Bay Alarm Medical offers both high quality technology and products, with rapid response and service. Their cellular system with GPS is the best on the market and they’re the only company offering an in-car monitoring solution.
Best Fall Detection
Medical Guardian offers a high-end product suite at above average prices. The company has an A+ BBB rating and thousands of positive customer reviews. Recently they’ve developed a smart watch with advanced monitoring capabilities.
Best Security Company Offering
ADT’s mobile alert device is the centerpiece of this reliable system. Aging adults will enjoy award-winning monitoring, no equipment fees, and top features like two-way talk and GPS location tracking.
Best Fall Detection
Best Security Company Offering
Wondering what exactly an alert system is, what it does, and how to find the best one? You’re in the right place!
Medical Alert Systems — also known as Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), or even medical emergency response systems (MERS) — are worn by seniors or anyone prone to falls or medical issues that could require immediate medical attention.
These life-saving devices provide more independence and peace of mind for seniors, their loved ones, and caregivers. But … not all alert systems are cut from the same cloth.
Some, like Medical Guardian’s new MGMove, are stylish smartwatches for active older adults who like to be protected while out and about. Others, like AloeCare Health’s Smart Hub, provide comprehensive in-home safety features including activity monitors to assist caregivers. Some are landline based; others are cellular. Some require you to purchase equipment up-front; others offer equipment as part of their monthly monitoring price.
We’ve spent hundreds of hours testing the most popular alert systems on the market, and we revisit products regularly so we can keep you updated on the latest technology and the latest prices. (For instance, check out the free month of service you can get when you sign up for LifeFone, as well as new home and mobile combo packages available from Bay Alarm Medical.)
|System||Bay Alarm Medical||Medical Guardian||ADT Medical Alert System||Aloe Care Health||LifeFone||Medical Alert||Lifeline||GetSafe||Lively||WellBe Medical Alert Plus|
|Ranking||1st View Packages||2nd View Packages||3rd View Packages||4th||5th View Packages||6th||7th See Our Top Picks||8th View Packages||9th View Packages||10th View Packages|
|Best Accolade||Best Overall||Best Fall Detection||Best Security Offering||Best for Caregivers||Best Customer Service||Best Response Center||Best Brand Recognition||Best In-Home||Best Mobile Options||Best Innovation|
|Connectivity||Landline & Cellular||Landline, Cellular, and Wi-Fi||Landline & Cellular||Cellular||Landline & Cellular||Landline & Cellular||Landline and Cellular||Cellular||Cellular||Cellular|
|Monthly Cost||Starting at $24.95/mo||Starting at $29.99/mo||Starting at $29.99/mo||Starting at $29.99/mo||Starting at $24.95/mo||Starting at $19.95/mo||Starting at $29.95/mo||Starting at $27.95/mo||Starting at $24.99/mo||Starting at $29.95/mo|
|Fall Detection||$10/mo||$10/mo||$10/mo||Included in some plans||$5/mo||$10/mo||Included in some plans||$10/mo||Included in some plans||Not available|
|In-Home Range||Up to 1,300 Feet||Up to 1,400 Feet||Up to 600 Feet||200 ft.||Up to 1,300 Feet||Up to 800 Feet||Up to 800 Feet||Up to 1,300 Feet||N/A||N/A|
|Battery Backup||Up to 32-hours||Up to 32-hours||Up to 30-hours||Yes||Up to 42-hours||Up to 30-hours||Up to 30 Hours||Up to 32-hours||Up to 82-hours||No|
|Read Review||Bay Alarm Medical Review||Medical Guardian Review||ADT Medical Alert Review||Aloe Care Health Review||Lifefone Review||Medical Alert Review||Lifeline Review||Getsafe Review||Lively Review||WellBe Medical Alert Plus Review|
Bay Alarm Medical leads the pack when it comes to value and service. With 70+ years of innovation under their belt, these alert systems are ideal for seniors who desire affordable peace of mind.
Bay Alarm Medical offers multiple monthly plan options that start as low as $24.95 per month. They are innovators, adding new or updated products to their lineup to meet market demand. For example, in 2022, they replaced their traditional on-the-go device with the SOS Mobile, an updated on-the-go version. It is sleek, lightweight, and offers the choice of a Verizon or AT&T 4G connection. Bay Alarm also offers the SOS Smartwatch, popular with active older adults who want a discreet device with extra features. And for those seniors who want full coverage, the company now offers an All-in-One combo plan that includes both home and mobile monitoring for as little as $39.95 a month.
