GreatCall makes a variety of medical alert devices for seniors. The brand is perhaps best known for its Jitterbug line of senior-friendly mobile phones. The company was founded in 2006 and takes pride in having U.S.-based customer service centers. In 2015, GreatCall acquired Lively, a company that makes connected health applications for seniors.
The GreatCall Lively connected health products are a little more sophisticated than the average medical alert system. Seniors can use the company’s smartphone app to turn a standard phone into a basic medical alert system, or they can opt for one of the more sophisticated wearables. The smartphone app includes medication reminders, caregiver monitoring and other value-added features.
This guide looks at the features of GreatCall’s main products, the fees and customer service. It also considers who GreatCall’s products are best suited for and what seniors think of the service, helping families make an informed decision about whether GreatCall is the best medical alert system for them.
GreatCall's Device Options
Lively Mobile Plus
The Lively Mobile Plus is a basic medical alert device. Unlike some rival brands, this device doesn’t need a landline connection. It features 4G LTE and GPS built-in and has a long battery life. The wearable has a built-in speaker and microphone, allowing the user to speak directly into the device to communicate with the contact center. Fall detection is an optional extra.
The Lively Wearable is similar to the Lively Mobile Plus, but instead of having a built-in connection, it communicates with Android 7.0/iOS 11 and newer smartphones. When the user pushes the button on the device, it activates the speaker on the smartphone. The device is water-resistant, and the smartphone app has some nice added extras such as a step counter and health tips. Fall detection is an optional extra.
The Jitterbug Smart2 is a senior-friendly smartphone that comes with a basic medical alert system app preinstalled. The phone has a large screen, simplified menus, large text, speech to text features and extended battery life.
This senior-friendly phone is a much more basic device with large buttons, a bright screen, voice dialing, a magnifier and other features that make it easy for seniors with poor eyesight or reduced dexterity to use. Emergency help features are built-in, so seniors can simply push a button to request help when they need it.
GreatCall’s pricing varies depending on the device and the plan chosen.
The Lively Mobile Plus starts at $24.99 per month for the most basic plan, $29.99 for the Preferred plan and $39.99 for the Ultimate plan, which includes fall detection. There’s an up-front cost of $49.99 for the device, plus a $35 activation fee on each of these plans.
The Lively Wearable costs $49.99 upfront, $14.99 per month for ongoing monitoring and has a $14.99 activation fee.
Pricing for the Jitterbug phones is managed similarly to standard smartphones, with a device fee of $149.99 for the Jitterbug Smart2 or $99.99 for the Lively Flip. Monthly fees then vary depending on the number of texts/minutes desired.
GreatCall offers a discount of $60 per year to AARP members. The company also runs promotions throughout the year that can give a discount of up to 50% on the up-front cost of the device. These discounts could be helpful for those who are struggling to pay the cost of the device. It may also be worth looking into Medicare support to help with the cost of medical alert devices for lower-income seniors.
Extra Services Offered by GreatCall
GreatCall’s medical alert offering is relatively bare-bones compared to some rivals. It doesn’t offer an in-home base station, and the range of wearables is smaller. It does, however, have a high-quality caregiver monitoring app in the form of GreatCall Link.
This app allows trusted friends or family members to get updates on a senior’s well-being or be informed if the senior has pushed the medical alert button.
Customer Reviews of GreatCall
What Customers Like
Seniors praise the GreatCall lively contact center, saying that the U.S.-based support is friendly and helpful. The contact center agents are trained to answer a wide variety of queries, helping not just in medical emergencies but in other stressful situations too, such as if a senior is lost or if they’re worried there’s an intruder in their home.
Seniors also praise the ease of use. Since there’s no need to book an installation or find space for a bulky base station at home, the devices can be up and running quickly.
What Customers Don’t Like
Some customers dislike the Jitterbug range of phones because they lack some of the features of normal smartphones and don’t always work well with hearing aids. The Jitterbug Smart2 is good for people with visual impairments, but it runs an older version of Android, meaning it can’t take advantage of some of the features of smart hearing aids.
Who Should Consider GreatCall
GreatCall’s medical alert devices are ideal for seniors who are always on the go. Since the devices are either cellular or operate by connecting to a smartphone, they can be used anywhere, not just in the home. Seniors who don’t have a landline at home may also find these devices useful.
GreatCall’s devices are some of the easiest to get up and running. There’s no complicated installation process to go through; they simply work out of the box. Seniors who are less tech-savvy may appreciate this.