Life Alert Review

The original maintenance-free medical alert system for seniors

SecureScore™: 7.7 /10
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Travis Goodreau https://www.safehome.org/security-advisors/travis-goodreau/
7.7 SecureScore™
How We Review
How We Review
Customer Service
8.3
Value
7.3
Equipment
7.1
Features & Technology
7.5
Ease Of Use
8.4
SecureScore™
7.7

“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Those iconic words — made famous by Life Alert’s late 80’s commercial — once filled homes across America. And 30 years later, Life Alert is still going strong. We recently looked into their full lineup of products for seniors, and we found that the company continues to offer easy-to-use, maintenance-free equipment for seniors.

The features and options are somewhat limited, and the packages can cost a pretty penny. But still, Life Alert has saved nearly 500,000 seniors in the last decade alone (if you ask us, that’s pretty impressive!). Unfortunately, their medical alert systems aren’t exactly fashionable, and you don’t get as many freebies as we’ve seen from others in the industry. But the response times are solid, and we found the service to be all-around reliable where it counts.

So… is Life Alert right for you or your loved one? We’re going to share everything you need to know, the good and the bad, right here in our full review of Life Alert medical alert systems. So, let’s hop to it!

PROS
  • Maintenance-free equipment
  • Well-established company
  • CSAA Five Diamond Certified response centers
  • Lifetime price guarantee
  • Free shipping
  • Nationwide offices
  • Free warranty

CONS
  • No automatic fall detection
  • Limited in-home range (800 ft.)
  • Expensive compared to some other alert systems
  • Limited feature set
  • Lack of pricing transparency
  • Customer service varies

Quick History of Life Alert

Life Alert is a household name, thanks to a long-running infomercial with the iconic line “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” The company was established in 1987, and has been in the medical alert industry for over 30 years!1 They have over 600 employees with a headquarters in Encino, California,2 as well as offices in New York, New Jersey, and Florida.

FYI: Life Alert receives approximately 2 million calls for assistance every year. And more than 45,000 of these involve life-saving responses that prevent potentially catastrophic outcomes.

Note that while the company has received it’s fair share of mixed reviews,3 Life Alert has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and a 5-star rating on Consumer Affairs.4 We also like that their response centers are CSAA Five Diamond Certified and the product is UL listed (the gold standard for the industry). Overall, Life Alert is a trusted name. But let’s take a closer look to see how their alert systems perform compared to the best medical alert systems available today.

Our Experience with Life Alert

Getting Started

From what we’ve seen, Life Alert isn’t exactly transparent with their pricing. Their website appears dated and doesn’t offer product prices or information on monthly costs. Instead, we were prompted to call in for a brochure. When we did get through to an agent, they transferred us to a sales representative who was helpful and courteous in answering our questions (but our agent talked a mile a minute, so it’s best to take notes!).

We ended up speaking to a few sales representatives, and each offered varying prices based on current promotions and other factors. Unfortunately, the company only provides service with a 36-month contract attached (3 years to be exact), and we found Life Alert to be more expensive compared to other medical alerts in the market.

Ultimately, we had to rely on the information the sales reps gave us and what we could find on the website. With that said, we recommend reading the fine print in your paperwork before signing on the dotted line.

Is Life Alert Easy to Use?

While DIY installation is possible, in most cases Life Alert will visit your home and provide professional installation for their equipment. Fortunately, this service is available nationwide. But we’ve been doing this a long time, and we know how fast and easy DIY setup is (most systems only take about 3-5 minutes to install). So we’d like to see a bigger focus on do-it-yourself setups from Life Alert.

Now, if you choose the in-home option, you’ll receive 1 or 2 help buttons that you can place in your bathroom or kitchen, where falls are more likely to happen.5

These Life Alert buttons are large and bright red with ‘HELP’ emblazoned across the device (hard to miss!). The mobile + GPS systems are designed to be worn as a necklace pendant, or placed in your pocket or purse. While we found these units to be more discreet, they make it just as easy to summon help with the push of a button.

