We recently tested Medical Guardian alert systems. It wasn’t our first time, and it won’t be our last. While it’s not a perfect solution, these alert devices sure offer great features that we think you’ll like. And it’s all backed by a company with a passion for helping seniors. We have to say, that’s pretty refreshing.
Since 2005, Medical Guardian has been helping seniors live “life without limits.”1 It’s a catchy tagline, right? Well, we found there’s a lot of truth behind it. Medical Guardian sells both in-home and mobile alert systems for seniors. There are no contracts or hidden fees to worry about. And while we found their monthly monitoring to be more expensive than the industry average, we still enjoyed 24/7 coverage for about $1 to $1.50 a day.
So if you live on a tight budget, Medical Guardian might not be the best fit for you. But if you or a loved one could benefit from a little extra peace of mind (and who couldn’t?), we can tell you first hand that these alert systems are worth a closer look. We were excited to test Medical Guardian’s newest solutions. And the results didn’t disappoint! In fact, we are always impressed with the direction the Founder and CEO is taking his company. The good and the bad — it’s all here in our full review of Medical Guardian alert systems. Let’s hop to it.
We always like to see real people behind a company. Thankfully, Medical Guardian shares the story of their humble beginnings right on their website. And it’s a story we like telling! In a nutshell, Geoff Gross started the company after his grandmother experienced several falls. She needed help at home, so Geoff began innovating alert devices from his apartment in Philadelphia. He made it his personal mission to serve seniors, and to build a team of employees who also cared deeply for the aging community.3
Today, the company helps over 200,000 seniors regain confidence and age safely. From what we’ve seen, Geoff and his team really care about helping seniors; and this compassion and caring shines through in every aspect of their business. Oh, and did we mention Geoff was named a Glassdoor Top CEO in 2018?4 It’s a big reason why they’re one of the best alert brands in the industry. But let’s see how they compare to Bay Alarm Medical and other top options.
We think the signup process is very straightforward. We hopped on Medical Guardian’s website and selected the devices that made the most sense for our budget and lifestyle. Then on to the next step, which was choosing our subscription type. We went with month-to-month service (which is the option we highly recommend choosing).
Then we had the option of buying add-ons and upgrades like Fall Detection — and boy do they try to sell you everything and the farm! So keep your budget in mind, and only purchase what you need. Finally, we gave them some personal info, and off we went with free shipping, a free lockbox, and a few other goodies.
FYI: Medical Guardian offers monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual plans. But unfortunately, the plan options don’t get any cheaper the longer you sign on for.
The installation was quite easy, but we didn’t really find it to be easier than other leading alert systems. Medical Guardian has one landline alert: the ‘Classic Guardian’ for at-home use. If you choose this option, you’ll simply plug the cable into your phone line and follow the simple, step-by-step instructions. For the in-home units, you’ll want to place the base station somewhere near the center of your home (like in the kitchen), or other high-risk areas where slip and falls occur (like in the bathroom!).5 Finally, you’ll put on the bracelet or pendant help button, and you’re all set.
This time around, we tested Medical Guardians in-home cellular and mobile cellular options (by the way, their mobile options are perfect for active seniors). We found these devices even easier to set up than the landline device. They shipped to us ready to go right out of the box. All we needed to do was turn it on and press a few buttons. And that was all it took!
So don’t be intimidated by the setup process. We had it up-and-running in exactly 4 minutes, from start to finish. But honestly, you can expect fast and easy setup from other leading brands, like LifeFone and GreatCall.
Now, almost every alert system these days is easy to use. You just push the button, and that’s it! However, we know that the CEO, Geoff Gross, personally made sure all of his devices were easy, intuitive, and even attractive to wear. As far as features go, just keep in mind that you can only use the two-way talk feature on the in-home units when you’re within ear-shot of the base station. That’s why it’s so important to place it somewhere central in your home.
As for the mobile devices and smartwatch, even the more advanced features like GPS location tracking are automatic, so there’s really no learning curve at all. If there’s an emergency, just press the help button. And if you opt for fall detection (an additional $10 per month), you don’t even have to push the button — your device will (should) detect the fall and contact the monitoring center for you.
Pro Tip: Fall detection technology is helpful — and even life-saving — but it’s not 100% accurate yet.
