Diabetes affects approximately 25 percent of the adult population over the age of 65. Because of its prevalence among older adults, identifying medical alert systems designed with the needs of diabetics in mind is essential. However, locating the information you need all in one place can be difficult.
Not to worry. We’ve studied, researched, and compiled the top four medical alert systems for diabetics, so you don’t have to. Before we get started, we want to call your attention to several recently updated products from our favorite providers. Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Mobile, Medical Guardian’s Mobile 2.0, and LifeStation’s Sidekick have all been recently redesigned to offer more advanced features and style.
Below are our top picks based on hundreds of hours of testing and research.
Bay Alarm Medical is a subsidiary of Bay Alarm, a company that has been in business for more than 70 years. We have identified them as one of the best medical alert systems for diabetics because of their reliable fall detection in conjunction with their advanced equipment. These features are important, especially when it comes to diabetic shock which could result in fainting, seizures, or falls. Below are a few of the Bay Alarm Medical pros and cons.
Bay Alarm Medical is our top choice for diabetics because they offer top-quality equipment and a variety of product options that we think diabetics will find useful. We also like that the cost of Bay Alarm Medical is affordable.
For those who spend the majority of their time at home, we recommend either the landline or cellular in-home systems. You’ll like the impressive 1,000-foot range, and Bay Alarm offers two options that will come in handy for diabetics. Their Preferred Protection package includes two wall buttons, in addition to the base unit and wearable, while the Premium Protection package includes four wall buttons. One symptom of diabetes is the need to urinate frequently, especially at night. Since most folks don’t use the wearable while sleeping, mounting these buttons in your bathroom can help keep you safe at night.
For on-the-go protection, we recommend Bay Alarm’s newly updated traditional mobile device, the SOS Mobile. It is now lighter than ever, weighing in at only 1.3 ounces. It comes equipped with two-way communication, location tracking, and optional fall detection, a feature that we think is important for all older adults, but especially for those living with diabetes who are at a higher risk of falling. With this device, you also have your choice of either an AT&T or Verizon connection, so you can choose the carrier that provides the best coverage in your area.
The only product we don’t recommend for diabetics is Bay Alarm’s SOS Smart Watch, not because it isn’t a great product (it is!), but because it doesn’t include fall detection. This is something we consider essential for older adults living with diabetes and especially for those suffering from diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage that can cause numbness and pain. For those living with diabetes, as far as medical alert systems go, with Bay Alarm Medical, you really can’t go wrong. Read our full Bay Alarm Medical review to learn more.
Medical Guardian has been in business since 2005. Those who live with diabetes will appreciate the company’s reliability. While the systems are priced slightly higher than other medical alert systems on the market, we loved the coverage and peace of mind we had while testing Medical Guardian. The quality of their systems includes excellent range on the at-home systems and advanced location detection on the mobile systems. And four (out of five) of their systems that we recommend for diabetics include both two-way talk and fall detection.
Medical Guardian is another strong option for those with diabetes because the company offers a diverse array of medical alert systems (a total of five), and four of the five include fall detection, a must-have for those with diabetes. And, while Medical Guardian’s costs are a bit more expensive than other options at slightly less than $1 a day, they offer additional features other brands don’t. In the case of Medical Guardian, you get what you pay for — slightly higher prices for high-quality products.
The great thing about Medical Guardian’s at-home systems is the range between the base unit and the help button. The Classic Guardian, which uses a landline, has a 1,300-foot range, while the Home 2.0, which uses a cellular connection, has a 1,400-foot range. If you take medication to prevent your blood sugar from getting too high, you may be wary of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which could lead to a fall. With either of Medical Guardian’s at-home systems, you will likely be able to wander into the yard, garden, or even a neighbor’s driveway while remaining protected.
Each of Medical Guardian’s three on-the-go systems include slightly different features and benefits. We would recommend any of them for people living with diabetes except the MGMove, a smartwatch, which does not include fall detection. The Mini Guardian and Mobile 2.0 are high-functioning devices, using advanced location detection that utilizes Wi-Fi and 4G LTE; this is in addition to GPS in order to more accurately pinpoint your location during an emergency. This sophisticated location detection is ideal for anyone with a health condition, including diabetes.
With their advanced features and complete protection, the Medical Guardian systems come with higher-than-average prices. The at-home systems begin at $29.95 per month while the mobile systems start at $39.95 per month. But keep in mind that Medical Guardian does not tack on any hidden fees like activation or processing, which makes the monthly fees a little easier to swallow. Another perk is free at-home system monitoring for a spouse or other additional household member. Ready to learn more? Check out our Medical Guardian review.
Founded in 2005 and now owned by Best Buy, Lively sells only on-the-go systems (which can also be used at home) and offers two types of products: cellular phones and wearable devices, all of which connect with the Verizon network. Lively’s two cellular phones come with a 5Star medical alert button in a central location. The Jitterbug Smart3 is a Samsung Android smartphone, and the Jitterbug Flip2 is a simple flip phone. The wearables include a traditional on-the-go device called the Lively Mobile+ and a watch that can also be worn with a lanyard called the Lively Wearable2. See Lively’s pros and cons below.
