A variety of medical alert providers offer systems that can be worn as watches. If you are someone who enjoys advanced technology, wants the additional features included for the active older adult, or prefers a system with a fashion-forward look, a watch that doubles as a medical alert system may be the perfect fit for you.
This type of medical alert is definitely best for the older adult who doesn’t have a chronic health condition and hasn’t fallen in the past. The reason is that most watches don’t include automatic fall detection, which research has shown works most effectively when worn around the neck.
It is also important to realize that while many of these watches are designed to look like popular smartwatches on the market, they don’t have all of the same functions. This includes the capability to make outside calls or texts, although with some watches you can communicate with predesignated contacts.
You will also not be able to search the internet with the device. However, a medical alert watch still provides its most basic function of keeping you safe if you suffer a medical emergency or accident while alone, plus a few popular extras like the step tracker.
Before we dive into our list of the best medical alert watches, let’s have a quick look at how we test medical alert systems and other interesting facts:
|Top Feature||GPS Location Tracking|
|Test Duration||7-10 days|
Now, here are some of the best medical alert systems worn as watches.
Similar in appearance to the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch, Medical Guardian’s MGMove features a circular face with a 1.25-inch diameter, touchscreen, 24-hour rechargeable battery, and an adjustable black wristband. Many older adults will appreciate its techy, fashion-forward look. The one-time cost for the equipment is $199.95.
The MGMove offers many of the safety features found in the best medical alert systems including 24/7 access to a TMA Five Diamond monitoring center, two-way talk with a monitoring center agent, GPS location detection, and caregiver location tracking through the My Guardian portal or app.
Additional smartwatch features, like a weather app and step tracker, are also included in the monthly monitoring fee of $39.95 per month. And for an additional $5 per month, you can access the Social Circle Apps. The first is the Reminders App which enables you or a loved one to set up reminders for medications, appointments and other events. The second app is the Message App, which enables real-time chats with caregiver contacts through text or voice recordings.
Medical Guardian’s newest release, the MGMove, is a smartwatch that many older adults will want to wear both because of its fashionable design and its advanced features. One thing that separates it from other medical alert watches is the ability to communicate with caregivers through text or voice recordings (for an additional $5 per month).
It does cost a bit more in both monitoring and equipment fees than the WellBe Smartwatch, another highly rated watch. However, it offers a few extra features such as caregiver location detection and direct communication with caregivers. For those families who want a smartwatch that offers the best features for both older adults and caregivers, and don’t mind paying a little extra for it, the MGMove is a great choice.
The WellBe Smartwatch by HandsFree Health is one of the best smartwatches on the market for seniors. It is a versatile medical alert smartwatch that offers exceptional day-to-day support. Plus, the WellBe smartwatch is stylish and discreet with a large face and high-resolution display. No one will even know that you are wearing a medical alert device.
In addition to access to a TMA Five Diamond Certified monitoring center, the WellBe Smartwatch offers a number of easy-to-use safety features found in other medical alerts worn as smartwatches. This includes two-way talk, GPS location detection, a rechargeable, 24-hour battery, and a pedometer. It also offers two unique features: a heart rate monitor and the ability to access information from a curated health database. Finally, it also offers in-app medication and appointment reminders and caregiver notifications.
The cost of the WellBe Smartwatch is $119.95. While this may hit some older adults in the pocketbook hard, we have seen higher prices for other on-the-go devices with advanced features, and we have seen much higher prices for other mainstream smartwatches. The monthly monitoring fee is $29.95.
The WellBe Smartwatch is a great medical alert watch for seniors who are independent and active. It offers a lot of adaptations that are specifically geared towards seniors like oversized icons and quick access to emergency services. While the smartwatch is a bit more expensive upfront than Lively’s Wearable, it is more affordable than Medical Guardian’s MGMove or the Apple Watch.
We need to let you know at the get-go that Lively has discontinued the Lively Wearable. However, we have kept the Wearable information posted because you can still find it in some retail stores. However, you can no longer purchase the watch on Lively’s website.
The Lively Wearable offers a simple way for seniors to stay safe while on the go. This emergency alert button can be worn as a watch. After downloading the Lively App, the Lively Wearable works with the Lively Jitterbug Smart3 or with your own smartphone, which becomes like a mobile medical alert device, connecting you to the monitoring center whenever you need it.
The Lively Wearable features a sleek, discreet design, and it never requires any charging. The extended battery life lasts a whopping four months, and a replacement battery is included, a reason Lively was named one of our best medical alert devices overall. The Lively Wearable also includes a step tracker and daily health tips. The Lively Link App (as opposed to the Lively App) offers caregiver benefits (if you choose the middle or higher tier pricing package explained below) including location detection and alerts sent after a loved one has pressed the emergency help button.
