Fall detection is an important feature of any medical alert system. If you can't press your help button after a fall or during a medical emergency, automatic fall detection ensures that help still arrives.
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Simply put, fall detection refers to any type of technology that detects when a person falls and calls for help. In some cases, fall detection is a feature of wearable devices like smartwatches; however, more commonly, it is used by medical alert systems.
Ever since Life Alert’s commercials featured the famous line “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up,” medical alert systems have been associated with getting seniors help in the wake of a fall. And while Life Alert systems (ironically) are among the few that don’t support fall detection, the companies on this list have reliable fall detection that can protect your loved ones.
In this rundown of the best fall detection devices for seniors, we’ll take a closer look at six medical alert systems that provide the best fall detection. We’ve tested fall detection devices from more than 20 companies, and we’ve narrowed them down to six options that we’d trust to protect our loved ones.
Through a combination of accelerometers, sensors, and algorithms, a fall detection device senses when a person falls down. In many cases, fall detection utilizes the same accelerometer technology that allows your smartphone to adjust the screen when you rotate the phone.
Once a device detects a fall, it automatically sends a signal to an urgent response call center, so even if a person is unable to press a help button, help will still be contacted.
Hours of research
Hours of product testing
To choose the best fall detection devices, we tested two dozen devices from a variety of companies and evaluated them on the following criteria:
Fall detection accuracy: For each fall detection device, we ran a series of 20 simulated falls for each device and checked for accurate reporting.
Response time: The most accurate fall detection is worthless if a monitoring center can’t quickly answer the resulting call. This is why we timed how long it took each device to connect us to help.
Pricing: Fall detection typically costs an extra $10 per month, so we looked for providers that charge no more. Several charge less or even include fall detection in their basic subscription packages.
All-in-one device: Some companies build fall detection into their help button, while others require a separate button specifically for fall detection. Neither of these solutions is necessarily better than the other, but you’ll have to decide if you want the extra devices.
No long-term contract: I take a stand against long-term contracts, and we recommend checking the terms and conditions for canceling your service before signing up for any service. The providers listed here don’t require lengthy agreements that have cancellation fees.
Comfortable help button: If you don’t feel comfortable wearing your medical alert, you’re more likely not to wear it. As a result, this removes a key source of immediate help, so we looked for better devices that are lightweight and unobtrusive.
Water resistance: The bathroom is a prime area for slips and falls, so we made sure all these fall detection buttons have some level of water resistance.
Fall Detection Device Comparison
Falls detected (Out of 20)
Average response time
Starting cost (per month)
Fall detection cost (per month)
Bay Alarm Medical
Aloe Care Health
Best Medical Alert Systems with Fall Detection
1. Bay Alarm Medical - Most Accurate Fall Detection
Bay Alarm Medical alert systems are among our favorites overall, and the company’s fall detection performed exceptionally well in our tests. It was the only fall detection pendant not to trigger a false alarm when crouching or after dropping the device.
In our total of 20 test falls, our Bay Alarm Medical system detected 19 of them, making it the most accurate device we tried.
All four of Bay Alarm Medical’s systems support fall detection. Its SOS Home system and the SOS All-in-One require an additional pendant. For integrated fall detection, both the SOS Mobile and SOS Smartwatch have fall detection built into the devices themselves. Across the board, we found that each of these systems performed exceptionally well, with only one test fall going undetected.
I particularly appreciated the SOS Mobile system. Although it’s only 2.7 inches by 1.3 inches, this device packs a speakerphone, a help button, and fall detection — no extra device required. It’s also rated IP67 in terms of water-resistance, and when we brought the device into the shower, it connected us to help with no hiccups.
With fall detection this accurate, Bay Alarm Medical has few cons; however, we should note that none of its systems include fall detection. No matter which system you choose, fall detection will cost an additional $10 per month.
Even the SOS Mobile and SOS Smartwatch, which have built-in fall detection, require an additional $10 per month to activate the feature. If you’re looking for fall detection that’s cheaper or even free, then we’d recommend either the Kanega Watch or LifeFone.
Bay Alarm Medical has some of our favorite medical alert systems, and every one of them is compatible with fall detection. While this service does cost an additional $10 per month (regardless of the system you choose), we found no other company that had fall detection as reliable as Bay Alarm Medical.
Medical Guardian features one of the widest selections of at-home and mobile alert systems. No matter your needs, there is a Medical Guardian option to suit them. Best of all, its systems also support highly accurate fall detection.
Across all devices, Medical Guardian’s fall detection accurately detected 18 out of our 20 test falls.
The majority of Medical Guardian’s systems support fall detection, and this feature costs an additional $10 per month.
Both home systems, Home 2.0 and Classic Guardian, require an additional pendant to use fall detection, as does the Mobile 2.0 system. The MGMini and MGMini Lite have fall detection built in; meaning there was no additional pendant required to use the feature. That said, we still had to pay an additional $5 per month to use the feature.
In particular, we were most impressed by the MGMini. This device is incredibly small, roughly half the size of a deck of cards, and it had a speakerphone, a help button, a GPS, and fall detection. It is also water-resistant, and when we brought this system into the shower, it could still accurately detect our falls and call for help.
While Medical Guardian’s fall detection was accurate, one of its mobile systems, the Mobile 2.0, requires an additional pendant to activate the feature. This meant that we had to wear two pendants at once in order to have fall detection. It’s hard for us to imagine anyone wanting to do this, as it was somewhat uncomfortable.
Additionally, we were disappointed that the MGMove watch did not offer fall detection at all.
