Between all of my years working with older individuals and their families, I have noticed that the most consistent fear is that of their loved ones falling and not being able to receive the assistance they need. Luckily, there are plenty of options when it comes to medical alert systems. Today, I will be focusing on the ResponseNow medical alert systems.
ResponseNow is a well-established company with more than 30 years in the medical alert industry. Both customer support representatives and emergency response personnel who work for ResponseNow spread across the United States and are focused on keeping a presence in local communities and maintaining regional support. For this review, I will take you through the process of choosing my system, getting it in the mail, and testing it as well as letting you know what I liked, and disliked, about my ResponseNow system. By then end, you will know everything you need in order to decide if ResponseNow is right for you.
Choosing My System
I had three options when it came down to buying my ResponseNow medical alert system. Each has its own functions and available add-ons, from an in-the-home landline option to a portable pendant with fall detection. For someone who has worked with older adults with all different kinds of lifestyles, I appreciated the options that were presented.
- In-Home: The in-home option is a mixture between a landline-based hub and a pendant. It has a connectivity range of 500 feet, making it the perfect fit for those who spend the majority of the time in their homes. Like the rest of the ResponseNow products, there are also a few choices when it comes to pendants. I had the option to choose between a pendant or wristband. I had additional options as well, such as a fall detection pendant for $11.95 per month or an extra pendant for $2.95 per month.
- Belle: The Belle is ResponseNow’s most popular system. I could use this system both inside and outside my home; in fact, since the Belle relies on available cell coverage, I could travel anywhere in the United States with my pendant. This makes this system great for older adults with active, independent lifestyles. The Belle is also water-resistant and has a shocking 30-day single charge life––the longest I have ever seen from a medical alert pendant. Not to mention the purchase of the Belle waives the $35 activation fee and provides free shipping, good news for my wallet.
- Belle+: And finally, there’s the Belle+, ResponseNow’s most expensive and feature-loaded product. Like the Belle, this system offers an easy-to-use pendant with both inside and outside the house coverage as well as a shower-safe guarantee; however, the Belle+ offers a few additional features, such as GPS location tracking and included fall detection. This way, ResponseNow would be able to locate me even in the worst of circumstances. The Belle+ only provides 5 days of a single-life charge and is a few ounces heavier as well. With the purchase of this option, I would receive free shipping, a free emergency access lockbox, and the waive of the $35 activation fee.
Here’s an overview of ResponseNow devices and their pricing.
|In the Home||Belle||Belle+|
|Monthly Plan Cost||$29.95||$39.95||$49.95|
|Quarterly Plan Cost||$83.85||$113.85||$143.85|
|Yearly Plan Cost||$419.40||$419.40||$539.85|
|Battery Life||A/C power with a 24-hour backup battery||30 days||5 days|
|Range||500 feet||Anywhere in U.S.||Anywhere in U.S.|
|Fall Detection||$11.95 per month||No||Yes – free|
Tip: If you are purchasing a ResponseNow system for a more active older adult who often travels outside of the home, the Belle or the Belle+ is a better fit.
Buying My ResponseNow Medical Alert System
For my review, I wanted to focus specifically on the Belle+. The process of purchasing my Belle+ was incredibly pleasant. After checking out products on the ResponseNow website, which was both informative and easy to navigate, I gave a call to a friendly customer representative, who informed me of multiple purchasing options.
For example, ResponseNow offered me the first month of service free so I could test the product and determine if it was the right fit for me. It was nice to have different contract length options since older adults’ lives can change so quickly; I had no worry about being stuck in a contract I didn’t want. Even if I did choose to go with the annual plan but ended up not using it for the entire time period, ResponseNow would provide a refund for the remaining months.
If I didn’t want to make a call, there were other options to begin the purchasing process, such as a window to chat with the ResponseNow team. Since I knew what I wanted, I didn’t need to use the live chat; however, seeing this window made me confident that customer support would be easy to access.
