Maintaining your health and safety at home is an important consideration as you or a loved one age. A medical alert system can offer the peace of mind you need alongside the comfort and independence you desire while growing older gracefully.
“Most older adults want to age in place,” says Lakelyn Hogan, gerontologist and caregiver advocate at Home Instead Senior Care. “Many say they would be heartbroken if they could no longer live at home. But, as time goes on, the same place where we’ve created a lifetime of memories can naturally become more challenging to navigate.”
Liron Sinvani, MD, is director of the geriatrics hospitalist service at Northwell Health and associate professor of medicine at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell in the New York City area. “Older people are at an increased risk of medical emergencies such as falls,” says Dr. Sinvani. “Falls are a serious threat to the health of older adults and can limit their ability to live independently at home. More than one out of four older people falls each year, and one out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones, like a hip fracture, or a head injury.”
No one wants to imagine a scenario where they or a loved one have a medical emergency and are unable to call for help. That’s why many older Americans, especially those who live alone or have chronic health conditions, choose a medical alert system.
“Medical alert services can help reduce the risk of living alone—increasing independence for older adults and providing peace of mind for their caregivers,” says Hogan. “In the event of a fall or medical emergency, an alert system makes help available at the push of a button.”
Health researched dozens of companies to find the best providers of medical alert systems. Here are the best medical alert systems according to our editors.
In determining our top picks, the criteria we considered most important were the quality and reliability of a company’s monitoring center. We did not consider any unmonitored alert systems or systems that fail to provide emergency service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The gold standard in quality assurance of a medical alert system is a company’s designation as one of The Monitoring Association’s (TMA) Five Diamond Alert Monitoring Centers. You may see companies refer to this on their website as CSAA Five Diamond Alert Monitoring Centers since TMA was formerly known as Central Station Alarm Association (CSSA).
Of the thousands of alarm companies in operation in the United States, roughly 200 earn TMA’s Five Diamond designation, a hallmark of quality emergency service.
You’ll also see companies advertise that they are “UL-listed,” which is another quality indicator. UL stands for Underwriter’s Laboratory, and UL-listed products have been tested by this independent, nationally recognized laboratory and determined to meet specific safety requirements.
After analyzing the quality of a company’s call centers, we considered these additional variables:
With this data, our editors chose the top picks for you to consider in a medical alert system.
Medical Guardian offers a top-quality service that is highly valued by its customers. With a monitoring center that is TMA Five Diamond Certified and a wide range of products to suit many different needs and lifestyles, Medical Guardian will provide the protection you need and the service you want.
At-home options include the Classic and Home models, for landlines and cell service connections, respectively. The Mobile Guardian offers help on the go with a wearable button and a mobile device that must be within 350 feet of the button for full functionality.
The Active Guardian is an all-in-one wearable device that has both GPS and Wi-Fi capability along with a two-way speaker to speak with an operator. The Freedom Guardian Smartwatch offers an easy, convenient alternative. While the monthly costs may be a little higher than some competitors, there are no upfront costs for equipment or activation.
Read our full Medical Guardian review.
TO BUY: medicalguardian.com or call 1-800-485-2218
MobileHelp and One Call Alert are two companies under the same ownership, and both provide great products to meet your monitoring needs. The equipment and services offered are the same, but pricing may differ slightly. The monitoring center for both is managed by Rapid Response and while it does not carry the TMA Five Diamond designation, it sets high standards for excellence. You can read more about the monitoring center on MobileHelp’s site.
The element that sets both MobileHelp and One Call Alert apart from the competition is customer satisfaction. Both companies receive some of the highest customer reviews in the industry, and their customer service is second to none.
TO BUY: mobilehelp.com
Medical Alert provides everything you need in an emergency alert system. With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and excellent customer reviews, you can be sure you’re getting a quality product. The company earns the highest certifications for their 24/7 emergency monitoring center and offers at-home and on-the-go options with long battery life and lifetime equipment warranties. A mobile app for caregivers provides peace of mind for those wanting to ensure safety and security for their loved ones. Starting at $19.95 per month, Medical Alert offers excellent quality at a price point lower than many competitors.
