Arming yourself or your loved one with the best medical alert system is a simple and practical way to enhance senior safety. Accidents and other frightening events can occur unexpectedly and when we are advanced in years, accidents have more serious consequences. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), one out of five falls in those 65 and older causes serious injuries.
A medical alert system can give an elderly person instant contact to emergency services if an accident was to happen. This is a valuable resource which gives you or your loved one safety while maintaining independence and reducing the risk of danger. I've compiled a set of medical alert reviews in order to help you make an informed decision.
The Best Medical Alert Systems - In This Guide
The Best Medical Alert Systems: Our Top Picks
In this comparison of medical alert systems I looked at the technology, service, and reputation of the leaders in the industry, in order to establish a list of excellent companies:
Medical Guardian Alert Review
- Additional person added for free
- Free check-in service
- Supports 200 languages
- Helpful add-ons
- No cancellation or activation fees
- Requires initial three-month contract
Medical Guardian sets the standard in the industry, providing outstanding service options for which other companies charge added fees, such as adding additional members to your plan. They employ cutting-edge technology and offer more than 200 languages in their service.
They offer four service levels at a range of popular prices. While their landline-based system boasts the furthest range, the top two tiers of service track your exact location via GPS-enabled mobile device. The pendant may be worn as a medical alert bracelet, necklace, or on a belt. There is a risk assessment tool at their website to aid in determining if you are a good candidate for the service. There are no long-term contracts or activation fees.
Bay Alarm Medical Review
- Additional person goes on plan for free
- Free check-in service
- Carbon monoxide and smoke monitoring
- Supports over 100 languages
- Long signal range from base station
- No free shipping
Bay Alarm provides high-quality medical monitoring, additional alert buttons at no extra cost, periodic check-in service and smoke and gas detection. You can choose from well-priced medical alert packages utilizing landline, cellular or mobile GPS equipped button technology. You do pay equipment shipping fees, but overall I found Bay Alarm to be a well-rounded provider worth considering.
ADT Medical Alert Review
- Discounts for members of AARP
- No activation fee
- Good customer service
- Home monitoring options
- More expensive than other providers
- No discount for paying quarterly or annually
The ADT medical alert system is a product of the well-known home security provider. They offer a traditional medical alert system for the home, along with multiple options for seniors. Choose from landline, wireless and mobile-based systems at competitive rates. I found that ADT is one of the few medical alert companies that offer home temperature monitoring (except on their mobile plan). Shipping is free if you opt to pay on a quarterly or annual basis In addition, their medical alert service is offered on a month-to-month basis without any long-term contract.
- Additional person added to plan at no cost
- Check-in service (for additional cost)
- Two representatives handle your call
- Email alert system
- Only supports English
- Check-in service not standard
LifeStation medical alert systems follow practices of top providers such as adding additional family members at no extra fee, plus they offer the unique service of having two representatives handle emergency calls. LifeStation has a built-in battery backup in their proprietary console that keeps you connected during power outages. One drawback to this otherwise excellent company is that they only support their service in English.
Life Alert Review
- Additional person option on your plan (for an additional cost)
- Fire and gas leak monitoring
- No price increases over life of contract
- Three-year contract
- No check-in service
- Only supports English
Life Alert is one of the biggest names in the field, offering excellent features like automatic smoke and gas monitoring. Life Alert offers free equipment use and free shipping, and they back it up with a warranty. They do charge for additional medic alert bracelets or pendants and require a three-year contract. While that is longer than industry standards, you do lock in a price that will not increase.
Who Needs a Medical Alert System?
You may be unsure if a medical alert pendant is the right choice for you or your family member. I've compiled a list of questions which can help you determine if this device is appropriate for your situation:
- Do you live on your own, but need help with some tasks?
- Do you feel dizzy on occasion, and/or take medications which cause this effect?
- Do you use a cane, walker, or wheelchair?
- Have you fallen in the past?
- Do you have a chronic condition such as arthritis or osteoporosis?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you would likely benefit from a medical alert system. Your doctor can also help you determine whether this device would be a good option for you or your loved one.
Key Considerations When Getting a Medical Alert System
A medical alert system is a monitoring service that sends medical assistance to you during emergencies. Most come with a device that is worn around the neck or on a wristband (also known as a medic alert bracelet) that can be activated if assistance is needed. The portable device is wirelessly connected to a base station that is connected to your phone.
A medical alert system provides you and your family with peace of mind. If an accident were to leave you incapacitated, help would be on its way with the simple push of a button. This means that you and your loved ones can feel confident that you are safe when you are going about the day on your own.
