LifeFone is a longtime leader in helping seniors remain independent. Since 1976, LifeFone has been managing emergency alerts, and for years, they have been providing remote caregiving services like friendly daily phone calls and automated “Take your medicine” reminders.1 We came across a few features we think you’ll enjoy, such as their emergency mobile app. With this option, LifeFone emphasizes the practicality of emergency alert coverage for anyone with a smartphone.
Curious about how LifeFone might work for you or your loved one? Well, we recently tried LifeFone’s in-home and on-the-go medical alert systems. From the start, we were impressed by how smooth they made the experience. Their customer service is excellent, and their equipment is surprisingly well-made. By the end of testing, our expert team gave LifeFone 8.5 out of 10 points. Not too shabby!
We did find a few drawbacks that you should know about, such as spotty service in the backyard (with the in-home pendant). And there are a few other minor factors you’ll want to consider. But don’t worry — we’re sharing everything you need to know about LifeFone today. Let’s kick it off with the pros and cons!
LifeFone launched in 1976 as the U.S. was celebrating our bicentennial. President Jimmy Carter was in the White House, and disco topped the Billboard 100. How times have changed! All the while, LifeFone has been a stable partner for seniors. They’ve been registered with the Better Business Bureau for decades, and we were surprised to see how few BBB complaints they have: just three!2 Meanwhile, some competitors have received hundreds of grouchy reviews.
Based in White Plains, NY, LifeFone has monitoring centers in New York and Corona, California. We like how LifeFone centrally owns and operates its call centers, as they can’t “pass the buck” if service starts to suffer! For decades, LifeFone has prided itself on fielding calls with expertise. In our research, we found that they have earned confident recommendations from hospitals, home health care agencies, and related organizations. All right, now that you know more about LifeFone’s history and culture, let’s see how these devices performed for us!
Signing up with LifeFone took us just five minutes online. You can also call their 800 number to hear all the different options (LifeFone offers lots of options!). We chose a plan with medical alert equipment for at home and on the go. We ticked a box to add fall detection, which added $5 per pendant (most companies charge $10 for fall detection). Next were the options for discounts. This section was a nice surprise! We found that LifeFone reduced their monthly rates when we chose a long-term plan. This option requires you to pay for multiple months upfront, which is never fun. But thankfully, you can cancel anytime and get a prorated refund.
FYI: With a quarterly or annual LifeFone deal, you can cancel monitoring anytime. You’ll get a prorated refund if you return equipment early.
Some LifeFone alternatives would happily lock us into a contract and only allow us to cancel if we moved to assisted living or passed away. So, we found LifeFone to be customer-friendly in this regard. Also, you get a free lockbox with an annual agreement, which gives emergency responders access to a house key.
Finally, the last step was choosing any extra equipment, like a vanity pendant or a wall button, as well as upgrading with remote caregiving features such as medication reminders. Overall, we thought the sign-up process was pretty fast and easy. A few days later, the equipment arrived on time. LifeFone promises delivery within five business days if you order before 3 p.m. EST.
Getting LifeFone ready to use was easy. For service over our landline, we plugged our phone line into the LifeFone console. Another cord, which LifeFone sent, connects our phone to the system. The LifeFone base unit also plugs into a wall socket. The console comes with a 32-hour battery in the event of a power outage.
If you don’t have a landline, setup is even easier: The cellular unit arrives pre-programmed, and it’s ready to go after you connect it to a wall outlet. This system includes AT&T 4G LTE cellular service, so you don’t have to worry about it.
Next, we activated the base unit, then pressed its “Emergency Call” button. After a brief period, we heard a helpful agent with an accent like the folks back home. We explained, “This is just a test,” and we were on our way. We also liked how LifeFone’s in-home buttons offer long-range coverage of 1,300 feet, which is the best in the business. One gripe of ours was that the system was somewhat spotty when we tested it outdoors, so you will only really get great reception while indoors.
In our experience, LifeFone’s equipment selection was easy to use. Except for the LifeFone wall buttons, all their devices feature a nice black-and-white design. Some rival medical alert systems come with massive red HELP buttons, which make us a little nervous!
For the in-home plan, we were able to summon help through the base station button or by pressing the wearable. Pressing a button activates two-way voice communication through the base station. You can also place calls automatically with a fall detection pendant.
