Do Your Research Before Buying A Medical Alert System

OneCall speaker Do Your Research Before Buying A Medical Alert SystemWhen consumers are faced with purchasing a medical alert system for a family member, they are typically in crisis mode, and generally prone to making rash decisions.  Don’t fall into this oh-so-common trap.  The Senior List is full of horror stories about folks that are trapped into long-term contracts, or faced with equipment that won’t function properly.  Before buying a medical alert system, it’s important that you DO YOUR RESEARCH.    Don’t think you can just jump on a particular brand and make a quick decision.  You might get lucky, but I don’t like those odds for most folks (and certainly not for our readers).

4 things you need to know before buying a medial alert system:

  1. What medical alert system options are out there?
  2. How reliable is the medical alert system?
  3. Is it easy to install and use?
  4. How much does it cost?

Let’s tackle each of these topics together so that you have a (more) solid base of understanding, and can make more informed choices down the road.

What medical alert system options are out there?

There are a lot of options out there, but the 2 biggest considerations here are;  Whether you need a traditional in-home (uses a home phone line) alert system, or a mobile (cellular based) medical alert system.

The traditional in-home medical alert systems utilize the home phone line, and the pendant alert buttons work like old cordless phones.  When depressed they communicate with a base station, and that base station makes the call (in case of emergency).  Most of these traditional pendant type medical alert systems work well, and have adequate coverage for an average size home.  Many of the pendants can be worn in the shower, and most have good battery lives.  These traditional options usually cost a little bit less than their cellular based cousins.

The mobile (cellular) based medical alert systems seem to be getting a lot of attention lately.  These have the range of a typical cell phone, and typically targeted at the more mobile  users.  These options are a little more functional but also carry a little more of a price tag on them.

Our advice:  If your loved one is not mobile and almost always in the home environment, a traditional pendant style medical alert is just fine.  If they get out to walk, garden, shop, or spend time with friends away from home, go with a mobile option.

How reliable is the medical alert system?

Well reliability is an interesting question, because frankly these medical alert systems aren’t (or shouldn’t be) complex.  You should ask about battery life, water resistance, range, average response times, and read the reviews of medical alert systems that you’re considering.  Generally if you go with a reputable company, they’ll take care of you.  If you don’t do your research and get stuck with someone that won’t back-up their product, you’re in trouble.

Our advice:  Take this list of questions you should be asking each medical alert provider and use it accordingly. (Pass this list on to anyone that can use it.  We hate seeing folks get burned!)

Is the medical alert system easy to install and use?

You’d think these things would be intuitive enough to set-up, test, and use… but in some cases they’re just not.  Take a look at the Verizon SureResponse Medical Alert System Reviews.  A quick read of the reviews tells you all you need to know.  We recommend you check other sources in addition to The Senior List, but yikes… These guys need to get it together.  Stick with manufacturers that will work with you if something goes wrong.

Our advice:  Make sure you don’t sign a long-term commitment until you’re 100% comfortable doing so.  IF a month-to-month is a bit more expensive but you’re still unsure.  Take it for a test drive, and consider it insurance (against making a bad medical alert call).

How much does it cost?

Traditional pendant style medical alert systems are going to run you between $20-$40 dollars per month.  I wouldn’t be paying more than $29 per month if I had minimal needs.  For cellular based models be prepared to pay just a bit more than the in-home models. Be advised that GreatCall has a nice mobile option that starts at $19 per month.  You don’t need to spend a lot to get what you need.  You just need to do your research!

Our advice:  In the end make sure you follow our top 3 rules when considering medical alert systems:  Research in advance, ask a lot of questions, and don’t get stuck with a long-term contract that you can’t afford or don’t want!

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Comments

  1. James says

    Some time ago we had a medical alert device that worked off our land line phone (which we no longer have). it was a very simple device, worn around the neck with a small pin that you pulled out to activate it. Once activated it would call 5 numbers of your choosing with a pre-recorded message that you created saying whatever you would like such as ” This is me, I am in distress please come help”. I like this idea as it doesn’t require the user to talk to anyone, they just need to pull the pin. Also my wife would often not pull the pin if it meant an ambliance coming to the house, but she would pull it if it just went to myself and our family or close friends. It seems that all of the options out there now that don’t require a home phone line go through a service with a monthly fee. Do you know of any options that might be more like what i have described above?
    Thanks, James

    • says

      Hi James, There are a number of land-line based medical alert systems that call prearranged numbers. If you search the medical alert category here on The Senior List, you’ll find a few of these types with ratings/reviews. They would require you to get a land-line however, and they virtually function like a tiny wireless home phone device. For traditional (call center) medical alert systems, We like the Philips Lifeline, and a few others. A cellular based medical alert system that you may want to consider is the GreatCall splash phone. They’re around $50 and their plans are very affordable (and month-to-month). Hope this helps- A

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