We always recommend choosing a medical alert system that you’ll actually wear. This is easier said than done, especially if you’re buying for a loved one who’s a bit stubborn (hey, there’s one in every family). We liked how comfortable the devices were to wear on a daily basis. During testing, we forgot we were even wearing the bracelet and pendant in just a couple of hours, which is always a good sign. Medical Guardian devices are also waterproof, so you can wash dishes, water plants, and even take a shower while wearing your alert. While this is nice, it’s a feature that you can expect with most alert devices out there.
Medical Guardian’s monitoring is top-notch compared to many brands we’ve tested. They hold a TMA Five Diamond Certification, which is the gold standard for reliable monitoring. In our experience, the monitoring center was very responsive. When we pushed the help button, the agents reached out within 20-30 seconds every time. Sure, that might not be lighting fast (we’ve found that Philip’s Lifeline is the fastest!), but this is still impressive from what we’ve seen.
Note that for Medical Guardian’s mobile options, the two-way talk feature is built right into the device. And these on-the-go units use cellular monitoring, which we found to be reliable, so long as you don’t live in a rural area with spotty reception. So if (or when) you or a loved one is faced with a crisis, just press the button on your device. No matter the time of day or night, the professional agents will get the notification and immediately respond.
The only real issue we had was the price of Medical Guardian’s monitoring plans. As you’ll see, it’s not the cheapest. But it is more affordable than the tried-and-true Life Alert that you’ve likely heard of.
Did You Know: Medical Guardian mobile alerts include AT&T cellular coverage with the price of the plan.
We think Medical Guardian’s customer service is outstanding, especially compared to the competition. This, again, speaks to their strong values. Each time we reached out, a friendly and professional agent helped us along. Of course, emergency response is active 24/7, 365. But it’s important to note that their customer care center is open Monday through Friday, 9am – 8pm EST, and Saturday’s 9am – 5pm EST. We’d like to see Sunday hours, but this wasn’t a deal-breaker for us.
One of our favorite things about Medical Guardian is their MyGuardian Customer Portal.6 Once we were signed up, we had access to a members-only area of the site, allowing us to read user manuals and ebooks, watch instructional videos, and generally find a whole lot of resources to get the most out of our alert system. This resource was extremely refreshing to dive into.
Now for the fun part, choosing a system that works for your budget and lifestyle. As you might know, medical alert companies typically offer a handful of alert options: devices for seniors who need in-home protection, and devices for more active seniors who want on-the-go protection. Here’s the full lineup of Medical Guardian alert systems that you can choose from:
Classic Guardian – ($29.95 per month)
At $29.95 per month, this system includes a base station, necklace pendant, and bracelet help button. It’s no-frills, and it works with a landline connection. We like the overall simplicity of this alert device. But for the price, we think it can include better features and tech. Here are the features you do get:
Home Guardian – ($34.95 per month)
The Home Guardian includes two bracelet buttons, a necklace pendant, and a high-quality base station. At $34.95 per month, it costs a little more than Classic Guardian, but it gives you a faster and more reliable connection using AT&T cell service. We tested it, and we think it’s great for seniors who spend a lot of time at home. The features of the Home Guardian include:
Family Guardian – ($79.95 per month)
Priced at $79.95 per month, this is Medical Guardian’s most expensive alert system, but it also has the best caregiver features. You’ll be able to monitor your loved one’s safety with three in-home safety sensors. If their activity level decreases, you will be notified by an instant alert sent straight to your smartphone or mobile device. It also comes with the Family Guardian app with lots of rich features. Here’s what the Family Guardian offers:
Active Guardian – ($44.95 per month)
The Active Guardian is the company’s most popular alert device. It’s a lightweight alert, and during our testing, it felt pretty comfortable to wear. We enjoyed practically unlimited range with this device, and we felt confident going to the store and other places outside of our home. Not bad for $44.95 per month! Our only complaint is that it isn’t the most attractive thing to wear. Features include:
FYI: If you’re having trouble deciding which alert system is right for you, Medical Guardian has a helpful tool on their website that helps you find the right fit by asking a few basic questions.
