Medical alert system technology has advanced so much that the systems are essential for many seniors who live independently. Many systems have expanded beyond providing emergency help quickly to allow for hands-free communication with family members and friends. Use this guide to learn about both monitored and unmonitored systems. Our goal is to help you find the best medical alert system for your lifestyle.
We evaluated 22 medical alert system companies to help you narrow down your choices and make a wise buying decision. We considered features, technology, cost and customer service to choose the best medical alert systems: Medical Guardian, ADT Medical Alert, Philips Lifeline, Lively, LifeFone, Lively, Personal Living Alert, GetSafe Medical Alert and Bay Alarm Medical.
Top Medical Alert System Tips:
- Verify translation services if your primary language isn’t English.
- Choose a system with an adequate return policy if you have hearing loss.
- Be sure the monitoring station contacts 911 for medical emergencies and caregivers for other needs.
- Medical alert systems are also called personal emergency response systems (PERS).
What is a Medical Alert System?
A medical alert system gives you an easy way to call for 24/7 emergency help. These systems consist of a base station and a lightweight pendant or wristband with a help button. Mobile systems work nearly anywhere outside your house and don’t require a base station.
Medical alert systems don’t replace 911, but you’ll be connected to a trained responder even if you can’t get to a phone to dial. Work with a medical alert company that keeps your information on file so they can tell 911 about your medical conditions, medications and preferred hospital. You may not be able to provide this information if you lose consciousness.
Sometimes you just need some assistance, or your emergency doesn’t require an EMT. At the push of a button, the medical alert operator can discuss your needs and send a caregiver or loved one to help you. Medical alert systems can also connect you to your family or friends 24 hours a day for any reason.
Monitored or Unmonitored Medical Alert System: Which is Best?
You can buy an unmonitored medical alert system to avoid monthly monitoring service fees, but you won’t reach a trained professional when you need help. Instead, you program the system to call multiple numbers for family members or caregivers, then 911. Press the emergency button, and the system dials the numbers in the order specified.
Monitored systems have a button you push in an emergency, or you call out to a two-way voice-activated speaker. You connect immediately to an emergency response center with trained operators. After assessing your needs, the operator contacts your caregiver or sends emergency services to your location. Monitored systems have a monthly cost.
Monitored systems call a dedicated emergency response center for the fastest way to get help.
Our best medical alert system companies are monitored systems because we feel you’re better protected with that arrangement. These systems also offer fall detection as an option. Should you fall and be unable to call for help, the system dials the response center automatically. If you can’t speak or explain that you’re hurt, the operator dispatches emergency services to your location.
Medical Alert Systems and Safe Independent Living
Today’s medical alert systems provide advanced monitoring to ensure you stay safe in and around your house and when you’re away from home.
Home medical alert systems can automatically detect falls, sense unusual movement patterns and monitor air quality and temperatures. Depending on the model, your caregivers can monitor your activity to help you stay in your home as you age. Voice-activated systems can detect your calls for help without using a button, then dial the emergency response station.
Medical alert systems have many benefits. If you fall or have another emergency, a medical alert system can be the difference between life and death. The devices promote a sense of well-being and peace of mind. Family members can be comfortable with a loved one living alone, knowing an emergency response team is always available.
Medical alert systems promote independence and save lives.
Falling can cause broken bones, hip fractures and other medical emergencies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that falls are the most frequent cause of traumatic brain injury. If you take blood thinners or are an older adult, a head injury requires medical attention right away to stop blood loss and reduce or prevent chronic brain injury.
Landline vs. Cellular Medical Alert Systems
Mobile medical alert systems always use a cellular network for communication. In-home systems have a base that works with either a landline or cellular connection. An old-fashioned copper landline works in a power outage, but phone companies are switching to digital technology.
If you can use either a landline or cell signal, cellular works best in more situations. There’s no additional cost for the cell service. Verify what cellular network your preferred system runs on, and then check the coverage area to be sure you can activate the system.
Buy a medical alert system with a landline connection if you live in a rural area with no reliable cell coverage.
Whether you opt for using a landline or cell signal, we recommend systems with a battery backup that continue functioning for several hours in a power outage.
Medical Alert Systems: Rent or Buy?
Most medical alerts systems are offered on a lease or rental agreement. You’ll have a small upfront cost or pay nothing to get started. Monthly payments cover monitoring services, cell service and equipment. These systems give you access to help in any situation, whether or not you need local emergency services.
Unmonitored systems are usually purchased outright with a higher startup cost and no monthly fee. You own the equipment, but you don’t have access to a monitoring service (explained above).
If you’re not sure if you’re buying or renting a system, ask a customer service representative to explain. If you rent the system, ask about the policy on trading up when the medical alert system company releases new models. If you can swap the old setup for new hardware, renting is likely the best option.