There are several providers of medical alert systems available. Each one offers similar services, however there are a few differences among them.
A device that can detect falls can save lives in a situation where the user is unconscious, or unable to respond for any reason.
When you are looking for the best medical alert system, be sure to consider the following factors:
1. Pendant Device Technology
Consider the distance range of wireless pendants or wearable devices. Ask providers what distance their device covers, the length of battery life and if you can answer incoming calls via the pendant. The latest cutting edge landline-based models are effective up to about 1300 feet, or nearly a quarter mile. Other wearable devices are mobile-based GPS devices. While their range is a bit less, they do identify the exact location of the wearer.
Does the pendant come in variations, such as a necklace or wristband, belt or pocket models, and is it waterproof? Some providers also include mounted help buttons throughout the house to supplement pendants or other worn devices. This feature can be particularly useful in bathrooms or bedrooms.
Another key issue is whether the device detects if the wearer falls, sensing an impact. Such a device automatically alerts an emergency dispatcher. They are able to check in with the wearer to assess the situation and connect to emergency services if needed. A device that can detect falls can save lives in a situation where the user is unconscious, or unable to respond for any reason.
2. Connection Choices
Medical alert systems tap into landline, cellular or mobile GPS-enabled devices to connect with emergency help centers. Service providers are given to touting their technology as superior. Keep practical concerns in mind; for example, in the case of a power failure, does the system have a backup battery?
Some providers, such as Medical Guardian and Bay Alarm medical, offer a variety of service packages based on any connection technology you prefer. This includes the choice of landline, wireless or mobile GPS connections, with each package offering its own distinct features. Landline packages tend to offer the longest distance range of protection while being the least expensive in terms of monthly fee. The highest level of service technology typically includes a mobile wearable GPS-enabled transmitter that includes fall detection.
Take a careful look at fees for service activation or cancellation from each company you consider, and whether they require a long-term contract.
The console from the provider Lifestation is very easy to set up and begin using, even though you are limited to a landline connection. Plug the system into a phone jack and power outlet and you are ready to go. Automatic weekly tests ensure that the system is working properly.
Medical alert system reviews by independent consumers are a good information source on the comparative technical aspects when you're ready to compare medical alert systems. Conduct some due diligence searching of user reviews prior to the purchase of a medical alert system, and you will see what customers report about the equipment from medical alert companies, free of marketing messages.
3. Service Features
The best medical alert system companies allow you to add another person such as a spouse or relative to your service package with no extra fee. Other important features to look for include periodic check-in service to confirm that all is well, and monitoring for carbon monoxide, smoke and gas. The top medic alert companies tend to offer all these service features as part of their system, but some charge extra fees for these items. Some companies only offer basic services, without gas and smoke protection or check-in options.
4. Service Languages
One of the top medical alert companies, Medical Guardian, sets the standard by offering more than 200 languages in their service. Most companies offer a range of languages, although some offer service in English only. Be sure to check that a provider has service in the language you need before purchasing.
5. Customer Support and Fees
Take a careful look at fees for service activation or cancellation from each company you consider, and whether they require a long-term contract. The top companies do not charge for activation or cancellation. They charge a monthly service fee. Fees for equipment (purchase or lease) vary from company to company. Some providers charge shipping on equipment while others cover this cost.
Monthly fees for medical alert service start around twenty-five dollars per month for basic landline-based service. Wireless, cellular and GPS-enabled mobile device service climbs into the mid-thirty-dollar range, with full high-end service with all the bells and whistles from top providers capped at just under fifty dollars per month.
In terms of customer service, look for 24/7 phone access, live-chat and email. Are service workers empowered to order an ambulance direct to your home? Do they have contact information for your doctors, family and trusted friends?
One downside of shopping for the best medical alert system is that you may be subject to high-pressure follow-up sales calls from the marketing departments of these firms.
Benefits of a Medical Alert Device
Nearly thirty percent of all individuals 65+ years old will fall each year according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Accidental falls aren't the only fear to guard against, however. Nearly 60 percent of senior citizens make errors in taking their medicines. When you contemplate all the 'what-ifs' that could happen over the course of a day, it's reassuring to know that aid is available at the push of a button.
Are you still on the fence, even after reading the above medical alert system reviews? There are so many reasons to use this handy tool that it really doesn't make sense not to have one. Benefits of medic alert systems include:
1. Peace of Mind
Older Americans and those with mental or physical disabilities don't always have a relative or caretaker by their side 24/7. The top rated medical alert systems have trained staff monitoring their lines day and night. Within moments, medical alert personnel can notify an ambulance, the police and even family members of an emergency.