Freedom Guardian – ($44.95 per month + equipment cost)
We think the Freedom Guardian fills a special need. It’s a mobile alert device, but it looks a whole lot sleeker. This smartwatch costs $44.95 per month plus a one-time equipment fee of $179.95. The smartwatch is designed specifically for seniors, so you can expect oversized icons for easy reading, GPS location tracking, and lots of other neat features. If it fits in your budget, we say go for it — especially if you’re a man. The features include:
The Mini Guardian is Medical Guardian’s newest alert system. It weighs only 1.3 oz and is about the size of a box of Tic-Tacs. Wearing the device, you’ll hardly know it’s there, making it ideal for active seniors who are looking for a discreet alert system. We have to say, we’re impressed by the features packed into the tiny device. You’ll enjoy nationwide coverage with 4G cellular connectivity, two-way talk using the built-in speaker, and GPS location tracking. But it’s not exactly cheap. Plans for this unit start at $39.99 monthly.
Limitless Icon Collection (pricing varies)
Medical Guardian’s new Limitless Icon Collection is the company’s fashion-forward alert option. These alert devices are designed to look exactly like women’s jewelry, and in our opinion, they hit the mark. You can add a jewelry pendant to any at-home or mobile plan. This alert option is definitely something to consider for women who want to stay safe in style.
Medical Guardian offers various ways to upgrade your alert system and subscription plan. Just be warned, you do have to pay extra for these add-ons and accessories. Overall, we didn’t find anything truly exceptional about these options, which include:
Pro Tip: Medical Guardian offers a free lockbox with every alert system purchase. So keep an eye out for it if you decide to go with this company.
We already covered features like two-way talk, waterproof design, and signal range. So now let’s touch on the senior-friendly features that set Medical Guardian apart from many of the other alert devices we’ve tested. After all, we really do think features matter. And it’s important to keep in mind that these features are all refreshingly easy to use, or even built right into the devices. But that’s pretty typical for the industry. No sense complicating things, right?
Care Circle for Caregivers — Your Care Circle includes up to four trusted people, like family members and caregivers. In the event of an emergency, your circle is notified and can jump into action. We found this feature to be very useful.
MyGuardian Care Portal — With MyGuardian, you can view personal account details, download things like product manuals and e-books, watch videos, and update your billing info. We think it’s a nice customer-centric touch!
Mobile Companion App — We really liked being able to manage our Medical Guardian alert system — and have access to things like activity level readings, tasks, errands, and daily schedules — right from our smartphone. But remember, this feature isn’t available with every alert system.
Fall Detection — Fall detection isn’t unique to Medical Guardian, but we think it’s a great feature to consider anyway. For an extra $10 per month, you can install fall detection on any device. As the name suggests, this technology can sense a fall and notify the monitoring center automatically.7 We think it’s worthwhile, even if it’s not 100% accurate.
Overall, we enjoyed our latest round of Medical Guardian testing. They have plenty of at-home and mobile alert options to choose from. The devices are well-made and include plenty of nifty features. And we especially liked that there aren’t any hidden fees or contracts to sign. We recommend you go with either the Mobile Guardian or Freedom Guardian. These options are best for active seniors, and the price is right for what you get.
At the same time, our biggest gripe was actually with the prices. The systems start at about $30 per month for basic protection. And they range up to $45-$50 per month (or even $80 per month for the Family Guardian package). So compared to low-cost options like Bay Alarm Medical which run $20-$30 per month, Medical Guardian is a touch pricier.
But again, you get what you pay for — and with Medical Guardian that means reliable monitoring, impressive features, and sleek devices. Also, and perhaps most importantly, we can say that this company truly cares about keeping seniors safe. From the CEO to the emergency response team, they really have your best interest at heart.
MedicalGuardian.com. (2020). Medical Alert Systems.
TMA.us. (2020). Monitoring Certification Program.
Medical Guardian. Wikipedia. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
BusinessWire.com. (2018, June 20). Medical Guardian Founder & CEO, Geoff Gross, Named a Glassdoor Top CEO in 2018.
Study in National Academies Press. (1992). Retrieved from National Center for Biotechnology Information. Falls in Older Persons: Risk Factors and Prevention.
Medical Guardian ‘MyGuardian' Customer Care Portal, PDF. Retrieved April 1, 2020. Using the MyGuardian Customer Care Portal with the Freedom Guardian. https://www.medicalguardian.com/support/files/products/freedom/digital_freedom_guardian_portal_manual.pdf
Medical Alert and Fall Detection Technology. Wikipedia. Retrieved April 1, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_alarm