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Medical Alert Systems Offer Mobility Outside The Home

Years ago, The Senior List wrote about the need for more medical alert devices to work outside the home.  Traditional medical alert systems worked (mostly) over traditional phone lines.  These systems tethered the user to the home or the yard (at best).

MobileHelp Duo medical alert system.
MobileHelp Duo.

Today, many folks are moving away from “land lines” and over to cellular networks for improved mobility inside and outside the home.  Recognizing a need for increased mobility, progressive medical alert system providers like SecuraTrac, Verizon Wireless and GreatCall are offering truly mobile solutions that offer more than landline-based systems.

The new must-have medical alert system features include GPS monitoring, hearty battery life, medication reminders, access to nursing staff, and more.  The Senior List has been following the medical alert system market for a number of years now, and we like where this is going (finally)!

Check out our product reviews of the currently available medical alert systems.  We've previewed the traditional products as well as the newer cell-based mobile systems.  There's room for everybody in this growing market. There's a place for both land-line based systems AND cellular based medical alert systems.  Competition in this space is welcome, and it will continue to drive manufacturers to innovate and get better.  This market will be a lot of fun to watch in the coming years…

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20 Comments

  1. I was wondering how far the Phillips lifeline works. My parent in their seventies and both fell last week. They go to the store. Would it work there?
    1. It varies Glenda. The monthly payment is usually between $20 – $50 depending on the type of services needed.

  2. Philips Lifeline has been very courteous, easy setup, and dependable. It reaches about 500 feet from her mobile home and the mobile homes don’t interfere with the service, as they did with my cell phone. It was $45 per month. Looking for something that will allow for her better (Yeah!) mobility now.
  3. It is the home based senior medical alarm system I heard mostly about. This sounds interesting and helpful too. We can’t resist our seniors going for a walk or to catch some fresh air. But at the same time, taking care about their health is also important. Mobile alert systems are surely a gem to try on.
  4. To Tim “the Tech Man”: I am trying to get something for a medical alert system for a 90 year old man (who thinks he is still 60) who lives out in the hills, big canyons and with fields carved out of the flat land for grazing. He and his home is totally off the “grid”. He depends on solar panels for electricity and gets his own water from a well and pumps it to tanks up on a distant hill. The nearest town of about 1000 population, some schools, a post office and a small store and the “burger barn” is about 15 minutes from his ranch. The hospital and his doctors are 2 1/2 hours drive from the ranch. Even though the ambulance and fire truck can get to one side of the canyon, he and his wife had to be taken to the hospital via helicopter. He does have cell phone service (Verzion) and TV via satellite. The problem is he forgets his cell phone when goes out to fix fences or to change the water systems for the cattle. He says he does not want to wear the cell phone in his “belt holder” because he might LOSE it. I have been his friend since his wife died and his nurse also. I live in Vermont and call 3-5 times a day to keep him in touch with the world. His son who lives in Moorpark, CA calls each evening. I’m looking for some advice for a medical alert system attached to a satellite system in which he could let someone know he broke a leg or arm out fixing the fences or changing the water system. The sheriff does come up to the ranch one in a while, and he is the person who would be alerted to get some medical help. Tim, I need to know what system would work out there in the hills.
    1. Hi Janet! Wow sounds like you’re facing a dilemma that many face when it comes to medical alert systems. The user needs it… but may forget to take it with them (or use it all together)! Sounds like your friend needs to look into one of the mobile or cellular based medical alert systems. Most of these systems do offer a lanyard so users can wear them around the neck if necessary (this could pose its own safety risk for your friend however). I’d recommend one of these units (like the GreatCall 5Star medical alert system). This type of a unit would fit very conspicuously in his pocket (belt loop, or neck via lanyard). He would just need friends and family to remind him to take it with him on these trips around the ranch. There certainly is an implied amount of user-responsibility when ever these things are placed into service. If users don’t carry them, OR press the call button when they may need assistance, they’re no good to anyone!
  5. I’m looking for the best (and least expensive) way to track a parent with dementia who occasionally wanders. I have seen some GPS devices for children but I’m wondering if a cellphone with GPS tracking would provide the same results for less. Any suggestions?
    1. Hi Meg – This is a big issue. See this article on dementia patients and wandering. It’s a tough one because in order to track your loved one, they’ll need to be wearing a traceable GPS enabled device. ALSO that device will need to be easily accessed via website or app. Many of the mobile medical alert systems have sites that allow you to track your loved one (like the 5Star from GreatCall or the eCare + Voice medical alert system. The bigger frustration will be getting friends/family members to carry these devices with them in the first place. The 5Star device is the least costly that we’ve seen (if that helps at all). Best, Tim
      1. I have had Great Call for about a year–service is great–device is junk. Mine just broke for the second time–had to pay for replacement even thought it was within warranty. Make sure the service is compatible with the area where you live
  6. I am looking for a medical alert that works with GPS and a cell phone. I have a landline as second phone but do not use it. It is for emergency in home only. I have looked at ATD and Life Alert. Any suggestions are appreciated! Thanks, Sue
    1. Hi Sue! Great question. We highlighted mobile cellular based medical alert systems in a recent post. One of the least expensive is the 5Star from GreatCall, but there a number of quality cell based alert systems out there. Good luck! Tim
  7. Hi there! Any products out there yet that offering cellular mobility that are waterproof AND have fall detection? Thanks!
    1. Hi Torrey- There are a few providers out there with fall detection, but the waterproof feature has been difficult for them. The only one we’re aware of that is cellular based AND boasts of being “waterproof” is not on the market yet. It’s the new myHalo fall detection pendant from MobileHelp. Click through to find a link to the myHalo spec sheet. Hope that helps-

      If anyone else has advice or info please feel free to share!

      1. Until the waterproof issue is solved, here is one suggestion/idea which is waterproof and will keep the alert devices completely safe. Most boating stores sell “waterproof pockets/dry bags”…..which usually come with a lanyard.
    1. Hi Mary Ann! We did a comprehensive review of the GreatCall 5Star device. And we also provided a review of the MobileHelp device (quite some time ago). We understand there have been some changes over at MobileHelp, so they are certainly worth a more recent look. I’ll ask our writers to dig in…

      Do you have any experiences to add? We love to get feedback on boomer/senior related products from our readers. It really is valuable to hear what others have to say. It also provides a feedback mechanism for the manufacturers. Many of them are quite good, but always looking for ways to get better!

    2. I hav had 5 star many years s, have never needed it, but accidentally triggered it a few times, and it is still my choice system by far.
  8. Completely agree that GPS based systems open a whole new door for folks who are still active, work or travel. We spend a lot of time educating folks on the difference between a mobile emergency response system and a cell phone. There are certainly overlaps, but the real difference is in the dedicated monitoring center that can convey WHO you are, special medical information, and contact your list in the event of an emergency. We have a full run down article on this on our site.

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