The medical alert industry has evolved way past the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up era.” In addition to adding a critical layer of protection to your loved one’s lives, modern medical alert devices can be discrete and fashionable.
Like the medical alert smart watch.
These life-saving devices masquerade as sporty timepieces that your aging family members will be happy to wear. They’re now offered by some of the biggest names in the medical alert industry, and perfect for folks who live an active lifestyle, who are comfortable with newer technologies, or who simply want something that looks a little more trendy.
We should point out, though, that even though a lot of companies market these pieces of equipment as “smart watches,” that smart technology is very targeted. They don’t necessarily pack the same tech you might expect from mainstream commercial smart watches. For example, while most let you connect to professional safety monitors 24/7, they don’t usually make calls or texts, and most of the time, the wearer can’t search the internet with them.
When it comes to safety, though, we should also mention that most of these devices don’t offer fall detection, either. As a result, we don’t typically recommend them for seniors who are at risk of falling, like those with Parkinson’s disease or family members who have fallen in the past.
Pro Tip: Want a mobile alert system with fall detection and more reliable alerts? Bundle to enjoy huge savings with Bay Alarm’s Mobile 360° package. See all its life-saving protections in our Bay Alarm review.
What they do provide is the most essential functions of a medical alert device: immediate help if the wearer suffers a medical emergency or accident while alone and location tracking if the wearer becomes disoriented or unable to speak.
In addition to these important features, each watch on our list has stand-out functionality that makes them unique. The MGMove, for instance, enables texting with predesignated contacts and also has a reminder feature to alert users when it’s time to take medication or head out to an appointment. The WellBe Medical Alert Plus has an integrated heart rate monitor as well as the ability to access medical information from a curated health database.
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:
|GPS Location Tracking
And one last thing before we get into the list. If you’re shopping for a medical alert system, now is the perfect time to buy. Most providers offer sales around the holidays, whether they bill them as Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday sales, holiday sales, or end-of-year sales.
Now, here are some of the best medical alert systems worn as watches.
Medical Guardian’s MGMove looks a lot like Samsung’s Galaxy smart watch, featuring a rounded face that’s 1.25 inches in diameter. This means it’s not too bulky, but not so small that it would be difficult to use. Active seniors will appreciate its sporty look, and caregivers will love the safety features it provides. It’s a little on the pricey side at $199.95, but you can read more about that in our full review of the Medical Guardian MGMove.
The MGMove offers the core safety features that you’d expect in a top-of-the-line mobile medical alert device including connectivity with a monitoring center, two way talk, GPS location detection, and caregiver location tracking. The battery life is a little short at just 24 hours, but that’s pretty typical with these devices. Just make sure your loved one charges it every night before they go to bed.
Pro Tip: Unfortunately, senior citizens are a favorite target for scammers everywhere. If you’re interested in protecting your loved one both physically and financially, check out our guide to holiday scams you should be aware of.
You can also enjoy additional smart watch features, like a weather app and step tracker, which are included in the $39.95 monthly monitoring fee. In addition, there are a couple of apps called Social Circle designed specifically for adult users.
The first app is the Reminders App, which is where you can set up reminders for medications, medical appointments, and other events. The second app is a messaging app for real-time communication with caregivers and immediate family contacts either through text or voice chat. These apps come in handy for on-the-go adults.
Technology moves at a rapid pace, and Medical Guardian makes it a priority to keep up. The MGMove is a significant upgrade in terms of technology and design to Medical Guardian’s first smartwatch medical alert device. And coming from a known provider of quality equipment and service, the MGMove inspires confidence that we were getting the latest, most cutting-edge technology in medical alert monitoring.
Pro Tip: While the MGMove isn’t currently on sale, new users can get 50 percent off an MG Mini device. The company will also throw in a free month of service and a lock box.
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.
|Landline, cellular, and Wi-fi
|Up to 1,400 feet
|Up to 32 hours
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.
We also like that the WellBe smartwatch is fashion-forward and particularly discreet when it comes to medical alert smartwatches. In fact, at first glance, it might be mistaken for an Apple Watch. It has the same rounded rectangular face and curved edges. It’s much easier to read than an Apple Watch, though, thanks largely to the 1.82-inch display.
It’s also much easier to use. The watch includes all the features you’d expect in a top-tier medical alert device. For example, it connects users to a TMA Five Diamond Certified Monitoring Center at the touch of a button. If they can’t push that button, the smartwatch also includes GPS location. And it’s got two-way talk and even a pedometer.
We were most impressed, though, with this device’s bonus features. These include a heart rate monitor, and a curated health database so seniors can feel involved in their own health care. In addition it features in-app medication and appointment reminders as well as caregiver notifications. Best of all, though, all these features are intuitive–easy to access and easy to use.
And if you’re shopping on a budget, you’ll be happy to know that at just $119.95, it’s about half the price of the MGMove. We understand that this might still be out of the budget of some shoppers, but when you consider the features packed into this advanced device, we think you’ll understand the price tag.
You’ll also save on your monthly monitoring fee, too. At just $29.95, it’s about $10 less than the industry average. And while you still have the up-front investment of the watch itself, all-in-all, we think the WellBe Smartwatch is a great investment.
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. The price is very competitive, too. It beats Medical Guardian on monthly fees, and the equipment is much less expensive than the Apple Watch.
Editor’s Note: Before we get going, we need to point out that the Lively Wearable is no longer available for purchase through the manufacturer’s website. That said, these devices are still available in some retail stores and through third-party distributors. So we’ve decided to keep the Wearable’s information posted here.
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 Smart4 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. Of course, it only works as a fall detection device when it’s actually on the lanyard.
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.
|Included in some plans
|Up to 82 hours
The Apple Watch remains one of the best on the market today, and that’s particularly true for seniors. And, since it doesn’t have the stigma of being a piece of medical equipment, it’s easy to get even your most stubborn loved ones to wear it. These watches are also compatible with a ton of smart home and security systems, which can help if you’re taking care of an elderly parent at your place.
Although not designed specifically as a medical alert device, the Apple Watch can be used as one. The emergency SOS Alert feature, for example, 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 even offers fall detection though users have to enable this feature. If the watch detects a fall followed by no movement, it sends the wearer an alert. If the wearer doesn’t respond, Apple Watch taps their wrist, sounds an alarm, and calls emergency services.
The watch is waterproof, which is a major plus (for more on waterproof devices, read our review of the Best Waterproof Medical Alert Systems) and it can also monitor for blood oxygen levels as well as irregular heartbeats. It also offers features no other device on this list can boast — it can call, text, and search the internet. Another benefit if the person you’re helping care for is tech savvy.
One area where the Apple Watch falls short is battery life. While most dedicated medical devices have batteries that last 24 hours or more, the Apple watch only lasts 18 hours. This means whoever is wearing it will be unprotected while it’s charging, and could experience a medical emergency during that time.
FYI: It’s extremely important to note that Apple Watches are not monitored by medical professionals. The wearer won’t have the assistance of a trained associate available, and vital health information will not be immediately available to emergency personnel.
Another drawback is the cost. The most recent version of the Apple Watch — the Ultra — costs $800. Older iterations are available, though, mostly from third-party retailers. If you don’t need the latest and the greatest, you can pick one up for around $200.
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.