Top Gadgets For Seniors

Nell Bernstein (senior editor) over at Caring.com wrote up an informative post on aging in place gadgets.  Many of these gadgets have been highlighted here on The Senior List, but we wanted to share Nell’s list with our readers too. The Center for Disease Control defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level”.  Many of the gadgets listed below can help aging Americans stay in their home longer, and in a safer environment.

Most adults would prefer to age in place—that is, remain in their home of choice as long as possible. In fact, 90 percent of adults over the age of 65 report that they would prefer to stay in their current residence as they age. One-third of American households are home to one or more residents 60 years of age or older. – Wikipedia on aging in place

Top Gadgets For Seniors

Here are several of our favorite gadgets that can contribute to a safer home environment for your friends or family members:

1.  Big Button Cell PhoneJitterbug 5 Review

Big button cell phones (yup some folks call them dumb phones) have a place in the mobile phone world, especially for aging adults.  When people age their eyes can (and usually do) get worse over time.  This is due to a variety of medical issues like glaucoma, cataracts or (age related) macular degeneration.  Yes, smartphones are all the rage these days, but cell phones like the Jitterbug 5 from Samsung can serve many purposes, including acting as a medical alert system.

2.  House Cleaning Robots

gadgets for seniorsActually we care do differ from Nell a little bit on this one.  Having a fun little “robot” vacuum cleaner like the iRobot Roomba are very cool devices, and we like them a lot.  But let’s face it, vacuum cleaners aren’t all that complex, or difficult to operate (at least not all of them yet).  The key to keeping a clean home, free of dust and/or dander is regular cleaning.  So having an easy-to-use vacuum of any kind is useful.  It should be light, and located in an accessible location.  Also, it might be a good idea to have a cleaning service come in once a month for a deep clean (if one can be afforded).

3.  Automatic Pill Reminders

Medication management systems are a great idea. As people age, they typically end up on a variety of medications like cholesterol lowering agents, high blood pressure meds, and more!  The fact that these medications must be managed for many aging adults accounts for a huge percent of nursing home admissions.  Medication management systems range from simple plastic pill boxes all the way up to smart (electronic) medication management systems that remind users when to take their meds.

4.  Medical Alert Systems

Top Gadgets for SeniorsMedical alert systems are something we know a great deal about.  These handy devices come in all shapes and sizes, but the most common is a pendant style alert system.  These have a single push button that alerts a call center when a person feels like they’re having a medical emergency (or any emergency for that matter).  Some of these devices also come packed with automatic fall detection which senses when an aging adult has fallen down.  If they’re unresponsive the medical alert system will notify the call center automatically.  Medical alert systems with fall detection usually cost a bit more, but they can be worth it in certain situations.  If you need help picking out the right medical alert system, we’ve created a handy medical alert system buyers guide to help navigate you through the many choices offered today.

There a number of other handy gadgets for seniors that can help one stay in the home longer, and be safer as well.  Head on over to Nell’s article for the full list.  Do you have any additions that you’d add to our list?  Any suggestions that you’ve implemented in a home?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

The Tempo Medical Alert From CarePredict

Tempo medical alert from CarePredictWe’re watching an interesting start-up company in the medical alert space.  The company is called CarePredict and they have a very interesting in-home medical alert device called “Tempo” (which is not yet commercially available).  The Tempo device is different than a traditional medical alert system in that it’s a “wearable” that tracks activity and patterns through sophisticated algorithms.  Sensors placed around the home pick-up the activity (or lack thereof) in various rooms like the kitchen for example.  The technology looks for changes in behaviors that could predict an emergency before it occurs.

Tempo Medical Alert from CarePredict

CarePredict was founded by Satish Movva who decided he needed a better way to be in touch with his parents, and with their health. He teamed up with Dr. Krishna Vedala (co-founder) to develop a new device that tracks user patterns throughout the home. In the realm of aging in place technology the Tempo could set itself apart from other in-home medical alert systems.

