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My name is Amie Clark, and I have 20 years of experience in various senior care roles in skilled nursing facilities in Oregon, and later, as a Senior Housing Advisor I helped seniors and their families find the best housing and care options.
In this role, I helped a client who was at risk of a fall-related injury by recommending a medical alert system. From there I began hand-testing medical alert systems and writing reviews about them. Over the past 10 years as Editor of TheSeniorList, my writing has helped over 800,000 seniors and their families choose the right medical alert system.
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Medical alert systems, also known as personal emergency response systems (PERS), offer a quick and simple way for people to remain safe in their homes. For older adults who want to age in place, a medical alert system can help them live by themselves without sacrificing their safety. All types of emergencies—falls, fires, or anything that requires a quick response—can be addressed with the click of a button.
Allow me to explain.
Medical Alert Systems are life-saving devices that connect a user with help when a button is pressed, or in some cases, when a fall is detected. There are a large number of medical alert companies in the U.S., and they can vary widely in terms of equipment quality and services offered. With seemingly endless options to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to start. Rest assured, you’re in good hands. Our team of experts leaves no stone unturned when testing and reviewing medical alert systems.
When it came to evaluating each medical alert system, I had my work cut out for me. Not only are there so many different devices available on the market, but each of them also possesses its own unique array of functions. Still, there are some traits that are indispensable in a solid medical alert system, regardless of the type.
Here is what I looked for.
Without further ado, here is my list of the best medical alert systems currently on the market!
Here is an overview of each system, its pricing, and some other vital features.
|1||$21.95||$10/mo||1000ft||AT&T 4G LTE|
|9||$$189 one-time charge||N/A||N/A||AT&T|
|13||$16.95||$11/mo||600ft||AT&T / T-Mobile|
*Cellular units don’t require additional service plans. This cost is included with your subscription to the medical alert company.
Since 1946, Bay Alarm Medical has brought medical alert systems to homes throughout the country. Despite all this time, they’re still family-owned and operated, allowing them to provide care that is both personalized and attentive.
Bay Alarm Medical offers a traditional in-home medical alert system, in addition to a GPS-enabled mobile unit and an in-car system, the first of its kind. This system, I observed, would also be great for young drivers, as it allows you to track its location and set notifications when the device leaves a certain boundary.
They also allow you to save by bundling their in-home system with one of their on-the-go options. Some of their systems can also be used with their Caregiver Tracking app, which allows you to track the user’s location, in addition to sending you notifications when the system’s battery is low.
All of these features come at a shockingly low cost. Bay Alarm Medical’s in-home systems start at a mere $21.95 per month, not to mention that they also waive activation, installation, and equipment fees.
What separates Medical Guardian from other medical alert providers is their fierce commitment to protecting their customers. The company has even been recognized as one of the top places to work in the country, and happy employees leads to happy customers.
In terms of devices, Medical Guardian offers an in-home traditional medical alert system, an in-home cellular option, two mobile devices with GPS capability, and a smartwatch, all of which can be paired with their fall detection technology. What’s more, their systems are both intuitive and simple to use. I was able to get mine up and running in a matter of minutes. Medical Guardian promises a “life without limits,” a lofty goal that is certainly met.
This range of service features helps put them at the top of my list, as there is a Medical Guardian system to suit any set of needs. If Medical Guardian seems right for you, then check out my full review to learn more.
Widely known for their home security systems, ADT also offers medical alert systems that can keep users safe both in and outside their homes. While you won’t find much in terms of groundbreaking new technology here, ADT’s systems deliver an exceptional performance with durable equipment and speedy emergency response times.
Currently, ADT offers a traditional in-home system, which can connect through either a landline or a cellular signal. They also have a mobile system that features a built-in GPS. Both of these systems can work with the addition of fall detection.
ADT plans start at $29.99 per month, making them about average in terms of cost. Luckily, they have no additional activation fees, and since their equipment is leased (rather than purchased), you won’t have to worry about repairs or warranties. For more info on ADT’s medical alert systems, check out my full review of ADT.
A relative newcomer in the world of medical alert systems, Aloe Care Health shakes up the PERS formula with its smart hub. Much like a traditional medical alert base station, the smart hub serves as your speaker and microphone, allowing you to communicate with emergency responders. Where it differs is in its voice command features, allowing you place calls and ask questions with solely the sound of your voice.
