Even people who don’t remember the name Life Alert remember the commercial with the instantly iconic line: “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.” Life Alert still features that line prominently on its website. It’s the most well-known medical monitoring system for seniors and others who want to live at home without risking their safety. The company offers pendants that allow you to press a button and be connected to a dispatcher at a 24/7 monitoring center.
But it’s been almost 30 years since Life Alert first used that tagline, and plenty of other home medical monitoring systems have sprung up in subsequent years. Life Alert is the most well-known product in the industry, answering 2 million calls per year. But there are plenty of viable alternatives if you want a lower price or extra features. Here are three leading companies worth considering as Life Alert alternatives.
1. Medical Guardian
Medical Guardian was founded in 2005 and is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They have a more complex pricing structure with two categories: In-Home and On the Go, both of which contain three tiers.
The In-Home plans are Classic Guardian for $29.95 a month, Home Guardian for $34.95, and Family Guardian for $79.95. The Classic Guardian plan is the only one of Medical Guardian’s packages that uses a landline rather than cellular data. Life Alert uses either landline or cellular units. The On the Go plans use entirely cellular data and include Mobile Guardian for $39,95, Active Guardian for $49.95, and Freedom Guardian for $44.95.
Much like Life Alert, the plans come with either a pendant or wristband, although Medical Guardian says you can also wear the help button on a belt clip. Most of the devices are waterproof, although the device that comes with the Freedom Guardian plan is only listed as splash-resistant.
Medical Guardian offers mountable wall buttons, and you can even get a voice-activated button that connects you to a monitoring center when you say something like “Call Medical Guardian.” The Classic Guardian and Medical Guardian plans provide coverage within 1,300 feet of the base unit, while the Home Guardian plan provides coverage within a 600-foot range.
GPS location tracking is available with the On-the-Go plans, and a Fall Detection option is offered for $10 extra a month with every plan except Freedom Guardian. Unlike Life Alert, motion sensors are available on the Family Guardian plan. That enables loved ones to track their relative’s movements and even receive an alert if activity levels drop.
2. Bay Alarm Medical
The Concord, California-based Bay Alarm Medical offers three plans: Basic Protection for $19.95 a month, Preferred Protection for 39.95, and Premium Protection for $59.95 a month. While Life Alert is cagey about its pricing and requires you to contact a representative for further information, Bay Alarm Medical posts its prices online.
Life Alert comes with either a waterproof pendant or wristband, as does Bay Alarm Medical. Whatever device you choose, the battery lasts for as long as five years, and the attached help button works within 1,000 feet of the base station.
Life Alert has wall buttons that you can mount on walls throughout your house and press if you need help, and Bay Alarm Medical offers similar buttons.
The company has an optional mobile GPS system a lot like Life Alert’s. This device tracks you when you’re away from home and allows you to receive push button help around the clock.
The two top Bay Alarm Medical plans have automatic fall detection, which Life Alert does not offer. This feature means that if a fall is detected, you’ll automatically be connected to a representative at a monitoring center. There’s no need to worry about whether you’ll be physically able to press a button after falling.
Bay Alarm Medical’s 45-second response time is longer than Life Alert’s promised response time of 20 seconds or less.
The Boca Raton, Florida-based MobileHelp has a choice of three plans: Classic for $24.95 a month, Solo for $37.95 and Duo for $41.95. Those are the prices on monthly plans, as the company offers cheaper rates if you pay quarterly, semi-annually, or annually, with the annual plan providing the most savings. You should also know that promotional rates only apply to the first billing cycle.
MobileHelp also has either a wrist button or neck pendant like Life Alert, both of which are waterproof. The base station range is around 600 feet, which is a bit less than Life Alert’s 800-foot range. A mobile device that uses GPS to detect your location is available with the Solo and Duo plans.
MobileHelp has an average response time of 17 seconds, which is comparable to Life Alert’s vow to respond in 20 seconds or less.
If you’re worried about falls, an automatic detection fall button is available for an extra $10 a month. Mountable wall buttons can be purchased for $2 a month.