What Are Medical Alert Systems?
We often get this question from caregivers and seniors alike, so let’s discuss in detail what medical alert systems actually are, and the countless benefits they offer. You’ll be amazed at how these simple but powerful devices deliver priceless peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
Help can be summoned at the push of a button. When the help button is pressed, a signal is sent to the base station, and the base station automatically sends an alert to the monitoring station that is staffed by professional emergency responders. The emergency responders then take any necessary action to ensure you get the care you need. This could be a quick call to your caregiver, a loved one, or a neighbor — or it could mean calling 911 for an ambulance. Often times, the alert system will have a two-way talk feature which allows the emergency operators to speak directly to the senior through the base station. This feature offers comfort and reassurance when and where you need it most.
Unlike home security systems, emergency medical alert systems all have 24/7 professional monitoring. And many offer a feature called ‘fall detection’ as an upgrade ($10/mo. and well worth it). We’ll discuss fall detection in detail in just a bit, but this feature automatically senses a fall and sends an alert to the monitoring station. This can be life-saving in the event the senior is unconscious or otherwise unable to press the button to summon help.
Types of Medical Alert Systems
There are two main types of medical alert systems. These are ‘in-home’ and ‘mobile’ alerts. In-home systems are ideal for those who spend most of their time at home. The pendant (or other worn device) works within the base-station range, usually between 300 and 1,500 sq. feet.
Then we have mobile alerts, which work great for active seniors who desire coverage on-the-go. These worn devices come in a variety of styles. Choose from bracelets, necklaces, watches (even smartwatches), belt-clips, etc. — most of which feature modern, inconspicuous, and even fashionable designs. Many mobile alert devices/systems are outfitted with GPS location service. This is another potentially life-saving feature that allows first responders to quickly locate your whereabouts in the event of an emergency. A mobile alert stacked with GPS technology will keep you safe at home, at the mall, walking in your neighborhood, and even while you’re out hiking the local trails. (But double check with your provider to learn about the range and/or any limitations of your mobile device.)
Medical Alert Technology
Now let’s touch briefly on the technology that powers medical alert systems.
In-home systems have traditionally required a landline connection. However, the ever-evolving technology has made way for both cellular and wireless hookups. Cellular works anywhere your cell phone does, as it simply pings a local tower to function (like a cell phone). A wireless connection, on the other hand, utilizes a Wi-Fi connection. So gone are the days of needing a local landline to receive coverage.
Many devices are waterproof, or at least water resistant. It is highly recommended that you purchase something that will function in the shower or bath, as most slip and falls happen in the bathroom. And you do not want to be left high and dry in a wet situation! Thankfully, waterproof devices are becoming the standard.
Contracts and Agreements
As far as contracts go, some companies require lengthy ones, while others don’t require any contract at all. There’s really no need to sign a contract, as there are loads of great medical alert systems that offer low-price, no-contract, month-to-month deals.
Always keep a lookout for other customer-friendly policies. These include things like money-back guarantees, free activation, free shipping, and the like. These alert systems are becoming more popular every day, so companies are scrambling to secure their share of the market — which means deals and steals for you!
So there’s your overview of medical alert systems, what they are, how they work, what you can expect, and how they benefit seniors. They are extremely helpful, and considering their affordability, an alert system is perhaps the best investment you can make for yourself or your loved one.
Features of the Best Medical Alert Systems
Have you been wondering if features matter when buying a medical alert system? And if so, which features matter in a medical alert system? You probably already know that a medical alert system comes with a help button, but for most people, that is the extent of their knowledge when it comes to the subject. However, there is so much more to learn before deciding on which system is right for you and when it comes to making sure you or your loved one is 100% covered in, around, and outside of the home at all times.
Having the right features could mean the difference between an accident and a tragedy. Therefore, it is well worth spending a little time learning the most important features for your particular situation. So, yes, features matter when it comes to buying a medical alert system—they matter a lot!
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of medical alert devices and their vast array of necessary and not so necessary features. This will help you make an educated decision about which of those features are right for you or your loved one and which ones you never want to go without.
Medical Alert System Technology
Why go with a standard package when you can have the latest and greatest technology? A handful of medical alert companies are staying on the cutting edge of innovation. They are constantly unveiling impressive technology to keep you or your loved one safe from slip and falls, medical emergencies, disorientation, and the list goes on. Some of the following technology is included with alert plans, while others are typically offered as a paid upgrade. So without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Medical alert system technology includes:
- Automatic Fall Detection: We covered this in detail already, but we haven’t really discussed the powerful technology that drives fall detection. In a nutshell, fall detection works using the same electromechanical technology that airbags use to save lives. With a combination of accelerometers, sensors, and sophisticated algorithms, fall detection devices measure acceleration and changes in velocity. If the system senses a sudden change in speed or velocity, the alert system automatically contacts the monitoring center on your behalf.