Tempo medical alert from CarePredict

The CarePredict “Tempo” learns the normal activities of your loved one and then records those patterns in a “rhythm journal”.  If there’s ever a change, you get an alert notifying you of a potential medical issue before it occurs. The predictive nature of this medical alert is what sets it apart of the reactive pendant style medical alert systems (think I’ve fallen and I can’t get up).  Traditional medical alert systems notify family members or call centers during a medical emergency.

CarePredict™ Tempo™ is wrist-worn sensor with sophisticated software. It has a band that switches out for different looks. The sensor detects motion – walking, running, sitting, standing, or lying down – and location; and the software figures out the activities. It transmits data and charges wirelessly so there are no cords or plugs. – CarePredict.com

We’re going to keep our eyes on CarePredict and hope to get our hands on a unit for an evaluation. If you have any thoughts about this new technology or CarePredict’s new approach to medical alerts – let us know in the comments below!

Photo credit: CarePredict.com

A Billion People At Risk For Hearing Loss

hearing loss comes at a priceThis may be music to the hearing aid industry‘s ears.  CNN is reporting that up to a billion people are at risk for hearing loss, and we’re not talking about boomers and seniors today.  The iPod generation has officially been put on notice, that continued exposure to loud noises (without protection) can and will damage your long-term hearing prospects.

iPod Generation and Hearing Loss

In February the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a press release that included these details (and more):  “Some 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events, according to WHO. Hearing loss has potentially devastating consequences for physical and mental health, education and employment.”

Teenagers and young people can better protect their hearing by keeping the volume down on personal audio devices, wearing earplugs when visiting noisy venues, and using carefully fitted, and, if possible, noise-cancelling earphones/headphones. They can also limit the time spent engaged in noisy activities by taking short listening breaks and restricting the daily use of personal audio devices to less than one hour. – World Health Org.

Younger folks don’t realize yet that once you lose your hearing, it’s gone for good.  The solutions are tiny devices that cost big money (yes more than your fancy new iPod nano). These devices come in the form of hearing aids or personal sound amplifiers, and this is big business for some! Did you know that the top 6 hearing aid manufacturers control 98% of the hearing aid market? Sanford C. Bernstein is a leading Wall Street research firm and in 2013 they provide key data points on the hearing aid market for industry guidance. Bernstein estimated the following market share in terms of “unit sales”:

Hearing Aid Market LeadersiPod Generation at risk for Hearing Loss

1) Sonova (owner of Phonak et al.): 24%
2) William Demant (owner of Oticon et al.): 23%
3) Siemens: 17%
4) GN Store Nord (owner of GN ReSound, et al.): 16%
5) Starkey Technologies: 9%
6) Widex: 9%

Disrupting such a well controlled market is difficult but not impossible.  Innovative companies like Apple, Samsung and a host of start-ups eyeing this market have the means, aptitude and capacity to pivot this market right on its ear!  Until then, let’s turn down the volume a bit eh? (Oh yea… and stay off my lawn!) :)

Photo credit: Apple

Best Medical Alert System

Best Medical Alert SystemMany people are choosing to “age in place” these days, and live as independently as they can (for as long as they can).  Doing so can require downsizing to an environment more accommodating for diminished mobility, and/or a home that’s generally easier to maintain.  Another important aspect of aging-in-place is being able to identify products that make independent living safer for the resident.  Medical emergencies can and do happen, you just want your loved one to be prepared if help is needed.

Medical alert systems have come a long way since “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” ads caught our attention decades ago.  Now, some of the best medical alert options offer GPS tracking, fall detection, speakerphones, speak through pendants, inactivity monitors and more!  Understanding just which features your loved one needs is hard enough, then you have to go about finding an alert system provider you can trust!

Best Medical Alert System Today

At The Senior List, we aim to make that easier for consumers, because we’ve been tracking this sector for quite some time.  If you search for medical alert systems on The Senior List, you’ll find a bevy of review articles and information that will be useful to you before you buy a medical alert system.  If you’re looking for a short-list of the best medical alert providers (in our opinion), you’re in luck.  In no particular order, we like:

Now this short-list doesn’t mean they’re the only medical alert providers we like, but they rank the highest for us right now.  As things change in this market, we re-rank to stay current.  We’re all about helping consumers make the best choices today.  If you’d like to see a more comprehensive list of medical alert providers, click over to this list of recommended medical alert providers.

