The Best Medical Alert Systems to Keep You or a Loved One Safe

Find the right medical alert system to keep you safe and sound at home and on the go.
By Courtney Schmidt, PharmD
November 17, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

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.”

Our Top Picks for Medical Alert Systems 

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.

  1. Medical Guardian
  2. MobileHelp
  3. Medical Alert
  4. Bay Alarm Medical
  5. GetSafe
  6. Lifestation
  7. LifeFone

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:

  • Comfort and wearability of mobile devices
  • In-home range of equipment
  • Water resistance of wearable devices
  • Battery life and recharging requirements
  • Ease of installation and use
  • Cost of installation and monthly service
  • Customer service accessibility and performance
  • Customer satisfaction reviews
  • Expert opinion
  • Special features such as automatic fall detection, smartphone apps for family members, and location tracking 

With this data, our editors chose the top picks for you to consider in a medical alert system.

Editor's Choice: Medical Guardian

  • Free spouse monitoring with purchase of second pendant
  • Price: $29.95–$49.95 per month 

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.

  • Monitoring center: TMA Five Diamond Certification, UL-listed 
  • Services: In-home and on-the-go
  • Equipment: Landline or cell signal via AT&T cell service
  • In-home range: 600 feet (Home model), 1,300 feet (Classic model)
  • Activation fee: None
  • Equipment fee: None
  • Battery life: Mobile pendant battery lasts up to five days. In-home station offers 32-hour backup battery in case of power outage
  • Contract required: None
  • Special features: Wearable wrist button, automatic fall detection, wall-mounted buttons, voice-activated wall-mounted buttons, mobile app for family members

TO BUY: medicalguardian.com or call 1-800-485-2218

MobileHelp

  • Companies maintain a meaningful social media presence to connect with seniors
  • Price: $19.95–$44.95 per month

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.

  • Monitoring center: UL-listed, Security Industry Association Certification
  • Services: In-home and on-the-go
  • Equipment: Landline or cell signal via AT&T cell service
  • In-home range: 600 feet
  • Activation fee: None
  • Equipment fee: None
  • Battery life: At-home base station has 24-hour battery life in case of power outage. Mobile battery lasts up to three days
  • Contract required: None
  • Special features: MobileHelp Connect app for notification and tracking for family members

TO BUY: mobilehelp.com

Medical Alert

  • 30-day money-back guarantee, lifetime warranty on equipment
  • Price: $19.95–$42.95

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. 

  • Monitoring center: TMA Five Diamond Certification, UL-listed
  • Services: In-home and on-the-go
  • Equipment: Landline or cell signal via AT&T cell service
  • In-home range: 600 feet
  • Activation fee: None
  • Equipment fee: None
  • Battery life: 
    • At-home device: 36-hour backup battery in case of power outages 
    • Mobile devices: battery life up to five days 
  • Contract required: None
  • Special features: Mobile app for caregivers, automatic fall alert detection, wearable wrist button

TO BUY: medicalalert.com or call 1-800-320-0586

Bay Alarm Medical

  • Risk-free trial for 30 days, free spouse coverage, savings for bundled services
  • Price: $19.95-$39.95 per month

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.

  • Monitoring center: TMA Five Diamond Certification, UL-listed
  • Services: In-home and on-the-go
  • Equipment: Landline or cell signal via AT&T cell service
  • In-home range: 1,000 feet
  • Activation fee: None
  • Equipment fee:  
    • At-home service: None
    • Mobile service: One-time charge of $79 for GPS Help button; one-time charge of $179 for SOS Smartwatch
  • Battery life: Pendants have five-year battery life with no recharging. In-home station offers 32-hour backup battery in case of power outage. Fall detection pendants have 12- to 24-month battery life
  • Contract required: None
  • Special features: automatic fall detection, location tracking, caregiver tracking, automatic crash detection, personalized fashion necklaces to cover pendants

TO BUY: bayalarmmedical.com or call 877-695-0058

GetSafe

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Price: $24.95 per month

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.

  • Monitoring center: TMA Five Diamond Certification, UL-listed
  • Services: In-home
  • Equipment: Landline or cell signal via AT&T cell service
  • Activation fee: None
  • Equipment fee: One-time fee:
    • $79 (zero to one bedroom)
    • $149 (two to three bedrooms or multilevel living)
    • $229 (four to five bedrooms)
  • Battery life: Pendant: Five years
  • Contract required: None
  • Special features: Hands-free use of emergency system without wearing a button, automatic fall detection

TO BUY: getsafe.com or call 877-505-0076

Lifestation

  • 30-day money-back guarantee, lifetime warranty on equipment
  • Price: $21.95–$37.95 per month

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.  

  • Monitoring center: TMA Five Diamond Certification, UL-listed
  • Services: In-home and on-the-go
  • Equipment: Landline or cell signal via AT&T cell service
  • In-home range: 500 feet
  • Activation fee: None
  • Equipment fee: None
  • Battery life: Five days for mobile system
  • Contract required: None
  • Special features: Full integration with Amazon’s Alexa, Find My Loved One feature, automatic alerts to caregiver, coordination with Uber Health, extra loud speakers to enable hearing throughout home, wearable wrist button

TO BUY: lifestation.com

LifeFone

  • 30-day money-back guarantee, free monitoring for spouse, lifetime price, and equipment guarantee
  • Price: $24.95–$39.95 per month

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.

  • Monitoring center: Certifications unknown
  • Services: In-home and on-the-go
  • Equipment: Landline or cell signal via Verizon or AT&T cell service
  • In-home range: 1,300 feet
  • Activation fee: Free   
  • Equipment fee: Free
  • Battery life: Mobile pendant: 5 days
  • Contract required: None
  • Special features: Wearable wrist button, automatic fall detection, Mobile Alert app for individuals, Family Guard app for loved ones, fire, smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring, medication alerts

TO BUY: lifefone.com

The Pro Tips You Need to Know

As you’re making a final decision about which medical alert system best fits your needs, consider the following:

  • Before you commit, ask for a better price from your company of choice over the phone; you’re likely to get a better deal this way.
  • If you’re an AARP member, check to see if you can get a discount on your system.
  • If English is not your primary language, be sure to choose an alert system that offers emergency service in the language you’re most comfortable speaking.
  • Automatic fall detection is usually going to add to your monthly costs. Most companies on our list charge an additional $10 per month for this service so be sure to factor that into your decision.

Once you’ve chosen the medical alert system that fits your needs, remember:

  • Let your monitoring company know if you plan to travel, especially if you have a mobile device. Check coverage for the area you plan to visit.
  • Test your system monthly to be sure your equipment is in working order.
  • Be sure you follow the company’s guidelines for your device when used in water.

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.