The Lively Wearable also comes with automatic fall detection — sort of. As we mentioned earlier, fall detection works best when the device is worn around the neck rather than on the wrist. To accommodate this, the Lively Wearable comes with a lanyard to which it can be attached.
You are required to purchase the equipment, which is just $49.95, making it one of the more affordable medical alert watches on the market. To cover monthly monitoring, Lively offers a tiered pricing system. The Basic Package, which covers monthly monitoring only, costs $24.95 per month, a competitive rate for on-the-go systems. The Preferred Package costs $29.95 and covers monthly monitoring, the telehealth service, and the Lively Link App, which provides extra services to caregivers. The Ultimate Package includes everything in the Preferred Package plus fall detection. It costs $39.95 per month. Finally, take note that Lively charges a $35 activation fee.
Learn more about the costs associated with Lively systems on our full Lively medical alert pricing page.
We think that the Lively Wearable is a great choice for older adults who want a few extra health and wellness features, along with basic monitoring, on their medical alert watch. This includes a step tracker and daily health tips. However, keep in mind that the Lively Wearable lacks two-way talk. The tradeoff is price; you would be hard-pressed to find a medical alert watch that competes in price to the Wearable.
The Apple Watch is one of the slickest smartwatches on the market. Apple is well-known for producing some of the best technology available, and the Apple Watch is no exception. Apple Watches are made for everyone, and they’re compatible with lots of smart home and electronic devices around your home. See our list of the best security systems that work with Apple for more on how the industry-leading brand can help you stay safe in your home. And, don’t forget to visit our complete guide to home safety, accessibility, and security.
Although not designed specifically as a medical alert device, the Apple Watch can be used as one. The emergency SOS Alert feature on the Apple Watch allows seniors to connect with the press of a button to family members, caregivers or emergency responders in case of an emergency. Emergency SOS can also send your current location to emergency responders. In addition, the Apple Watch has a heart monitor and sends both high and low heart rate notifications.
The watch also offers fall detection which needs to be enabled by the user. If the watch detects a fall followed by no movement, you will receive an alert. If you don’t respond, Apple Watch will tap your wrist, sound an alarm, and call emergency services. One cautionary note: when worn on the wrist, there is the potential for an increase in false alarms.
Let’s talk about a few Apple Watch features not found on other medical alert devices including other medical alert watches. First, it is designed to be used in the pool or even the ocean up to 50 meters. This is great coverage for an older adult. (For more on waterproof devices, read our review of the Best Waterproof Medical Alert Systems.) The latest version also offers access to a blood oxygen app and an ECG app for irregular heartbeat monitoring and notifications. And importantly, the Apple Watch includes functions that some expect from a smartwatch: the ability to call, text, and search the internet. This is not the case with other medical alert watches.
Where the Apple Watch falls short when compared to other medical alert watches is first, the battery life. While others have a battery life of 24 hours or longer, the Apple Watch has a battery life of 18 hours. This means that you will be unprotected for part of each 24-hour period, most likely at night while the watch is charging. And this is a time that a fall or other medical emergency could take place. Most importantly, the Apple Watch is not a monitored medical alert. Therefore, you will not have the assistance of a trained associate available 24/7, and vital health information will not be immediately available to emergency personnel.
Because the Apple Watch does not use a monitored response center, you will not need to pay a monthly fee. (Of course, you will be paying monthly fees on text, talk and data.) The upfront equipment fee, however, will be quite a bit more expensive than what you will find with other medical alert watches. The Apple Watch SE starts at $279, and the Apple Watch Series 7 starts at $399.
While determining if the Apple Watch is a good fit for you, keep in mind that it was not designed as a medical alert system. It is a smartwatch with some medical alert system capabilities. It enables older adults to press an emergency help button, but it does not connect to a 24/7 monitoring center. It includes fall detection, but because it is worn on the wrist, it might not operate the way you expect. You might save on monthly monitoring fees but you will also pay a hefty price upfront. Still, if you are techy, style conscious or an active senior, the Apple Watch might just be the right fit.
Need an alert system for someone who rarely leaves their home or yard? We’ve tried out plenty of those. Want a device that wears like a smartwatch? We’ve tested those too, as you can see from our list above. Don’t want to fuss with multiple contraptions or new technology? Yep, we’ve seen products for these folks, as well.
Medical alert systems enable older adults to maintain their independence and age safely in place. If this is your first time learning about these devices, you will probably be amazed to see the variety of products for differing tastes and needs. To help you make sense of the variety, our buyer’s guide to medical alert systems is a great resource.
FYI: Maybe you’ve heard these systems referred to as Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS). Different name; same around-the-clock protection for seniors.