If you or your loved one needs assistance, you’ll press the button to reach Life Alert’s emergency monitoring center where you can speak to an agent directly. In our experience, Life Alert was just as easy to use as some of our favorite brands, like Medical Guardian.

Did You Know: Once your help button is pressed, the monitoring center can dispatch police, fire, or EMS if the situation calls for it. We’ve found that Life Alert agents are patient and professional. So even if you press the button in a non-emergency, you won’t get in trouble or have to pay a fine.

Wearing the Devices

Thankfully, we can say that wearing a medical alert device is comfortable once you get used to it. For Life Alert’s in-home wearables (lanyard or wrist pendant), you press the round button and the speaker on the base unit will come on asking if you are okay. If you’re unable to answer, the agents will send dispatchers to your home (better safe than sorry!).

Life Alert Pendants

Life Alert Pendants

We would have liked to see more fashionable options, like Medical Alert’s sleek design. And if you’re looking for something ultra-discreet and elegantly designed, we recommend checking out Bay Alarm Medical, an alert provider that offers fashion jewelry pendants called Bella Charms. But for the most part, we think Life Alert help buttons are well-designed, comfortable, easy to wear, and most importantly work when you need it. In fact, you might even forget you’re wearing it.

As for the mobile GPS button — unlike the in-home pendant — this wearable device has its own two-way voice built-in. It’s about the size of a credit card and weighs 2 ounces (the same weight as a tennis ball), so you can discreetly clip it on the inside of your purse or on your keychain.

We also appreciated that both the in-home wearables and GPS buttons are waterproof, so you’ll have a little more peace of mind when taking a shower or watering your lawn. Although we’re seeing waterproofing becoming more common in the industry, there are still lots of brands that don’t offer this. So kudos to Life Alert here.

Did You Know: Life Alert’s in-home alert pendants can keep a charge for 7 to 10 years, which is very impressive. When your battery power gets low, the company will send you replacement equipment for free.

24/7 Monitoring

When you press your medical alert button, you can expect to receive a response from a highly-trained specialist in 20 seconds or less (which is a little faster than the industry average). So if you or your loved one faces a crisis, no matter if it’s day or night, you can rest easy knowing Life Alert will get the notification and immediately respond.

Sure, 20 seconds is a commendable response time, but there’s always room for improvement. Note that one of the most responsive alerts we’ve used is Philips LifeLine, which has an average response time of 12 seconds, almost twice as fast as Life Alert. Now that’s what you call lightning in a button.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can provide health history to the company, and they can relay this information to paramedics so they know the possible treatment plans that are most effective based on your health history, or your loved one’s history. We think this is a nice touch, but it’s something that most services offer these days.

So we found plenty of things to like about Life Alert. But we were disappointed that their systems don’t offer fall detection, which automatically alerts medical responders if (or when!) you fall — even if the medical alert button isn’t pushed. This surprised us, as fall detection is a fairly standard feature in the market today. Even if we have to pay an extra $10 per month to get it, we think it’s worth it.

FYI: Life Alert doesn’t offer Automatic fall detection. While the technology isn’t 100% accurate, it can be life-saving.

Customer Service

One thing we really value is great customer service. Unfortunately, one of our biggest gripes with Life Alert is that they don’t offer a way to contact them online like the majority of medical alert brands we’ve tested.

The reviews of Life Alert customer service are generally good, with people appreciating the calm and professional agents helping them through their emergencies. But note that while we found the sales representatives friendly and courteous, they were actually a tad pushy, and each gave us slightly different information about the products. At any rate, we don’t think Life Alert service quite compares to LifeFone’s stellar customer service.

FYI: Life Alert didn’t offer the most transparent customer service we’ve experienced, but their emergency response times are pretty fast and reliable.

Life Alert Equipment

In-Home Alert Systems

We found that the typical Life Alert plan requires a 36-month contract and offers customized systems that can be combined. Each plan also requires a pretty steep $198 one-time membership fee that covers shipping, setup, and installation. And if you opt for paying on an annual basis, you’ll enjoy one free month of service.