If you’re looking for a great deal on a speakerphone type medical alert system, the Costco MediPendant is hard to beat. The downside is that is is very big and bulky, something you’ll note by reading our product review.  As we always warn when talking about the best medical alert providers, make sure you do your research, and understand your contract terms.  We do not recommend entering into any long-term contracts that you can’t opt out of.

If you want help identifying just the right medical alert system, click here to visit our Medical Alert System Buyers Guide.

5 Common Mistakes: Medical Alert Systems

The Senior List is here for you.  These decisions aren’t easy, so we’re here to help you find the best deal from the best providers.  Some of the providers mentioned above have an affiliate relationship with The Senior List, and we’re proud of those relationships. We only work with providers that pass our own stringent criteria, and these are the same providers that we refer our friends and family to.

Product Review: GrandCARE Systems

GrandCare Systems - Connecting Seniors to Family and CareI get really excited about new technologies, systems, and emerging companies.  Especially if they’re built with the goal of making peoples lives more livable.   GrandCARE Systems is one of those companies that’s easy to get behind!  GrandCARE Systems is a communication tool, care management asset and activity-sensor-hub all wrapped up in an easy-to-use touchscreen device.

Connectivity Tools For Seniors

The grandCARE System offers connectivity for seniors.  It keeps them connected to family members, caregivers, and healthcare providers alike.  Family members are able to share photos, videos, and messages through the care portal (which can be accessed through any device with an internet connection).  Caregivers can set up activity reminders and medication prompts.  Medication reminders take on a whole new look with photos of pills and dosing information.

Healthcare providers are able to set up sensors around the home that can detect motion, establish sleep patterns and even send an alert if the refrigerator door has not been opened in the morning.  The system also supports telehealth devices such as blood pressure monitors, scales, pulse oximeters, glucometers, and thermometers.   All of this can be done while monitoring and engaging even the most technology-averse seniors.GrandCare Systems offers connectivity to seniors

GrandCARE allows every person involved with the senior to contribute in their own way.  It allows people to feel more integrated into their loved ones lives. — Daphne Karpan, Home Care RN

Thegrandcare systems communication tool grandCARE touch screen interface is very easy for the front end-user, presumably an older adult that may not be familiar with computers or modern tech.  It’s also easy for family, caregivers and providers who are connected on the back-end.  Monitoring seniors at home can make a great deal of sense.  GrandCARE just makes it easier!  Personally, I can also see this system being a welcome addition to any long distance family member situation.  Family members can easily send photos, videos and personal notes to share.

We reviewed a competitor of grandCARE in the past called Video Care.  Even though Video Care isn’t around anymore, their users have been incorporated into the grandCARE system.

 VideoCare used different hardware than grandCARE but we invested in testing our software to the point we can simply send VideoCare customers a USB drive that installs GrandCare on their current VideoCare touch PC.   It has made a number of people happy and we are proud to almost seamlessly migrate clients and their caregivers from VideoCare to grandCARE with almost no interruption in service. — Jerry Furness, COO of grandCARE

GrandCare Systems MonitorGrandCARE Systems (grandCARE) recently released MediKall, which is a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant video chat for providers to talk to clients and patients about medical conditions.  HIPPA compliance means your medical and personal information is protected/safe. GrandCARE can be used with a wired or wi-fi internet connection, so it’s a very flexible solution.

Buying a grandCARE System

Cost is $699 for the system and requires a $49 monthly subscription.  There are no additional charges for use of health devices, sensors, or alerts.  Some users are able to access this system through their home care, home health, hospice, or senior care living facility at a reduced cost.  Ask your provider if they have grandCARE connected into their network.  If you’re interested in the grandCARE System for a family member or a friend, by being a member of The Senior List community, you can receive 10% off of the purchase price.  Tell them you read about it here!