Bay Alarm Medical has been family owned and operated since 1946. Additionally, all their products are made in the U.S.A. They have three redundant call centers that are accredited and CSAA Five Diamond Certified. They offer four different equipment packages that range from $24.95 to $39.95 per month, with a wide variety of options that include at-home and on-the-go solutions. They also offer the ability to combine different packages at a discounted bundle price. Plus, all at-home packages come with free spouse monitoring, provided that you buy an add-on pendant for your spouse.
Medical Guardian is a favorite among seniors. Users can choose between traditional or cellular coverage and can purchase a pendant or wristband. Medical Guardian’s newest product offering is the MGMove, a stylish smartwatch with advanced features.
One of the real advantages of the Medical Guardian alert system is that you have flexibility and control when it comes to pricing. For one thing, the company doesn’t require any long-term contracts. That means you can sign up for a plan with the confidence that you always switch to another service or drop service altogether if you need to. In addition, Medical Guardian won’t surprise you with any hidden fees. We suspect that pricing is one reason the company is rated so highly among its users.
Medical Guardian offers two different at-home packages which cost $29.95 per month for the Classic Guardian and $34.95 per month for the Home Guardian 2.0. You can connect with their services using either your landline or an available cellular option.
They offer three on-the-go options as well, the Mobile 2.0, Mini Guardian, or MGMove, which all cost $39.95 per month. The on-the-go options are all GPS enabled with Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity. Note that the at-home equipment comes with a battery backup and offer varying ranges from 1,300 -1,400 feet. On the other hand, the mobile alert devices all have an unlimited range. And there’s an add-on fall-detection feature for only $10 per month available on all plans. Also keep in mind that Medical Guardian is continually running specials, so make sure you look for their current specials before you commit.
ADT has been in the home security business for almost 150 years, so it’s no surprise that it provides one of the best medical alert monitoring systems on the market. Equipment is state-of-the-art, there are no long-term contracts, and activation is free.
ADT has been in business for 140 years, they have over 8 million customers, 200 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, and a rock-solid reputation to back up their products and services.
ADT Health keeps it simple with three plans: the Medical Alert Basic (in-home), Medical Alert Plus (in-home), and On-The-Go (mobile). There is no charge for the equipment; however, the monthly monitoring charges range from $29.99 to $39.99 per month.
Their in-home systems feature a temperature sensor not seen on most base units offered by other providers. However, the range between the base unit and help button is low compared to other brands. The Medical Alert Basic has a 300-foot range, and the Medical Alert Plus has a 600-foot range.
Customer-friendly policies are one of ADT Health’s strengths. This includes their ForeveRate, a price-lock guarantee on monthly fees, no contracts, no hidden fees, and a lifetime warranty.
ADT Health medical alert system add-ons are limited. They offer additional waterproof wearables (white or black waterproof wristband or pendant help button), the fall detection service, a leather case for the mobile device, and a lockbox.
The company bills itself as “The world’s most advanced medical alert system.” And with advanced caregiver tools like built-in motion sensors for activity monitoring, along with voice-activated help calls and GPS location tracking — we think this Aloe Care Health has a lot going for it.
Although Aloe Care Health is relatively new-to-market, you definitely don’t want to write them off. We recently tested their “Essentials Plus” package and were thoroughly impressed by the advanced capabilities.
Aloe Care Health offers 24/7 coverage with an automatic fall detection option (as expected), but the features and tech really take off from there. The well-designed caregiver app allows you to check in on your loved one, with real-time updates on their activity/movement and even their air-quality. And with voice-activated help calls, seniors can access the emergency helpline using only their voice.
Aloe Care Health offers four different options, including an on-the-go system and three at-home packages that all include an advanced base unit. Aloe Care Health prices start at a reasonable $24.99 per month and range up to $49.99 monthly, which is right in line with the industry average. However, keep in mind that you will need to purchase the equipment upfront, which isn’t exactly cheap. But still, we think Aloe Care Health is a great option for seniors who could use a little extra care and coverage.
LifeFone provides excellent customer service along with a full lineup of products that meets the needs of seniors in all walks of life. They have earned a loyal customer base and good reviews over their more than 40 years in the medical alert business.
LifeFone offers five systems: two at-home, two on-the-go, and one hybrid. Their at-home landline and cellular systems couple a unique feature, temperature sensors, with great range — 1,300 feet. These sophisticated systems come with a slightly above average price for at-home systems. Monthly fees start at $29.95.