Aloe Care comes in two packages: Essentials and Total Health, which cost $29.99 and $39.99 per month, respectively. The main difference in these packages is that the latter can support automatic fall detection and the addition of motion sensors, which can be placed around your house for augmented activity monitoring.
Another unique aspect of Aloe Care’s system is its fall detection device. Unlike traditional fall detection, which utilizes additional help buttons, Aloe Care’s fall detection device is designed to detect motion from afar. When placed in your bathroom, it can create a virtual map, allowing it to sense a fall and trigger an appropriate response.
Aloe Care requires you to purchase your equipment upfront, rather than rent it. This will lead to higher startup costs ($149.99 for the Essentials and $249.99 for Total Care); however, on the plus side, you will own your equipment and won’t have to return it to the manufacturer when done with it.
With its entire workforce based in the United States, LifeFone is able to offer an unparalleled level of service to its customers. They also offer bundles of their systems, such as the At-Home and On-The-Go GPS combo, which is perfect for spouses or roommates.
In total, LifeFone offers four different alert systems: in-home (both landline and cellular options), a bundled at-home and on-the-go system (perfect for couples), and a bundle of two mobile units (perfect for active couples). All of these systems also have available the option of fall detection. While LifeFone certainly offers options suited for couples, their solid equipment and locked-in pricing make them a great fit for just about anyone.
In terms of pricing, LifeFone’s systems start at $29.95 per month, but don’t let that number fool you. Their fall detection costs only $5 per month, lower than anyone else in the industry. Additionally, their bundled systems offer savings to those of us looking to add additional users. All of this makes LifeFone a deceptively affordable option. Check out my full review to learn about all things LifeFone.
Sold by HandsFree Health, WellBe’s Medical Alert Plus is a unique medical alert system that combines a virtual assistant with a wellness-tracking smartwatch. The end result is an advanced way for anyone to stay safe and connected, both in and out of their home.
From tracking medications, to making emergency calls, to even reading you audiobooks, WellBe’s Medical Alert Plus has an impressive featureset. What’s more, through the use of the WellBe Virtual Assistant app, loved ones can keep track of a user’s medical information and even set reminders for various tasks or appointments.
The WellBe watch and smart speaker can be purchased as a pair or separately. Check out my WellBe Pricing page to learn more about the features and pricing of this system.
For over 40 years, LifeStation has played an instrumental role in protecting senior citizens. Designed by industry veterans, LifeStation systems are designed with older adults in mind, and the end result is three systems that provide ideal ways for folks to age in place.
Currently, they offer a traditional in-home landline system, a cellular in-home system, and a mobile system with GPS capabilities. Starting at $19.95 per month, these systems are quite the steal, and their fall detection only costs an additional $7 per month. Despite the low price, LifeStation sacrifices nothing when it comes to quality of care.
Each LifeStation monitoring agent is a CSAA-Certified Care Specialist, meaning with each call I made with my system, I was in the hands of trained professionals. These men and women will respond quickly and effectively, either by arranging emergency services or contacting a loved one designated in your personalized care plan. For those who want a no-frills medical alert device that performs well beyond its price range, look no further than LifeStation. Check out my LifeStation review, which goes into greater detail.
In my years as a caregiver, ResponseNow has always been a favorite among colleagues. It’s not hard to see why. Their reliable in-home system and innovative Belle and Belle+ cellular systems ensure that they have the right solution for any older adult looking to maintain their independence.
ResponseNow is so sure of their systems that they’ll allow you to try them out for thirty days with no strings attached. After this period, their systems start at $29.95 per month, putting them towards the higher end of pricing. Still, their solid customer service justifies the cost of entry.
Rather than offering a single, stock package with superfluous (and expensive) add-on services, ResponseNow keeps it honest. Their range of options makes it possible to personalize the amount of care and monitoring your loved one receives. And with ResponseNow’s monitoring centers being some of the best rated by the Better Business Bureau, you can trust that behind ResponseNow’s equipment is a dedicated team of professionals.
You can learn more about this reputation in my ResponseNow Review.
