Medical alert systems are popular with seniors who live alone or are concerned about falling or otherwise being injured while at home or on the go. Most medical alert systems use a wearable help button that the user can press if they wish to contact the monitoring center to seek help or advice. Some systems come with an automatic fall detection pendant capable of detecting the sudden motion of a fall and placing a call for aid even if the user is incapacitated.
Some more modern devices offer voice activation. This can be useful for seniors who are worried about being able to activate a more traditional device. Full voice activation and speech control are relatively new in the medical alert space, and they require the user to be close enough to the device for it to pick up on the voice. The user must also be able to speak clearly enough for the device to understand what is being said.
Because of these limitations, only a handful of providers offer voice-activated devices. Even some of the best medical alert system providers are being cautious about using the technology. Here, we look at a few of the companies that have managed to employ voice activation effectively and reliably.
Medical Alert Systems With Voice-Activation Features
Medical Guardian: Best for Extra Features
Medical Guardian offers a voice-activated wall button as a part of its Classic Guardian and Family Guardian plans. Users can trigger a call to the monitoring center by saying “call Medical Guardian” twice in quick succession. The voice-activated wall button costs an additional $5 per month on top of the base plan.
For extra peace of mind, Medical Guardian also offers automatic fall detection for an additional $10 per month with these plans. The wall button isn’t available as part of the Freedom Guardian plan, but that plan does include a smartwatch-style wearable with voice-to-text capabilities. Using that feature, seniors can create text messages and send them to caregivers. Medical Guardian’s plans are fairly expensive compared to some rivals; however, the company provides some of the best technology and features for those who want a medical alert system that’s more than just a help button.
Bay Alarm Medical: Best for Multiroom Monitoring
Bay Alarm Medical’s GetSafe system offers true voice activation in both its base unit and wall button. These devices can be activated by saying “Call 9-1-1” twice. This cellular communication device is easy to install, and wall buttons can be fitted in the areas of the house where a senior may be at risk of injury from a fall. Common injury hotspots include stairways and the bathroom, so these are areas it makes sense to fit a wall button. In addition to the wall buttons, the base unit can be connected to a traditional pendant. The wearables have a five-year battery, meaning users don’t have to worry about charging the device every few days.
Bay Alarm Medical provides several different packages depending on the size of the property that the GetSafe system is intended to cover. There are up-front charges for the equipment, with costs varying from $79 to $229 depending on the number of wall buttons needed. Once that up-front cost is covered, however, the service is quite affordable. The monitoring subscription costs just $24.95 per month.
Apple Watch: Best for Tech-Savvy Seniors
The Apple Watch isn’t a traditional medical alert system, but some tech-savvy seniors may already own one, and it can be used as a medical alert device in some ways. For example, the voice assistant, Siri, can be used to call emergency services or contact a nominated caregiver. Seniors can also use voice activation to send text-to-speech transcribed messages.
The Apple Watch could also be used in conjunction with an iPhone and a medical alert/caregiver monitoring application from one of the major medical alert system manufacturers, such as the Lively App from GreatCall. Standalone apps are a good choice for seniors who would like a little extra reassurance but don’t feel they have reached the stage where they need full monitoring or a wearable.
Choosing a Medical Alert System With Voice Activation
Voice activation is a useful yet often overlooked feature in the world of medical alert devices. Personal emergency response devices with voice activation are ideal for seniors who have limited mobility, reduced dexterity or other impairments that may make it difficult for them to operate a more traditional button-based medical alert system.
Of the devices listed above, the GetSafe system is a good choice for seniors who can afford the up-front costs and are looking for a basic in-home monitoring system with help buttons in several rooms. Those who want more sophisticated monitoring and are willing to pay extra for lockboxes, fall detection and caregiver apps might find more value in Medical Guardian’s products. Medical Guardian even offers a smartwatch-style wearable that is a good middle ground between an Apple Watch and a help pendant for seniors who like tech but may find the small screen of the Apple watch difficult to see and use effectively.