Lifefone also offers sophistication with their on-the go systems, the VIP and VIPX. What really stands out with these devices is their battery life — up to 30 days with the VIP and up to 16 days with the VIPX. The VIPX also comes with the option to add the Caregiver App which includes tracking for location, activity and first motion of the day. On-the-go system monthly fees are also somewhat pricey, starting at $43.95 per month.
While monthly fees may be high, you will be getting a break in other areas. You will not be charged an equipment fee for LifeFone’s high-tech devices. In addition, you will not find any hidden fees, and you will receive a 30-day, money-back guarantee trial period. Plus, the company is always offering special deals. Right now you can get a month of service, plus free activation and free shipping when you sign up for any of the company’s plans.
Medical Alert delivers at-home and on-the-go coverage for you or your loved one. Rest easy with plug-and-play ease, 24/7 monitoring, and bilingual operators in 140 different languages.
Medical Alert is part of Connect America, which is a nationwide company that specializes in Personal Emergency Response Services (PERS). They are headquartered outside of Philadelphia, PA. Additionally, they are a CSAA Five Diamond Certified response center that supports multiple languages. They are also a 24/7 UL Accredited emergency monitoring center. Connect America Medical has been in business for 42 years and currently has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Medical Alert offers two at-home plans: landline and wireless. They also offer one on-the-go plan. These plans range from $22.95 per month to $42.95 per month with the fall detection option costing extra. The at-home systems come with a base unit, wristband, and neck pendant. The on-the-go system comes with a charging base, handheld device with GPS location services, and an interchangeable wrist/neck button.
Medical Alert has redundant CSAA Five Diamond Certified response centers that offer 24/7 monitoring and bilingual operators in 140 different languages. However, they don’t have any available add-ons (except for the fall detection) as other medical alert services do.
Additionally, their products and services are easy to use. All you have to do once you receive your system is plug the base unit into a wall outlet, connect the phone cord (if you are using a landline system) and turn it on. If you should ever need assistance, you simply push the button and you will be immediately connected to a trained operator who will assist you or send help if needed. The on- the-go system is just as easy to use. You simply plug in the charger and push the help button should you need assistance. And, the on- the-go help devices are equipped with GPS location services should you ever need assistance, become disoriented, or don’t know where you are. Someone is always there to help.
A half-century ago, Lifeline Systems pioneered medical alert coverage. Today, the Philips-owned company offers personal care plans, 12 second average response times, and a name you can count on.
Lifeline has been in business for 45 years and was the original medical alert services provider in the industry. They have been one of the top medical alert providers over the years, and they still are today. They were originally called Philips Lifeline and were run by hospitals and other healthcare facilities. However, in 2006 they were acquired by Lifeline Systems which is headquartered in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Lifeline offers three different plan options; two at-home plans and one on-the-go plan, which all range from $29.95 per month to $49.95 per month. There’s a one-time, $50 activation fee with each at-home plan, and the on-the-go plan has a $99.95 device fee.
All plans come with 24/7, 365 monitoring, month-to-month billing, and a personalized response plan. You will be provided with a base unit and a medical alert pendant with both at-home plans. The GoSafe 2 comes with a charger and a medical alert pendant. Lifeline has several options that can be added on, such as the AutoAlert fall detection, which is included on all plans except the HomeSafe Standard. You can add on the Automated Medication Dispensing Service for $59.95 per month as well.
Don’t want to wear a help button? No problem. GetSafe offers low-cost in-home units that leverage voice assist technology to keep seniors safe.
GetSafe is a new product for seniors offered by Bay Alarm Medical, one of our highest-rated alert systems. We think GetSafe is the perfect solution to aging safely at home, without having to wear a necklace pendant or wristband around the home. This system uses a 4G LTE base unit (powered by AT&T cell towers, no landline required) with built-in two-way talk. If you or your loved one needs help, say “Call 9-1-1-” two times and an emergency response agent will be on the line to help.
GetSafe equipment costs start at $79 for a base unit, a voice-activated wall button, and a lanyard help button. But you can spend as much as $229 for multiple voice-activated buttons and traditional wall buttons. Monitoring will only set you back $24.95 per month, which is surprisingly affordable considering what you get.