Reliable, durable, and capable of detecting the vast majority of falls, Medical Guardian is one of our favorite options for fall detection devices. While its systems are slightly more expensive than average, starting at $29.95 per month, their reliability justifies the price tag.
MobileHelp may charge $11 per month for fall detection (the highest charge on this list); however, this provider offers medical alert systems from $20 per month. Even with the slightly higher cost for fall detection, this makes it the most budget-friendly option on this list.
On top of this, MobileHelp’s fall detection devices detected 18 out of our 20 test falls, making them 90% accurate.
Fall detection is available on every MobileHelp system, including both its in-home and mobile options. Unfortunately, most MobileHelp systems require an additional pendant in order to take advantage of fall detection.
The one exception to this would be the MobileHelp Micro. Similar to the MGMini, this small device has a built-in GPS, speakerphone, and help button, as well as the option to activate its built-in fall detection. In our tests, this device performed particularly well, save for one false alarm.
The $11 fall detection charge aside, the biggest drawback to MobileHelp would have to be its lack of integrated fall detection. Unless you purchase the Micro system (which we’d highly recommend), you’ll have to wear an additional pendant in order to use fall detection.
With its combination of systems for both in and out of the home, MobileHelp has a device to suit just about any user. MobileHelp’s devices start at $19.95 per month, making these among the most affordable we’ve tested.
Every single LifeFone system supports fall detection. Its home systems require an additional pendant for fall detection, while the mobile systems all have fall detection built in. Even its medical alert watch, the Safe Watch, has built-in fall detection. In our tests, we were particularly impressed by this device, which could also track my heart rate.
We’d also recommend LifeFone’s VIP X. This incredibly small device detected a majority of our test falls, and it was light enough to comfortably wear all day. Its rechargeable battery also lasted five days on a single charge.
With LifeFone, there aren’t many negatives. Its devices are fairly priced, and they work as advertised. The one downside would have to be their response times, which, while respectable, are not the fastest on this list. While LifeFone agents answered our test calls in an average of 25 seconds, this is not quite as fast as systems from Medical Guardian or Bay Alarm Medical.
LifeFone provides reliable, high-quality equipment with lots of options, good customer service, and competitive pricing. Whatever you need from your fall detection medical alert system, LifeFone has a system for you.
5. UnaliWear Kanega Watch - Best Smartwatch Fall Detection
3.8 / 5
What We Like Most:
Long-lasting battery life
Voice-activated emergency calls
Accurate fall detection
A newcomer in the world of medical alert systems, UnaliWear has recently gained popularity for its medical alert watch, the Kanega Watch. Unlike most medical alert watches, the Kanega Watch has built-in fall detection, and it also has a unique battery, which allowed us to charge it without having to remove it.
On top of all this, in our 20 test falls with the Kanega Watch, it detected 15 of them, beating out many other smartwatches’ fall detection capabilities.
Fall detection is built into the Kanega Watch, and unlike other companies on this list, UnaliWear does not charge an extra fee to use fall detection. That said, the Kanega Watch does cost nearly $70 per month.
Price would have to be the biggest drawback of the Kanega Watch. This device costs a one-time $299, followed by a monthly charge of $69.95 per month. Yes, we could have gotten reduced rates if we paid for an annual subscription, but we did not want to pay $918 up front.
While the cost is higher than any other fall detection device on this list, the Kanega Watch works well. If budget is not much of a concern, then we’d recommend this device.
Aloe Care Health devices take a different approach to fall detection. In addition to its Mobile Companion, which features built-in fall detection, the company offers a fall detection button that can be mounted to your bathroom wall. By digitally mapping your bathroom’s layout, it can accurately detect when you fall. The system can also use voice commands in the event of a false alarm.
While this does mean that their fall detection is available only in the chosen room, in our experience it worked accurately, catching 16 of 20 simulated falls.
For its in-home systems, Aloe Care Health utilizes a unique wall-mounted fall detection system. Both of its mobile systems, however, have built-in fall detection. Regardless of the system you choose, fall detection comes at no extra cost.
Every Aloe Care Health system requires an upfront charge for equipment. These range from $99 to $249.
With its multipronged approach to fall detection, Aloe Care Health offers reliable fall safety both in the home and on the go. This, combined with its handy voice commands, makes the company one of the best options for fall detection.
One concern we hear frequently regarding fall detection is that the pendants can send out false alarms.
Full transparency: This is a genuine issue. No fall detection system is perfect, and from time to time, the sensors may mistake an ordinary movement — such as bending forward or getting into bed — for a fall and send out an alarm. If it happens, however, you can simply press the button on your base station or pendant to contact the call center and let the agent know there’s no problem.
On the flip side, most systems are set not to send out an alarm if they detect movement after a fall. This is to prevent false signals. The system assumes if you can move, then you can press your alarm. It’s a good idea to press your help button after a fall to make sure help is coming.
Fall detection systems aren’t perfect, but we firmly believe they are worth the investment — especially for older adults who are particularly at risk of falls, such as people with balance issues, unsteadiness on their feet, or a history of falls.
It’s far better to risk the occasional false alarm than be left without a way to get help after a fall. Medical alert companies are well aware of the potential for false alarms, so they’re prepared for them when they do happen.
Fitbits do not currently have a fall detection feature.
Ryan has years of experience researching and testing products that help people successfully age in place. After years of working for various publications such as Boston Magazine and The Believer, he has found his home at The Senior List, writing about all things related to caregiving and senior healthcare.