Developed by MIT scientists, QMedic combines the simple functionality of a medical alert system with an advanced array of proactive measures such as wellness calls and activity monitoring. Using their own proprietary equipment, QMedic gives caregivers peace of mind when it comes to keeping tabs on their loved ones. Their systems are a great choice for users who are frail, blind, or disabled.
In terms of systems, QMedic offers two in-home options, landline or cellular, in addition to a mobile unit that uses AT&T’s cellular network to connect to one of their two monitoring centers, located in Utah and Idaho. These centers are fully redundant, meaning that in the event of a power outage at one, the other would be able to fully assume its responsibilities.
Starting at $30 per month, QMedic systems are not the most affordable; however, their service plans are not tiered. All of their innovative caregiver features are included in this price. For more info on QMedic and their pricing, check out my full review.
Alert1 has been providing medical alert services since 1988, and today they serve customers in all 50 states. All staff is U.S. based, and support is provided in 190 different languages. Alert1 has no long-term contracts and has agreed to zero termination fees for The Senior List customers. Serving all 50 states, Alert1 offers simple yet effective medical alert systems that can suit any budget. See the full equipment lineup in my Alert1 Review.
Although they require no long term contracts, they offer discounts for users who pay annually and quarterly as opposed to monthly. Alert1 is also a good fit for couples who each need their own help buttons. Every one of their medical alert packages has the option to upgrade with a discount for the second user.
Presently, Alert1 does not offer anything in the way of a caregiver app; however, what they do provide is stellar monitoring at a price that doesn’t break the bank.
If you’ve ever seen a commercial for Life Alert, then I’d wager you understand to some degree the function of a medical alert system. In the event of an emergency, a system such as this can connect you with a monitoring center, one staffed with trained professionals who will talk you through your situation and coordinate an appropriate response, whether through sending an ambulance or even contacting a neighbor.
With that said, there are many different types of medical alert systems. Some use a landline connection while others operate on cellular service. Some systems are designed to protect you at home, and others can be brought along while travelling. Nowadays, there are even some devices with proprietary smartphone apps that bring caregiving into the modern age.
At their core, all medical alert systems have a similar function. When triggered, a medical alert system will quickly connect you to a monitoring center, whose personnel will assess your situation and, if necessary, contact emergency services.
Naturally, there are several different types of medical alert systems used both in and outside the home. Here is an overview of the categories.
Both types of in-home systems include a base station with a two-way speaker. This is what is used to communicate with monitoring personnel, and it’s activated through pressing a small help button worn around either the neck or wrist.
Remember to consider the range of the base station and help button, as not all systems are created equal in this regard. Currently, the best in-home systems have a range of up to 1,300 feet, which is enough to cover most sizes of homes. Generally, I recommend systems with a range large enough to cover an outdoor area of your home, as many falls occur outside.
Mobile or on-the-go medical alert systems are ideal for people who want access to help even while outside their home. Using a cellular connection, these alert systems feature a two-way speaker and a help button, giving you the same protection of an in-home system but in a portable package.
Some mobile medical alerts are even GPS enabled. This helpful feature allows monitoring staff and even loved ones to locate a user while their device is turned on. This feature is important as some users may be unable to verbalize their location if they are hurt, confused, or otherwise experiencing an emergency.
The medic alert smartwatch is a recent addition to the industry. Geared towards both men and women, these modern devices provide safety in a sleek and discrete package. These systems work independently of a cell phone (with no additional cellular fees), and they look like a typical wristwatch. Not only are they stylish, life-saving devices, but they also operate as a functional watch, activity tracker, and messenger. My favorite medical alert smartwatches can even be set up to provide medication reminders and location data.
Medical alert systems function as a direct line of contact between the user and a monitoring center. I know what you’re thinking: What’s a monitoring center? Put simply, monitoring centers are contracted by medical alert companies to provide 24/7 care to customers. They do so by receiving distress calls, assessing the situation (emergency or otherwise), and then contacting an appropriate response measure, whether this be medical services or a neighbor who can check in on their friend.
These monitoring centers are not your average call center either. Not only are they staffed well enough to field calls in a matter of seconds, but their specialists often receive extensive training to ensure a high degree of care.