Paying monthly usually guarantees greater safety than buying a medical alert system.
A rental or lease unit must be returned in good condition when you no longer need it. You could get stuck with replacement costs if you return a damaged system.
Medical Alert Systems Costs
You’ll typically pay around $20 to $50 per month for a medical alert system. Some companies charge an upfront activation or equipment fee. You don’t want to pay for features you don’t need, but your safety is priceless. For that reason, we recommend not choosing a medical alert system based only on price.
You’ll find the components that make up the cost of a medical alert system below. We also explained what each fee pays for. The plan you choose may include all of these costs or nothing other than the monthly fee.
|Type of Fee
|$0 to $95
|Covers the cost of establishing service.
|$0 to $270
|Defrays the cost of the hardware. Some companies charge this fee even if you’re renting the system.
|$0 to $15
|Most companies offer free shipping, but not all do.
|$0 to $200
|Rarely required. Can run higher if you need someone to run electricity or phone wire to the wall.
|$20 to $35
|This is the base fee. Cellular service generally costs around $10 more than using a landline.
|$0 to $70
|Almost all medical alert systems charge nothing and refund your costs if you cancel within 30 days.
|$5 to $30 each
|Fall detection, GPS location or tracking, wellness calls, medication reminders, wearable buttons, additional wall buttons.
|$0 to $35
|Door key lockboxes, assorted wristbands and decorative covers for lanyard alert buttons are among the accessories offered.
Installation fees are rare. You’ll most likely plug the home base unit into the wall socket to start the installation, then insert the phone wire for a landline system. Base units running on a cell signal usually connect to the network automatically after you plug them in.
More Medical Alert Cost Advice
You have a few options for getting help for paying for a medical alert system, although Medicare does not cover the cost.
Don’t skimp on the must-have features like long battery life and adequate range from the base. You also want your alert button to be easy to use with comfortable, discreet wear. Be sure you understand the company’s subscription and accessory pricing before you buy anything.
Avoid Medical Alert System Scams
A medical alert system can save your life, but telephone scammers prey on people who could benefit from a system. Do not speak to anyone who calls you to offer a “free” medical alert system. Never disclose your personal or private financial information to anyone who calls you to avoid identity theft.
Remember, you are the one who initiates a conversation with the company or places a medical alert system order online yourself.
Our Search For The Best Medical Alert Systems
1. We searched for a comprehensive list of medical alert systems
2. We evaluated medical alert systems based on our expert-guided buying criteria: Coverage area, connectivity & battery life
3. We provided you our list of the best medical alert systems for consideration
Choosing the best medical alert systems was no easy task. All of our top companies needed to meet specific criteria to make our list. Here’s how we broke it down:
1. We started with a comprehensive list of medical alert system companies.
We started with 22 medical alert system providers. These companies are likely to be used by consumers, and most have a presence on television and social media.2. We removed companies that didn’t meet expert expectations.
We used expert-guided criteria to see which medical alert companies would rise above the others. The medical alert systems had to have nationwide service, be easy to purchase and use innovative technology. We selected stand-alone medical alert systems and excluded companies that only sell the systems as part of a home security package.3. We considered consumer reviews about medical alert systems.
To finally narrow our search, we read consumer reviews for the top medical alert companies. We removed those with a consistently low rating from consideration.
Medical alert system reviews
After our evaluation, we selected the 8 best medical alert systems: Medical Guardian, ADT Medical Alert, Philips Lifeline, Lively, LifeFone, Lively, Personal Living Alert, GetSafe Medical Alert and Bay Alarm Medical.
The prices mentioned may change at any time. You may get a new customer deal, so you could pay more or less than the cost we found.
Wide Selection |
You get a choice of six medical alert systems from Medical Guardian. You can add a protection plan for $6.99 per month for fast tech support, repairs and replacements at no additional cost, and discounts on add-ons. Mobile medical alert systems start at $1.29 to $1.35 per day, and in-home systems start at around $1 per day. The prices go up if you add optional equipment.
Screenshot: Medical Guardian
Medical Guardian’s latest offering is the Mini Guardian, a small, lightweight device worn on your belt or a lanyard. The Mini Guardian comes with a high-definition speaker and advanced location monitoring that combines 4G LTE, Wi-Fi and GPS.
Freedom 2.0 is a new smartwatch featuring the same location monitoring you get with the Mini Guardian. Customers can call for help using the emergency button or touch screen and keep caregivers informed with recordings and messaging presets. You also get location-based weather forecasts, heart rate monitoring and reminders on this smartwatch medical alert device.
The Active Guardian is a waterproof medical alert worn around the neck or cradled in a charging station. The Active Guardian comes standard with both GPS and Wi-Fi location technologies and long battery life. You can add accurate fall alert technology.