In addition to all of these great features that made my experience with ResponseNow easy and comfortable, I was also made aware of the price-lock guarantee. ResponseNow would not increase the price of my medical alert system throughout my time with them. I did note that the ResponseNow systems were priced slightly above average when fees were included. For example, the lowest option of an in-house system will cost $29.95 a month with ResponseNow, but other options, such as LifeStation or MobileHelp are just $19.95 a month.
After weighing my choices with the ResponseNow customer support specialist, I realized that the GPS availability, longer battery life, and adjustable contracts made the higher price worthwhile. Most importantly, I felt excited to be working with a company that cares about and prioritizes those who utilize their products. I know firsthand how hard it is to feel cared for as an individual, especially as we get older. This sense of isolation can have a detrimental effect on physical and mental health. In fact, for those over 60, there is a 45 percent increased risk of mortality for those who report feeling lonely. While the ResponseNow system is not a cure-all, the individualized assistance is sure to make you feel cared for and protected.
Additionally, with access to the 30-day money-back guarantee, full refund availability, and option of the Care+ protection plan, I was assured that returning the product if I found it unsatisfactory would be a headache-free process.
Getting my Belle+
The Belle+ was fairly easy both to set up and to use. The system arrived at my doorstep in just two days after placing my order. Inside the box, I found my Belle+, an instruction pamphlet, and the charging dock.
I plugged in and charged the pendant for three hours. This charge lasted me five whole days before my Belle+ needed to be charged again. On the fifth day, I received a text and an email saying my Belle+ was getting close to running out of steam. This feature was especially nice since I have a busy lifestyle and things like that often slip through the cracks.
After it was charged, I pressed the button in the middle of the device. Since this is one of the only buttons, I had no confusion about what I was supposed to do or what I was supposed to press. After just a few rings I was connected with emergency personnel. He knew my name and, after reassuring him that I was just testing the device, he ensured that I would be getting the best of care. We had this conversation while I strolled around the house, making sure the connection remained strong. I even wandered around outside in both the front and back yard and out into the neighborhood, covering well over 1,000 feet. Just as I had hoped, communication lines remained clear and stable no matter where I went.
I then left the device on for the remainder of my testing period (besides charging every 5 days). I brought the Belle+ with me easily wherever I went––to the store, to my friend’s house, in the garden, out walking, etc. I oftentimes forgot the 2.3-ounce, life-saving system was hanging around my neck. Sometimes, however, when bending over to do dishes or to play with my pets, the device got caught on knobs, handles, and toys. While this was slightly frustrating, I got used to tucking the pendant into my shirt when doing more movement-intensive activities.
I tested the device a handful of times. Each time after pressing the button I was quickly connected with a concerned emergency personnel who made sure I was okay and asked if I needed any assistance. I also acted out a fall to test the fall detection feature. Not once was I left without someone on the other end of my Belle+ equipped to handle the emergency. The 24-hour availability of these professionals made me more comfortable sleeping at night and going out early in the morning.
Tip: By charging your medical alert system during the night rather you can be sure of assisted outings. For the Belle, which only needs to charge every 30 days, consider marking your charge days on a calendar.
What I Liked About My Belle+
There was plenty to like about my Belle+. Here is a quick overview of my favorite features:
- Waterproof Pendant: Having the waterproof pendant made my life exponentially easier. I did not have to worry about damaging my device if I forgot to take it off before showering or about what would happen if something occurred while in the restroom, which is extremely common; in fact, bathroom accidents account for 45 percent of all serious household accidents. Therefore, purchasing a water-resistant medical alert system can make an older adult even safer.
- Unlimited Range: I found the ability for me to take the Belle+ with me wherever there was AT&T cell service the most useful feature. For older adults with active lifestyles, the ability of the medical alert system to travel alongside them at any time of the day is a huge plus. Assistance would even be available if I went on vacation, provided I remained in the United States.
- GPS Connection: This unique feature makes the medical alert device easier and more accurate than the Belle. The Belle+ is easier to use than a cell phone and offers help if something were to happen in an unknown location. With more and more older adults taking vacations, having a GPS connection becomes increasingly important. For avid travelers or those who spend a lot of time outside of the home, this is an exceptional feature that should not be overlooked.