Providing accurate information is our top priority and we make significant efforts to do so on our site. However, the companies covered on our site may occasionally change their packages, offerings, and pricing and there may be a delay in us making those changes. If you notice any outdated or inaccurate information, please do let us know.

Complete In-Home Plan

Life Alert Complete In-Home Plan

Life Alert Complete In-Home Plan

This system includes a base station, necklace pendant or bracelet, and two help buttons. According to the sales rep we spoke to, it doesn’t require you to have a landline or wifi connection, which we like. But at $89.85 per month, we feel the price is much steeper compared to a lot of other brands we’ve tested. Here are the features you do get:

  • Base unit (800-ft range)
  • 2 Waterproof emergency buttons
  • 1 Neck/Wrist Pendant (doesn’t need charging)
  • No landline or internet required

FYI: Most medical alert systems we’ve tried cost about $20-$40 per month, with no membership fees or long-term contracts to worry about.

Modified In-Home Plan

Life Alert’s Modified Home Plan is a cheaper option at $69.90 per month (which is still pricey compared to the industry average) and provides the same equipment of one base unit and pendant. But with this subscription you only get one help button instead of two. It can be a good option for seniors who spend most of their time at home and don’t need the extra device.

  • Wireless wall buttons
  • Free Shipping
  • Wearable neck or wrist button
  • No landline or cell phone required

Complete In-Home Plan

This system includes a base station, necklace pendant or bracelet, and two help buttons. According to the sales rep we spoke to, it doesn’t require you to have a landline or wifi connection, which we like. But at $89.85 per month, we feel the price is much steeper compared to a lot of other brands we’ve tested. Here are the features you do get:

  • Base unit (800-ft range)
  • 2 Waterproof emergency buttons
  • 1 Neck/Wrist Pendant (doesn’t need charging)
  • No landline or internet required

FYI: Most medical alert systems we’ve tried cost about $20-$40 per month, with no membership fees or long-term contracts to worry about.

Modified In-Home Plan

Life Alert’s Modified Home Plan is a cheaper option at $69.90 per month (which is still pricey compared to the industry average) and provides the same equipment of one base unit and pendant. But with this subscription you only get one help button instead of two. It can be a good option for seniors who spend most of their time at home and don’t need the extra device.

  • Wireless wall buttons
  • Free Shipping
  • Wearable neck or wrist button
  • No landline or cell phone required

Combo In-Home and Mobile Alert System

Home & GPS Plan

This system is Life Alert’s combined in-home and mobile coverage. It might be a good fit if you or your loved one lives an active lifestyle. For $89.85 per month, you’ll receive a mobile GPS button in addition to your in-home base unit, one wearable pendant, and one help button. Features include:

  • Two-way talk built-in to device
  • GPS tracking technology
  • Waterproof design
  • 7 to 10-year battery life

Add-On Features

Standard Help Button — Many falls take place in the shower or bathroom, so Life Alert offers help buttons that easily attach to a wall. These buttons are battery-powered, so you don’t have to connect them to an outlet. They are also waterproof with a battery that lasts for 7 to 10 years (impressive). If you’d like to add on another, you’ll pay $19.95 for the extra button.

Spouse Monitoring — You can add on a spouse or other loved one to your subscription for an extra $10 per month. We do like having this option, as some brands don’t offer it at all. You’ll receive another in-home wearable pendant (not GPS button) and this doesn’t include the standard wall buttons.

Personal Protection at Home — Intrusion alert buttons can contact Life Alert’s security dispatchers so you don’t need to get to your phone to call 911 if there’s an intruder in your home. Using the built-in two-way talk, you can talk directly with the dispatchers, and they can even attempt to deter the criminal and get them to leave (or else!). Life Alert agents will stay on the line until help arrives.

Did You Know: Your Life Alert rate will not change for the duration of your contract length. We’ve found very few companies offer a rate-lock like this — it’s one perk to signing a contract!

Senior-Friendly Features

Lifetime Warranty — A lifetime warranty is included with your $198 one-time membership fee. This covers equipment that is either damaged or stops working. We suppose this is another silver lining to signing a long-term contract.