2015 Recommended Medical Alert Systems

medical alert systemsTwo years ago we published a very popular post that included a list of traditional (in-home) medical alert systems.  In addition to the list, we provided reviews of those medical alert systems so readers could compare and contrast.  Since that time, the medical alert arena has changed.  Companies have come and gone, and thankfully we have new medical alert options like mobile devices, and even smartphone apps to consider.

Given the modernization changes to medical alert systems offered today, we thought we’d refresh our list.  Let’s also give a special nod to those providers (and devices) that we’re currently recommending.  Based on feedback from our community members, we may opt to add providers to the recommended list OR delete someone from the list.  If you want to understand what criteria we look for in a quality device you’ll want to read this Medical Alert System Overview.

*Special Note:  If The Senior List® is recommending a specific provider, we will note it with a “Senior List Checkmark of Approval”.
Senior List Approved Medical Alert Systems

Checkmark = Senior List Approved

2015 List of Medical Alert Systems

Senior List Approved Medical Alert SystemsAlert 1: The Alert1 medical alert system has come along way since we first reviewed the Alert1 back in 2011.  Alert 1 has a number of new medical alert systems to choose from. They have a traditional basic pendant-style device, they have a pendant with fall detection, and they have small mobile (cellular based) emergency response button called the “Kelsi”.  Alert 1 has a US based emergency response center, and prices start at $25.95 per month. No termination fee, but you will forfeit pre-paid services if you cancel.

Senior List Approved Medical Alert SystemsBay Alarm Medical:  Bay Alarm Medical is offering traditional in-home medical alert systems (with or without a home telephone line), and a mobile GPS device for those that don’t wish to be tethered to a mobile base station.  Bay Alarm has a lot of positive reviews and customer testimonials out there, and we understand them to offer great support.  See our own review of Bay Alarm Medical here.  Bay Alarm Medical offers good value with a monthly plan starting at $21.95. No long-term contracts.

Connect America:  Connect America claims to be the fastest growing medical alert company out there.  They are a no frills provider that offers traditional in-home medical alert monitoring.  Prices start at $29.95 per month and there are no long-term contracts (following your first 3 months of service).

Senior List Approved Medical Alert SystemsCostco MediPendant:  The Costco MediPendant is a great consideration for a speakerphone type medical alert system.  Click here to read The Senior List review of the MediPendant.  This device boasts a great battery life, and the Costco deal actually provides an extra battery within the packaging.  All in all we like this device but you should understand that it’s bulky, and uncomfortable for most to wear around the neck.  Costco provides 6 month free service initially, and month-to-month rates start at $26.95 (IF you pay of-front for an annual plan you can get your rate down to $19.95).  No long-term contracts.

Freedom Alert:  The Freedom Alert is a 2-way voice emergency pendant (think tiny speakerphone) that allows the user to call up to 4 pre-programmed telephone numbers (plus (911).  Once you purchase the equipment ($259.95) there are no monthly expenses to maintain.  It is literally a tiny speakerphone that fits in the palm of your hand or on a lanyard.

Senior List Approved Medical Alert SystemsGreatCall Splash:  The GreatCall Splash medical alert system is a handy little device that we just love.  This is the same company that sells the (very senior friendly) Jitterbug 5 cell phone.  We’ve personally used the GreatCall 5Star which is the prior model to the Splash.  This mobile (GPS) medical alert system operates on a cellular network (always) so you can take it wherever you wish. The GreatCall Splash is waterproof, and monthly plans start at just $14.99 per month ($19.95/mo. if you want access to medical personnel like nurses and/or doctors). No long-term contracts.

Life Alert:  Yup you know Life Alert from their iconic “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials.  They’ve been serving the public for 3 decades, and offer traditional in-home medical alert services. Prices start at $29.95.  Beware of long-term contracts.

LifeFone:  LifeFone has a complete suite of medical alert systems from traditional land-line based systems to cellular options.  LifeFone also offers a pendant with fall detection.  Prices start at $24.95 per month, and there is no long-term contracts.