- GPS Location Services: The technology behind GPS location services is nothing short of fascinating. GPS (or Global Positioning System) uses 30 satellites that orbit approximately 12,500 miles above the Earth’s surface. Now let’s say you happen to slip and fall while out for a walk. Your medical alert system with GPS will intercept 3 different signals from the satellites, and essentially triangulate your exact location. This allows a caregiver or emergency responders to find you in a jiffy.
- Two-way communication (on devices and base station): Many medical alert systems offer two-way communication to help in the event of a fall or other emergency. Our top-rated alert system, Bay Alarm Medical, offers one of the best two-way speakers in the industry. The technology uses high-output speakers and sensitive microphones that allow you to communicate clearly when you need it most. Some systems even allow you to answer phone calls using two-way voice. This is especially helpful for seniors who do not have a high level of mobility.
- 4G LTE Technology: As an aging adult who needs a medical alert system, connection speed matters. Get the fastest speeds around with 4G LTE technology. One great thing about 4G LTE is that you do not need a landline, and in most cases, this upgrade is typically cheaper than installing a landline. The connection speeds and reliability you get with 4G LTE is unrivaled. This upgrade usually costs between $8-$12/mo.
- Access to Doctors: This technology is only offered by select medical alert companies. But it’s incredibly helpful for those with existing medical conditions, such as diabetes, or seniors who frequently have medical-related questions. Having an urgent care option allows you to access registered doctors and nurses at the push of a button. Sometimes an emergency doesn’t require an ambulance, and that’s when access to doctors really becomes useful.
- Mobile app / Caregiver tools: Here’s a whole suite of helpful technology for caregivers of seniors. Many alert systems allow caregivers to track their loved one’s whereabouts using a well-designed companion app. Other than location monitoring, you can review activity reports, communicate, receive event notifications, and more.
- Remote Call Answering Capability: This technology falls under the caregiver tools category. It allows someone to call your phone, and after a predetermined number of rings they can input a pass-code to remotely answer your phone. They can then speak and listen to their loved one using two-way voice. Remote call answering technology can be helpful in certain extreme circumstances.
- FAST response times: This doesn’t point to any specific technology — it’s more of a nod to the monitoring centers. A handful of medical alert systems (see our list above) are powered by CSAA Five Diamond monitoring centers. The centers are certified, staffed with highly-trained emergency responders, and in most cases offer response times under 30 seconds. Some medical alert companies have responders on-the-line in 12 seconds flat. Fast response time can make all the difference when the seconds matter most.
- Environmental monitoring: Many in-home hazards are a threat to seniors. Whether it’s smoke from an electrical fire, or a carbon monoxide leak, environmental monitoring can be life-saving. Certain medical alert systems offer this technology as an upgrade. Environmental monitoring stands in the gap as an added layer of protection for you or your loved one.
- More than 140+ languages supported: Many monitoring centers are capable of communicating in multiple languages. In fact, some boast upwards of 140+ languages. This capability has never been more important, as a substantial number of Americans do not speak English as their first language. In the event of a medical emergency, customers can feel confident that they will receive the response and care they need in their own language.
This list of the latest and greatest alert system technology isn’t 100% exhaustive. But it does cover the main technological advances in the medical alert industry as of 2019. Rest assured the technology will continue to evolve over the years, as competition drives innovation. It’s a win-win situation for seniors and caregivers alike.
When shopping for a medical alert system for yourself or a loved one, be sure to review the features and technology in detail. There are loads of impressive functions that will help to keep you safe and sound as you live out your best years yet.
What Is the Right Fit for You and Your Family?
The best way to determine which medical alert device is the right fit for you and your family is by asking the right questions. But how do you know the right questions to ask if you don’t know much about how they all work? Well, that’s where a little research comes in handy.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you ultimately determine which features you need and which ones you don’t.
Should I have a cellular or landline system?
Well, that depends. They each have their own advantages, so it will pretty much depend on your home and preferences.
A landline option is connected directly to a phone line and in many cases will require a dedicated phone line for your medical alert system. The benefit of having a landline option is that they aren’t affected by the weather or power outages; however, the lines come with the vulnerability of being cut. But, overall, a landline system is more stable, is less prone to going down, you probably already have the wiring and technology in place, and they are generally more affordable.
A cellular system is wireless; therefore, it doesn’t need any additional connections and there are no lines that can be cut. Additionally, they are portable so they are easy to move around. The only real drawbacks of a cellular system are that you are dependent on the cell service being up and any possible disruptions due to the weather. But the biggest advantage with a cellular system is that it has more capabilities than a landline such as a broader range and the fact that you can use it anywhere versus having to stay within a certain range of the landline connected base unit for it to work.