If you’re interested in purchasing a medical alert system, here are some questions you should consider.
Generally speaking, medical alert systems can be broken down into these two categories, systems for use in the home and systems for use outside of it. Both types provide the same functionality; however, each of them suits a different lifestyle.
In-Home Systems connect through either a landline or cellular connection. When you press your help button (generally worn as either a wristband or pendant), you’ll be connected to the monitoring center via the base station, which has both a speaker and microphone for easy communication. This type of system is best suited for those who spend most of their time indoors, although some systems have a large enough connectivity range to cover parts of your yard.
On-The-Go Systems connect through cellular service, allowing you to travel just about anywhere with adequate service. Most often worn as a pendant, though some companies offer wristbands or smartwatch designs, these systems provide the same security and peace of mind as the in-home models but with a greater range of freedom. Generally speaking, these systems come with a higher price tag.
Each of the systems mentioned here come with some form of 24/7 professional monitoring; however, some of them offer additional features suited to individual needs.
With caregiver apps and platforms, loved ones and caregivers can keep tabs on the user, tracking their location, monitoring their activity, and even checking to make sure they are wearing their device.
Many medical alert providers also offer personalized response plans. With these, a call to the monitoring center can also trigger alerts to neighbors or loved ones. Although a monitoring agent can certainly contact emergency services, not every help call requires such drastic action, so I always appreciate these individualized sorts of responses.
Most medical alert systems offer automatic fall detection, and it will cost anywhere from $5-$15 extra per month. Although it might be tempting to save money by omitting this feature, I think it’s essential and could even save your life.
With falls being a leading cause of injury to older adults, it’s critical to have the proper ways of addressing this problem. Oftentimes, fall can leave a person unable to reach for help, and that’s where fall detection comes in.
Through sophisticated accelerometer technology, automatic fall detection pendants can detect a fall and automatically place a call to monitoring personnel without the user having to press the button. Keep in mind, this technology is not 100% accurate, and false alerts may occur. However, in the event that a loved one falls (or has a medical emergency) and is unable to press the button on their safety device, there is comfort in knowing that help can still be reached.
As a lifelong caregiver to older adults, I take great pride in helping people navigate the often-complicated world of medical alert systems. Everyone deserves independence, regardless of age, and a reliable medical alert system is the perfect tool to help you do so.
If you made it this far in the article, you can tell there is a lot to know about these types of systems. But have no fear! I’m here to do the leg work, testing out the latest and greatest in caregiver technology, making it that much easier for you to remain assured that your loved ones are aging gracefully.
While a medical alert system may not solve all of the challenges of remaining at home for older adults, it can certainly help. In conjunction with other devices such as walk-in tubs, a medical alert system can play a key role in helping your loved one age in place.
All medical alert systems have monthly fees. Most often these payments include the cost of leasing equipment in addition to monitoring. Luckily, this means that startup costs are traditionally low, despite the advanced nature of this technology.
It can be frustrating to spend the time, energy, and money on a safety device for your loved one, only to find out they aren’t even wearing it! First, find out what their reason is for not wearing it. Is it uncomfortable? Are they embarrassed? Are they simply forgetting to put it on? If one device is uncomfortable, perhaps another device might be more accommodating. Many medical alert companies give users the option of wearing the button around their neck on a lanyard, or on the wrist with a wrist-watch type band. If they are embarrassed to be seen wearing the system, talk about discreet ways it can be worn under clothing. Or, perhaps your loved one would be more comfortable with a smartwatch medical alert system? If they don’t want to wear the button around the house, check with the alert company to see if they offer voice-activated wall buttons that can be placed in high-risk fall areas throughout the home.
If you choose any of the companies on this list, then you’ll never be locked into a long-term contract, although several of these companies offer discounts when you make annual or quarterly payments as opposed to monthly. If you go elsewhere, always read the fine print to make sure there’s no indication of being locked into a commitment of over one year.
In the event of an emergency, a cell phone can be difficult to navigate or may not be in close proximity to make a call. With an alert system, it only takes the simple push of a button to reach help.
Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover medical alert systems at this time. It is something that is frequently discussed in the industry, and many alert companies are advocating for the change. With that said, some health insurers do cover the systems for their members, so be sure to check with yours.