For starters, Lively is on our list of best systems for diabetics because of its emphasis on mobile medical alert systems. One of the best ways to help control diabetes is through exercise. Lively offers a layer of protection while you go to the park for a walk, the pool for a water exercise class, or the fitness center to work out. In addition, the Lively devices provide extra health and wellness features. For example, the Lively Wearable2, which works in conjunction with an app on your smartphone, includes a step tracker and daily health tips.
Two complications that can develop from diabetes are vision and hearing loss. Lively’s products may be helpful if you are experiencing these conditions. We loved the oversized screens and large fonts on the phones, making navigating easier for those with weakened vision. The Jitterbug Flip2 even has a magnifier and flashlight. And because the phones sync with Alexa, you can use your voice to make calls, send texts, or check for important information. Finally, for those with hearing loss, the phones have a hearing aid compatibility rating of M4/T4, the highest rating possible.
In addition, Lively offers a myriad of advanced features that those living with diabetes would likely find valuable. Urgent care is a telehealth platform that enables you or your older loved one to speak with a registered nurse or doctor at any time without an appointment. And, Lively will contact designated caregivers when an emergency call has been placed. Through the no-cost Lively app, caregivers can also access a loved one’s location.
We do want to point out that the phones do not include fall detection, something we think is essential as those with diabetes are at a high risk for falling. An option would be to use one of the wearables (which do include fall detection) in conjunction with the Jitterbug Flip2 or the Jitterbug Smart3. See our comprehensive review of Lively’s Wearable2 to determine if this is a system that would work for you.
FYI: The Lively wearable alert system has been discontinued. However, you can still find it online with some retailers. And the Lively Mobile +, which does offer fall detection, continues to be sold through all of Lively’s retail partners.
LifeStation is TMA Five Diamond certified and can boast of its longevity: it has been in business since 1977. Still a family-owned company, it focuses on assisting older adults as well as their caregivers. Additionally, LifeStation offers its services across the U.S. and Canada. LifeStation offers all of the features that we have come to expect as well as a few more, which should be helpful for anyone experiencing complications from diabetes. Here are a few of LifeStation’s pros and cons.
Among the reasons that LifeStation rated highly for people living with diabetes is the fact that they have a TMA Five Diamond certified monitoring center. This should provide you or your loved one with confidence that well-trained agents will quickly and effectively address any emergencies that arise. In addition, the monitoring center team will immediately follow your personalized emergency plan of action by contacting one or all of the people you have listed on your predetermined emergency plan.
As someone living with diabetes, you or your loved one may be more prone to blurry vision or vision loss due to focal nerve damage or eye diseases like macular edema or glaucoma. This, in turn, could lead to a fall. Diabetics are also more likely to have heart disease or a stroke compared to the general LifeStation’s waterproof equipment and enhanced speaker and voice capabilities enable easy communication with a monitoring center agent, advantageous if you feel ill, disoriented, or have fallen.
LifeStation offers a single at-home system with a cellular connection. It includes a lightweight help button, 32 hours of battery backup, a range of 600 feet between the base unit and help button, and optional fall detection. For more information on this system, read our Lifestation pricing page.
Where LifeStation really shines is with their on-the-go systems. For those living with diabetes, we recommend the Sidekick. Two features we especially like are the advanced location detection for precision tracking in the event of a fall or other medical emergency and the five-day battery. Many mobile devices come with a 24-hour battery, but with the Sidekick you will not need to remember to charge it daily. In addition, this device was recently redesigned; it is now lighter and more discreet. Discover if it is the right system for you by reading our most recent analysis of LifeStation.
Among the best candidates to invest in a medical alert device are adults living with diabetes. If you are one of these individuals and haven’t considered a medical alert system in the past, consider one now. It could be a lifesaver.
Think about this: research shows that having Type 1 diabetes is associated with a 33 percent increased risk of falling compared with the general population. Having Type 2 diabetes is associated with a 19 percent increased Why? For starters, many diabetics take medication to prevent their blood sugar from getting too high. However, if blood sugar is too low, hypoglycemia (or diabetic shock) can occur, resulting in blurred vision, dizziness, and weakness.
FYI: In a recent survey of 522 individuals living with diabetes, 65 percent reported having had one hypoglycemic event in the previous year, and 42 percent reported severe The quality of the medical alert system you choose matters! Read our guide of the Best Medical Alert Systems.
In addition, complications from diabetes can lead to falls. For example, as many as one-third of diabetics suffer from a condition known as peripheral neuropathy (or nerve damage) which causes a loss of sensation, numbness, and pain in a person’s feet and legs. In turn, this can lead to a slower gait and poor balance.
Two other complications are diabetic retinopathy, resulting in visual impairment, and diabetic nephropathy or impaired kidney function, resulting in low vitamin D levels which can reduce bone density and muscle strength. With both conditions, diabetics are at greater risk of
Pro Tip: We have offered several reasons on why we think diabetics should invest in medical alert systems with fall detection. Now read our fall detection guide to learn which systems rated the highest.