Is it necessary to have 24/7 monitoring?
Yes, 24/7 medical emergency monitoring is necessary. The entire system is virtually useless unless you have someone monitoring it 24/7. You never know when an emergency will arise; therefore, 24/7 emergency monitoring is one feature you don’t ever want to skip.
Am I comfortable with the ongoing costs of a monitored medical alert system?
The answer to this question is a personal one. There is a broad range of emergency medical product and service options and the same goes for the cost of such. You first have to determine what your exact needs are, then ask yourself what your life and safety are worth to you and your family who needs you? So as long as you are not paying for features you don’t need, then the cost really isn’t a consideration other than comparing apples-to-apples features from different companies to make sure you are getting the best price and service available.
Do I need fall detection?
Fall detection is often sold as an add-on to an existing medical alert package; however, the fall detection feature is one of the most important—if not the most important features of a medical emergency response system. One of the most frequent accidents among seniors is falling. But if you opt for the fall detection feature, you or your loved one will have access to immediate help 24/7 should a fall occur. In fact, some fall detection devices will automatically detect a fall and contact the monitoring center even if you are not able to.
Should I consider GPS location tracking?
Whether you need a GPS location tracking option will depend on your particular situation. If you or your loved one is homebound, etc, then you might not need the GPS location tracking feature. Although it could still be used should your loved one wander away and not know how to get back home. However, if you or your loved one ever travel outside of the home, then yes, you should absolutely consider the GPS location tracking feature. Why? What if you experience a medical emergency or any other type of emergency for that matter, and you can’t speak, talk, or even think for yourself? Then all you would have to do is press the button for help and if you weren’t capable of doing so, your loved ones would have a means of finding you using the GPS location tracking feature to make sure you get back home safely.
Do I need a two-way talk feature?
The two-way talk feature is good to have but is it absolutely necessary—no. However, it does make the communication process much easier and will make sure you receive the proper help more quickly because you will be able to talk with someone at the monitoring center to convey the problem and they can send help, or not, depending on your needs. And, some of the two-way talk features also come with the capability of enabling you to answer your phone remotely using your device. This will keep you from having to physically get up and answer the door should a visitor stop by. Not all two-way talk devices have this capability though, so make sure you confirm this if that is a feature you would like to have.
Are medical alert devices available for non-English speakers?
Yes, medical alert devices are available for non-English speakers. However, not all services offer it. Therefore, if you are a non-English speaking person, look for a medical alert brand that offers their services in different languages. Then confirm they have people who can translate for you in the language of your choice. This will ensure that when you have the need to contact their emergency monitoring center, you will have immediate access to someone who can communicate with you in your first language.
Should my spouse be covered as well?
Yes, you should always consider service for your spouse, partner, roommate, etc. for many reasons. You and your spouse might not always be together when an emergency arises and it won’t help him/her if you are the only one with a help button and you’re not with them when they need it. Also, what if you get into an accident when both of you are together, but only one of you has a help button and that person is not able to push that button for help and the other person can’t get to it? Or, what if you or your partner falls in the shower and the other partner isn’t near enough to hear the cries for help?
There are plenty of reasons to consider coverage for each individual in the household. Additionally, most medical alert systems offer coverage for a spouse or other household occupant at a greatly reduced price. And, sometimes they will even offer additional coverage for free. So there is no reason not to make sure each person in the household has their own coverage.
Do I need a waterproof medical alert device?
Yes, most professionals agree that you do need a waterproof or water-resistant medical alert device. A good majority of accidents occur in the bathtub or shower. If you don’t have a waterproof device, your service won’t do you any good if you are in the bathtub or shower and your medical alert device isn’t with you. With that being said, you are probably wondering what the difference is between a waterproof medical alert button and a water-resistant medical alert button.
You will see these terms used often when looking for a medical alert device so you need to make sure you know the difference before making any final decisions.
Waterproof Medical Alert Devices
A waterproof medical alert device is one that can be fully submerged in water, such as when you are bathing, showering, or doing anything else where your device will be submerged in water for more than a few minutes and the device will still function as it should without being affected by that water.
Water Resistant Medical Alert Devices
Water resistant medical alert devices are able to resist some water so you won’t have to worry about them being accidentally exposed to water. However, most water-resistant medical alert devices can’t handle being submerged in water for long periods of time, if at all. So some of these can’t be worn in the bathtub or shower. It’s best to check with the manufacturer to clarify the capabilities of their particular medical devices before deciding on which one is right for you.
Is a Home or Portable Medical Alert Device Right for You?