TO BUY: medicalalert.com or call 1-800-320-0586
Bay Alarm Medical is our top pick for its combination of high-quality service at an excellent price point with innovative features you won’t find with the competition. The company offers an array of reliable in-home and on-the-go devices that can be used via landline or cell signal, and its emergency monitoring center is certified with the best quality ratings. Customer reviews indicate a high degree of satisfaction with the company and its service.
Bay Alarm Medical’s mobile devices—the SOS Smartwatch, the On the Go Help Button, and the Splitsecnd® In-Car Alert—are what set this company apart from the rest. The SOS Smartwatch offers a convenient, easy-to-wear solution for older adults who are still active. When you compare the real-life experience of wearing this watch versus other clunky mobile devices that often have to hang around your neck, there is no comparison.
Some mobile monitoring services require a user not only to carry a mobile button but also to bring a mobile base wherever they go, and they must remain within a few hundred feet of the base for full functionality. Bay Alarm Medical’s On the Go Help button is smaller and easier to use than its competitors and doesn’t require any other hardware to go along with you.
The Splitsecnd® In-Car Alert is a feature that isn’t offered by the other companies on our list. You can place this device in your car and forget about it, but you get 24/7 in-car monitoring with location tracking and automatic crash detection that will send help within seconds of an accident. Bay Alarm Medicals’s state-of-the-art devices make it easier and more convenient to stay protected no matter where you are.
Read our full Bay Alarm Medical review.
TO BUY: bayalarmmedical.com or call 877-695-0058
GetSafe is the only provider on our list that offers voice-activated at-home emergency monitoring; it doesn’t require you or a loved one to wear a device. You’ll have voice-activated wall buttons and standard wall buttons placed throughout your home for easy access. This is a great option for those who cannot or choose not to wear a device, but you can still use a wearable pendant if you choose. Bay Alarm Medical owns GetSafe, so customers can expect the same quality customer service that Bay Alarm is known for.
TO BUY: getsafe.com or call 877-505-0076
Lifestation combines quality service with strategic partnerships to offer special features for caregivers that aren’t available with other companies. With Amazon’s Echo dot, caregivers can ask Alexa to check on a loved one and find their location in real-time. Caregivers can also check on a location with a simple text message.
In partnership with Uber Health, Lifestation will coordinate your loved one’s transportation to and from medical appointments and even stay on the line to ensure everything goes as planned. Lifestation’s monitoring center earns the highest quality designations, and the company offers competitive monthly pricing with no up-front costs or contracts. The company boasts that it’s the fastest emergency response time in the industry; however, the at-home range of 500 feet is lower than many competitors.
TO BUY: lifestation.com
LifeFone has been a trusted provider of emergency monitoring for more than 30 years. The company offers an array of options for at-home and on-the-go service, and customers routinely report a high degree of satisfaction. The company does not provide detailed information about its monitoring center or certifications. However, LifeFone is endorsed by Harvard Medical School, TrustPilot, and the Better Business Bureau.
TO BUY: lifefone.com
As you’re making a final decision about which medical alert system best fits your needs, consider the following:
Once you’ve chosen the medical alert system that fits your needs, remember:
Most importantly, once you have a medical alert system, make a commitment to wear it.
“Since emergencies such as falls occur when we least expect them, it is important to remember that medical alert systems need to be worn at all times,” says Dr. Sinvani. “I have often had patients take off their medical alert device before taking a shower or when going to sleep, and then the device was not helpful.”
With the right medical alert system in place to meet your needs, you and your loved ones will feel a sense of safety and security knowing that help is available anytime you need it.
Dr. Courtney Schmidt is a clinical consultant pharmacist and health and wellness writer. Since completing her Pharm.D. at the University of Florida., Dr. Schmidt has worked in multiple clinical settings and has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Central Florida.