Medical alert systems help seniors who are at risk of falling or becoming unwell feel safer and more confident in their homes. These systems give seniors access to the help they need, 24 hours a day, at a push of a button. There are many companies that manufacture medical alert systems and choosing the best one can be a challenge. The subscription fees, contracts and optional extras offered by each company can vary significantly, making it hard to compare two providers on an equal footing. Our side-by-side comparison can help seniors get a better understanding of Alert1 and Life Alert’s systems, allowing them to make an informed choice about which system to choose.
We found that both Alert1 and Life Alert have a lot to offer, however, Alert1’s lower monthly fee, lack of up-front costs and month-to-month billing option make it more appealing than Life Alert for most seniors.
|Lowest Monthly Cost||$28.95||$49|
|Highest Monthly Cost||$45.95||$95|
|Long-Term Contract||No||3 years|
|Up-Front Fees||None||$95-$96 device fee|
|Fall Detection||Optional extra $10/month||No|
|Optional Extras||Spouse monitoring $10 a month Programmable medication dispenser $149.95 one-off fee||Spouse monitoring $49 one-time fee|
|In-Home Base Station Range||400-600 feet||800 feet|
Alert1 offers affordable in-home landline and cellular monitoring services and also has an on-the-go unit with GPS tracking. The company is an established name in the medical alert space and has a good reputation for low-cost, no-frills service. It doesn’t charge an activation fee, and offers rolling month-to-month contracts as well as prepayment options with discounts for those who purchase longer subscriptions.
Alert1’s hardware is slightly dated compared to some rivals that offer smartwatch wearables and voice-activated wall buttons, but the company covers the basics well. Fall detection options are available for the in-home and on-the-go systems, and the programmable medication dispenser is a useful tool for seniors who struggle to stay on top of their prescription regimens. The one-time fee may seem expensive, however, some rivals charge substantial monthly fees for their prescription dispensers, making Alert1’s offer seem quite attractive by comparison.
The base units provided by Alert1 have a limited range, which may be an issue for active seniors with large properties who like to spend a lot of time outside. Some seniors could get around this by opting for an on-the-go device. If the more limited battery life of on-the-go devices is an issue, then the extra range of Life Alert’s in-home systems may make that brand a better option.
About Life Alert
Life Alert has been offering medical alert systems since 1987 and is still going strong today. The company claims to save at least one person from a catastrophic outcome every 11 minutes. Life Alert has the benefit of strong brand recognition among seniors, many of whom may have helped their parents get started with an alert system 20 or 30 years ago. That, combined with the company’s proud policy of in-house support and product manufacturing, has created a number of loyal followers.
It’s hard to recommend the company to a senior who lives alone, however, since its products are more expensive than most competitors and lack some useful features, including fall detection and voice-activated wall buttons. In addition, Life Alert requires a three-year contract, which can only be broken in the event the subscriber dies or moves to a nursing facility. With so many more affordable and flexible brands out there, it’s hard to see a reason to commit to a long and expensive contract.
The one exception to this is for a couple who would both like an in-home monitoring system. Life Alert allows users to add a second person to their plan for a one-time fee of $49. This makes the service far more affordable and could save seniors hundreds of dollars per year compared to paying separately for two systems.
The hardware supplied by Life Alert is good quality, and the base unit that comes with the in-home system has a longer range than the Alert1 base unit. This may be a deciding factor for someone who lives in a large house or likes to spend a lot of time outdoors. However, the lack of fall detection is a frustrating issue, and Life Alert says they don’t provide the service because of the high rate of false positives the pendants produce. Some households may feel the false positives are worth putting up with in exchange for protection in the event of an accidental fall.
Alert1 is far more appealing than Life Alert for almost every household. Alert1’s fall detection and medication dispensing extras can make it a good choice for at-risk seniors. Subscribers have the option of short-term contracts or longer-term payment plans with a discount. There are no setup fees, and the month-to-month costs are lower than those offered by Life Alert.
Couples may wish to consider Life Alert if they’re happy to do without fall detection, since the company’s more expensive package becomes appealing when the cost is effectively split in half. Even then, it’s important to study the terms and conditions, since the company’s three-year contract can only be broken in highly specific circumstances.