The Mobile Guardian is a personal emergency response package with a help button worn on the wrist or around the neck and a base station. You can take the small, portable GPS-enabled base station along when you’re away from home, but the wearable button is for in-home use only.
The Classic Guardian is a budget-friendly in-home system featuring a wearable button and a landline base station. Coverage is around 1,300 feet from the base. The other in-home model is the cellular-based Home Guardian. The wearable button works within 600 feet of the base station for this model.
Read our full Medical Guardian review.
ADT Medical Alert
Great Plans |
ADT Medical Alert offers in-home and mobile medical alert devices. One model is equipped with home temperature monitoring, and you can add fall detection to two models (for an additional $10 per month). ADT offers free battery replacements.
Screenshot: ADT Medical Alert
ADT Medical Alert Basic is the most affordable option at $29.99 per month. The package is meant for in-home use with a base station and your choice of pendant or watch. ADT Medical Alert Basic keeps customers safe up to 300 feet from the base station and requires a landline.
ADT Medical Alert Plus extends the range between the wearable emergency button and the base station out to 600 feet. The base station requires no landline and monitors your home temperature. GPS tracks your location, and you can add fall detection. The monthly fee is $35.99 per month.
On-The-Go provides personal emergency response in the home and is portable for use away from home. This model also utilizes GPS tracking but gives customers the freedom to go anywhere. ADT’s On-The-Go system costs $39.99 per month.
To purchase a device, you can check out the ADT Medical Alert website.
Read our comprehensive ADT Medical Alert review.
Bay Alarm Medical
Great Customer Service |
Bay Alarm Medical protects clients with industry-leading medical alert technology and reliable 24/7 emergency call centers, all based in the U.S. The company offers an in-home system, three portable models and a bundle package with one in-home and one mobile system.
Screenshot: Bay Alarm Medical
Monthly fees start at $19.99 to $39.95, depending on the setup you choose. Add automatic fall detection and cellular service (if you don’t have a landline) for $10 each per month. On-The-Go systems cost a one-time fee of $99 to $179 in addition to the monthly service charge.
Bay Alarm Medical’s In-Home Medical Alert includes a base unit and a wearable for the wrist or neck. This is a landline unit with an option for cellular service. Bella Charms colorful lanyard button covers are available to turn the button into a fashion accessory.
- Basic Protection includes the base and wearable.
- Preferred Protection adds two wall emergency buttons to the basic package.
- Premium Protection includes the base, wearable and four wall buttons.
Bay Alarm Medical offers three mobile On-the-Go systems that use a cellular network and include location monitoring:
- The GPS Help Button is a small device designed to be carried in your pocket, purse or hand. You can add caregiver tracking and fall detection
- The SOS Smartwatch is a discreet alternative to the traditional button.
- Bay Alarm Medical’s In-Car Medical Alert provides automatic crash detection and location tracking.
To buy, you can check out the Bay Alarm Medical website.
Read our full Bay Alarm Medical review.
Great Value |
LifeStation offers a landline or cellular in-home system designed for use up to 500 feet from the base station. LifeStation’s Mobile LTE Medical Alert requires no base station and works anywhere covered by AT&T’s mobile network. With Find My Loved One, your family and caregivers can send a text and get your location in the reply.
The in-home model includes a waterproof help button worn on a lanyard or wristband. LifeStation designed the two-way communication to work in houses up to 3,500 square feet. The battery backup lasts 32 hours if the power goes out and all equipment is plug-and-play with no installation service required.
LifeStation’s Mobile LTE Medical Alert is about the size of a domino. You can wear the waterproof, two-ounce device on a lanyard, belt or wrist. This model can pinpoint your location using combined technology with GPS, Wi-Fi and cellular signals. The mobile alert system also works with Amazon Alexa.
The in-home medical alert system price ranges from $22.95 to $32.95 per month. The cost depends on whether you choose cellular or landline connectivity or add fall detection or a damage protection plan. It’s just $3.99 per month more for an extra help button for another person in the home. The Mobile LTE Medical Alert monthly billing ranges from $37.95 to $47.95.
Read our full LifeStation review.
Great Technology |
MobileHelp’s in-home medication alert systems, Classic and Wired Home, communicate via cell signal or landlines. Customers can move around up to 1,300 – 1,400 feet from the base. Both systems come with a lanyard or wristband help button. MobileHelp’s payment plans start at $24.95 per month, but you get a discount by paying quarterly, semiannually or annually.
The MobileHelp Solo is a waterproof mobile alert button that utilizes GPS and a cell network for location services.
The company offers two money-saving combo packages. The Mobile Duo is the Solo system with two help buttons for $44.95 per month. The MobileHelp Duo combines an in-home system with the portable Solo for $41.95 per month. You’ll pay less if you sign up for a quarterly, semiannual or annual plan.