There are different ways a medical alert device can communicate with the monitoring center such as via a landline, wireless, or cellular connection. So you will first need to determine which type of system you want to go with, then you will need to decide what type of device you need such as an at-home only system or an on-the-go (portable/mobile) device.
Here are the different ways your medical alert devices can communicate with a monitoring center.
A landline option is one that communicates with the monitoring center through your home phone line. Some landline options will require you to have a dedicated line for your medical alert system, so make sure you confirm whether or not this is a requirement before deciding on this option.
A wireless option is one that communicates with the monitoring center through your home’s Wi-Fi internet connection. And sometimes the phrasing wireless connection also refers to a cellular connection (which we’ll talk about in a minute) because neither option requires any type of wiring. Additionally, many medical alert systems come as Wi-Fi connections with a cellular backup option which means you can use your internet’s Wi-Fi connection and if you ever lose power or your internet goes down, or, if you go outside of the Wi-Fi’s range, the cellular connection will take over. So as you can see, there’s plenty to consider when deciding on which type of wireless connection you want.
A cellular option is 100% wireless and uses a cell tower signal to communicate with the monitoring center. This is a great option for those who are active, mobile, and are often away from their at-home medical alert system’s base unit. These also frequently come with a GPS location tracking feature so help can be sent to you whenever and wherever you need it and so you can be easily found regardless of where you are.
Here are the different types of portable medical alert devices.
A medical alert bracelet is portable because it is worn on your wrist just like a bracelet. Sometimes a medical alert bracelet has a two-way talk feature and sometimes they only come with a non-communicative help button.
Necklaces & Pendants
A medical alert necklace and/or pendant (you will hear these terms used interchangeably) are both portable and can be worn around your neck just like any other necklace. Some of these are made in a variety of styles and colors. Additionally, some medical alert necklaces and pendants have a two-way talk feature and some only come with a non-communicative help button.
Medical alert watches are portable and can be worn anywhere, just like any other watch. These are also frequently designed to be discreet so it’s not obvious that they are a medical alert device. And, some of these are smart watches with other helpful functions than just being a medical alert device. Some of their other functions might include a fitness tracker, health reminders and other helpful information and can be used in conjunction with your mobile phone. Additionally, some medical alert watches have a two-way talk feature and some only come with a non-communicative help button.
Medical Alert Systems for Grandparents
Our grandparents have always been there for us. That’s why they deserve the best when it comes to medical alert systems. Thankfully, today’s alert companies are releasing quality alert systems that are perfect for grandma or grandpa. Medical alert systems for grandparents come loaded with nifty features that are sure to keep your grandparent safe and sound.
These features include everything up to and including:
- 24/7 emergency response
- Wireless connectivity
- 2-way voice
- Fall detection
- GPS location services
- Nationwide coverage
- And more
Grandparents typically don’t like to fuss and hassle with complicated technology. So you’ll be glad to know the latest alert technology is user friendly. In fact, grandma can have her medical alert system up and running in a matter of minutes. DIY setup and ease-of-use are certainly major draws for the elderly. If and when they experience a medical emergency, all they do is press the button to summon emergency operators. And the highly-trained and friendly operators take it from there.
Now, don’t worry about the emergency operators calling 911 for an ambulance because your grandparent fell and scraped a knee. Most plans allow you to set-up a custom contact list, so you’ll be the first to know if something goes wrong. Of course, in more severe situations, the operators will use their best judgement and send first responders if needed.
The peace of mind that comes with medical alert systems extends to the entire family. You no longer have to worry about a potential slip and fall by grandma, or grandpa wandering off and getting lost. Medical alert systems for grandparents restore confidence all around, and they allow your loved one to reclaim their independence.
Medical alert systems help grandparents who:
- Live at home alone
- Are prone to slips and falls
- Have existing medical issues
- Are active and always on-the-go
- Have a tendency to get lost or lose their direction
- Value a helping hand when they need it most
If you are a grandparent, then you likely know about the life-saving benefits that come with emergency medical alerts. But if you’re an adult with a vulnerable grandparent, it can be difficult to introduce the topic of emergency alerts. The truth is, some aging adults recoil at the idea of wearing a help button. They feel it will limit their autonomy, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
With this in mind, many adults choose to surprise their grandparents with a medical alert device. This can work in some instances. But in many cases it’s worth having ‘the conversation’ to get their buy-in. This will ensure your grandparent actually wears the device, day in and day out.
Whatever you do, be sure to take your grandparent’s lifestyle into consideration. Do they stay at home most of the time? Or are they active and always on-the-go? Do they like to wear jewelry like necklace pendants or wristbands? Or might they prefer a hip device? Are they at high risk of falling? Or are they stable on their feet? Nail down these questions to find the medical alert system that fits the needs of your grandparents.