Thankfully, GetSafe does have optional wearables, just to cover all the bases. They also offer a mobile GPS unit for an additional fee. And if you really want peace of mind, we recommend signing up with automatic fall detection — this $10 per month upgrade isn’t 100% accurate all the time, but it’s known to save lives.
All in all, we really think GetSafe brings some much-needed innovation to the medical alert system market. And we’d definitely recommend it to our loved ones.
It all started with the ever-popular Lively phone. Now Lively offers a lineup of feature-packed alert systems perfect for the active senior. And their average response time is the best in the business.
Lively is unique among medical alert companies because they began as a phone company. The fact that their phones were targeted at seniors made it inevitable that they would eventually offer medical alert devices as well. The cool thing, though, is that you don’t have to purchase a clunky device or a wearable pendant to get full service monitoring. The Jitterbug Smart3 and Flip2 let you combine monitoring with all the features of smart phones. You can text, email, check the news, surf the web, and still be protected should you have a medical emergency.
Lively is a well-known name with a great reputation when it comes to senior products and services. Lively’s traditional medical alert devices offer three Health & Safety packages that range from $24.99 per month to $39.99 per month that include features such as urgent care (access to registered doctors and nurses), a Lively Link (to stay connected with friends and family), product replacement, and fall detection depending on the package you choose. They have a wide variety of affordable accessories you can purchase as well. And, if you are in need of a mobile phone, they offer flip-phones and smartphones with a 5Star emergency button and other advanced features like brain games and voice typing.
HandsFree Health has developed the innovative WellBe alert system that puts the focus on preventative health and wellness, while still offering the safety features of traditional medical alerts.
WellBe offers another unique medical alert system with access to features you might not expect. HandsFree Health, a company developed by healthcare executives, designed the WellBe specifically to allow seniors better access to their medical information. That way you can keep an eye on your long-term health at the same time you’re protected in case of a medical emergency.
The WellBe Smart Speaker is similar to Alexa or Siri but with a focus on health and wellness. It can pull information from a curated health database, answer questions about your insurance plan, announce medication reminders, and alert you to upcoming doctor appointments or prescription refills.
The WellBe Watch is an on-the-go medical alert device with location detection and an emergency help button that connects to well-trained monitoring center agents. Extra enhanced features include a pedometer, a heart monitor and access to the same curated health database used by the speaker.
HandsFree Health offers four packages with equipment fees that range in price from $89.95 to $159.95. As for monthly fees, you will pay $29.95 per month for the smart watch and WellBe pendant and $54.95 for the WellBe Medical Alert Plus, a hybrid package that includes both the speaker and the watch. If you buy the smart speaker only, there are no subscription fees as you will not have the ability to connect with the monitoring center.
Our senior care experts personally test, review, and recommend systems that are the best in their category. Everything we publish is 100% unbiased and objective.
And we would never recommend products that we don’t truly believe in. This means you get an expert in your corner to guide you and help you find an alert system that makes sense for your budget and lifestyle.
Our goal is to remain a top resource that helps seniors live more independently with peace of mind. And we can only accomplish this if readers like you trust our integrity and ethics. So we always strive to remain:
You might already know that our research and testing results in our proprietary SecureScore™. This score covers 5 important categories: Customer Service, Value, Equipment, Features and Technology, and Ease of Use. In other words, we do our best to get a full understanding of what it’s like to actually use the best alert systems on a daily basis. Then we share our findings with you! We do the homework so that you don’t have to.
It’s no secret that there are lots of medical alert systems to choose from. But narrowing down your options and making a decision doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it should be easy! That said, you’ll want to look out for little things that can turn into big-time deal-breakers.
For instance, not all help buttons are waterproof (there goes safe showering!). And did you know that some only have a 300 ft. range from the base station, while others work up to 1,300 ft. or more. Also, certain alert systems only work at home, while others work on-the-go. Don’t worry — we’re going to show you exactly what to look for in a medical alert system.
FYI: Most slip and falls happen in the bathroom, that’s why we always recommend a waterproof alert system. With a waterproof device, you or your loved one can bathe or shower without sacrificing safety.
As they say, you don’t know what you don’t know! That’s why you have us. We’re going to cover features and monitoring, monthly costs and fees, customer service, and other important points you should keep in mind. So let’s dive right in.
Now, you might be tempted to go straight to the top-rated alert system on the market, place your order, and call it a day. But that could be a mistake. While Bay Alarm Medical and Medical Guardian are ranked #1 and #2 on our list, you should know that each brand out there sells a handful of different devices, each meant for totally different lifestyles.
