When it comes to our elderly loved ones, we only want what’s best for them. That’s why when it comes to protecting them, we need a medical alert system that’s comprehensive. It needs to be reliable, it needs to be fast, and it needs to have the features to protect them no matter the circumstance.
That’s why today we’re taking a close look at Medical Guardian, a manufacturer of some of the most reputable equipment in the industry today. We’re going to be analyzing it — the good, the bad, and everything in between.
The system itself is called Mobile 2.0, and the box that it arrived in tells the story right away. The components form a dual system, one that you can use both at home and on the go. As such, it’s compact, sleek, and highly portable.
Right away, we unboxed and tested the system, and we think you’ll like what we found.
For one thing, the Mobile 2.0 has been updated recently with the latest technology like advanced location detection using 4G LTE and Wi-Fi, in addition to GPS. This technology improves the device’s effectiveness and reliability when on the go. It also comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts up to five days.
FYI: In a recent development, Medical Guardian dropped the equipment fee for the Mobile 2.0 that you used to have to pay upfront. No more handing over a hefty sum right out of the gate. Of course there is a monthly charge, but this is the case for all medical alert systems. Aside from the Mobile 2.0, the Classic Guardian from Medical Guardian also doesn’t have a monthly fee.
We lived with the Mobile 2.0 for several days to observe the benefits of this efficiency and also to uncover any hitches in the system. We’ve got a detailed breakdown below, but here’s a quick look of the pros and cons:
As its name implies, the Mobile 2.0 is a second-generation model. Among the recent improvements that Medical Guardian made is a smaller, lighter size. In fact, the Mobile 2.0 weighs only 1.7 ounces. Yet as you will discover, this tiny medical alert packs a lot of punch.
In addition to unpacking the main part of this system – that is the GPS mobile device — we also unpackaged a charging cradle and cord, a belt clip, and a lanyard.
Apart from the user manual, the only items left were the add-on devices we ordered on top of the core system — the lock box and an emergency wall button.
The lock box is to store an extra key in with the code stored at the Medical Guardian response center. That runs $2.99 per month. You’re not really paying for the box itself — a similar one picked up from the hardware store would only run you about $20 — but for the service of being able to swiftly provide the code to EMTs that might need to enter the home.
We ordered the wireless wall button for $2.99 per month to place at the bottom of our basement stairs. A voice-activated wall button is also available for $4.99 per month.
Note that the wall button syncs with the Mobile 2.0 and has a 500-foot range from the mobile unit. If regularly wearing the Mobile 2.0 or help button, the wall button isn’t absolutely necessary, but we understand some seniors will appreciate the extra layer of protection.
FYI: While a help button that could be worn either around the neck or on a wristband was provided with the original Mobile Guardian, this is not the case with the Mobile 2.0. With this newer system, a help button will cost you $2.99 per month. However, if you decide to add a fall detection pendant (which includes a help button) the cost remains the same – $10 per month.
Now that it’s all on the table, we were ready to check out the main attraction – our Mobile 2.0 alert system.
We opened our box, keen to play with our new device and check out how it works. We were a little disappointed to be stopped in our tracks–the Mobile 2.0 needs to be charged for three hours before first use!
Oh well, it gave us time to look out our windows and check out a big January storm roll in and dump loads of snow on our front porch, driveway, and sidewalk. It dawned on us that it’s the perfect time to consider safety devices for seniors.
Why? Because the winter months in colder-weather climates are among the most dangerous times for older adults. Ice and snow can make for slippery surfaces, and a quarter of all falls occur on a person’s property but outside of their home. Additionally, keeping up with snow shoveling and other outdoor chores during these months can be especially strenuous on a senior’s system. That’s why using a wearable device like Medical Guardian (preferably with fall detection) even for a short walk down the driveway for the mail can be life saving.
Did You Know? Medical Guardian’s mission statement is “To empower our customers to live a life without limits.”1
Upon returning to our Mobile 2.0, we checked to see if it was fully charged. How do we know if it’s fully charged, you ask? The simplest way is to observe whether a red light on the cradle is still illuminated. When the device is fully charged, the red light disappears completely.
In addition to the red indicator light on the cradle, a red light on the bottom of the mobile device blinks when the battery is low. If you get a case of the “blinks” while you’re out and about, know that you have about one hour of power remaining. Finally, a voice prompt will warn you when the battery is dangerously low.
With the battery fully charged, we turned next to testing the system. You don’t need to be a medical alert system expert like us to test if the unit is working. The instruction manual provides the steps for testing the device yourself.
The manual directed our attention to the two buttons on the side of the device, a power button and a test button. It instructed us to hold down the test button for two seconds and wait for a voice prompt. Now in test mode, the prompt told us to press the large, gray emergency button on the device. In doing so, a test call went out to the emergency response center, and it confirmed that our device was working.
In less than a minute, we knew that our Mobile 2.0 was working properly. In our book, that’s peace of mind right out of the box.