Because diabetes comes with so many complications as well as medications with side effects, medical alert devices can become a great tool to help you live your life while staying safe and secure.
A medical alert system can send help if you fall, or become disoriented or unconscious. It can send an alert to family members if a problem occurs, and it can help older diabetic users remain active and on the go by providing highly trained monitoring center teams who are available 24/7 to help you. Additionally, many medical alert systems provide access to medical professionals through complimentary telehealth services.
Most medical alert systems have cellular wireless options. This means you can travel and still complete all your normal daily activities without having to worry about not having access to medical assistance wherever you go. And, most medical alert devices offer a GPS location tracking feature so you will never have to worry about your blood sugar causing symptoms that could keep you from calling for help should the need arise.
Pro Tip: Are you an active older adult? We have a few tips on choosing the best cellular medical system. Hear it from the experts — we have spent countless hours testing these systems.
One of the newest technology breakthroughs in medical alert devices is fall detection, a feature available in both at-home and mobile devices. This technology uses specialized sensors that detect a fall and immediately send an alert to the monitoring center. Typically, an agent then contacts the user to assess the situation and send emergency help if necessary. In some situations, a person who has fallen may be unconscious or unable to communicate with the agent. An agent then immediately sends help. You can probably imagine how an alert device could save a life in this situation.
Additionally, medical alert service providers keep their customers' details, medical conditions, and medications on file so if the paramedics have to be called, they will have the information they need to properly treat you as soon as they arrive. If paramedics need to first assess the situation before treating the condition, valuable time is lost. And if that weren't enough, many brands also offer medication reminder services that will alert you when it's time to take your medication. This will help you keep your blood glucose levels under control.
FYI: Not sure what these additional features will cost? Get the lowdown in our Medical Alert Systems Buying Guide.
Take a look at some of the most common features of medical alert systems for diabetics.
Here’s how 24/7 emergency monitoring works: When you press the help button, a monitoring center agent will communicate with you either through a speaker and microphone on the at-home base unit or the on-the-go mobile device. The agent will assess your needs and immediately send medical assistance if necessary. One thing to look for is a TMA Five-Diamond certification, the gold standard in monitoring center certifications. This indicates that the agents have a high level of training and expertise.
Wireless connectivity means you don't need a landline to communicate with a medical alert monitoring center. In most cases, you do not need to have your own cellular account; the cellular connection is provided through the provider. Generally, wireless medical alerts, available with at-home and on-the-go systems, are a bit more expensive than landline options. However, a wireless system gives you more flexibility, as well as the ability to roam rather than remaining at home near your medical alert device and its base station.
If you or your older loved one does not speak English as a primary language, know that some monitoring centers offer multilingual support. Sometimes this means that a monitoring center agent who speaks a language other than English (usually Spanish) is available to provide assistance. In most cases, the monitoring centers have access to a translation service that can accommodate as many as 200 different languages.
With the equipment’s built-in speaker and microphone, two-way voice enables you to communicate directly with the monitoring center. Most at-home systems include this feature within their base unit. When moving away from the base unit, you can call for assistance with a wearable help button, but not speak with a monitoring center agent through it. Most mobile devices also include two-way talk, so you can roam nearly anywhere and still have the ability to communicate directly with a monitoring center agent.
Mobile monitoring uses the same communication function as the wireless connectivity feature. Both mobile monitoring and wireless connectivity use a cellular network connection to communicate. The only difference is that mobile monitoring requires a mobile medical or on-the-go medical alert device that's equipped to handle a cellular signal that can provide you with medical assistance no matter where you go. So if you are diabetic, this is another important feature to have. This is because it will provide you with on-demand medical assistance which enables you to travel and do everything you normally do without having to worry about your blood sugar.
Some medical alert devices are water-resistant, while others are waterproof. What is the difference? Water resistance refers to a device that can withstand the rain or a shower and continue to work correctly. However, a waterproof medical alert device can withstand being submerged in water for an extended period of time, like in the bathtub or shower. Be aware that even though waterproof, some devices may not be safe in a pool or hot tub because of the chlorine.
Whether at home or away, nationwide coverage is important, and most medical alert companies provide it. If you live in an area that does not receive a strong cellular connection from a given communications network, particularly if you are ordering an at-home system, you will probably want to look at other medical alert systems. In addition, if you are active or frequently travel, your mobile medical alert could be impacted by the system’s network, so know before you go.
The term “range” for at-home medical alert devices refers to the distance between the medical alert base unit and the help button before they lose communication with each other. Mobile medical alert devices have an unlimited range, just like a cellphone. However mobile medical alert systems often have two components, such as the mobile unit and the help button, which is typically worn at home. The two components communicate with one another but have a limited range before they lose communication. Take note that ranges vary widely.
When we talk about GPS location detection, we are talking about on-the-go systems. Most mobile devices use GPS tracking, and some systems include advanced GPS location that utilizes other technology, like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, to enable more precise pinpointing. For example, if a person had a medical emergency inside an office building, advanced GPS likely would be able to identify the location of the building as well as the whereabouts within the building.
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.