Don’t overlook emergency medical alerts as a powerful solution to keep your loved one safe during their sunset years — the years when safety and wellbeing becomes a top concern.
Medical Alert Systems for Veterans
If you or your loved one is a Military Veteran who has served our country, then you’ll be delighted to learn about medical alert systems for Veterans. These alert systems deliver independence at the push of a button. They allow you or your loved one to live with confidence, knowing that help is always close at hand.
Veterans value the latest features and benefits that offer freedom and a balanced lifestyle. The medical alert features for veterans often include the following:
- 24/7 Emergency response
- Wireless connectivity
- Mobile monitoring
- Long range
- Fall detection
- 2-way voice
- Nationwide coverage
- GPS location services
- And more
Whether you served in the Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, or Coast Guard, you deserve to feel safe as you age. After all, you served our country, and now it’s time that you get A+ service and reliable emergency responders when you need it most. And there is no better way to find that safety and security than with an alert device. The peace of mind you get with medical alerts is simply unrivaled.
If you or your loved one is a military vet who is homebound, then a landline-based system with a range of 600+ feet is probably a perfect fit. There are also cellular-powered devices that do not require a landline and boast an almost unlimited range. These mobile systems are great for active veterans who like to spend time away from home. Hit the pool hall or talk with friends over coffee at McDonalds, and rest easy with quality coverage and GPS location services. In the event of an emergency, this allows responders to find you no matter your location.
Of course, veterans have discerning taste when it comes to wearables and accessories. You don’t have to wear a necklace pendant. There are other wearable devices that are both fashionable and discreet. Many medical alert companies now offer wristbands and smartwatches, combining form and function to keep you or your loved one safe and stylin’.
Bay Alarm Medical, MobileHelp, and Medical Guardian are counted among the top emergency medical alert systems for Veterans. Each of these companies offer veterans exactly what they need in terms of coverage. But there is a whole range of alert systems that would do the job just fine.
If you’re a vet, look for an emergency alert system that delivers the most bang for the buck. This means it offers stellar customer service, fast response times, durable products, and all at budget-friendly price points. The good news is that you have loads of options. So you shouldn’t have a problem finding a great match to suit your tastes and lifestyle.
Medical Alert Necklaces and Pendants
Medical alert systems that can be worn as necklaces or pendants are fast-becoming a go-to solution for seniors who desire emergency coverage. But these devices aren’t exactly new to the market. In fact, for decades now the necklace pendant alert system has been worn by seniors around the world. But it’s a fairly recent development that companies have made these life-saving devices into sleek, stylish, and discreet alert systems.
Necklace alert systems are easy to use, requiring only the push of a button to summon help. Some come with two-way voice, allowing you to speak and listen to emergency responders directly through the device. This feature allows responders to learn critical information about your emergency to better assist you. The devices can also be outfitted with automatic fall detection, an incredibly important feature for seniors who live alone or aging adults who are prone to slip and falls.
Although these devices sometimes lack in advanced technology, many seniors prefer them for exactly that reason. Necklace pendants offer a no fuss, no headache way to get the help you need, when you need it most. With this in mind, every medical alert system worn as a necklace comes with 24/7 monitoring. Whether it’s day or night, if an emergency strikes or an accident happens, you’ll be comforted knowing that help is always close at hand.
Medical alert system necklaces come stacked with the following features:
- Cellular monitoring with Nationwide Coverage
- In-home and mobile monitoring
- Long-range functionality
- Long-lasting battery life
- Waterproof devices
- GPS location services (optional)
- Fall detection (optional)
- Simple setup
- Low monitoring fees
- No contracts
- No cancellation fees
Here are a few things to consider when shopping for an alert pendant. First, you want to make sure the help button is easily accessible, but not easy to accidentally trigger. This results in false-alarms that just aren’t fun for anyone. Next, consider a system with a long battery life. The last thing you want is compromised coverage because the juice is running low. Many devices offer super-long lasting battery life, so don’t overlook this feature.
Also, if you live with your elderly spouse, you might want to consider a feature called ‘Spouse Coverage’. This will let you add another necklace alert to your plan (along with 24/7 monitoring) at a low-monthly discounted rate. Finally, if you’re an active senior who enjoys spending time away from home, we recommend a mobile alert necklace. These use cellular monitoring to give you on-the-go coverage pretty much anywhere in the US. Pair this with the GPS location service feature, and you’re as safe as safe can be.
From Bay Alarm Medical, to MobileHelp, Medical Guardian, and more — we showcase the best medical alert systems sold on the market today. So if you or a loved one happens to be on the search for a simple yet highly-effective emergency medical alert system, we’ve got you more than covered.