- Battery Life: The Belle’s battery lasts 30 days and the Belle+ lasts five. These are both comparatively very long battery lives. This feature made going about my daily life with my medical alert system easy. The long battery life was a key reason why ResponseNow placed on my list of the top medical alert systems. Belle’s 30-day battery life is the longest on the market.
- Customer-Friendly Services: As stated before, ResponseNow has plenty of services that made me confident and comfortable, including a 30-day money-back guarantee, easy cancelation of contracts with available refunds, and emergency personnel who are available 24-7.
What I Didn’t Like About My Belle+
While all of those features made for a great test run, I did take note of some things that weren’t quite up to par. As they say, every rose has a thorn. Here are the thorns of the Belle+:
- No Available App: There is no way outside of the pendant to connect with the Belle, Belle+, or in-home medical alert system. For someone who appreciates the ability to check in on my devices in multiple ways, this was a tad unfortunate; I will say, however, that the surface of the pendant did clearly display the WiFi connection and battery life.
- Limited Devices: While ResponseNow’s three different medical alert systems perform well, they offer no additional add-ons such as medication dispensers or mobile watches.
Optional Add Ons
All three systems come with additional options not typically included with average plans.
|In the Home||Belle||Belle+|
|Care+ Protection Plan Monthly Cost||$3.95||$3.95||$3.95|
|Fall Detection Monthly Cost||$11.95||No||Yes – $0.00|
All of the annual plans include lockboxes, the Belle+ includes fall detection, and the in-home system includes a hallway button.
When it comes to purchasing a medical alert system, I recommend the ResponseNow system for any older adult with an active lifestyle. The unlimited range and long battery life make the Belle+ perfect for those who are often out of the house or going on trips. The features of the Belle+, such as the GPS tracking function, are especially useful for any older adult who frequently travels. For older adults who stay inside the home, however, it may be best to search for a less expensive option with a wider range, such as Connect America, which has an unlimited at-home range for just $19.95 a month.
After testing out ResponseNow, I can confidently say that the emergency personnel staff and personalized care makes you feel cared about and respected as a consumer. In my eyes, this adds on a lot of points. Overall, I found that ResponseNow is a trustworthy, easy-to-use medical alert system perfectly suited for active older adults.
With the technology of the medical alert system, the fear of losing an older adult to an accident is much easier to qualm. The at-home or portable ResponseNow system can serve as the always-alert caregiver. This not only eases stress and makes day-to-day life easier, but it also increases the longevity of your loved one, as the mortality rate is five times higher for people who lay incapacitated for 12 hours versus those that get immediate help. Experiencing a fall can be difficult to prevent, but with ResponseNow, you can be much more informed, in control, and relaxed.
- Can you use the ResponseNow in-home system without a landline?
Yes, there is a cellular system available. The typical system, however, connects with your home telephone line and cellular network.
- Is fall detection available on all ResponseNow options?
The only option that comes with built-in fall detection included is the Belle+, but the in-home system offers a fall detection accessory. The fall detector accessory works in a slightly different way than the Belle+. Like a traditional pendant, you can press the button and be connected to an operator, or if a fall is detected and no motion is registered for 50 seconds, a signal will immediately be sent to the base station and to a contact emergency operator.
- How do I know when my ResponseNow system needs to be charged?
A text message and/or email notification can be set up to inform you when it is time for your system to charge. This is helpful for the Belle and Belle+, which have long battery lives. To charge your Belle or Belle+, plug the charging cradle into an electrical outlet, place your system in the charging cradle and keep it in there for 3 hours.
Tip: Remember to charge your device immediately after arrival to ensure you have a full battery.
- Will the ResponseNow operator representative call the police?
If a fall occurs and a call to ResponseNow is made, you will first be put in touch with an operator. They can send emergency responders to provide additional assistance if needed. This feature is available on all systems.
- Is there a free trial available for the ResponseNow systems?
No, there is not a 30-day free trial; however, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you call within 30 days, you will get a full refund of your money and a free shipping label to send your medical alert system back to ResponseNow.