Did You Know: Fall detection technology isn’t 100% accurate with any medical alert brand. So, if you do happen to fall, remember to press the call button immediately, if possible.
Note, although we could hear the operator clearly, the speaker on the in-home system might not be loud enough for folks with a hearing impairment. Some other brands we’ve tested have speakers that are loud to the point of shrill (for good reason!). These systems are meant for ears that have been around the block a few times. On the other hand, with the LifeFone GPS Voice-In-Necklace pendant, we were able to set the volume perfectly.
What’s it like to wear a LifeFone button? We considered comfort, practicality, and stylishness. We found that LifeFone scores slightly above average in all three areas:
With LifeFone, we didn’t have to pay for equipment unless we upgraded to the vanity pendant or a beaded chain. LifeFone’s charges are for 24-7 monitoring, not the devices themselves. When pressed, your alert goes to the main LifeFone dispatching center in White Plains, New York. However, when call traffic is heavy, it might reach a LifeFone emergency operator in Syracuse or Corona, California.
In our tests, LifeFone didn’t have the fastest response time on average. We found systems like Medical Guardian and Bay Alarm Medical to be more responsive when it mattered most. Still, with LifeFone, you can expect expert assistance within a minute and sometimes much sooner. An agent told our team that 25 to 60 seconds is the norm.
We like how the operators are friendly and efficient, starting with “Hello. Do you need help?” If you do need help, then you don’t need to specify where you are, as the operator already sees your home address or receives mobile GPS data.
FYI: If you accidentally press a medical alert button, that’s okay! LifeFone doesn’t charge per alert. In fact, most medical alert companies encourage you to test their systems occasionally to ensure they are working properly.
In our experience, friendly and respectful service is one of LifeFone’s central strengths. This belief held true throughout the sign-up process and during our ownership of the system. We appreciate how the sales agent didn’t pressure us. Instead, she simply answered our questions without seeming to have a commission in mind. We found this approach to be refreshing.
We also found lots of people in the pro-LifeFone camp. For instance, LifeFone scores 4.5 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot, where more than 700 customers have shared their LifeFone reviews.3 Better yet, the Better Business Bureau gives LifeFone an A+ for transparency and exceptional customer service.
LifeFone’s customer service lines are open for calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.4 Eclipsing the customer service hours of other companies, LifeFone prides themselves on around the clock access to support. The only limited time frames from LifeFone customer support is in the sales department, which is open Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST. Even these hours are more generous than some other medical alert companies, especially on weekends. We were also able to reach customer service by email and get a response the same day. LifeFone did well in the customer service category, and it was one of our favorite aspects of this company.
LifeFone gives you a choice of home-only and on-the-go buttons. Some of their plans combine the two options. Here, we show regular prices for their monthly monitoring subscription. Remember that LifeFone provides the basic equipment for free, and the monthly monitoring charge stops when we return the free equipment.
|At-Home Landline||At-Home Cellular||At-Home & On-the-Go GPS||At-Home & On-the-Go Voice in Necklace|
|Connection Type||Landline||4G LTE Cellular||4G LTE Cellular||4G LTE Cellular|
|Range||1,300 ft.||1,300 ft.||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Two-Way Talk||Using Base Unit||Using Base Unit||Using Base Unit||In Wearable|
|Fall Detection Available||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cost||$24.95 per month||$34.95 per month||$36.95 per month||$39.95 per month|
We like how the in-home medical alert buttons don’t require recharging. The batteries can last for up to five years, and LifeFone replaces buttons when battery power gets too low. Meanwhile, the home-only base stations use a normal power outlet, and they feature 32-hour battery backup in case of power outages.
As you might guess, the At-Home Landline system works with a home’s already-installed landline. The base station offers a long range to keep track of our pendant, plus it has a built-in button for emergency help. It can connect with a LifeFone wall button, too. Pressing the wall button will activate the base station speaker. At $24.95 per month, we think it’s an affordable option for at-home coverage. Here are the main features:
For homes without landlines, the At-Home Cellular system provides you with a 24-7 emergency connection through its own cellular chip. This system looks identical to the At-Home Landline system and offers many of the same benefits, including a temperature sensor. The white and black base station has a big emergency button, and the unit can monitor wall buttons, as well as wearables. We recommend cellular units over landline units, as we find them to be faster and more reliable. At $34.95 per month, we thought the coverage was reliable and affordable. This system features:
This option is found on the LifeFone product menu under “Fire, Smoke, and CO System.” The system costs $42.95 per month, and it gives LifeFone some significant overlap with the full-fledged home security companies that we research and test. With this deal, LifeFone will monitor wireless fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors, along with a wall panic button and a wearable (either a neck pendant or wrist button). This setup requires a 12-month contract, whereas the other LifeFone deals can be month-to-month.