In truth, the best alert system depends on your lifestyle and coverage preferences. Or, if you’re shopping for a loved one, the alert system you choose should make sense for their activity level or lifestyle. For instance, if you spend a lot of time at home, we recommend an in-home alert system. But if you live an active lifestyle and love visiting friends or going shopping, then a mobile alert system is the better choice.
FYI: If you or a loved one lives with diabetes, there are a few unique features to look out for when shopping for an alert system. Learn all about it in our guide to the best medical alert devices for diabetics. It’s important to do your research up front, especially since some brands charge high prices for what you get. In our research, we found that while Life Alert’s GPS systems might work for diabetics, Life Alert costs are pretty high.
In-Home Alert Systems – A pendant alert will summon emergency response help at the push of the button. Note that the biggest advantage of in-home systems is their affordability: they range between $19.99 to $29.99 per month. But their main weakness is their short range. Some will keep you protected while you’re in your house and gardening out back, but you won’t have coverage when you leave home. So that’s something to keep in mind.
Pro Tip: In-home or mobile alert? It’s the age-old question. And it’s the primary difference between alert systems. If you can swing the extra cost, we recommend choosing a mobile unit, especially if you or your loved one lives an active lifestyle.
Mobile Alert Systems – We think these are great for active seniors who want emergency coverage on-the-go. Instead of running off your home Wi-Fi network or landline, mobile medical alerts are powered by reliable cellular signals (just like modern smartphones!). This means you can go pretty much anywhere in the country, so long as there’s a cell signal. You can choose from bracelets, necklace pendants, and even fashion-forward smartwatches.
One nice feature of some mobile alert systems is GPS location tracking. This allows emergency personnel to quickly locate your whereabouts when it matters most. If you have an elderly parent who is prone to getting lost or disoriented, you’ll probably want a mobile alert with GPS. We think you’ll like the unlimited range, but keep in mind they do cost more than at-home alerts.
Thankfully, it only takes a few minutes to set up an alert system. Most brands offer plug-and-play setup these days. If you have an in-home unit, you’ll plug the base station into your wall and follow the step-by-step prompts. Mobile units are even easier to get started. So even if you’re not Bob Vila with lots of DIY handy skills, you should have no issues. That said, some seniors choose to have their tech-savvy children set it up for good measure.
These devices are meant to save your life during a health crisis or other emergency. Every second matters, so you can imagine that the products are easy to use (actually, they’re foolproof!). And if it’s not easy to use, you won’t find it anywhere on our site.
No matter the time of day or night, all you have to do is press the help button and your alert sends a signal to a professional monitoring center. The monitoring center fields the alert, typically within 20-30 seconds, and they jump into action to get you the help you need. They can call police, fire, or EMS. Alternatively, they can call a friend or family member to check on you.
Did You Know: One of our top-rated medical alert systems, Lifeline, has an impressive 12-second average response time.
It’s also worth mentioning that the best alert devices come with two-way talk. With a built-in microphone and speaker, you or your loved one can communicate with emergency agents directly through the wearable unit, or via the base station. And again, we’ve found that almost every medical alert system is intuitive and easy to use. Although, some are easier than others!
When you’re researching at-home medical alert systems, you’ll notice that many offer either a landline or cellular connection. So what’s the difference? Well, the difference is night and day. We recommend a system that works best for you in communicating with the monitoring center so that you can get help immediately. Remember, seconds matter when it comes to an emergency.
With this in mind, landline alerts tend to be a bit slower, but they are also the cheapest. Cellular systems can be quicker. However, they use the provider’s cellular connection. Choose a cellular system only if you receive a strong signal in the area that you live.
While some brands require upfront payment for equipment, you’ll like that today’s best alert companies include the equipment for free with paid monitoring. So it’s usually pretty cheap to get started. Depending on the type of system you choose, you should expect to pay between $19.99 and $49.99 per month for potentially life-saving emergency coverage. Here’s a basic rundown of monitoring costs:
Some companies, like Life Alert, require miscellaneous fees like membership fees and activation fees. Of course, we’d rather not pay these additional costs, but sometimes it’s worth it. We recommend finding a system that doesn’t charge extra fees (and there are lots out there!). But if you do have to fork out a little more money to get started, just be sure it’s under $100.