Life Guardian:  The Life Guardian family of medical alert systems is now called Safe Guardian (catchy).  Safe Guardian sells a 911 emergency device, a traditional medical alert system, a mobile medical alert system, and a speakerphone device.  Plans start at $19 per month (if paid annually) for land-line system (analogue not VOIP) and there are no long-term contracts.

Senior List Approved Medical Alert SystemsLifeStation: LifeStation offers traditional medical alert system options as well as a new mobile (cellular) emergency button which calls 911 in case of an emergency. Pricing starts at $25.95 per month and there are no long-term contracts (just provide 30 days notice to cancel).  Set-up is simple and call center staff are certified. Read our LifeStation Reviews.

Medical Guardian: The Medical Guardian is a nice option to consider when shopping for medical alert systems.  Medical Guardian offers in-home medical alert systems, a cellular option, and a fall detection option.  Prices start at $29.95 per month and there is no equipment to purchase. No long-term contracts.

MobileHelp:  MobileHelp offers both a traditional in-home medical alert system as well as a mobile (cellular) option.  MobileHelp also has a pendant with fall detection which is compatible with their base station.  Prices start at $25.78 per month with an annual plan ($34.95 month-to-month). They claim they will refund pre-paid funds upon cancellation.  We always recommend you get this in writing if you go with a long-term price plan.Here is our original review of MobileHelp.

Senior List Approved Medical Alert SystemsPhilips Lifeline:  Philips Lifeline offers a family of medical alert system options including traditional medical alert systems over your home telephone line, a GPS mobile option (called GoSafe) and a smartphone app called “Response App”.  Philips is a little more expensive than some of the other providers (starting at $29.95) but they’re well regarded, and have a history of service. Call centers are located in the USA. Read our Philips Lifeline review here. No long-term contracts.

Senior List Approved Medical Alert SystemsQMedic: QMedic claims to be the “world’s smartest medical alert service”. This smart little unit can alert when a user is not wearing the device, when they fail to get out of bed, and when they are inactive for extended periods of time.  The Senior List® reviewed the QMedic and gave it a test drive in our home lab.  It worked exceptionally well, and the staff was professional and accommodating (a great sign for a new company). $30 per month and no long-term contracts.

ResponseLINK:  ResponseLINK offer products with the same form factors and functions as Alert1.  Prices start at $25.95.

Verizon SureResponse:  The Verizon SureResponse had the potential to be a great addition to the medical alert system market but it’s launch fell flat. The trouble started with a clunky form factor, support that was non-existent, and performance issues as reported by customers.  Simply put, it appears Big Red wasn’t ready for this device (or the market).  The Senior List even reached out to Verizon Wireless to see if we could help their team (but… we were ignored).  See our SureResponse review here.  Our readers didn’t have many good things to say about this device, but we’re hoping that Verizon focuses on this space at some point.  They could be a player here.  Rates follow their cellular phone model which means there’s equipment to buy, and a long-term agreement to adhere to. (sigh)

VRI: The VRI medical alert system is a nice, easy to use option when considering medical alert systems. We originally reviewed VRI  back in 2011.  It’s easy to set up and is a generally considered a no-frills machine.  There are 2 options for using VRI in your home.  There is a purchase option in which the client purchases the equipment ($175) and then pays $19.95 per month for monitoring, and there is the rental option which starts at $29.95 per month.

The Senior List is here for you.  These decisions aren’t easy, so we’re here to help you find the best deal from the best providers.  Some of the providers mentioned above have an affiliate relationship with The Senior List, and we’re proud of those relationships. We only work with providers that pass our own stringent criteria, and these are the same providers that we refer our friends and family to.

Step-By-Step: Medical Alert Buyers Guide

Give us your feedback on any of the medical alert systems you have experience with, particularly if they are on this list. We would love to hear the positive experiences as well as the challenges you’ve had.  Often times our expectation of quality service precludes us from expressing appreciation for good service, so let’s make sure we hear about positive experiences too.  Here’s your chance to sound off!  We look forward to your feedback.