Let’s be honest, most medical alert buttons aren’t exactly Vogue quality. But in the past several years, some medical alert companies have started dressing up their neck pendants with inspiration from fashion jewelry. Of all the choices, LifeFone vanity pendants are some of the best we’ve seen. Coming in at $89, it’s also the priciest pendant we’ve seen. But we think it’s worth the extra money if it means Mom will actually wear her medical alert necklace.
At $36.95 per month, this personal safety system is LifeFone’s most affordable deal for all-around protection. When you’re away from home, your pendant can send emergency signals from anywhere on the same cellular network used by Verizon and AT&T.
So, you could drive to the dog park, put the unit in your pocket or purse, and get protection if a Doberman knocked you down or a mugger approached. But if you’re just going for a walk, the GPS button with the small base station doesn’t feel so convenient. We’d rather bring our phone with the LifeFone emergency app.5
Back at home, the on-the-go pendant has a 600-ft range from its base unit (keep in mind, the home-only unit offers more than double the range at 1,300 ft.). The base unit plugs into the wall and has a 30-hour battery backup in case you lose power. As with the home-only units, you can also add fall detection for $5 per month. Some other features to note:
This package is our favorite LifeFone combo for at-home and on-the-go coverage. It’s identical to the GPS system described above, except you’ll also get two-way talk through the pendant itself, not just the base unit. We think it’s a worthwhile upgrade for just $3 per month extra (this system runs $39.95 per month). And again, the range at home is 600 feet, and range on-the-go is within 350 feet of the base. You can also add fall detection for $5 per month if you desire.
Pro Tip: LifeFone likes vacations. You can temporarily transfer your in-home alert service to your weekend getaway or anywhere with a landline. Making the change is free and quick.
If you’ve been searching for a medical alert system, you know that countless companies are competing for attention. LifeFone distinguishes itself from the competition with top-notch customer service, special features for remote caregiving, and stylish medical alert pendants. Here are some of the services and add-ons LifeFone providers customers:
|Services & Add-Ons||Price|
|Fall Detection||$5 per month|
|Activity Assurance||$6 per month|
|Medication Reminders||$6 per month|
|Daily Phone Call||$19 per month|
|Location Services||$9 per month|
|Wall-Mounted Button||$39.95 each|
|Vanity Pendant||$89 each|
|Beaded Lanyard||$21.95 each|
|Lock Box||Included in Annual Plans or Up to $39.95|
Unique special features help make LifeFone one of our favorite medical alert systems. However, we didn’t find anything uniquely innovative about LifeFone in this category, as many of these options are industry standard. Read on for details about free and paid upgrades.
Free Monitoring for Another Person
This deal for in-home alert systems can make LifeFone twice as affordable as its competitors. Of course, both users will need to share an address. LifeFone only charges a one-time fee, but for just $35, you can cover both yourself and your spouse.
Daily Check-in Call
While automated caregiving services can give peace of mind, we prefer the personal touch of a daily check-in phone call. This service only costs $19 per month, and it is especially important for physically isolated seniors or people with health issues. We like the comfort of knowing that someone will call just to ask how we’re doing. The operator can also give reminders about medications, appointments, and so forth. You can also specify the best times to call.
LifeFone has three styles of lockboxes, all with space to store several keys. They range in price from, well, free to $39.95. If you need to call for emergency personnel, the dispatcher will share your lockbox code so that no one needs to break down a door like a Hollywood hero! LifeFone includes a lockbox for free with annual plans.
Remote caregiving features from LifeFone can help seniors feel safe at home. Activity Assurance is mostly an automated option, costing $6 per month. You’ll choose a 15-minute window for daily check-ins, such as from 7 to 7:15 a.m. after waking up. We tested it, and with notice, we were able to change the schedule. If we didn’t check-in, LifeFone was sure to get in touch. Depending on your instructions, they can even call emergency workers right away or try your personal contacts first. It’s a nice upgrade, but it’s not for everyone.