We think a company that charges a dime more than $100 just to get started probably cares more about making money than helping seniors. So steer clear of those guys! Thankfully you can get the coverage you need without breaking the bank. Aim to keep your first bill (and subsequent bills) under $40-$50, even with fall detection.
Fall detection is a popular add-on that we’ve tested extensively. It’s usually built into an alert device, and it automatically signals the monitoring center when it detects a slip or fall. Note that most alert companies charge a flat fee of $10 per month for fall detection. But keep an eye out for $5 monthly fall detection — as top brands like LifeFone offer it on-the-cheap.
FYI: Fall detection isn’t 100% accurate, but we still recommend getting this life-saving upgrade. For an extra $10 monthly, your alert system can call for emergency help, even if you’re not able to! That’s money well spent in our eyes.
You can also buy add-ons like a key lockbox to give first responders access to your home during an emergency ($29-$49), a Vial of Life to share your medical history and medications with first responders ($10), and extra help buttons for around your home ($10-$20). We advise you to go easy on the add-ons and upgrades, as you can always buy them as needed in the future.
In our experience, we’ve found that a handful of medical alert companies are staying on the cutting-edge of innovation. These are companies like Medical Guardian, Lively, and Bay Alarm Medical. They are constantly unveiling new technology and making advances in the field of senior safety.
While our list below of the latest (and greatest!) technology isn’t 100% exhaustive, it does cover the main advances in the medical alert industry as of late. Of course, the features and tech will continue to evolve over the years, as competition is sure to drive innovation. Thankfully it’s a win-win situation for seniors and caregivers alike. Here are a few of our favorite alert features.
FYI: Many medical alert devices use Bluetooth to ensure a reliable connection. Interested in a Bluetooth-enabled system? Check out our in-depth Bluetooth mobile medical alert guide.
Very few companies require lengthy contracts these days, and most don’t require any contract at all. That’s really good news. The way we see it, aging is an uncertain new stage of life, and companies should offer flexibility in their terms and conditions. So keep in mind there’s no need to sign a contract, as there are loads of top quality medical alert systems that offer affordable month-to-month deals.
You’ll also want to look for other customer-friendly policies like money-back guarantees, free activation, free shipping, and the like. The truth is, alert systems are becoming more popular every day, so companies are scrambling to secure their share of the market — which means deals and discounts for folks like you!
We offered information on Medicare coverage in bite-sized pieces above. You may be thinking: doesn’t this cover everyone using medical devices? The vast majority of individuals who use or might benefit from using a medical alert device receive their medical benefits through some form of Medicare. But not everyone. Below are a few other groups of people who might be seeking coverage for medical alert devices.
(One other group not yet mentioned are individuals using Veteran’s benefits. We will discuss these benefits in more detail below.)
The three groups of individuals mentioned above use either job-based insurance plans, plans bought directly from insurance companies or plans purchased through the “marketplace” set up by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
We have noticed that health insurance plans are covering more and more preventative services than they have done in years past. So whether private insurance companies completely cover or discount medical alert devices is a great question to ask. Unfortunately, the answer for most insurance companies is no, medical alert devices are not covered by insurance. We do recommend contacting your provider to learn about the specifics in your policy.
From what we’ve seen, the Veteran’s Administration (VA) partners with two medical alert companies and offers specific devices sold by these companies to eligible veterans free of charge. Excellent news, right?
Here’s the nitty gritty:
LiveLife Mobile Alarm offers a wearable device that provides a great basic level of protection. Their pendant is worn around the neck and is programmed to text and call designated contacts including 911. Because it connects to a 4GX network, it also includes two-way talk and location detection. One thing to note: it doesn’t include (and this is an integral piece of most other systems) the ability to connect with a certified, 24/7 monitoring center. However, the device does include fall detection, a feature that we think is very important.
The other available device is offered through MedEquip Alert. Worn as a necklace or clipped to a belt, it runs on an LTE wireless service so can be used both at home and while away. The device does include two-way talk with a 24/7 monitoring center. We also like the GPS tracking. It does have one disadvantage – no fall detection.
Though each system is missing one or two features found in other systems, we love that the VA provides a basic level of safety and protection to our older veterans. As you can see above, full insurance coverage of medical alert devices is uncommon – it definitely is not a standard insurance benefit. It is great to see that this benefit is going to our veterans.
And, the VA offers one more option for seniors looking for medical alert systems. If a veteran prefers another system, perhaps one that is more comprehensive, no problem. VA Medical Health Care will provide partial coverage.
