Medical alert systems offer a source of immediate assistance during a medical emergency that empowers older adults to live confidently and independently both inside and outside of their homes. We provide reviews of the most popular alert systems with easy to read numerical ratings, we weigh the pros and cons of each system and provide you with guidance in selecting a medical alert system. Our detailed reviews give in depth coverage in the following areas:
- Monitoring Features – This is the core alert system which includes a pendant with help button, a base station and a response center to take the calls.
- Other Features – Additional features like GPS tracking, fall detection, and carbon monoxide detection adds value to the system.
- Equipment – The range between the pendant and base station as well as battery backup are important equipment features.
- Customer Service & Support – Help with setting up the system and handling billing questions are part of good customer service.
- Pricing, Contracts & Value – Pricing can be tricky given all the options so a straightforward plan with no long term contract or activation fees is best.
Reviews and Ratings Overview
Here you will discover the best medical alert system reviews where we rate and review each system across five criteria, describe the pros and cons for each system and provide our guidance in selecting a system. In the table below each name is linked to the in depth review. The five criteria are scored on a scale from one-half star to five stars and an average score is calculated.
You will notice most of the services score above 4 stars. We have gone through many medical alert systems and selected only those we feel are worthy of inclusion here. Therefore, you will not see really poor average scores. However, you will see ratings vary more widely for particular criteria. For example, in Pricing, Contracts & Value the ratings range from 1.5 to 5 stars and if this criteria is very important to you then we recommend you sort by this column. If having many additional features beyond basic monitoring is important to you then look at those systems with a high rating in “Other Features” column. After this summary table we provide more details about each system and a brief synopsis of our findings for each.
Best Medical Alert Systems Reviews & Ratings
|Name||Monitoring Features||Other Features||Equipment||Service||Pricing||Average|
|Bay Alarm Medical||4.5||4.5||4.5||4.5||5.0||4.6|
|5Star Urgent Response||4.5||3.5||3.0||4.0||4.0||4.0|
The Technology and How it Works
A medical alert system or personal emergency response system contains three main components:
- A small radio transmitter usually in the form of a pendant worn around the neck.
- A base station console connected to your telephone which receives the signal from the transmitter.
- An emergency response center that monitors calls and has an operator ready to send help.
When an elderly person with a medical alert device suffers a fall or needs assistance, they merely have to press the waterproof panic button which sends a signal to the base station. Emergency operators who are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year will be immediately piped into the home through the medical alert system’s telephone connected base unit.
These units are designed to automatically dial the network of professional emergency assistants who will attempt to communicate with the person in need through the base unit’s incredibly loud speaker and ultra sensitive microphone. After speaking with the senior citizen in need of help, the emergency operator will proceed to contact the senior citizen’s friends, family or emergency personnel.
If the power goes out, the base unit will still function with its backup battery. The panic button will also still function as the majority of the devices have portable re-chargers that are so small that they can be clipped onto the shirt like a pedometer or worn on a wristband or necklace. Aside from installing the telephone connected base unit, there’s not much else installation required besides the implementation of the pendant on either a clip, necklace or wristband along with its diminutive charging station.
A Quick Response
Pressing the medical emergency button will summon help immediately, reducing the chances of a further debilitating condition or complication developing like hypothermia, dehydration, renal failure, muscle breakdown and pressure ulcers. The senior citizen’s emergency contacts will be immediately notified of the situation and emergency personnel will be on the scene usually within ten minutes or less.
Traditional alert services will work as long as the senior citizen is within the range of the base unit. The range differs by system but tends to be around 600 feet. Pendants linked to wireless phones must be worn within about 200 feet of the wireless device in order for emergency operators to be auto dialed. Other medical alert devices have microphones and speakers built right into the pendants that users wear on clips, bracelets or necklaces. While most emergency operators will summon the elderly person’s family, friends or emergency personnel, plans of action can be tailored to each individual’s desires. Senior citizens can customize their own unique emergency protocols that operators will follow in the event that the panic button is pressed. This way, adult children, friends, neighbors or other parties can be notified in a specific order that will best benefit the senior citizen.
Many of these systems have very advanced technologies which provide convenience and a customized solution for any given circumstance.
- Built in auto texts or auto e-mails are sent to friends and families as soon as the senior citizen presses his panic button.
- A number of emergency alert systems even offer GPS technology that allows emergency operators to identify exactly where the customer is based on the location of his or her pendant. This is critical for those who suffer a medical emergency when outside of their home as it allows medical alert system personnel to pinpoint the exact location of the person who needs assistance. The GPS technology is especially crucial for senior citizens who live active lives and might not always carry a cell phone and also for senior citizens who are out and about, away from their medical alert system’s base unit’s two way speaker.
- Some medical alert solutions go as far as monitoring the daily activities of pendant wearers to determine if there are any significant irregularities that might indicate that a fall has occurred. They can even send notices to the friends and family of senior citizens if their family member forgets to wear their pendant. This encourages and reinforces senior citizen participation so that they don’t leave the pendant hanging from a bed post or on the top of a dresser.
- Certain emergency alert systems also come with medical alarms that can identify the presence of smoke, carbon monoxide or flooding water. If detected, these systems will auto-dial the fire department or other emergency services.