Medical Alert Systems: Everything You Need To Know

qmedic medical alert system braceletWe’re asked all the time to make recommendations on medical alert systems, and to provide best practices on what to look out for when shopping for one of these little devices. The best advice is not to rush into this purchase decision without doing a little due diligence. There are some nafarious providers out there, hoping you’ll sign a long-term contract that you can’t get out of… We’ve even heard from consumers that have been stuck in a bad contract for (dare we say) 3 years!

So you can probably tell that one of the things we hate are long-term agreements with no out-clauses. There are other things to watch out for as well, so let’s get into the heart of the matter! First things first… Don’t start looking at medical alert systems without knowing the Top 10 Questions to Ask When Buying a Medical Alert System.

Top Questions to Ask When Buying a Medical Alert System

  1. Does this medical alert system work with VOIP phones?
  2. What is the range of the pendant from the base unit?
  3. Who installs and tests the device in my home?
  4. Do I need a land-line in my home to use this alert system?
  5. Tell me about your call centers. Where are they located? What are response times? Are they trained?
  6. Does the medical alert system come with other services like medication reminders?
  7. What if something goes wrong with my equipment?
  8. Is automatic fall detection included?
  9. Do I own this device, or am I leasing the equipment?
  10. What is my total yearly cost?
  11. (Bonus Question) What do I do when I no longer need the service? (Get this in writing.)

Medical Alert Buyers Guide5 Features of Modern Medical Alert Systems

  1. The pendant should be small, discrete and waterproof.
  2. The contract should be easy to opt out of.
  3. Pendant should be comfortable and lightweight.
  4. The fall detection technology should work well.
  5. Should have connectivity options to call your family, a call center, or 911.

Medical Alert System SCAM

Did you know there is a medical alert scam that is being perpetrated on the American public right now?  These frauds are targeting seniors with an offer of a personal medical alert system at no cost to you. The call goes on to say “Since you’ve already been referred by a medical professional, your package is ready to be shipped”. State and federal authorities are aware of the scam which has been going on for over a year now.  What you can do:  Make your friends and family aware of the scam, and make sure they never give personal information to anyone that calls them out of the blue (ever)!

Cellular Medical Alert System

Common Mistakes to Avoid

5 Common Mistakes: Medical Alert Systems

Medical Alert System Buyers Guide

If you want more help or more information, poke around The Senior List a little bit.  You can use our search bar on the front page to help guide your search for medical alert system information.  We’ve conducted many reviews of specific devices, and browsing these reviews is a great way to educate yourself on the medical alert space.  If you would like specific recommendations on medical alert systems, we have a Medical Alert System Buyers Guide that can walk you through some of our favorite medical alert system choices.  These are alert systems that we recommend to friends and family, and they meet many of the criteria that we look for in a medical alert system provider.

medical alert system buyers guide

Philips Lifeline Review

Philips Lifeline Review

The Philips Lifeline family of medical alert systems now offers 4 options under their Philips Lifeline umbrella.   They offer the traditional home based medical alert system without fall detection, the Lifeline alert system with fall detection, a mobile (cellular) option, and a smartphone app.  We like options, and Philips Lifeline has built a nice business model based on consistent service over a long period of time.  This is one of the reasons we tend to recommend Philips Lifeline when folks ask us for medical alert system recommendations.

Product Info: Philips Lifeline

  • Name:  Philips LifeLine
  • Website Info: www.lifelinesys.comPhilips Lifeline Reviews
  • Auto Fall Detection? :  Optional
  • Cellular Option: Yes
  • Equipment Cost:  $0 for traditional medical alert system, $149 if you want mobile (cellular) option
  • Monthly Cost Starts At: $29.95 for in-home (no fall detection), $49.95 (with fall detection), $54.95 (cellular option/AT&T), $13.95 for Medical Alert Smartphone App.
  • All Lifeline Alert Systems Feature:  A waterproof (wireless) Pendant or Bracelet, In-Home Base Unit, 24/7 US Based Response Center.