Lifetime Price Guarantee — The price you pay when you begin your subscription is the same you pay when your contract ends. We liked that this remains the same if you decide to renew your plan. But keep in mind, this only applies to existing members. So, if you cancel and want to renew at a later date, the rate will be adjusted.

Family Notification — You can add a list of caregivers and family members to notify in the event of an emergency or health crisis. That way they know that something is going on and can coordinate with one another and emergency medical professionals.

Personal Health Information — It can be difficult for EMS to provide emergency care when they don’t know your health history, the medications you take, or any pre-existing conditions. As mentioned, when you file this information with Life Alert, the responder conveys it to the emergency medics that arrive on the scene.

Life Alert App — You can also use Life Alert through your smartphone with the Life Alert app. It has the same one-button interface that the traditional devices offer, which makes it simple to get assistance. The app also features emergency signals, like flashing lights so bystanders know that you need help. We should also mention that the mobile app is a little outdated and it only has a 1.5 star rating (out of 5) in the Apple App Store.

Life Alert Mobile App Screenshots

Life Alert Mobile App Screenshots

FYI: If a loved one passes when they are home alone and protected by Life Alert, the company provides a 100% refund and the contract is canceled without penalty. You can also cancel the contract if your loved one needs to move into a 24-hour care facility.

Summary & Recommendations

We’ve been testing Life Alert over the years, and while it’s one of the best known medical alert companies due to their “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials, their product offerings are somewhat limited, they require long-term contracts, and the prices are definitely on the steep side from what we’ve seen. Life Alert also requires an expensive membership fee that we just don’t see from other brands. On the other hand, they do have a quality response team that’s prepared to deal with every type of emergency.

The company also offers a lifetime warranty and a lifetime price guarantee. So, that’s nice. But again, the brand doesn’t stack up with many others we’ve researched and tested. Other companies provide more price transparency and important features like fall detection, which can be lifesaving.

Overall, it’s important to choose an alert system that allows you to age with confidence and live with peace of mind. So we hope our in-depth Life Alert review has helped you to narrow down your options and make a decision one way or another.

Providing accurate information is our top priority and we make significant efforts to do so on our site. However, the companies covered on our site may occasionally change their packages, offerings, and pricing and there may be a delay in us making those changes. If you notice any outdated or inaccurate information, please do let us know.

Citations
SafeHome only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wikipedia. (Retrieved May 21, 2020). Life Alert Emergency Response.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Alert_Emergency_Response

  2. Glassdoor.com. (2020). Life Alert Ratings & Reviews.
    https://www.glassdoor.com/Overview/Working-at-Life-Alert-EI_IE254480.11,21.htm

  3. TrustPilot.com. (2020). Life Alert Reviews.
    https://www.trustpilot.com/review/lifealert.com

  4. Consumer Affairs. (2020). Find the Best Medical Alert Systems.
    https://www.consumeraffairs.com/medical-alert-systems/

  5. US National Library of Medicine. Mulley, G. (2001, April 9). Study: Falls in Older People.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1281399/

Reviewed By
Travis Goodreau
Safety and Security Advisor
Travis is a retired Burglary Detective, having tallied 5,000+ burglary and theft cases throughout his career. He also served as an Arson Investigator, where he cracked the case of a serial arsonist, and made the arrest and prosecuted the would-be bomber of ABC-7 Studio in LA. We couldn’t be happier to have him as a Safety and Security Advisor. Learn more about Travis here
Written By
Andrew Garcia
Lead Security Editor
As Lead Security Editor, Andrew strategically guides SafeHome and the resources we publish. He holds a BA in business, and has 10+ years of experience in content development. Today, Andrew edits and publishes articles, guides, and other resources to meet our rigorous standards. Learn more about Andrew here

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar A.b says:

    Im so glad i went with life alert im 25 years old i have the main home unit gps button and 2 shower buttons they saved my life more times then i can count they are not just for senior citizens totally worth the money

  2. Avatar james Howard says:

    Is Life Alert tax deductible?

    1. Andrew Garcia Andrew Garcia says:

      Hi James,
      You’d have to ask your accountant that question. It’s possible, but it would depend on a few factors.

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