Pro Tip: The first time we attempted to push the emergency button on the Mobile 2.0, we thought the device wasn’t working properly as we did not get a response. So just be sure to hold down the button for a full second or two and wait for a voice prompt.
With a preliminary test complete, the time had come to wear the Mobile 2.0 as we headed outside to shovel snow, our least favorite pastime.
Medical Guardian offers three unique on-the-go medical alert systems. Its smartwatch, the MGMove, does not offer a separate help button, but it also does not offer the option of fall detection. The Mini Guardian, also an all-in-one, provides the option of built-in fall detection. Unlike the MGMove, the Mobile 2.0 does offer fall detection. Unlike the Mini Guardian, it offers fall detection through a separate button. In short, you will not have a problem finding a mobile medical alert that matches your particular preferences.
The inclusion of fall detection is a great reason to choose the Mobile 2.0. Here at SafeHome.org, we believe that a great cloak of protection is the use of fall detection technology. One study demonstrated that among older adults with medical alert systems that don’t include fall detection, only 50% press their emergency button. This is alarming for obvious reasons.
FYI: Individuals living with Parkinson’s Disease have twice the risk of falling as their peers.2
In order for fall detection to work effectively on the Mobile 2.0, the pendant needs to be worn consistently, even while on the go. This means that while out, you will need to carry both the main device and an add-on wearable button. Remember that the updated Mobile 2.0, weighing only 1.7 ounces, is lighter than the original Mobile Guardian, so carrying it via the belt clip or in your pocket or purse, while wearing the help button with fall detection around your neck, really isn’t a burden.
Another thing we like about using two pieces is that the wearable provides back-up protection while the Mobile 2.0 is charging. We recommend placing the wearable button either around the neck or on the wrist immediately after placing the mobile device in the charger. The button can even be worn while sleeping. Emergencies can occur at any time including when getting up in the middle of the night.
Pro Tip: Once the emergency button has been pressed, it cannot be canceled. If you accidentally press the button, simply wait for the emergency response center associate to connect and tell them that it was a false alarm.
Finally, you may be curious about the range of the devices. Because the Mobile 2.0 uses a 4G cellular system, you can travel anywhere with it you please. The wearable button (with or without fall detection) will connect with the Mobile 2.0 anywhere within a 500-foot radius of it. This might come in handy if you’re outside gardening in the backyard, or talking to a neighbor in the drive. Because the Mobile 2.0 is so easily portable, using it in conjunction with the wearable button while traveling would also be a breeze.
Overall, we love the flexibility this system provides!
FYI: If fall detection is important for you or your loved one, we recommend looking into our in-depth guide to the best medical alert systems with fall detection.
One way that Medical Guardian demonstrates their competence is through the multiple certifications of their emergency response center. Medical Guardian is FM Approved, UL listed, and certified by the Electronic Security Association. Most importantly, they have a TMA Five Diamond certification, the gold standard of certifications in the medical alert system industry.
While Medical Guardian’s many accolades help to build confidence, we did find some inconsistencies during actual testing. During our first two tests, they responded within 33 and 45 seconds respectively, which is a pretty good response time. However, when we did a couple more test calls, they both came in over a minute and 45 seconds.
Pro Tip: Does your elderly loved one live in an older home? Have you considered that there might be environmental dangers there? Check out this guide to lead paint dangers to learn more. Here’s a hint, though — back in your loved one’s day, they put carcinogens in everything.
A lot of factors can affect response times, like the device’s connection, its distance to the base unit, and even the amount of help calls the response center is handling at the time. We’re glad that fast response times are doable with Medical Guardian, but a little bit more consistency would be highly appreciated.
Have a look at this short video we made of a live Medical Guardian help call in action to get a better idea of the response time:
Did You Know? If English isn’t your mother tongue, Medical Guardian’s monitoring center associates are able to communicate through a third-party translation service.
Determining the price of your Medical Guardian medical alert system can be somewhat complicated, but the good news is that you’ll have several options to choose from. To simplify things, we’ll walk you through each step of the ordering process.
It begins with choosing one of five main products: there are two at-home devices (Classic and Home 2.0), and three mobile devices (Mini, Mobile 2.0, and MGMove).
We chose the Mobile 2.0, as you know, which allowed us three different payment types: monthly, quarterly, and yearly. As with other products, the annual option saves the most money in the long run. Plus it comes with freebies like free shipping and a complimentary lockbox device.
For those able to swing such a large upfront cost, go for it, but if you’re not sure if it is worth it, here are the benefits. On their website, Medical Guardian says that the cost of paying monthly or quarterly is $44.95 per month, while paying annually is $41.20 per month. Let’s do the math. If paying annually, you will save over $3 per month or $36 per year. Plus with free shipping, this amounts to a free month of service.
Pro Tip: Right now Medical Guardian is offering up to 33 percent off select products with the coupon code SUNKISSED. They’re also throwing in a free month of monitoring, free shipping, and a free lock box.