A medical alert system operates either via landline connection or a cellular connection (head to our best cellular medical alert devices list for more info). Most companies that sell medical alert systems offer one or more of three types of systems: in-home, mobile, and hybrid. Of course, smartwatch alert systems are hybrid; they can be used at home and on-the-go, and they are powered via a cellular signal (no landline required).
The in-home system is especially important for seniors who live alone. This type of system usually includes a base unit that should be placed in a central location in the house. The base unit is like the central nervous system; everything else runs through it. It might feel a little weird at first, but if you end up choosing one of these, you will be talking to a response center associate through this box-like communicator.
Many systems include a help button that you or your loved one will wear around the neck or wrist. Some, but not all, systems also include help buttons that can be placed in different locations around the house, usually in spots that are high risk for falls such as the bottom of the staircase. If you or your loved one is wearing a smartwatch style alert system, you won’t have to worry about reaching a wall-mounted button, as help is right there on your wrist!
We think the mobile systems offer lots of value and peace of mind for seniors who are on the go. They come in various forms. Some are help buttons worn around the neck. Others are smartwatches, as noted, or help buttons that can be attached to a belt. And some are specifically made for cars.
Now, imagine that you are having a medical emergency, perhaps a fall or symptoms of a heart attack. You push a help button either on a button placed in your home or on your smartwatch. You often can communicate directly through this button. If the button does not include two-way talk, you can speak through the base unit.
A trained response center associate will respond to you, usually in 30 seconds or less, and ask you a few questions to assess the situation. If you are unable to speak, the associate will call 911 and your predetermined contacts. The response center also has your medical history and contact information on file, so they are able to quickly provide EMS important information.
Still not sure if this is something you want or need? Most companies offer a trial period of 30 days. And we definitely recommend having some sort of medical alert coverage as you or your loved one ages.
To find the system that’s right for you or your loved one, get the full rundown on how to choose a medical alert system. You’ll start by answering a few questions, and we’ll match you with a system that fits your needs and lifestyle.
Before selecting a medical alert smartwatch system, it is important to know what features are available. Here are some of the most important features of medical alert watches.
Unfortunately, medical emergencies happen without warning, and often in the middle of the night. So having access to emergency responders at the push of a button is absolutely priceless. 24/7 emergency response isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Look for this essential feature in your alert watch, and don’t even consider a device without it.
Communication is key in times of crisis. If you experience a medical emergency, having a smartwatch with two-way voice makes all the difference. This feature connects you directly with emergency personnel, allowing you to talk and listen via your device or base station. Responders can gather the full story, and then take the best course of action to assist you.
Medical alert watches with cellular monitoring deliver on-the-go coverage. That’s right, visit the grocery store, the driving range, or heck, travel to another state. Cellular monitoring has you covered. Alert watches with this technology use cell towers (just like a cell phone), so you can go forth knowing that help is literally close at-hand. Active seniors love this feature.
Hold a charge for days! Medical alert watches with extended battery life are incredibly popular among active seniors. And for good reason. This feature allows you to go days — sometimes even weeks — without having to charge your smartwatch. Choose extended battery life on your alert watch, and keep moving with one less thing to think about.
Nearly all alert watches offer fall detection as an upgrade. And it’s worth every penny. The moment this feature detects a fall, it sends an automatic alert to the monitoring center. The emergency personnel then jumps into action, contacting a caregiver or first responders, depending on the situation. And to think all of this is built into a sleek and stylish watch.
Another feature for the active senior, GPS comes built-into many medical alert watches. And it’s powerful. Anywhere you go — whether it’s a quick trip to the grocery store, the community center, or hiking nearby trails — GPS will track your alert watch and keep you covered on-the-go. If an emergency occurs, the monitoring center can identify your exact location for a caregiver or first responders.
Medical alert watches combine form and function — and now far-flung adventures! OK, even if you’re not up for adventures, you can still travel anywhere in the U.S. with Nationwide Coverage. This feature comes with most mobile alert smartwatch systems. So long as you choose cellular coverage, you’ll have the freedom to roam as you wish.
Let’s face it, a frustrating setup process ruins all the fun. That’s why medical alert watches offer Easy Setup. And by “easy,” we mean plug-and-play and you’re off to the races... in a matter of minutes. Companies are eliminating any chance of overwhelm. It’s never been easier for a senior to purchase, activate, and begin using a smartwatch alert system.
Accidents and medical emergencies can happen anywhere, anytime, for anyone. So Mobile Monitoring is a must-have smartwatch alert feature — especially if you’re an active senior who leaves home frequently. These alert systems are powered by Wi-Fi or cellular signal, and they are downright reliable. Get on-the-go protection with a Mobile Monitoring alert watch.
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.