The 14 Best Medical Alert Systems for Older Adults
- Compare the top medical alert systems to explore service options and features and find a device that meets your specific monitoring and mobility needs.
Medical alert systems are personal devices that quickly connect older adults and other users with emergency services or their loved ones if they’re hurt or need help. Learn more about these top medical alert systems to see if one is right for you or an aging loved one.
Who Might Benefit From Medical Alert Systems?
Aging adults are primarily who might benefit from medical alert systems. However, these devices can also be beneficial to disabled persons or anyone with certain medical conditions, no matter their age. Anyone recently hospitalized and released to home care might benefit from a medical alert system. People with serious medical conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, COPD, high blood pressure, diabetes or epilepsy, could benefit. Those who take medications with extreme side effects, have difficulty walking or are prone to tripping and falling may benefit from medical alert systems.
Does Medicare or Insurance Cover Medical Alert Systems?
Original Medicare doesn’t cover medical alert systems because they’re not considered medically necessary, but certain Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, programs will cover them. Medical alert systems are covered by Medicaid in some states and by some private health insurance plans. Some states will reimburse Medicaid participants through a waiver program if Medicaid won’t cover the devices.
Important Considerations When Choosing Medical Alert Systems
Financial considerations are necessary when looking at medical alert options, especially for seniors living on a budget. However, cost should be a secondary consideration compared to the safety and peace of mind offered by these devices. Consumers should also consider the wide array of features available that further enhance safety because not all medical alert systems are created equal.
Key elements to consider are whether a medical alert system includes in-home and mobile systems, landline and cellular connections, guaranteed 24/7 monitoring and assistance and fall detection. Whether it’s a monitored or non-monitored system and automatically alerts emergency response services and preprogrammed loved ones are also important. Other considerations include water-resistance, battery life and backup batteries, range, recurring subscriptions, mobile apps and online portals.
14 Best Medical Alert Systems for Seniors
Medical alert systems can run the gamut on price based on the type of system purchased and any additional features included. Consider these top 14 medical alert systems and learn what sets them apart.
LifeFone offers five different medical alert systems and operates its own call center in White Plains, New York, with backup call centers in Syracuse, New York, and Corona, California, to provide triple redundancy. It has Spanish-speaking operators and uses a translation service to support other languages. Its alert systems have two-way communication capabilities and its in-home unit has a range of up to 1,300 feet. Some systems include GPS tracking, and some offer optional fall detection, wellness checks and medication reminders. What sets LifeFone apart is that it incorporates fire, smoke and carbon dioxide systems, and it provides 24/7 customer care along with 24/7 monitoring. LifeFone doesn’t require activation fees and comes with a 100% lifetime warranty.
MobileHelp has a range of personal medical alert systems to match varied lifestyles, including cellular in-home systems, jewelry-style pendants, a smart device and duo plans for couples. The classic in-home system includes a base station with a range of up to 600 feet and waterproof wrist or neck pendants. The range is boosted to 1,300 feet with a wired in-home system that uses a landline connection instead of cellular. It offers an online web portal, mobile app and partnership with a telehealth provider for additional benefits. Users can add medication scheduling and fall detection. MobileHelp sets itself apart with its affordability. It doesn’t charge extra for cellular systems, making its in-home systems less expensive than many other providers.
Bay Alarm Medical
Bay Alarm Medical offers four medical alert systems, including in-home and mobile systems. Its in-home systems operate on landlines or cellular connections with an 800-foot range from the base station and 32 hours of backup battery life. It doesn’t charge activation, installation or equipment fees, which offers a low-cost startup, and users can change or cancel their plans at any time. Optional features include fall detection, geofencing, wall-mounted buttons and lockboxes. Bay Alarm distinguishes itself by being the only provider that offers a medical alert device specifically for driving in a car. Its On the Road device covers in-car emergencies and accident monitoring to automatically signal for help if it detects a crash.
One Call Alert
Based in Boca Raton, Florida, One Call Alert offers five medical alert systems, including in-home systems for landline and cellular connections and GPS-enabled on-the-go devices. The battery life for mobile devices is 24 hours and over 30 hours for base stations. Base units have a range of 1,300 to 1,400 feet, which are among the longest ranges available and sets One Call Alert apart from many competitors. Neck pendants, wrist buttons and fall-detection pendants are waterproof and include batteries that last over five years. Every system offers two-way communication, and if users are unable to speak, operators automatically dispatch emergency medical services. Optional services include fall detection, lockboxes, GPS tracking and medication reminders.
Medical Guardian offers six device options, which is more than most providers. It also has a wide array of premium features, such as voice-to-text messaging, online caregiver portal access and location and activity tracking that sets it apart. Medical Guardian has three in-home systems with waterproof neck pendants or wristbands that have a range of 600 to 1,300 feet, depending on the system. It also provides three mobile systems, including a smartwatch device. There aren’t any device or activation fees on all but the smartwatch. However, the smartwatch includes a companion app that lets caregivers or family members monitor and track users. Extra features available include lockboxes, push- and voice-activated wall buttons and fall detection.