MobileHelp worked with Samsung to develop the MobileHelp Touch Duo, the first emergency response system with a tablet form factor and interactive touch screen. The MobileHelp Touch Duo provides access to help, health management tools, photo sharing, messaging and games. You also get a personal help button with this system, which costs $49.95 to $54.95, depending on the monthly plan selected.
MobileHelp Connect Premium is a $5 per month bundle with discounts, an equipment protection plan and more.
Check out our full MobileHelp review.
Most Popular |
Philips developed the first medical alert system in North America in 1974. The company later acquired Lifeline to expand into the global home health care market. Philips Lifeline continues to offer innovative medical alert systems by using the latest technology and studying consumer needs.
Screenshot: Philips Lifeline
For the home, Philips offers the HomeSafe Standard and the HomeSafe with AutoAlert. The HomeSafe Standard is a base with a waterproof pendant or wristband emergency button. The price is $29.95 monthly for a landline model or $43.95 for a cellular base. The HomeSafe with Auto Alert adds advanced automatic fall detection at the cost of $449.95 to $58.95. Both setups have a one-time $50 activation fee.
GoSafe 2 is a lightweight pendant and requires no base station. This mobile medical alert incorporates multiple advanced location technologies, fall detection and two-way voice communication. The $49.95 per month price is better than the in-home units considering the included technology, but the activation fee is $99.95.
Read our comprehensive Philips Lifeline review.
Additional Medical Alert Companies
Aloe Care Health offers two medical alert systems at different price points. To learn more, read our Comprehensive Aloe Care Review.
MobileHelp offers some of the best technology to buyers, including automatic fall detection. Check out our MobileHelp review to learn more.
LifeStation’s On The Go mobile medical alert system features fall detection, enhanced location technology and a reminder that lets you know when batteries are running low. Read our LifeStation Review, to learn more.
Connect America offers a variety of medical alert systems, including fall detection, mobile systems and cellular and landline systems. Check out our comprehensive Connect America review.
Medical Care Alert offers five medical alert systems with varying features based on your situation. Check out our Medical Care Alert review for details.
Lively (formerly GreatCall Lively) offers an affordable waterproof medical alert system with excellent response time and top-notch customer service. Read our full Lively review.
Related Medical Alert Resources
Readers of this medical alert guide content also read these related articles.
Medical alert systems come with various features depending on the type of system you buy. GPS tracking can help emergency response workers find you faster when you need help.
Fall protection is automatic motion detection on wearable devices that can detect a fall, triggering a call to dispatch first responders.
Medical alert bracelets are a great option to let first responders know your medical history at a glance. The bracelets come in styles from casual to high-class gold, silver and white gold.
Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Alert Systems
Can I use a cellphone as a medical alert system?
Some of our top medical alert system companies sell smartphones or flip phones with an emergency button. Press the button, and the phone becomes your personal medical alert system. The disadvantage of this setup is that if you set the phone down in one room and get hurt in another, you won’t have your emergency button.
Can I return a medical alert system for a refund?
Most medical alert systems come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Call to cancel your contract and ship the devices to the return address. You’ll get a refund when the medical alert company receives the box, so we recommend tracking your shipment.
How important is a waterproof emergency button with a medical alert system?
Many falls happen when people slip and fall in the shower, where you’re guaranteed to land on one of the hardest surfaces in your house. If you wear a pendant or wristband, you should wear it at all times for optimal safety. A waterproof wearable emergency button is critical for many people who live alone.
What are the advantages of an unmonitored medical alert system?
You’ll pay more upfront for an unmonitored system, but there’s no monthly monitoring service fee. There’s no credit check since you buy your medical alert system. You’ll speak to someone you know and trust if you need help, but that person is unlikely to be trained to deal with emergencies. Read Monitored vs. Non-monitored Medical Alert Systems to learn more about the pros and cons.
Do I need to speak English to use a medical alert system?
Monitoring stations are typically staffed with operators who speak multiple languages. If the caller does not speak a recognized language, operators use a service that provides real-time translation. We found one company that only relied on multilingual operators, but most had access to translation services for 180 to over 250 languages.
Verify that someone who understands your language will answer your call if your native language is anything other than Spanish or English.
Concluding Thoughts on Medical Alert Systems
A medical alert system can provide immediate help 24/7 from emergency responders
Medical alert systems provide safety and independent living for people who live alone or couples in their retirement years. These devices offer fast assistance at any time of day. Automatic fall detection provides an additional layer of security should you become incapacitated. The latest technology turns some medical alert systems into a communication center.
Narrow your choices to one of our top companies to ensure you choose one of the best medical alert systems on the market.
The Best Medical Alert System Companies
|Medical Alert Company
|Personal Living Alert
|ADT Medical Alert
|GetSafe Medical Alert
|Great For Large Homes
|Bay Alarm Medical
|Great Customer Service