Still not sure? Take into account a few items that come gratis with the annual payment: a lockbox, a second help button, and free shipping. As you can see, Medical Guardian offers lots of bells and whistles because they want you to pay for the system annually. Whether or not this is the best option is up to you.
But honestly, we don’t think paying nearly $500 upfront is a wise move for most folks — so we’d sooner recommend getting on Medical Guardian’s monthly plan. Here’s the latest on Medical Guardian’s equipment and prices.
|Battery Life||5 days||5 days||7 days|
|Can Be Used at Home||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|GPS Location Tracking||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Wifi Location Tracking||Yes||Yes||No|
|Fall Detection||Yes, Separate Pendant||Yes, Built into Device||No|
|One-Time Equipment Fee||$0||$149.95||$199.95|
Compared to other medical alert companies, Medical Guardian is a good value. Some brands just aren’t feasible for seniors on a fixed income. For instance, while researching Life Alert prices and monthly fees, we found that their systems aren’t very affordable, and the contract terms are pretty strict. You can read more in our Life Alert review.
One final note on pricing — Medical Guardian runs specials throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye on their website.
Also keep in mind that Medical Guardian offers at-home systems. Those start at $37.95 per month, and you can add additional equipment to taylor your package to your needs. That might include the equipment below.
|Equipment Name||Type||Monthly Price|
|Elite 911||One-button speaker box Enabling emergency communication with nearest 911 center||$9.99 per month|
|Lockbox||Allows emergency responders access to property||$2.99 per month|
|Wireless Wall Button||Static help button||$2.99 per month|
|Voice Activated Wall Button||Help button with voice activation||$4.99 per month|
|Fall Detection Pendant||Wearable device that will alert authorities if the wearer falls||$10.00 per month|
The Medical Guardian payment structure focuses on a single big-ticket item rather than selling “packages,” which is the structure many other medical alert companies use. Then, Medical Guardian allows you to fill in the gaps as needed with add-ons, accessories, and upgrades.
It reminds us a little of fast casual eateries in the restaurant industry. You pick the main course, like a sandwich or a burrito, and then customize the rest of your meal based on your own preferences.
Don’t like picking and choosing and just want one simplified plan? Look into our Bay Alarm Medical review or our review of Medical Care Alert. Both of these companies make it somewhat easier to find what you’re looking for.
Medical Guardian’s CEO Geoff Gross knows first hand the stress of ensuring an older loved one’s safety. His grandmother fell several times, and his family realized that she needed help at home.
This personal experience with his own family member inspired Gross to start Medical Guardian. He started the company in his small apartment, interviewing seniors to understand what they really needed–and wanted–when it came to medical alert systems. His main takeaway was that they wanted to live safely, but also fully. His motto of “customers above all else” became a driving force of the company, and why it’s so successful.
Medical Guardian is our favorite alert system for several reasons. We love simplicity, and we know that many older adults do, too. That’s why we were so impressed with the Mobile 2.0. It eliminates the need for a larger base unit, and it still offers 24/7 emergency coverage at-home and on-the-go.
It also offers lots of flexibility. Some individuals may prefer to keep the Mobile 2.0 attached to the lanyard all day while they’re in and out, replacing it with a help button at night while the main device is charging. Others may want to keep the Mobile 2.0 charging near the door, wearing it when out and replacing it with the lighter help button at home. You see, the options abound!
Like any system, there is give and take. The main drawback that we see with the Mobile 2.0 (aside from the blinking lights) is that it lacks fall detection. In other words, it is not an all-in-one device. Sure, it’s possible to place the Mobile 2.0 in your pocket or purse while wearing a fall detection button around your neck… we’re just not sure it’s practical.
And let’s be honest, falls happen, especially for seniors with a recent history of falling.3 With this in mind, we recommend also looking into Medical Guardian’s Mini Guardian alert system, which is an all-in-one device.
The great thing about Medical Guardian is that they offer a multitude of options knowing that we all have individual preferences and needs. Regardless of what your needs are, Medical Guardian likely has a medical alert system that’s a good fit for your budget and lifestyle.
The Mobile 2.0 and wearable alert buttons are water resistant; however, they should not be submerged in water.
The neck pendant or wristband can be worn while sleeping. Doing so provides protection if a fall were to occur while getting up in the middle of the night.
Medical Guardian uses the 4G AT&T or Verizon cellular network (depending on the device) for its on-the-go systems. You will not be charged any additional fees for using the network or contacting the emergency response center.
Sometimes older adults fall and are unable to push the emergency button. Examples include if someone faints, hits their head after falling, or has a heart attack. In this situation the device is able to detect a fall, send a wireless signal to the base station, and then contact the emergency monitoring center.
Medical Guardian does not charge cancellation fees, and they provide prorated refunds for months of unused service. However, Medical Guardian does not provide a free trial period. Want to experiment with a medical alert system or two before making a commitment? If so, we recommend reading our review of LifeFone. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Medical Guardian. (2021). A Family-First Approach.
Parkinson.org. (2021). Falls Prevention.
CDC.gov. (2017, Feb. 10). Important Facts About Falls.