Medical Alert Watches and Smartwatches
Move over Apple Watch, there’s a new smartwatch in town. Medical alert smartwatches are extremely popular among active seniors who value form and function. These devices are truly a breath of fresh air, and they’re becoming super-trendy as far as medical alert devices go.
Medical alert systems worn as watches are certainly a new flavor, if you will, when it comes to alert systems. So if you or your loved one enjoys the latest technological gadgets (that are surprisingly easy to use), and enjoy spending time away from home, then a smartwatch alert system might be the perfect fit for you.
You can think of smartwatch alert systems as the ‘anti-alert system.’ Let us unpack that. Of course, they offer all of the same fancy features of standard medical alert systems on the market, but they don’t feel like you’re wearing an alert system. Rather, it feels like you’re wearing a snazzy watch that just so happens to have life-saving capabilities. So it’s really the best of both worlds — stylish form and incredible functionality. What more could you ask for?
Now, before we get ahead of ourselves. No medical alert system is perfect, and there are some disadvantages with smartwatches that you must consider. For instance, there’s the sticker-shock, with some alert watches costing upwards of $350 or more (before the monthly monitoring fees). Yep, but as the saying goes: you get what you pay for. If you can afford it, you’ll most certainly be getting your money’s worth.
Medical alert systems worn as watches are ideal for:
- Men who otherwise wouldn’t wear an alert system
- Men and women who are always on-the-go
- Anyone who cares to look stylish and fashionable
- Those who don’t shy away from technology
- Seniors looking to stay active and fit as they age
- Seniors with a bit of disposable income to work with
Medical alert smartwatches come stacked with fitness monitoring and heart-rate monitoring features. Like we said, it’s great for the active senior who wants to maintain an independent and healthy lifestyle. The fitness trackers often have step counters and other capabilities to keep up with seniors who like to move, move, move.
Other medical alert smartwatch features might include:
- Sleek and discreet design
- Built-in two-way speaker
- Adjustable watch band
- Oversized icons
- GPS, 4G cellular, or Wi-Fi location tracking
- Fall detection (in some devices)
- Multiple color options
- Companion mobile app
- Low battery notifications
- Waterproof design
- And more
Some medical alert watches might come with a bit of a learning curve. But the manufacturers really try to make them as easy to use as possible. They know that seniors don’t like to fuss and bother with new-fangled technology (and who does?). Most seniors want something that just plain works right out-of-the-box. And for the most part, that’s what you get with today’s medical alert smartwatches.
If you’re on the market for a top-quality alert system that is discreet and offers all the features you’ve come to expect in an alert system (plus a few bonus features), then a medical alert smartwatch is a safe bet and definitely worth considering.
We recommend having a look at our expertly curated list of the best medical alert smartwatches for men and women. Oh, and did we mention these devices can even tell the time?!
Medical Alert Systems with Fall Detection
Fall Detection. What is it? How does it work? And is it really necessary? We’re going to answer all of your burning questions and concerns about this impressive feature that is saving lives… even as you read this. Yes, it’s worth noting right from the start that fall detection gets our vote. It’s a great solution for seniors looking for comprehensive medical alert coverage. But there are things you need to know before you make that purchase.
First off, fall detection probably isn’t for everyone. If you or your loved one is an active senior who’s healthy and fit, with no serious medical condition, and not prone to slip and fall, then you might be able to skip this section. Fall detection technology typically costs a little extra per month. But for those who do need it, this feature is worth its weight in gold.
Those who should consider a medical alert system with fall detection include:
- Seniors who are frail and sometimes lose their balance
- Seniors who live at home alone
- Those with serious pre-existing medical conditions
- Anyone with Alzheimer’s or dementia
- Men or women with a history of cardiac issues
- Caregivers who desire 24/7 peace of mind
Fall detection technology uses internal sensors, accelerometers, and fancy algorithms to detect falls. Once a fall is detected, the device automatically contacts the monitoring center on your behalf — even if you are unable to press the button. As you can imagine, this device gives many seniors a second chance in life.
Common features in medical alert systems with fall detection include:
- Cellular monitoring with nationwide coverage
- Two-way voice to speak directly with monitoring center from the device
- GPS location services (optional)
- 24/7 monitoring
- Long-range functionality
- Waterproof alert buttons
- Reliable emergency responders
- Fast response times (well under a minute)
- Redundant call centers
- And more
Of course, like every alert system, there are disadvantages to fall detection that must be considered. First of all, false alarms happen. The technology has yet to be perfected, so sometimes fast movement of any kind will be mistaken for a fall. This isn’t the end of the world (as you aren’t charged for false alarms), but it might prove frustrating if it happens too often.
Also, the technology doesn’t work 100% of the time. That is, there’s a small chance it might not detect a real fall if and when it happens. While this might make you want to scoff at the technology, it’s important to keep in mind that the technology is still evolving. And while it’s not perfect, nothing is. With that in mind, having imperfect fall detection is much better than having no fall detection at all.