As one of the nation's largest providers of medical alert devices, Medical Alert sets itself apart by keeping costs low and not requiring any long-term contracts or cancellation fees. It even offers prorated refunds, something many providers don’t. Medical Alert offers three devices and doesn’t charge any equipment, activation or installation fees. Free lockboxes are provided with annual subscription plans on in-home systems. Its portable on-the-go device uses AT&T's cellular network and has built-in GPS services and a battery life of five days. Extra features include a mobile app, protection plans and fall detection.
RescueTouch is based in Florida but serves clients nationwide with monitored and unmonitored plans available. It distinguishes itself by offering a lifetime price lock, so rates never increase as long as users have continuous service. Although it only offers one device, RescueTouch’s completely portable SOS pendant provides unique two-way calling that lets friends or family call the device directly via its own phone number. They can keep up with active loved ones or check on them if they’re not answering their phone. GPS location tracking and fall detection are available on most plans, and all systems come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Seniors reluctant to wear a medical alert device may agree to GetSafe, which sets itself apart by being voice-activated. Its passive medical alert devices don’t have to be worn because the two-way speaker is voice-activated, but GetSafe does provide a complimentary lanyard button. All plans are month-to-month, so there aren’t any long contracts but require a one-time equipment purchase fee. Units are equipped with AT&T cellular service so landlines aren’t required and are monitored 24/7 by a U.S.-based monitoring center. It also offers several add-on features or devices for an additional fee, including smoke detectors, fall detection and lockboxes.
Founded in 1977, LifeStation offers in-home systems that utilize a landline or its cellular connection and on-the-go mobile systems for active adults. Mobile systems include GPS tracking that allows family members to find loved ones through a smartphone app. In-home pendants are waterproof, work up to 500 feet away from base units and provide voice prompts when the battery is running low. LifeStation distinguishes itself through its partnership with Uber Health, which connects users to transportation to appointments. It also offers fall detection, and users can access their account information with Amazon Echo or the Alexa app. U.S.-based call center operators are multilingual and available 24/7.
GreatCall, which has changed its name to Lively, is based in Carlsbad, California, and is widely known for its flagship product, the Jitterbug. Lively sets itself apart by offering a medical alert smartphone that works as both a medical alert device and an easy-to-use cell phone. Its multifunctional devices have built-in medical alert help buttons and offer added services like Lyft ridesharing and access to over-the-phone urgent care from a doctor or nurse and prescription refills. Users can dial 0 to reach an operator and request a ride or to be connected to one of their contacts. Lively offers four devices that use Verizon Wireless networks, and fall detection can be added to select plans.
QMedic stands out with its unique compliance monitoring feature, which tells caregivers or family members whether a user is actually wearing the device. It also tracks users’ sleep patterns and activity levels to provide insights into their wellness. Caregivers have access to a dashboard that provides vital stats. QMedic has in-home systems that work off a landline or cellular connection, with pendants or wristbands that have a range of 800 to 1,000 feet from the base unit. It also has a mobile GPS medical alert system with a battery that lasts 14 days before needing to be charged. Customers can cancel their rental at any time because there aren’t any long-term contracts required.
Philips Lifeline was founded by a gerontologist in 1974 and sets itself apart by providing all its monitoring center specialists with 80 hours of senior health training and stress management. It offers a range of in-home and on-the-go mobile medical alert systems, including assisted GPS-enabled devices. A-GPS systems use advanced tracking technologies that tap into a satellite network to find locations faster. Devices can also be activated as a siren to help responders find users quickly. The Philips Cares smartphone app lets caregivers share notes on users’ health, and fall detection can be added to three plans at no extra charge. Lockboxes are available for an additional fee.
Medical Care Alert
Medical Care Alert offers in-home systems that work on landlines or cellular connections and a home and yard system that covers outdoor spaces up to 600 feet from the in-home base. Pendants have a two-way voice feature that allows users to answer the phone via the pendant. It also offers a mobile system that works anywhere cellular service is available and includes GPS tracking. Extra features available include fall detection, wall-mounted buttons, lockboxes and remote care 24/7 apps that let authorized contacts check a device’s location, battery life, etc. Medical Care Alert stands out by staffing their monitoring centers in New York and California with EMT/EMD-certified operators who are well-prepared to respond to emergencies. It also has Spanish-speaking operators and support for deaf and hearing-impaired customers.
Life Alert is the most widely known medical alert system due to its classic commercials. However, it also stands out for its 72-hour backup battery life, which is much longer than the typical 32 to 36 hours found in many systems. It offers in-home systems that use landlines or Life Alert’s cellular network. Customers can also bundle a shower-mounted button with an in-home system or an on-the-go system that comes with a mobile GPS-enabled device. The mobile medical alert device has a battery that lasts for 10 years. Life Alert has been in business longer than many other medical alert companies and reportedly handles over 2 million calls annually.