If you’re a military veteran or are caring for one, we recommend visiting our roundup of the best medical alert systems for veterans for more tips on aging with confidence.
If you’re on the fence about getting an alert system for yourself or a loved one, we’d like to encourage you to go for it. These devices will almost certainly give you greater peace of mind, and they could even save a life.
As far as our recommendations on individual devices and alert companies, we’ve revealed those above in our ‘Best Medical Alerts Systems’ list. You really can’t go wrong with any of those brands, but a few of our favorites are Bay Alarm Medical, Medical Guardian, and LifeFone.
The truth is, any protection that helps you age safely and with confidence is better than no protection at all. In other words, any alert system is better than no alert system! That’s an important point we like to emphasize. Thankfully, you can find alerts that cost less than $20 per month, and without contracts or any hidden fees to worry about (we personally can’t stand hidden fees).
All in all, medical alert systems have never been more accessible, affordable, and easy to wear. We hope this comprehensive guide has enriched your search and has helped you to narrow down your options to find the right fit!
Do I Need Fall Detection?
It depends. We typically recommend fall detection for seniors who are prone to slip and falls, like seniors with balance problems, bone & joint issues, diabetes, vision loss, and the like. If you or your loved one is still active at home (and away from home), fall detection might not be necessary. But it’s an individual choice that you have to make. The good news is that it only costs an extra $10 per month. And since nearly 3 million older people fall every year and end up in the ER, we think it’s an incredibly important feature to have.
Should My Spouse be Covered as Well?
You should certainly consider an alert system for your spouse or partner. After all, if you two aren’t together if/when an emergency occurs, one of you will get the short end of the deal. The good news is that most medical alert companies offer coverage for a spouse or other household occupant at a greatly reduced price. Sometimes they’ll even offer additional coverage for free. So in our eyes, there’s no reason to forego coverage for your spouse or partner.
Should I Get a Water-resistant or Waterproof Alert?
As experts, we always recommend a full-on waterproof alert device. We mentioned before that most falls happen in the bathtub or shower, so you should think of the bathroom as a hot-spot for medical emergencies. Now, if you go with a water-resistant pendant (or another wearable), it won’t function when submerged or exposed to heavy water use. A waterproof help button, on the other hand, will keep you protected even when submerged. So it’s easy to see the advantage of waterproof alert systems. That said, it’s best to check with the manufacturer to clarify the capabilities of their medical devices before deciding on which one is right for you.
Are Medical Alert Systems Covered by Medicare?
Unfortunately, no they aren’t covered by Medicare at this time. Since Medicare does not consider these devices as a “medical necessity,” they typically are not covered by Medicare Parts A and B. Obviously, the majority of seniors and leaders in the medical alert industry (including us!) argue that alert systems are absolutely a medical necessity. But don’t expect your Medicare plan to cover your monthly monitoring fee. With that said, in some cases, Medicare Part C does cover alerts. It’s also worth noting that certain healthcare reimbursement accounts (HSA’s) cover alert devices as well.
Should I Get an At-home or Mobile Alert System?
That’s an easy one to answer! We recommend you get an at-home system if you (or your loved one) spends the majority of your time at home. However, if you live a more active lifestyle and leave home often, we recommend getting a cellular mobile alert system.
NCBI. Chaudhuri, S. et. al. (October, 2014). Fall Detection Devices and their Use with Older Adults: A Systematic Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4087103/
Library of Congress. (Accessed July 19, 2020). What is a GPS? How does it work? https://www.loc.gov/everyday-mysteries/item/what-is-gps-how-does-it-work/
LTE Telecommunication. Wikipedia. (Retrieved July 20, 2020). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTE_(telecommunication)
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Butry, D.T; et. al. (2017, August 22). NIST Study Suggests Frailty Makes Elderly More Likely to Die in Home Fires. https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2017/08/nist-study-suggests-frailty-makes-elderly-more-likely-die-home-fires
After earning a degree in journalism, Jenny Wisniewski spent much of her professional life in education; however, she returned to writing in earnest in the senior care space, acting as caregiver to her mother. She has hand-tested the industry’s top medical alert systems, writing nearly 50 in-depth articles that help seniors age safely in place. Jenny also covers caregiving, Medicare, assisted living, memory care, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Previously, she’s written for national publications such as Country Magazine and Sierra Magazine. Jenny holds dual bachelor’s degrees in English/Journalism and Political Science from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She currently resides in Milwaukee, WI.