It can be difficult for seniors to stay safe while continuing to stay at home. Medical alert systems help protect both their health and their independence simply and effectively.
Medical alert systems are the simplest and best way to protect yourself from injuries or illness complications as you age. As we get older, the chances of breaking a bone during a fall, becoming disoriented due to blood sugar fluctuations, and a number of other problems increase. According to the CDC, falls are the number one cause of injury in seniors in the United States, leading to thousands of deaths each year. Having a simple medical alert system in place could save your life.
What a Medical Alert System Does
Most medical alert systems notify a family member, a neighbor, medical or rescue workers, or all three if you activate the system. In most cases, a simple push of the button will set the alert into motion. Wearing a medical alert protects you by summoning help if you get sick, fall, are disoriented, or have any kind of accident. Some systems send a signal to their own monitoring system, others notify family members or designated individuals.
A medical alert system can also protect you if you believe there is an intruder in your home, and you can’t get to your telephone. The key to success is having your medical alert system with you at all times. Most can be easily carried in a pocket or worn around the neck on a cord. The most elaborate medical alert systems even include features like activity monitoring, so loved ones know whether you’re keeping active and moving around enough. However, this is usually an add-on feature.
What to Look For in the Product
The range and performance of these systems vary, so do some homework before choosing the right one for you. Most systems will work throughout your home as well as in your yard, garden, and workshop. Some have a greater range than others. A few features to look for include:
- Long battery life
- Waterproof or water-resistant casing
- Automatic fall alert
- Ease of use
- Wearing options (wrist, necklace, etc.)
- At-Home vs. On-the-Go Systems (for seniors who travel)
Finally, consider whether you want a cellular system or one using a landline. If you have a good cellular or Wi-Fi connection, these systems are excellent. They are also the best choice if you plan on traveling and using an on-the-go medical alert system. If you will only need to use it at home or you don’t have reliable cell service, a landline-based system may be a better choice.
We took a look at the many brands out there and chose three medical alert systems that fit all or most of the criteria above.
This brand consistently ranked high across multiple reviews and consumer tests. The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, so you know you can rely on excellent customer service. The equipment and activation are free, so you’re just paying for the monthly service.
- Five Diamond Certified monitoring center with 24/7 staff
- Monthly systems tests to ensure it is working properly
- GPS option for mobile use available
- Fall detection system is an option
- Pendant is waterproof with a 1,300 ft. range
- Various plans available starting at $29.99 a month
- On-the-go option available
- Lots of options, including wall-mounted emergency buttons for the home
- Easy activation
- Long-term contract not needed
- Upgrades can get expensive
- No senior discount available
- No activity monitoring
Final Thought: A bit pricier than some others, but if you can afford it, this is an outstanding system.
Another exceptional service backed by good ratings with the BBB. Bay Alarm Medical offers four different price points, starting at just $19.95 a month, depending on your needs and lifestyle. Their website features several helpful videos about senior safety and how to choose the best package.
- Low basic price with four pricing options
- Free monitoring for spouse with the purchase of a second pendant
- Highly rated, 24/7 call station for emergencies
- Equipment and setup are free
- The call range for the in-home system is 1,000 ft.
- Fall detection option available
- Battery life of up to 36 hours
- Waterproof pendant
- Decorative covers for pendant for a stylish appearance
- The in-home equipment is bulky
- On optional fall detection, range is limited
- Relies on AT&T for in-home cellular and mobile use
Final Thought: If you like extras like helpful online information and a stylish system, this may be the one for you.
Medical Alert works from a cellular base station, so you don’t need a landline to install the system. It also has an option for a mobile/GPS system, which is a great feature if you travel frequently and want protection and safety on the road. It’s also inexpensive for the basic package. It has a fall detection feature for individuals who aren’t steady on their feet or may have a problem with passing out or other issues.
- Plans starting at $19.95 a month
- Easy to set up and use
- No need to pay for equipment or lock into a long-term plan
- 24/7 monitoring by emergency response teams
- Fall detection available
- Pendant is small and unobtrusive
- Emergency response will stay on the line with the user until help arrives
- Website has an excellent questionnaire to help you choose the plan and coverage that are right for you
- No activity monitoring available
- No automatic checks of the system
- While response centers have well-trained staff, they are not Five-Diamond certified
Final Thought: A solid performer that’s been around for years and is a proven performer.
Our Top Pick
While all three systems mentioned provide the service, support, and quality needed for excellent protection, we feel the Bay Alarm Medical is a stand-out. Their response times and customer support are both impressive, and it’s quick and easy to set up the system and get it working. Because many seniors resist carrying or wearing a medical alert device, the Bella decorate covers are a nice touch fashionable women will appreciate. They offer four pricing options, so there is something for every budget. But what we love best is that you can add your spouse at no additional monthly fee for the cost of the call button.
Medical Guardian is highly rated and justifiably, so from their outstanding call center to its monthly operations checks, the company goes above and beyond. Their prices are a bit higher, however, which can be a concern for those on a limited income. They don’t offer discounts for seniors or AARP, which should figure into your decision.
Medical Alert has been a solid performer for years, and many health care providers and hospitals are familiar with it. The system is inexpensive, easy to use and includes the fall detection system. If you don’t need the added on-the-go system offered by some companies, and you won’t be straying far from home, this is a substantial value with excellent coverage. The website also makes it easy for you to answer questions that will help you choose the best options for your needs.
Shop around and compare all the features and costs of any medical alert systems you’re considering. While some seniors will feel the extra 300 feet of range is worth a bit more money, others may not think this is important. Fall monitoring will be essential for some but not others. Take the time to visit each website and check out their frequently asked questions. If you have concerns, call customer service and talk to someone knowledgeable. This is your life and your safety, so take the time to find the system that will give you security and peace of mind.