Fall Detection is Important for Quality of Life
A medical alert system also boosts a senior citizen’s confidence by limiting the fear of a fall or other disaster. Falls are a leading cause of injury and premature death in seniors and fall prevention is crucial for healthy aging and maintaining independence at home. Elderly people who live in constant fear of a fall usually stay inside the home and spend their days and nights watching television or reading. That’s no way to live after half a century of hard work. Senior citizens with alert devices will feel liberated to live an active life outside of the home without a looming fear of a fall. They’ll be confident that help will be on its way as long as they keep their portable medical alert equipment on hand.
Emergency alert providers also put the families and friends of the elderly at ease. Adult children often push the idea of medical alerts on their parents so that they have a reassurance that help will be on the way if a fall or other medical emergency occurs. It’s not fair to put the entire burden of emergency assistance on an adult child by forcing him to continually check in with his elderly parent through repetitive phone calls or actual physical check-ins.
Cost and Contracts
Most systems typically cost $50 or less for the base equipment and merely one dollar per day or less, equating to about $30 per month. Some require contracts but many do not. The highest rated programs include the equipment for free, do not charge an installation fee, do not have a long term contract and charge less than $25 per month. Plenty of medical alert systems will even offer a 30 day money back guarantee in case the senior citizen is unhappy with the product.
Below are the best medical alert systems we have reviewed with a short description and our findings.
Bay Alarm Medical
The Bay Alarm Medical Alert empowers the elderly to receive assistance with the mere press of a button. The panic button triggers 24 hour, 7 day a week emergency operators who contact the family and friends or dial 911. Bay Alarm Medical provides nationwide support and has operators that speak 170 languages. These emergency operators work out of two distinct stations so if one loses power or becomes inoperable, its backup station will be readily available. The company offers a broad range of services for a low price and extra services like carbon monoxide detection and GPS monitoring can be added for a reasonable price.
Life Alert is famous for their commercials with elderly people who have fallen and say into the camera, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. Life Alert’s system provides a help button that is worn on a pendant or wristband. When pressed, it prompts an emergency operator to send assistance in the form of police, firemen or paramedics. Life Alert can also monitor smoke detectors and CO detectors for fires or carbon monoxide poisoning. High monthly fees, a long term contract and installation charges detract from an otherwise good service.
LifeFone offers a highly personalized response plan that is tailored to each individual’s unique assistance needs and health circumstances. They keep medical information on file to help make the right decision when there is an emergency. The LifeFone medical alert device can be worn as either a pendant or wristband. They have a competitively priced system with a good set of services.
LifeStation’s medical alarm system has an excellent protocol for answering help calls with two agents working to provide assistance. One agent talks with the senior while the other contacts the proper emergency responders. If the senior is unable to speak due to a harsh fall or other serious health issue, the Care Specialist will follow the patient’s unique emergency action plan’s designated course of action.
Medical Guardian’s medical alert service offers high technology features like fall detection and mobile alert but not more common features such as fire/smoke and carbon monoxide detection. Each customer is assigned a personal safety consultant who provides continual support. Customers wear a pendant with a two way radio that enables them to communicate to Medical Guardian’s support team. When help is needed, Medical Guardian relays the message to friends, family, police, firemen or nearby ambulance operators. Their state of the art technology provides assistance to seniors who live alone and those who wish to spend time outside of the confines of their homes.
As its name suggests MobileHelp provides great GPS enable medical monitoring service so the customer can travel great distances outside of the home. The company also provides the more traditional base station which resides in the home. This system excels in GPS tracking a seniors location if an emergency takes place outside the home.
Philips Lifeline’s medical alert system comes in a standard form like many other systems and a mobile system known as GoSafe. GoSafe is a lightweight “smart” pendant with a small mobile battery that can recharge anywhere, even on the user’s shirt or wristband. It is known for its ease of use and convenience as it can be used either at home or when out and about. The GoSafe technology is capable of determining when someone falls and it can pinpoint his location at the time that help is needed. The Philips Lifeline medical alert is ideal for elderly individuals who live alone and those who want to remain active outside of the home. Philips Lifeline receives high marks for the many extra features which make up their system including automatic fall detection and a medication dispenser both of these features address enormous problems in the elderly.
5Star Urgent Response
5Star Urgent Response is part of the Great Call wireless company. The system’s GPS technology enables agents to pinpoint the patient’s exact location to help them determine what sort of assistance should and can be provided in the moment of need. The device offers two way communication just like a cell phone. A traditional base station doesn’t come with the service and the monthly cost is one of the lowest.
Rescue Alert is one of the few companies that allows customers to buy their equipment thus saving on monthly fees. Their system is compatible with voice over IP services like Vonage. However, they lack some of the more traditional services but still they offer a good monitoring service with exceptionally trained call responders.
Alert1 has been helping senior citizens receive the help that they need for over 25 years. The Alert1 medical alert system functions through a telephone line. The panic button can be worn on a wireless bracelet or pendant and provides a microphone along with a base unit speaker that can be heard from nearly any area of the home. Whenever help is needed, the patient just presses a button on the pendant, base unit or any of the home’s wireless room buttons and an operator will immediately be piped in through the powerful speaker system.
ADT Companion Service
The ADT Companion Service provides a personal emergency response system by way of a waterproof pendant or wristband that sends an alarm signal to a monitoring professional. The assistant speaks to the patient through a two way intercom. The ADT Companion Service can also detect when a fall occurs without the press of a panic button. When the alarm is triggered, an ADT agent will call the patient and make additional calls to police, the fire department or emergency personnel.