From 2012 to 2050, the number of US citizens over 65 years of age will almost double from just over 43 million to nearly 84 million according to the United States Census Bureau. While the baby boomers can expect an increased life expectancy for enjoying retirement, most will also want to preserve their independence for as long as possible, not least by remaining in the family home.
Even so, the National Council on Aging reports that: "Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans." However, medical alert systems can help safeguard and protect the health and security of older citizens through the miracle of modern digital technology. Providing a virtual electronic safety net, help can be just a button push away.
Medical alert systems can come in all different shapes and sizes to suit personal preferences, too. There are options such as wall-mounted units with wireless monitoring, pendants to wear, even health monitors that can be used with nothing more intrusive than a smartwatch.
Retirement no longer has to be about nursing homes and hospital care – now older citizens can enjoy freedom and independence with the latest in medical alert system technology, knowing that in the event of an emergency, help is already on its way.
Here we'll look at the best medical alert systems of 2020.
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The best medical alert systems - at a glance
- Medical Guardian
- Great Call Lively Mobile Plus
- ADT Health
- LifeStation Medical Alert
- One Call Alert
- MobileHelp Duo
Emergency medical help is a button push away
Medical Guardian offers a comprehensive suite of services that form an “always-on-call, personal emergency response system.” This starts with personalization options, and the system can be configured for cord cutters without a landline, and for coverage of outdoor areas via a simple setup process. The account gets accessed via the MyGuardian Customer Care portal for payment options and additional resources. Monitoring is provided via multiple 100% US-based monitoring centers.
As falls frequently occur in bathrooms, it is reassuring to know that Medical Guardian includes waterproof communication options. For those times that a fall victim may have gone unresponsive, often due to another medical condition (for example stroke, seizure or cardiac arrhythmia) being the cause of the fall, as opposed to slipping on a rug, there is an integrated Automatic Fall Alert to assist.
Also, there are options to cover additional family members so they can benefit from the system, and get assistance as well if needed. The website features an online risk assessment score to gauge the risk of a fall.
The company offers a range of products, including options to use at home, and others for on the move. At the low end is the Classic Guardian system, that features a base station that connects to a landline, with a watch-style device that maintains a connection to the base station across over 1300 square feet.
Another option is Mobile Guardian, which is a wearable medical alert watch, which communicates over AT&T’s 3G network, and includes GPS location data so you can be found in an emergency. The watch is also good for everyday use, and additional features include weather forecasts, and SMS communications.
The mobile medical alert service
Looking for a medical alert service for an active senior on the go, without a bulky base station? Then Lively Mobile Plus from Great Call has you covered.
The heart of this service is the pendant, suitable to wear on the neck or clip to a pocket, which features GPS technology to determine location, a fall detector that automatically calls for help in a fall event, and is waterproof. Backing up the service are certified agents who are “trained in emergency procedures,” and have the fastest agent response time as determined by the Good Housekeeping Research Institute.
The pendant costs $49.99, plus a monthly fee that starts at $24.99 monthly for the Basic Plan, and goes up to $34.99 per month for the Ultimate Plan that includes device replacement and fall detection.
The home security company covers medical alert as well
ADT is a household name for home security equipment, but also offers a variety of medical alert systems to suit a variety of needs via its ADT Health brand.
At the bottom end is the basic device that connects to a landline. It features a simple base station, and a waterproof button on a watch band to press for help, but it only has a 300 foot range. There is no activation charge, and a monthly $29.99 fee for the service.
The firm’s mid-range plan is Medical Alert Plus, which has an extended in-home range that grants independence to those who love to garden or relax in the yard. It requires no landline, has a fall detection option, and costs $35.99 a month.
There is also a mobile medical alert system called ‘On-The-Go.’ This one is a portable device, without a base station, with optional fall detection, and GPS to track the location. There is a wireless connection with two-way talk. The monthly fee is $39.99 for the service.
A budget-friendly basic solution
LifeStation Medical Alert is a budget-friendly basic medical alert system. It has a base station that connects to a landline, and a distinguishing feature is that an additional user with a second device can be added for $3.99 per month.
LifeStation Medical Alert also comes with a wearable pendant or wristband with built-in GPS, as well as a fall detection sensor.
The base station has an ordinary range of 500 feet, a waterproof help button, and an automated weekly tester. Also, bathroom and hallway buttons can be added for additional access for $2.49 per month. The cost of the basic service, before the extras, is $25.95 per month, if paid annually.
A range of medical alert plans to suit a variety of needs
One Call offers a family of products to suit different needs and price points. The starter system is landline based, and uses a simple push button on a watch band to a base station, and starts at $19.95 per month.
The firm also offers a higher tier home device, that does not need a landline, but rather uses a base station with a cellular connection and has a sleeker button device, with a monthly service fee of $36.95 a month. The top offering, the ResCube Pro Mobile, which is a completely mobile solution that dispenses with the base station, can be had for $32.95 per month.
All plans feature US-based trained professionals, and there is an option to have a previously created action plan to notify first responders, family and friends, should an incident occur. One Call Alert also has a A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Do note that the prices mentioned here are for plans paid on an annual basis.
Good speakerphone and custom basestation
MobileHelp offers some of the most popular medical alert systems, with their products generally either home-based medical alert systems, on-the-go systems, or a mix of the two.
The home-based ones are centered around a base station made by MobileHelp themselves rather than a third party, and this comes with a mobile help button to call for assistance if needed. The base station runs on a celullar network rather than a landline, which offers the advantage of still being on even in the event of a power failure.
There's also a suite of online tools provided, which can be used to register and monitor both the service and its use. It can also include medication reminders as well as track user activity when required. The suite is mobile friendly, so can be access on a computer or smartphone.
On-the-go services tend to be based on either a pendant or a smartwatch, so that it's with the person who needs it at all times, while still easy for them to access and use.
There are no upfront fees with any MobileHelp service, so all hardware is included in the prices and there are no activation fees. The MobileHlep Classic basestation comes in at $19.95 per month, but the mobile options tend to be relatively expense at over $40 a month each, though there are discounts for paying annually that make the service much more competitive.
Among the service features of note is that the speakerphone is especially clear, more so than some rival service providers. And while MobileHelp openly state that they don't provide their own call centers, they do use Rapid Response, which is an award-winning service for customer care.
Other medical alert systems to consider
Bay Alarm Medical has been providing medical alert systems for over 70 years, and offers multiple monitoring and tracking options for the home, outside, and even one specifically for use in an automobile. Its push button technology can allow you to alert family, friends, or 911 services directly, with prices starting from $19.95.
LifeFone works with its own cellular phone network to offer a mobile emergency pendant or wristband with a built-in help button. LifeFone has in-home monitoring and mobile solutions, and is recognized as a leading service by hospitals, caregivers, and consumer groups. Prices start from $24.95 per month.
While GetSafe offers traditional medical alert systems similar to other providers, not least a home hub and neck pendant, it differs in also offering voice-activated consoles as a main product. This means setting up alert boxes around the home, but the senior doesn't have to wear or press anything – they can literally just call for help when needed, and describe what sort of help they require. Both landline and cellular options are available. Pricing for the service is $24.95 monthly.
QMedic focuses on a mobile wearable bracelet or pendant, which not only has an alert/help button, but also allows two-way communication so that you can do more than just ask for help – you can also clearly state what help you need and whether you require medical assistance. As well as being waterproof it is also proactive and can flag unusual user behavior patterns. QMedic was awarded ‘Best Medical Alert System for Compliance and Activity Monitoring 2019’ by Caring.com.