Philips Lifeline Review

We originally published our first Philips Lifeline Review back in 2011.  The Philips Lifeline family of medical alert systems is now the number 1 provider of medical alert systems in the US with over 7 million served.  Founded in 1972, Philips Lifeline continues to provide top notch (US based) service to those that choose to patronize the Lifeline family of products.  Philips Lifeline is a premium brand which means you’ll pay a little more than the industry average for their services.  In exchange, you’ll receive US based response centers staffed with trained operators, ready to assist in case of emergency.  Here at The Senior List we can attest to our own high degree of customer satisfaction, as a family member has worn a Lifeline device for almost a decade.

Lifeline offers a number of options depending on the needs of the user today.  The base model is called their HomeSafe Standard option.  This is what we would refer to as a traditional in-home medical alert system.  It offers push button technology from a pendant, and is perfect for most users who want a traditional medical alert system.

If you’re worried about falls, Philips Lifeline offers a fall detection option called “HomeSafe Auto Alert”.  Philips boasts a “high detection rate of true falls”, but you should know that fall detection technology isn’t without it’s detractors/critics.  Those critics cite false fall alarms, as well as non-detected-falls.  Fall detection is a nice safety blanket to have, but you have to understand fall detection technology isn’t perfect (on any device).  You also pay quite a premium for fall detection.  It will run you $240 more per year than a traditional medical alert system.  IF on-board fall detection thwarts a critical medical emergency however… It’s worth it every time (and twice on Sundays).

For the user on the go, Philips offers a mobile (cellular) medical alert option.  This system utilizes a pendant that’s connected to AT&T’s wireless network.  You’ll need to purchase the cellular based pendant (a one time expense of $149) and pay a premium monthly payment to Philips that starts at $54.95.  We like the cellular based medical alert systems, and the monthly fees will ratchet down once there are more options in the marketplace.

The Bottom Line: Philips Lifeline

We like Philips Lifeline and we recommend them.  They are a premium player in the medical alert system space, and they’ve grown into the largest provider of medical alert systems in the US.  We’ve had family members use Lifeline for extended periods of time, and can attest to the fact that the Lifeline call center staff is both understanding and patient.  At times, confused adults can get into a pattern of repeated button pushing (we certainly ran into this).  Each time our family member depressed their pendant alert button, they were treated with respect and understanding (or we would have switched providers).  This is the kind of thing that goes a long way for families in crisis.  We’ll continue to recommend Philips Lifeline as one of only a few Medical Alert System providers that The Senior List will endorse.

If you’ve used the Philips Lifeline Medical Alert Systems or know someone who has, please give us your opinion in the comment section below!

Just5 Cell Phone Reviews

If you’ve been searching for Just5 cell phone reviews, you’ve come to the right place.  We originally reviewed the Just5 cell phone For seniors back in 2011, and it looks like it’s changed a bit for the better.  We liked this cell phone for a lot of reasons, namely because it was simple, had big buttons and seemed to work quite well.  We were sent a model to play with, and subsequently gave it away to a lucky TSL community member during an on-site promotion.

Product Info: Just5 Cell Phone

  • Name:  Just5 (model CP09)
  • Offered By: Just5.com
  • Price:  $33 (EUR)
  • Carrier:  AT&T & T-Mobile
  • Monthly Rates:   AT&T or T-Mobile standard rates
  • Colors:  Orange, Red & White
  • Contracts or Cancellation Fees: None for phone.  Fees possible depending on carrier
  • Features:  Emergency call button, built-in flashlight, integrated fm radio, large buttons, loud speakerphone, easy to use.

Product Review: Just5 Cell Phone

The Just5 cell phone for seniors is a simple, easy to use phone with few frills.  It has huge buttons that are easy to read, has a built in flashlight (making it
useful when reading restaurants menus), has a small form factor, and works on common carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile.  We never saw the utility of having an fm radio on board, but maybe they have customers that like this feature. As we noted in our earlier review of the Just5, this phone could make good sense for a young person as well.


