When it comes to a medical alert system, I don’t want to take any chances, which is one of the reasons why I’m interested in Medical Alert. Connect America, which owns Medical Alert, has been in business for over 35 years and are actually the largest independent provider of medical alert systems in the United States.
Medical alert systems allow seniors to live independent lives while still retaining their physical safety by staying connected to emergency personnel at all times. That’s especially important if you live in the U.S. like me, where seniors are more likely to live alone than in any other country on the planet. Let’s see if Medical Alert has what it takes to keep seniors safe and sound while still allowing for their regular activities.
New to medical alert systems?: Then take a look at my medical alert system guide to learn about all things related to this life-saving technology.
Medical Alert — Pros and Cons
Let’s cut to the chase. After ordering, setting up, and thoroughly testing Medical Alert, here are my key takeaways:
Medical Alert Pros
Cellular and landline options: You don’t need a landline to use Medical Alert; if you don’t have one, you can rely on AT&T’s cellular network, even if it isn’t your cellular provider.
Fall detection: For $10 a month, I could add fall detection to any of my systems, both in-home and on the go.
Waterproof devices: With Medical Alert’s waterproof pendants, I was able to stay protected in the shower and bathroom without fear of breaking my system.
Medical Alert Cons
Dated website: Connect America’s website lacked a lot of basic information like pricing, which forced me to email them and call their customer support. However, the Medical Alert website had some additional information available.
No online help center: My only options for getting help were calling or emailing; Medical Alert’s site lacked user guides, FAQs, and user forums of any kind. This made it difficult to troubleshoot problems that came up with my installation.
Buying process: I wasn’t happy with my experience purchasing the Medical Alert system, which included speaking to pushy salespeople who weren’t very straightforward about their pricing.
Did You Know:Falls in the bathroom are twice as likely to result in injury as opposed to falls in the living room, making waterproof pendants or wall buttons a necessity.
Medical Alert — Systems Overview
Medical Alert divides its medical alert systems into two main categories: at home, for seniors who spend most of their time in their houses; and on the go, which is ideal for more active seniors that spend significant time outside of their homes.
Landline system: For those of us who still have landlines in our homes, this system is for you. It includes a base unit plus a wrist and necklace pendant, both of which are waterproof. I also recommend fall detection as an option since one in three people 65 or older fall each year. Although the base unit is plugged in, if the power goes out, it will stay on for a bit, as it comes with a backup battery.
Cellular system: If you’re like the majority of Americans who’ve done away with their landlines, the cellular at-home system is for you. It works on AT&T’s wireless network and includes a base unit plus a wrist or necklace button, both of which are waterproof. Of course, you can add fall detection, and like the landline system’s base unit, the cellular system also has a backup battery.
Mobile: More active seniors will appreciate the mobile package, which consists of a necklace pendant and its charger. Like the at-home systems, it has optional fall detection, a two-way speaker, plus a waterproof design. The pendant lasts up to five days from a single charge and even comes with GPS so the emergency personnel can easily locate the individual.
Mobile LTE: The LTE package is the exact same as the Mobile package, except it adds on a watch and necklace pendant and is compatible with someone who has a pacemaker or defibrillator.
On-The-Go Lite: Strangely, this system isn’t on Connect America’s website, but a saleswoman told me about it over the phone. It is on the Medical Alert website though. She explained to me that if I wanted a smaller, more lightweight pendant that I could use anywhere, the Lite would be a good choice for me. Its only disadvantage is that its battery life is two days compared to five days of the other mobile systems.
Pro Tip: Unfortunately, you can’t use the Mobile system if you have a pacemaker or a defibrillator; instead, opt for the Mobile LTE system.
Medical Alert Features
Cellular or Landline
Average Response Time
$10 per month
Note: You’ll need to buy a separate fall detection pendant from Medical Alert, but it’ll work with any of their systems.
Using My Medical Alert Systems
As mentioned, purchasing my Medical Alert wasn’t an easy process. Once I chose their Mobile LTE package listed on the Connect America website, I had to actually call the company to place an order. Since there were no prices listed on the Connect America site (which was a bit annoying), it took about 20 minutes on the phone before I was able to get basic pricing information. Even so, the representative had no knowledge of MedReady, their medication reminder device. I was also put on hold at least three times, so by the end of the call, I couldn’t wait to get off the phone. About a week later, my box arrived in the mail.
