in-home system, except the base station uses cellular to contact the monitoring station. You have to make sure your cellular connection is strong inside your home. It is not a mobile device i.e. you cannot take it with you on a walk.

  3. Mobile on-the-go medical alert system: Mobile medical alert systems protect you both in and outside your home, wherever you have cellular coverage. When you press the help button, there is a two way voice speaker in your pendent. There is also GPS technology which allows emergency personnel and family members to find you to within 5 feet of your location. Some also have automatic fall detection. The downside to mobile medical alerts is that they need daily recharging.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Some mobile medical alert systems have all three technologies in one device, which is our preference. Others, are significantly more bulky, and require you to carry a separate mobile two way voice communicator from the help button, which is bulky, cumbersome and very inconvenient. Avoid at all costs.

  4. Smartwatch medical alert system: Offers protection in and outside your home, wherever cellular coverage is available. The smartwatches has an easy to access red help button on the side of the watch, GPS and two way voice communication. It can include text to speech messaging for caregivers, weather updates, sensors measuring heart rate, foot steps and so much more. The one downside, is that they do not come with automatic fall detection yet.

Do I Have to Have a Dedicated Landline for an In Home Medical Alert System?

No. Your medical alert device can be used over your existing phone line. If you do not have an existing phone line, you can use a medical alert device that connects to the monitoring station with cellular technology.

Do I Have to Pay For a Separate Wireless Subscription For a Cellular or Mobile Medical Alert Device?

No. In almost all cases your medical alert monthly cost includes the use of the wireless network at no extra charge.

 

 


  1. Hi Senior Safety Reviews,

    My father died recently and my mother lives alone. We can't always be with her and we're looking for a medical alert system. What are the most important features I should be looking for?

    Thanks in advance,

    Sandra


    • Hi Sandra,

      Thanks for writing in! In our opinion, the most important features you should be looking for depend on the needs of your mother. If she doesn't leave home much and has a landline, you could probably go with a basic in-home medical alert system. Even if she leaves the house often, if she's only leaves the home accompanied by someone else, there's no need for a mobile medical alert.

      In reality, most of the medical alert hardware is comparable. In fact, many companies use the same equipment. Where the companies begin to separate themselves are on price, terms and service. It goes without saying, we'd recommend you get the service that meets you mothers needs that has the best bang for your buck. However, we'd recommend getting a plan that gives you a free 30 day trial and allows you to cancel at any time with no penalties. Read the fine print or use our comparison chart to make sure your getting the deal you think you're getting.

      Hope that helps!

      SeniorSafetyReviews.com Staff


  2. Hello Senior Safety Reviews,

    The landline product displayed for Bay Alarm has a backup battery of 80 hours, not 32 hours. I hope this information is helpful.

    Best,

    Ryan


    • Hi Ryan,

      Thanks for the comment. We did a double to check, and Bay Alarm's website itself says "In the event of a blackout or power outage, our system will continue to run for up to 32 hours."

      Perhaps you're referring to the 72 hour charge of Medical Guardian's mobile alert system. Hope that helps!

      Best,

      Seniorsafetyreviews.com Staff


  3. I called Life Alert after seeing them on TV. They are sending a brochure to me. Would not give me pricing over the phone (which really annoyed me). Why do you have them rated so poorly.


    • Hi Peter,

      Thanks for writing in. Given Life Alert's wide presence on TV that's a great question!

      We have life alert with a poor rating because of its customer service and pricing. It has 3 year contracts which you cannot cancel. It has no 30 day money back trial period. Its pricing is nearly double that of its competitors for similar product (we called and received different quotes each time). Lastly, they have the highest number of complaints among medical alert companies at the Better Business Bureau.

      Hope the helps!

      Seniorsafetyreviews Staff


  4. Your review lists the need for mobile coverage yet that is not one of the criteria listed in your compare chart; why not?


    • Hi Doug,

      Thanks for that! Each of the companies listed above offers a mobile medical alert option. That said, our favorite mobile medical alert systems would be Medical Guardian or Phillips Life Line. Both offer all in one devices (mobile, fall detection, GPS), whereas many others require a separate fall detection device, and or a separate help button from the mobile device, making it inconvenient and bulky to wear outside the house.

      Hope that helps!

      SeniorSafetyReviews Staff