For an additional $9 per month, Location Service is a helpful add-on for LifeFone on-the-go buttons. From a relative’s perspective, we like how it can confirm that Mom arrived home safe and sound from the market. Also, respect to LifeFone for ensuring that family members can’t go overboard with GPS tracking! With this service, you’ll get about one check per day (30 location requests each month). If you want an average of two location checks per day, you’ll pay an extra $5. Not bad.
LifeFone Mobile Emergency App
When you don’t want to wear a medical alert system, LifeFone’s mobile app can offer a little peace of mind for $7.95 per month. After logging into the app, your phone screen will show three buttons: Panic, Medical, and Concern. We love the invention of “Concern” because it lets you keep an emergency operator on the line until you feel like you’re someplace safe. Again, it costs $7.95 per month for new subscribers and $5.95 per month for current LifeFone customers.
Wall buttons make LifeFone more like traditional home security systems. Offered at $39.95 each, these devices easily allow you to push a button for emergency help or to reach people on your contact list. We found it easy to attach a button to the wall with removable adhesive and Velcro. But we’re not so wild about how it looks. Adorned with a bold red, it isn’t very discreet! We do like how it helps us feel more protected in our home.
Fall detection can be lifesaving. We like how LifeFone makes it available for just $5 per month (most other companies charge double). Keep in mind, though, fall detection technology isn’t perfect! That’s because people move in so many ways (dancing, yoga, etc.). Sometimes a fall isn’t detected automatically, so it’s always best to push the button if you can. The more active you are, the more likely you’ll trigger an alert. If you accidentally cause a false alarm, you can easily cancel the call.
Did You Know: LifeFone reports that about 30 percent of customers with fall detection have at least one false alert per month.6
For just $6 per month, this automated remote caregiving service works with your in-home base station. The unit beeps, and a text message scrolls across the data window. By pressing a button, we confirm that we’ve seen the reminder. Subscribers and caregivers can set up to four medication reminders per day, and we can adjust the instructions whenever needed.
Lookin’ good! We were surprised by the quality of LifeFone’s beaded lanyards. Each one is handmade with a string of either black, white, or a combination of beads. With practicality in mind, the stainless steel chains feature magnetic closures. At $21.95 each, we think they’re stylish upgrades to regular pendant lanyards, which tend to be simple, unimaginative black cords.
Leather Carrying Case for GPS Button
LifeFone is definitely among the more stylish medical alert brands we’ve seen, and their leather carrying case showcases this characteristic. While our vegan team member isn’t a fan, most of us would treat ourselves! At $18.95, it’s not super-cheap. But, besides keeping the GPS button looking brand-new, we think it makes the system look more discreet.
Emergency Care Contacts
With this free feature, you can set up emergency protocols. If you want, LifeFone can call particular people, such as your neighbor, before calling 911 to your residence. You can update these emergency plans anytime.
We enjoyed testing LifeFone and would recommend this company to our loved ones. The company gave us reliable emergency backup for less than $1 a day. Of course, we racked up a bigger bill than we bargained for, and yours might be too, so just be careful with all the add-ons and upgrades available.
It’s not a perfect system, but for in-home medical alerts, LifeFone is among our favorite companies. The systems feature long-range capabilities, and LifeFone has one of the most attractive in-home pendants around. On the other hand, we weren’t crazy about their on-the-go GPS button. Some competitors let you get away without a mobile base station. We figure that’s why LifeFone developed their mobile phone app for emergencies, and we found that to be pretty comforting.
Overall, we’re impressed by LifeFone’s mix of customer-friendly policies, high-quality technology, and remote caregiving upgrades. You can try a system free for 30 days, and most LifeFone deals are contract-free. But even with long-term subscriptions, you can get a refund if your needs change. If you’re looking for a reliable and affordable medical alert system, LifeFone provides a pretty solid system for the price.
LifeFone. (2020). Why Choose LifeFone.
LifeFone: Better Business Bureau® Profile. (2020, April 16). BBB.
LifeFone: Trustpilot Profile. (2020, April 13). Trustpilot.
LifeFone. (2020). Customer Service.
LifeFone. (2019, February 19). Mobile Alert by LifeFone. Google.
LifeFone. (2020). Frequently Asked Questions.