For those who are looking for an additional layer of security, either for themselves or for a loved one, we have also reviewed multiple medical alert system companies.
Medical alert systems provide immediate assistance for those who are more susceptible to health issues or accidents. There are 3 central factors to consider—type of coverage, equipment, and features—and these considerations can overlap.
Medical alert devices tend to offer two types of coverage: home and mobile. When deciding which you need, there are a few factors to consider.
- Is the person homebound? If so, a mobile device may be less necessary, though multiple wall buttons could be required.
- Even for someone who is homebound, it’s important to weigh how active and independent he or she is. Mobile coverage is going to provide far more security for someone who still runs errands, goes on walks, or even simply gets outside of the house to garden or chat with a neighbor.
- Is the person particularly susceptible to falling? If so, a stationary wall button can be difficult to reach, so a mobile device may be preferred.
- How large is the person’s home environment? Covering a dozen rooms with stationary wall buttons might be less cost effective and convenient than wearing a mobile device.
Home-based medical alert devices typically come in the form of a wearable device that communicates with a receiver plugged into a 110-volt outlet and phone jack. Press the button within range of that receiver and you’ll get a call from an emergency response center or first responders. These systems have limited range, but for someone who is largely home-bound, they tend to be both sufficient and effective.
Mobile medical alert devices, on the other hand, sends a signal from just about anywhere the person wearing it can be. Thanks to GPS and a national cellular network, responders can pinpoint location quickly. Unlike with home security systems, professional monitoring is what is key here.
The most common types of medical alert devices are bracelets, necklaces, and wall buttons. A lot of these are fairly redundant, meaning they do the same things, but come in slightly different forms. This relates a bit to coverage as well—wearable monitors allow for mobility, while wall buttons focus on coverage while at home.
- Does coverage need to extend beyond the person’s room or home?
- Will a bracelet be difficult to reach or maneuver?
- Is the person willing to wear a necklace, which is the most obvious of these devices?
- Does the device need to be waterproof for coverage in, say, the shower?
Bracelets & Necklaces
Wearable devices like bracelets and necklaces are not only highly portable and designed to be less conspicuous—think watches and pendants—many now include fall detection. This is a great option for those who want their medical alert device to be somewhat camouflaged, to include fall detection, and to be mobile so they can use it anywhere.
For those who really don’t want to wear a button all day long, the wall-mounted version could be the answer. If placed in high-risk areas throughout the home (after all, 80% of falls happen in the bathroom), these (typically waterproof) alarms are paired with a central unit that then communicates with your monitoring service or first responders.
Most medical alert devices provide the same basic coverage, but there’s often the ability to add on GPS location and fall detection (if they’re not already included). It’s worth asking:
- Has the person in need of this device been diagnosed with dementia or exhibiting early signs? Wandering is a common issue, and GPS location can be invaluable.
- Is this coverage for someone exceptionally old, frail, or otherwise limited in mobility? If so, fall detection could be far more essential.
For those who remain highly active outside the home, a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver can be vital technology. The satellite-based radio navigation system has been around since the late 1970s, is owned by the US government, and can place your location with extreme precision no matter the weather. The receiver essentially calibrates its distance from four or more of 24 Earth-orbiting satellites (plus 3 extra in case of failure), and automatically lets first responders know where to find you. Most people carry this technology around with them everywhere—in the form of their smartphones, but is now available in medical alert devices.
Let’s face it, falling is a serious danger. One out of every 4 Americans 65 and older falls every year in the US, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and falls are the leading cause of death, injury, and hospitalization among the elderly. What’s more, the CDC has found that if a person falls once, their chance of falling again has doubled. Many things can contribute to this—loss of vision, flexibility, strength, and endurance, and sometimes a weaker sense of balance—and falls can lead to fractures and head trauma. Fall detection is huge because it does not require that the person who fell still be conscious, aware of the fall, or able to reach or press a button. False alarms do happen, but the technology keeps improving.
Medical Alert Company Reviews
Once you’re ready to dig into what’s available on the market, the following are medical alert system reviews for some of the most popular companies on the market:
- ADT Health – A medical alert system brought to you by one of the most well known names in home security, ADT.
- Alert1 – Enjoy nationwide coverage and mobile monitoring with Alert1 medical alert systems.
- Bay Alarm Medical – Brought to you by the home security company, Bay Alarm. Bay Alarm Medical is their branch dedicated to medical alert systems.
- GetSafe – Another medical alert system brought to you by Bay Alarm. This is Bay Alarm's more technologically advanced medical alert system.
- GreatCall Lively – The GreatCall Lively medical alert system is from the makers of the famous Jitterbug phone, GreatCall. This Best Buy owned company has the latest and greatest medical alert system technology available to you.
- Life Alert – Life Alert is the most well known and recognized brand in medical alert systems. Their “I've fallen and can't get up” commercials are iconic and have worked their way into mainstream media.
- LifeFone – LifeFone offers medical alert systems and 24/7 monitoring for less than a dollar a day.
- LifeStation – LifeStation is another well recognized brand with multiple awards and high ratings from third party publications.
- Medical Alert – Medical Alert offers affordable and easy monitoring at the push of a button.
- Medical Care Alert – Medical Care Alert offers 24/7 monitoring 365 days a year for seniors.
- Medical Guardian – Medical Guardian is one of the more technologically advanced medical alert systems on the market. They offer modern medical alert devices that seamlessly integrate into everyday attire.
- MobileHelp – MobileHelp is an award winning medical alert system company that has some of the latest and greatest equipment on the market.
- One Call Alert – One Call Alert provides service you can count on whether you are at home or on the go.
- Philips Lifeline – Philips is a well known consumer electronics company that has ventured into medical alert systems.
- Rescue Alert – Rescue Alert has offered medical alert systems for over thirty years so that seniors can live independently.
- ResponseNow – ResponseNow offers the Belle medical alert systems which offer portable coverage using the AT&T cellular network.