As people get older, it’s common for them to feel nervous about being alone at home. Those with poor health or are seeing a slow decline in their mobility may fear falling or becoming unwell and not being able to get help in a timely fashion. Medical alert devices can help these seniors feel more confident in their ability to remain in their homes, close to their friends and family, avoiding premature placement in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Choosing between medical alert devices can sometimes be confusing. There are lots of reputable medical alert system manufacturers, but their pricing, features and contract terms vary significantly. Our side-by-side comparisons help seniors choose the devices that suit their lifestyles and budgets.
We’ve found that both Life Alert and Medical Alert offer robust products. Life Alert is an established brand with a good reputation. Most seniors will be familiar with the company thanks to its iconic “Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” advertising slogan. The company offers three fairly basic medical alert systems in the form of two in-home products and one mobile alert system. Medical Alert offers a similar range of services and has lower monthly fees and more flexible billing options than Life Alert, although the hardware it provides isn’t as sophisticated.
Life Alert vs. Medical Alert Comparison Table
|Lowest Monthly Cost||$49||$22.95|
|Highest Monthly Cost||$69||$64.95|
|$95-$96 depending on the device||None|
|No||An optional extra at $10 per month|
|Wall-mounted help buttons Extra help button for $49 one-time fee||Device protection at $5 per month|
|100 languages||140 languages|
About Life Alert
Life Alert was founded in 1987, making it one of the oldest medical alert system providers still in operation today. The company uses 5-Diamond Certified contact centers, giving users that little bit of extra confidence that they’ll be well taken care of in an emergency.
Life Alert offers a landline-based in-home service, a cellular in-home product and a mobile/on-the-go device. The company’s in-home offerings have a base station with an 800-foot range, which is not industry-leading but is still superior to the in-home unit offered by Medical Alert. There is, however, no fall detection option with any of Life Alert’s services.
The services provided by Life Alert are quite limited, but they do their job well. The company offers a wearable pendant and wristband, and the call button is reliable and easy to use. Where some companies have a wearable that must be charged every few days, Life Alert’s button is non-rechargeable and can be expected to last up to 10 years. The contact center is U.S.-based, and the company offers additional alert buttons upon request. It also has a wireless, waterproof wall button that can be used to provide more safety in the bathroom. The extra alert button is available for a one-time fee of $49 and may be used by a second member of the household.
Seniors looking for a robust, reliable service from a trusted brand may find Life Alert’s products appealing. However, the company charges more than most rivals and also expects users to sign up for a three-year contract that is only breakable if the subscriber dies or moves into a nursing home. The cost of the Life Alert service makes it hard to recommend unless the household has two seniors, and they take advantage of the one-time fee for the second device.
About Medical Alert
Medical Alert is run by Connect America. The company has a good reputation for providing low-cost medical alert monitoring services. Those who want a no-frills product will find that Medical Alert’s pricing is quite appealing for both the in-home systems and the on-the-go device.
The hardware offered by Medical Alert isn’t as sophisticated as that of many rivals, however. The range on the in-home base station is just 600 feet, making it poorer than Life Alert’s. This may be acceptable for seniors who live in a small property, but it’s not ideal for those who enjoy spending a lot of time in the garden or garage. The MobileElite service requires users to carry a small cellular receiver with them alongside their help button. Most other brands have the cellular receiver built into the pendant.
Automatic fall detection is available on Medical Alert’s products for an additional fee of $10 per month. The company also offers a free lockbox for those who join an annual plan. This lockbox can be used to provide emergency responders with access to the property easily, without the need to damage doors or windows in an emergency.
The combination of flexible billing, low prices and multilingual support make it easy to recommend the company for seniors on a budget. Those who can afford to spend a bit more, however, may prefer the hardware offered by other brands.
Choosing between Life Alert and Medical Alert comes down to personal preference. Life Alert’s products are far more expensive, but the hardware is easier to use and of higher quality. The base station has a longer range, the pendant has a longer battery life, and the on-the-go pendant doesn’t require the user to carry an additional device with them. Some seniors may feel these factors make it worth paying the extra monthly fee. Couples who live together may find the “two for one” subscription appealing too.
On the other hand, Medical Alert’s monthly fee is much lower, the company offers support in more languages, and their contract terms are more friendly. Seniors who don’t want to sign up for a three-year contract or have a limited monthly budget may be happy to overlook the limitations of Medical Alert’s hardware, especially if they live in a smaller home and are unlikely to notice the limited range of the base station.