So if you think fall detection will help you and your loved one to sleep better at night, we recommend checking out our top 5 list of the best medical alert systems with fall detection. You’re bound to find a solution that suits your lifestyle and budget.
Medical Alert Systems with GPS Location Services
Medical alert systems offer GPS location services. GPS stands for Global Positioning System, which is “a satellite-based radionavigation system owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Air Force.” . Yep, government-grade emergency alert protection for seniors is now a reality.
Sometimes the GPS technology is included in the price of the system, but typically it’s offered as an equipment upgrade with a one-time fee of, say, $50 or so.
GPS is definitely worth considering for active seniors who are always on-the-go. The technology helps the elderly to maintain a degree of independence. It delivers around-the-clock confidence, knowing that wherever you are — at the mall, at book club, hiking a nearby trail, you name it — you are only a button-push away from getting the help you need.
The portable devices are sleek and designed to fit in your pocket, purse, or to be worn around your neck as a pendant or your wrist as a watch or wristband.
Most medical alert systems with GPS location services can even be upgraded to offer automatic fall detection. This means if a slip or fall happens away from home, your device will sense it and contact the monitoring center on your behalf. And since your device is outfitted with GPS, the monitoring center can pinpoint your exact location with an accuracy of a couple of feet, allowing them to immediately send first responders to your aid.
Another feature that goes hand-in-hand with GPS is Vial of Life. This is a small leaflet containing the senior’s medical information. It allows first responders to better understand the situation and necessary care, even if the senior is unable to communicate this information on their own.
If you count yourself among the following, GPS location service is perfect for you:
- A senior who values independence and enjoys being out and about
- You have an elderly parent who you would like to keep safe by tracking and locating their whereabouts if needed
- A senior with an existing medical condition that warrants a close eye
- An aging adult who has Alzheimer’s or dementia and is easily disoriented
- A parent of a child who you worry about walking home from school or taking the bus alone
That’s right, medical alert systems with GPS location service aren’t just for seniors. Today, parents are hiding the small devices in their kid’s backpacks or on a belt beneath their shirt. The tracking feature lets parents tap into the location of their kids, from anywhere, anytime. This same technology allows adults to check in on their parents, to look into their activity history and to see if they’re mobile and doing well.
In fact, many GPS-enabled alert systems offer a companion app for caregivers. This lets the caregiver access mom or dad’s location in real-time, and even allows them to check location history to see what they’ve been up to. These combined features give peace of mind for the whole family.
Finally, these come with a waterproof or water-resistant design. Now seniors can wear the device in the shower, in the kitchen doing dishes, out in the garden, or even while swimming. Alert systems with GPS truly are the full package when it comes to emergency alert coverage.
Cheap Medical Alert Systems
Many aging adults live on a fixed income. It’s just a fact of life. So it’s only natural that seniors are hungry for low-cost medical alert options. If this sounds like you or your loved one, then this section on affordable medical alert systems is tailor-made for you. You’ll be amazed at how cheap they can be, with some systems costing less than $1 a day.
That’s right, total peace of mind for $1 a day. Affordable medical alerts don’t require a contract, there are no cancellation fees, and the equipment is typically included in the low-monthly monitoring fee.
Our experts did the research and found the best systems that won’t break the bank. From Bay Alarm Medical to LifeStation — and a few low-cost options in-between — these budget-friendly medical alert systems are ideal for seniors living on a fixed income. And just because they’re affordable doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality, reliability, and all the great features you’ve come to expect.
The truth is, even affordable alert devices on the market today come stacked with similar features and technology as the higher-end products. We’re talking features and tech like:
- Cellular, mobile monitoring
- Nationwide coverage
- Quality equipment built to last
- Reliable monitoring center
- Fast response times
- Optional fall detection and GPS tracking
- No contracts
- Low monitoring fees
- And more
Also, here’s a quick tip: if you have your eye on a certain medical alert company, don’t forget to look through all of their options. Most companies offer different packages, plans, and pricing tiers. So if their $49.95/mo. plan is too steep, they likely have a couple of low-price monitoring plans to choose from. Sometimes this means you’ll have to go without, say, the GPS tracking feature or two-way voice. But you’ll still get the same reliable medical alert coverage that the company is known for.
Now, while there are plenty of cheap help buttons out there, don’t just buy the cheapest you can find. You need to be sure the system performs a few basic functions really well. Otherwise, you’ll be saddled with a monthly payment of $20 or more, with a useless device and a bad case of buyer’s remorse. These basic but incredibly important functions and features include:
- Waterproof or water-resistant devices – This feature allows you to wear your medical alert device in the shower, in the kitchen doing dishes, out in the garden, or even swimming. Look for a low-cost alert that’s waterproof.
