Subscribing to a medical alert service can help seniors enjoy greater independence in their homes, secure in the knowledge that if they have an accident and can’t get to the phone, they can still call for help, with either a push of a button or through a voice activated medical alert device. For the medical alert company’s operator to respond appropriately to a distress call, they need to be able to understand the person. Therefore, we’re comparing three popular medical alert systems with speakers, to help seniors or their loved ones find the best fit.
Why Should Seniors Choose a Medical Alert Device With Speakers?
In-home medical alert devices are intended to monitor seniors living alone or to keep tabs on everyone in the home. These devices connect users to a 24-hour security monitoring company, with live help available to those in need. For example, if a user falls and can’t get up to get to the phone, they may simply press a button on their wearable pendant or call for help through the speaker on their in-home device. Some systems have both wearable devices and in-home alert systems, which can give users another layer of protection. The speakers on these devices give seniors greater flexibility to communicate with rescue efforts and alert those responding to their location and situation.
We’re comparing medical alert systems from three of the top manufacturers: Medical Guardian, MobileHelp, and Bay Alarm Medical. These three companies have flexible plans with reasonable pricing and sensitive speakers that have the best clarity. We’re also mentioning additional plans and devices that each brand offers, for those who may be considering taking advantage of extra options.
Medical Guardian is a company that was founded specifically to enhance the lives of seniors who wish to safely age in place. While Medical Guardian is one of our top picks due to the sophistication and sensitivity of the Home and Family Guardian, we also like the company for its Active and Freedom Guardian plans, which feature on-the-go devices that can be used alone or in conjunction with the in-home systems. Our favorite plan from Medical Guardian is the Family Guardian, which provides coverage and access for everyone in the home.
The in-home Guardian devices have large buttons, easy for frail fingers to press, and are labeled with both script and in Braille. Users may summon the professional monitoring company or one of five designated contacts. The in-home units have both a base and an emergency button, and the Family Guardian has additional activity sensors for fall detection throughout the house. However, while Medical Guardian devices have some of the most comprehensive features among major medical alert brands, the prices for the plans are some of the most expensive, which may put Medical Guardian out of range for seniors with limited means.
Medical Guardian Plans
- Classic – the traditional in-home system connected through a landline
- Home – an in-home system with either a landline or cellular option
- Family – monitors everyone in the home, with different user profiles for all monitored residents
- Mobile – wearable pendant device with a GPS button and two-way communication (integrates with home systems)
- Active – wearable pendant device with GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity plus two-way communication
- Freedom – a wearable smart watch-style device with a companion app for family or caregivers and voice-to-text communication
|Type of Device||Phone Box-like device for in-home products Pendant or wrist for all mobile devices|
|Water-Resistant||Pendants are water-resistant|
|Fall Detection||Yes, $10 per month|
|Range||1300’ from the home base station, 350’ from a mobile device|
|Battery Life||32 hours for Classic and Family 24 hours for Mobile 5 days for Active Freedom Guardian does not need charging|
|Base Plan Costs||Classic: $29.95/month|
|Contract||No, subscriptions are monthly, quarterly, or annually, pre-paid|
|Set-Up or Equipment Fee||No for all but Freedom Guardian, which is a $99 one-time fee|
|Add-On Features||All plans are inclusive|
|Additional Accessories||Lockbox For EMS Access Wall Button Car charger for Mobile Leather carrying case for Mobile|
MobileHelp is a Florida-based company, and the first to incorporate cellular and GPS-capable products. MobileHelp also has a proprietary app, compatible with both Android and iOS systems, called the MobileHelp Connect App. Through this program, caregivers and the individual users can connect to the customer care center, or caregivers and family members can track the wearer and receive notifications of events such as when the subscriber activates the alert or has a fall.
The base in-home plans from MobileHelp are among the least expensive of the industry, although the top-tier plans can range up to $60 per month or more. Plus, MobileHelp’s plans aren’t all-inclusive, but rather have add-on products and services that can quickly add up. A couple of features that many users find useful are the medication management system and the coded lockbox that allows EMS access to the home in the event the user can’t answer the door.
- $19.95 for MobileHelp Classic (includes cellular connectivity)
- $24.95 for Wired Home
- $37.95 for MobileHelp Solo
- $41.95 for MobileHelp Duo
- $44.95 for Mobile Duo
- $59.45 for MobileHelp Touch
|Type of Device||Hard wired or cellular connection for in-home devices Wearable pendants|
|Water-Resistant||Yes, for the pendant|
|Fall Detection||$10 per month for all models|
|Range||600 feet for Classic N/A for Solo 600 feet for Duo|
|Battery Life||30-hours backup for Classic and Wired Home 24 hours for Solo and Mobile Duo 24 hours plus 30-hour backup for Duo 24 hours for MobileHelp Touch and 12-hour backup for tablet|
|Base Plan Costs||$19.95 per month|
|Contract||6-month minimum for MobileHelp Touch; contract must be semiannual or annual Monthly, quarterly, semiannually or annually available for all other devices A 30-day free trial period for all devices|
|Set-Up or Equipment Fee||$0 activation fee $15 shipping; waived for quarterly, semiannual and annual subscribers|
|Add-On Features||$2 a month for a wall-mounted help button $5 per month for medication management and reminder system Free lockbox to allow EMS access Jewelry-style wearable pendants for $69.95 – $79.95 MobileHelp Connect Premium service plan, including device replacement and discounts for $5 per month|
Bay Alarm Medical
Bay Alarm Medical, like Mobile Guardian and MobileHelp, is also an established medical device company. It’s a branch of the parent manufacturer Bay Alarm security system brand and features remote wearable devices that utilize a 4G LTE network for faster connection speeds and better coverage. Bay Alarm Medical also has a Caregiver Tracking App, allowing family members and caregivers to track the user and receive notifications of a low battery or if the subscriber has activated the alarm system.
Bay Alarm is unique in that it also has a system specifically designed for the car, with a sensitive speaker that can help alert first responders in case of a car accident or break-down.
Bay Alarm Medical Plans
- In The Home – a base station that monitors seniors in their home and comes with a wrist button or pendant to wear outside the house
- On The Go – a wearable device, either wristwatch or pendant, with a caregiver tracking app
- In The Car – a car-specific system with GPS and integration with the caregiver app
|Type of Device||Pendant or watch for In The Home Pendant only for On The Go Special car alert device|
|Fall Detection||Yes, $10 per month for mobile or in-home|
|Range||Up to 1000’ from the base station|
|Battery Life||72 hours for On The Go In The Car plugs into the car itself|
|Base Plan Costs||In The Home: $19.95/month On The Go: $39.93/month In The Car: $29.95/month Bundle of all three: $69.95/month|
|Set-Up or Equipment Fee||No|
|Add-On Features||Spouse monitoring $3/ month|
|Additional Accessories||Lockbox for EMS access Spare buttons “Bella” charm, designed to cover the pendants to make them look like a necklace|
While each of these three medical alert systems has sensitive speakers, a wide range from the home base, and reasonably priced base plans, we like Medical Guardian the best, despite the expense. It offers a smartwatch style of wearable device, which many seniors may prefer instead of a pendant that looks like a medical alert system, and several different add-on features that allow seniors to customize their plans according to their needs. However, compared to other medical alert systems, these three companies have the best speaker functionality and reliability, which gives seniors some choice for when choosing a medical alert system with speakers.