I’ve spent my career working with older adults and their caregivers, and one of the questions I’m asked regularly is, “What do I need to prepare for older age?” It feels like there are so many devices and systems out there that older adults may need as they get older, like home security systems, automated medication dispensers, and medical alert systems to name a few.
In my opinion, medical alert devices are one of the most important pieces of equipment for older adults to acquire. But with so many out there, which medical device is the best for your needs?
Most medical devices offer similar options, so the decision tends to come down to features like contracts, costs, and personal preference. In this piece, I’m looking at the similarities and differences between MobileHelp and Bay Alarm, both affordable, contract-free medical device systems that give older adults access to emergency help 24 hours a day.
MobileHelp is one of the best medical alert systems that focuses on creating devices that work both in and out of the home. As the name implies, the company manufactures cellular, in-home medical systems that don’t require you to have a landline. This is a great feature, considering less than 40 percent of U.S. adults have a landline installed in their homes these days.
The company, which was founded in 2008, is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida. It’s an FDA-registered company known for affordable prices, no long-term contracts, and twenty-four-hour response centers. MobileHelp offers a variety of different models, depending on your needs. Let’s take a look at the company’s different options and who is best suited for each model:
|System||Monthly Starting Cost||Connection||For Use||Ideal For|
|MobileHelp Classic||$19.95||Mobile||At-home||This is best for older adults on a budget or who spend a lot of time at home.|
|MobileHelp Wired Home||$24.95||Landline||At Home||This is best for older adults who spend most of their time at home and have spotty cell reception.|
|MobileHelp Duo||$41.95||Mobile||At-home and on-the-go||This is best for older adults who want a portable system and are looking for spouse monitoring.|
|MobileHelp Solo||$37.95||Mobile||At-home and on-the-go||This is best for older adults who like to spend time both at home and out on the town.|
What We Love About MobileHelp
- Mobile connection: As the name implies, most MobileHelp systems are hooked up to a cellular connection. The only device that needs a landline is the MobileHelp Wired Home.
- Automatic Fall Detection: Falls are one of the most common emergencies older adults encounter. That’s why automatic fall detection is a non-negotiable feature when it comes to medical alert devices. Automatic fall detection technology alerts the response center when someone falls even if they can’t press the button on their device.
- Free Lockboxes: Lockboxes are beneficial for caregivers and emergency response personnel. It’s a way for older adults to securely lock up their house keys in a place where outsiders can have access to them. MobileHelp offers customers free lockboxes with any subscription.
- Monthly Contracts: MobileHelp customers can sign month-to-the-month contracts as opposed to long-term ones.
What We Don't Love About MobileHelp
- No Professional Installation: It’s always helpful to have the option for professional installation, but MobileHelp only has a do-it-yourself option, meaning the customer is responsible for setting up their MobileHelp medical device.
You Should Know: Automatic fall detection technology means the emergency call center will be notified when you fall even if you aren’t able to press the push button.
Bay Alarm Medical System Overview:
Bay Alarm Medical is one of the world leaders in medical alert systems. Founded in 1946, Bay Alarm is headquartered in Concord, California, and the company offers medical alert systems that are best for people who spend time both inside and outside the homes.
All Bay Alarm Medical Systems are powered by 4G LTE service, which is included in the subscription. The systems provide location tracking, automatic fall detection, caregiver access, and the company is known for its quick response times to emergencies.
Like MobileHelp, Bay Alarm offers a variety of systems. Here’s a glance at each system:
Bay Alarm Medical Systems
|System||Monthly Starting Cost||Connection||For Use||Ideal For|
|In The Home||$19.95||Landline or Cellular||At-home||This is best for those who spend most of their time at home.|
|GPS Button||$24.95 (plus $70 one-time equipment charge)||Cellular||On-the-go||This is best for those who want a mobile medical alert system with the automatic fall detection option.|
|SOS Smartwatch||$24.95 (plus $179 one-time equipment charge)||Cellular||On-the-go||This is best for those who want a discreet, mobile medical alert system.|
|In-Car Alert||$29.95||Cellular||In-the-Car||This is best for those who are frequent drivers and already have an in-home medical alert system.|
What We Love About Bay Alarm
- Affordable Prices: Bay Alarm offers medical alert systems at incredibly affordable prices. Starting at just $19.95, it’s one of the most affordable medical alerts on the market.
- Discount options: In addition to affordable pricing, Bay Alarm offers discounts through AARP, AAA, and USAA.
- Free spouse coverage Spouse monitoring is included in Bay Alarm subscriptions. That means if you go for a Bay Alarm medical system, your spouse can get coverage as well. Most companies offer this as an add-on feature, so this is a bonus to Bay Alarm.
- In-the-car medical alert system: This is the first in-car monitoring alert system where people can get 24 hours, seven days a week monitoring with automatic crash detection. The in-car alert option also has location tracking so emergency response teams can easily find the victim in case of emergency.
What We Don't Love About Bay Alarm
- Monthly fee for complete app access: Most medical alert systems offer smartphone apps so family, friends, and caregivers can keep track of their loved ones or those they care for. While many companies offer free app access with subscriptions, Bay Alarm charges customers for full access to the app.
Money Saving Tip: In addition to the discounts Bay Alarm offers, bundling in-home and on-the-go services is another way Bay Alarm helps you save money on your medical alert system.
MobileHelp and Bay Alarm Similarities
Here are some of the other similarities between MobileHelp and Bay Alarm:
- No long term contracts
- Automatic fall detection
- Wall-mounted buttons
- Waterproof pendants
- Smartwatch alert systems
- Smartphone apps
- 24/7 U.S.-based monitoring
- 30-day money-back guaranteed
Keep in Mind: Most falls happen in slippery areas, like the bathroom, so having waterproof pendants you can wear in the bath or shower is a feature to look out for when considering which medical alert system to purchase.
MobileHelp and Bay Alarm Differences
MobileHelp and Bay Alarm differences are few and far between. Both companies offer incredibly affordable medical alert systems with no hidden fees. Also, both companies have devices with GPS meaning call centers and response teams can locate the user wherever he or she goes. That being said, there are a few differences that are worth pointing out.
While both companies offer smartwatch options, MobileHelp’s smartwatch is more expensive than Bay Alarm’s. MobileHelp’s smartwatch is not available to lease, like the rest of the company’s equipment, and it costs a one-time fee of $349.95 and then a monthly cost of $24.95 per month or monitoring. On the flip side, Bay Alarm Medical’s smartwatch costs $179 plus $24.95 a month for monitoring, making it a little more affordable.
Another bonus feature of Bay Alarm is the company’s Bella Charms. Not everyone wants people to know they are using medical alert systems, and the Bella Charms hide the alert system by making them look like stylish necklaces. There are four styles to choose from, meaning your medical alert system can add to your outfit as opposed to detracting from it.
MobileHelp has no upfront fees for equipment, and all devices are leased through the company. Bay Alarm, on the other hand, has a $79 activation fee for most of the systems.
As the population of older adults grows, medical alert devices are becoming increasingly popular as they enhance older adults’ quality of life. When it comes to deciding between MobileHelp and Bay Alarm, it comes down to personal preference, as both systems are pretty equivalent. If I had to pick one, I would say Bay Alarm is a bit more affordable, but I’m talking marginal. With both systems offering a risk-free, 30-day money-back guarantee, you’re in a win-win situation; try one and if you don’t like it within 30 days, you can try the other!