If a cell phone (with an SOS button) is all you’re looking for, the Just5 would make good sense. When the SOS or medical alert button is depressed, it sends a text message to 5 preset numbers that the user inputs at set-up.  It then begins dialing the user’s emergency contacts until someone answers.  The phone is automatically placed in speakerphone mode after the SOS button is depressed.

The Just5 phone probably doesn’t make much sense for the user who wants to take, and share pictures.  You’d have a hard time taking pictures given there is no camera!  There isn’t enough real estate on the viewing area to see anything but a simple text, so it’s a moot point anyway.  What this phone does well is that it makes and receives phone calls, and operates as a remote medical alert system.

The Bottom Line:

This phone is for someone that wants a basic phone with a medical alert option.  For those purposes, this phone is a great option.  Everywhere we looked recently was out of stock on the Just5 model CP09, so you’ll have to look around to purchase it. Normally you can purchase this phone directly from Just5.com or any number of retail outlets like Best Buy, etc.  If you can’t find a Just5 phone, we have a similar suggestion for you.  A close cousin of the Just5 is the Snapfon ezTWO3G Senior Cell Phone, SIMPLE and Easy to Use, SOS Button, Hearing Aid Compatible, UNLOCKED GSM.

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Samsung Jitterbug 5 Review

Jitterbug 5 ReviewsThe Samsung Jitterbug line has been around a long time, and we know this phone well.  The Senior List originally reviewed the Samsung Jitterbug J model back in 2010!  We’re happy to report that this phone has evolved and today it’s better than ever.  The Jitterbug line has been one of the most popular senior friendly phones on the market.  There was a famous slogan penned by an ad agency back in 1968, we think fits pretty well with our Samsung Jitterbug 5 Review… Jitterbug 5 – You’ve come a long way baby!

Product Info: Jitterbug 5

  • Name:  Jitterbug 5 Phone for Seniors
  • Offered by:  GreatCall
  • Price:  $99 MSRP
  • Monthly Rates: Start at $24.99 (includes 5Star Service)
  • Colors:  Red, White or Blue
  • Carrier:  Verizon
  • Contracts or Cancellation Fees: None
  • Features:  Simple clam shell design, big, easy-to-see buttons, powerful speakerphone, 5Star service button, long lasting battery, Big Red (Verizon Network)

Product Review: GreatCall’s Jitterbug 5

Samsung Jitterbug 5 ReviewThe Samsung Jitterbug 5 from GreatCall is one of the most recognizable senior friendly phones today.   Nicole Lee at Cnet said of the Samsung Jitterbug 5’s early cousins “The Samsung Jitterbug J is incredibly easy to use.  It has a bright display, large font size, a roomy keypad with big buttons, and even a dial tone to make it similar to a landline telephone“.  We love the large buttons, and the fact that it’s easy to recognize the emergency button (in red) which alerts GreatCall operators to an inquiry or an emergency.

Staff here at The Senior List have personally tested out “5Star” services at GreatCall’s call center.  These services include dispatching emergency services, connecting the user to a registered nurse, and even conferencing in an emergency contact like a son or daughter.  The operators are trained, and they’re some of the most professional we’ve dealt with.  Another thing that we love is their contract… You know why? There isn’t one!  If you’ve followed our medical alert system reviews, you probably know we don’t like the idea of folks entering into long-term service contracts that they are locked into.  If you’re ever in doubt, make sure you get this assurance in writing.  With GreatCall’s Jitterbug you don’t have to.

How Does 5Star Service Work?

Jitterbug 5 Review - 5 Star Service

The Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for a senior friendly cell phone the Samsung Jitterbug 5 from GreatCall is a can’t miss.  This isn’t just a cell phone though, it’s a cross between a phone and a medical alert system.  For this reason, The Senior List highly recommends this product.  The Jitterbug 5 remains our top choice in mobile phones for seniors because of it’s versatility, it’s value for money, and for top shelf service from GreatCall staff.

If you’ve used the Jitterbug 5 or know someone who has, please give us your opinion in the comment section below!

This post may contain affiliate links. We only consider affiliate relationships on products that we would absolutely recommend to friends and family.