- Easy to set-up and easy to use – Some systems are cheap because they are a pain in the neck to setup and require a degree in rocket science to operate. So look for an affordable alert device that is praised for its easy plug-and-play DIY setup and its simple to use interface. They’re out there!
- Long range capabilities – The longer the range, the better. Some of the cheapest necklace alerts, bracelets, watches, hip devices, etc. only work within, say, 300-600 feet from the base station. This is no good if you have a larger home, or if you enjoy spending time in the front yard or backyard.
- Mobile monitoring – For some seniors, in-home alert systems with a landline hookup works just fine. But for more active seniors, mobile monitoring is a must-have. Low-cost personal emergency response systems will offer a mobile-monitoring option. This gives you on-the-go peace of mind and the confidence to take on the world. So be sure to get the connection that best suits your lifestyle.
If you’re trying to live on a budget as you age, then you’ll be glad to know there’s a whole list of affordable options. Whatever you do, don’t forego potentially life-saving medical alert coverage because you think it’s too expensive. It’s not. For less than $1 a day, you or your loved one can ensure help is always close at hand.
Are Medical Alert Systems Worth the Price?
How do you put a price on something that can save your life and in most cases only costs pennies a day? Now that you know all about medical alert systems, what do you think a medical alert system is worth to you? Yep! They truly are priceless!
Are Medical Alert Systems Covered By Medicare?
Seniors and caregivers often ask whether or not medical alert systems are covered by Medicare. After all, these devices go a long way to help seniors to live safely and independently. Medical alert help buttons truly do help seniors to live at home longer — a priceless benefit of these devices. But unfortunately, at this time, alert systems are not covered by Medicare. Of course, there’s more to the story that might put you at ease.
Since Medicare does not consider these life-saving 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 argue that alert systems are absolutely a medical necessity. But until the fine folks at Medicare come around to this, do not expect your plan to cover your monthly monitoring fee.
With that said, in some cases Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans) do cover alerts. However, this depends on several factors like the insurance you have and the state you live. Also, you do have to pay for this type of private insurance. So it’s important to inquire with your provider to find out if they do, in fact, cover help buttons.
It’s also worth noting that certain healthcare reimbursement accounts (HSA’s) cover alert devices. But again, check with your individual provider, fingers crossed. If you come to find that a medical alert system is not covered by insurance, you will have to pay out-of-pocket like the majority of seniors. We understand that it can be daunting to add another monthly expense to an already tight budget. But remember, a medical alert system could mean the difference between life and death.
Medical Alert System Reviews and Our Process
Are you on the market for a medical alert system for yourself or a loved one? If so, then you know it can be a minefield out there. It’s easy to get tripped up with all the misinformation online, not to mention all the shameless reviews looking to persuade you into buying their pick. And for such an important purchase as a medical alert system, these shady tactics are really quite upsetting.
Another limitation of many sites out there is that they publish reviews based on personal anecdotes. Sally tried such-and-such product and thought it was A-MAZING! Well, unfortunately, these well-meaning but amateur reviewers are often not helpful, as one person’s experience with a product can be completely different than another person’s experience with that very same product.
But there’s good news! We only publish reliable reviews and recommendations that you can hang your hat on… and we can prove it. No other resource — whether online or offline — can rival our rigorous process and ultra-high standards when it comes to medical alert system reviews.
We have carefully recruited a team of senior care experts. These experts personally test, review, and recommend systems that are the best in their category. Everything we publish about alert systems (or any product or service for that matter) is 100% unbiased and objective. This means that you get an expert in your corner, guiding you along, educating you, and helping you to make a wise purchase that fits your lifestyle and your budget.
With this in mind, we only recommend the medical alert systems that we truly believe in. Our methodology is strict, and results in our proprietary SecureScore. This quick-glance score covers 5 important categories — Customer Service, Value, Equipment, Features and Technology, and Ease of Use. These are the categories that should most influence your buying decision when it comes to choosing an alert system.
We cover the pros and cons of the best medical alert systems, always with a keen eye on what’s actually useful for senior’s today. Where other so-called resources stop short of digging into price and the true value of the different products and services, our expert panel always tells the full story, whether good or bad. So you get the facts, just as they are.
Our mission is to remain a top resource to help seniors live a more independent life without breaking the bank. And we can only accomplish this if our readers trust our integrity and ethics in everything we do. To this end, when it comes to alert systems reviews, and other reviews, we constantly strive to remain:
It’s our passion and purpose to help seniors find the perfect product or service to improve their lives. We put your options on the table so that you and your loved ones can have priceless peace of mind.