When I opened it up, I found:
1 in-home base unit
1 pendant help button
1 wristband help button
1 power cable
1 instruction manual
Luckily, my Medical Alert setup was not too complicated. I simply plugged my base unit into the wall, waited a few moments, and then placed a test call. After this, a response agent confirmed my information, and I was ready to start testing.
To start testing my system, I walked around my house and made some help calls using my help buttons. I was impressed by the system’s large range of 800 feet, and happily, each time I pressed the button in any room of my house, I was connected with an agent at Medical Alert’s monitoring center. I will say, however, that since the in-home system relies on the base station’s speakerphone, it can’t exactly protect you in the yard, as it’s unlikely you’ll be able to communicate with the phone from so far away.
I also tested the fall detection pendant by dropping it off my staircase. Even without pushing the button, it still contacted Medical Alert’s monitoring center just fine. On the rare occasions that my fall detection pendant triggered a false alarm, canceling the call was as simple as pressing the pendant’s button.
Overall, I was pleased with the performance of my Medical Alert system. With an average time of 24 seconds until my calls were fielded, this system definitely wasn’t the speediest; however, the agents were always patient and courteous with me, which can really come in handy in the event of a medical emergency.
Medical Alert — Pricing
Since there are actually no prices whatsoever listed on the Connect America website, I had to email, then call, then wait for a callback which never came –– then call again! Fortunately for you, I’ve collected all the information straight from the source, namely the saleswoman I spoke to on the phone who explained everything.
The Medical Alert’s at-home landline system I purchased cost $22.95 per month, plus an extra $10 per month for the fall detection pendant. The at-home cellular system costs $32.95 per month, and their mobile system costs $37.95 per month.
Note that I could choose between paying monthly, quarterly, semiannually, or annually, although there were no discounts on the monthly rates if I signed up for a longer time period. However, if I went with the annual package, I would get some nice add-ons, like a free protection plan (normally $5 a month) as well as free shipping, which would’ve cost me $14.99, and even a free lockbox. Plus, if I paid annually, I would get one month free.
Unfortunately, I found Medical Alert’s customer support to be completely underwhelming. The Medical Alert website had some decent information available, but the Connect America site did not. When I had a question about their monthly pricing, I only had three options: either fill out a form on their website, call them, or email them. Feeling anti-social, I decided to email them and quickly received a response to call them. When I called, I was told the person who emailed me was busy. I left my phone number but never received a callback, which was a bit frustrating. I really wish Medical Alert had an online help center with FAQs, setup guides, and user forums, as many of their competitors do. In all, the Connect America website is more than a little lacking.
Final Thoughts on Medical Alert
Despite Medical Alert’s obvious drawbacks, I would still recommend it overall as a medical alert system. My main reason? Their systems work well. Although ordering from them was a bit of a hassle, I had little to complain about with its actual function.
I’d recommend Medical Alert if you’re looking for:
In-home or on-the-go protection: With options designed to protect you both in and outside of your home, Medical Alert has got you covered just about anywhere, including the shower.
Landline-based devices: If you or your loved one has an existing landline connection, you can get a Medical Alert system for as low as $20 per month.
Long mobile battery life: With a battery life that lasts nearly five days on a single charge, Connect America has one of the longest-lasting mobile medical alert systems.
I wouldn’t recommend Medical Alert if you want:
Dedicated customer service: The customer care team at Medical Alert wasn’t the most helpful I’ve encountered. If you’re looking for a dedicated team of people who can offer detailed advice on using their systems, then I’d recommend checking out Medical Guardian.
All-in-one mobile devices: The mobile system from Medical Alert requires an additional help button, not to mention an additional button for fall detection. If you’d prefer not to carry around so many devices, then I’d recommend looking at the Lively Mobile Plus from GreatCall.
Yes, Medical Alert’s medical pendants are completely waterproof.
Amie has been writing about senior care products and services for the last decade. She is particularly passionate about new technologies that help improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. Seeing her parents and grandparents age made Amie ask herself, “Would this be good enough for my loved ones?” In her spare time, Amie enjoys outdoor adventures and spontaneous road trips. Learn more about Amie here