This peace of mind isn't limited to relatives or caretakers. Research shows that senior citizens are not only afraid of falling, but that this fear itself can actually increase the risk of a fall happening. Carrying a medical monitoring device gives you a sense of security which can keep this fear from interfering with your quality of life.
2. Simple to Use
There are a range of styles and types of medical alert devices to suit any need. Some systems are programmed to contact emergency responders directly while others first notify a response center which then takes the appropriate course of action. In some scenarios you may not require an ambulance or police, rather just assistance from a family or friend. Many people wonder what the difference is between this sort of system and a phone. While a phone is capable of providing communication, it is often unreachable if an individual has injured themselves in another room.
3. Cost-Effective Alternative
Medical alert systems are not only effective devices, they're also affordable. Many individuals purchase cellular phones for their aging parents to contact paramedics in the event of an emergency but cell phones can cost hundreds of dollars a month. Medical alert systems are much less expensive.
4. Medic Alert Systems Can Save Lives
My analysis of medical alert systems for seniors left little doubt in my mind that this technology plays a pivotal role in keeping these valuable citizens safe and allowing them to live independently, longer. But did you know that aside from sending help for falls, a medic alert bracelet or pendant can literally save a life?
Heart disease is the foremost cause of death for both men and women in America, according to the CDC. Fortunately, there are apparent signs leading up to a heart attack, which if caught early, can save a life. Signs include tightness in the jaw and/or chest, neck and upper shoulders as well as nausea and shortness of breath. If an individual uses their medical alert system at the first sign of an emergency like this, there's a strong chance their life can be saved.
Medic Alert Systems Save Money
Life expectancy in the United States continues to grow. According to Social Security, a man who reaches the age of 65 today can expect to live on average to 84.3 and a woman who reaches the age of 65 today can expect to live to 86.6. This is great news for those of us who want to live long, happy lives or don't want to lose our loved ones too soon. With age, however, come increased healthcare costs.
Healthcare costs alone nearly double between the ages of 75 and 85. In addition to these expenses, you also need to consider the costs of living alone versus in an assisted living facility or hiring live-in help. According to AARP the average annual cost of a nursing home can top $50,000. These costs will quickly consume social security benefits and are not covered by Medicare. Long-term care expenses may be covered by Medicaid, however, the government can seize your assets, such as your home, in order to recoup some of the money.
Having a safety device can delay the need for this expensive care. For as little as $20 a month, you or your loved one can gain access to a medical alert bracelet or pendant that will provide monitoring at home, and even outside of the home. In addition, a number of medical alert systems offer additional monitoring like carbon dioxide levels or falls that render you unable to call your accident in.
There are certainly downsides to this plan, especially if you or your loved one has a difficult time remembering things and you are not adept at using the system. As long as the user is of sound mind, however, medical alert systems make it very easy to reach their main call-in center. Many providers even offer assistance in hundreds of languages which is a benefit that you are not guaranteed with other facilities. Even if you do have someone helping out at home, it makes sense to employ the medical alert system as a backup plan just in case there is a need and your provider is unable to assist.
A medical alert system offers tremendous value to the individual carrying it as well as their loved ones. The peace of mind and assurance that accompanies these devices far outweighs their cost.
Tips & Advice
Prior to making a decision on a medical alert system, take the time to explore our advice guides to get up to speed on medical alert systems. You'll find answers to your questions and information that is useful in choosing a medical alert system provider.
One of the main purposes of a medical alert system is the ability to live in confidence that help is quickly available if you need it. Elderly people, their families and care providers gain peace of mind knowing that help is just the push of a button away. When shopping for a system, keep in mind the specific condition and needs of you or your loved one. Look at system features with a critical eye to ensure that a particular medical alert company will instill confidence.
Sales of med-alert services are growing as the baby boom generation ages. This technology-based service delivers peace of mind to independent elders, their families, and caregivers. Of course, it also literally delivers emergency help rapidly in case of a crisis or medical emergency.
As you check through these reviews of top providers, compare their services and fees, including the terms and length of their contracts. Above all consider which company offers the features that work for you or your loved one's situation.
This is a very competitive industry, so you may be able to take advantage of a discount or special offers, such as free equipment, shipping or activation. This is also a great opportunity to check out the best home security systems and the best identity theft protection, in order to maximize overall safety and security in the home.