Wearable medical alert devices are created to give seniors and those with a disability greater independence, offering reassurance that help from a designated caregiver or EMS isn’t far away. Many medical alert systems employ a combination of cellular and GPS technology and provide real-time monitoring through a client care center. These devices can send an SOS alert to a designated contact or the local emergency services department, depending on the situation. Some systems protect seniors who are prone to wandering by sending the location of the wearer to a friend or a family member.
Choosing the right wearable medical alert device can be a challenge for many seniors. The companies use marketing language to present the devices and plans in the best light, and some of the descriptions about the features and plans can be confusing. Therefore, we’ve created an easy to understand comparison and in-depth analysis of two popular medical alert brands, Life Alert and Philips Lifeline, including the costs for each plan and features of each device.
Through our research, we’ve determined that both companies offer comparable pricing when it comes to plans, professional monitoring and support. The devices are both durable and reliable, as well as drop-proof and waterproof. While Life Alert, which is easy to use, is best for seniors who aren’t used to cellular technology, Philips Lifeline is best suited for users who speak languages other than English and those who have a complex medication schedule.
Overview of Life Alert and Philips Lifeline
|Category||Side-By-Side Comparison||Life Alert||Philips Lifeline|
|Monthly Monitoring||$49 – $89||$29.95 – $64.95|
|Activation Fee||$95 – $198||$50 – $149 for each device|
|Optional Monthly Add-On Services||N/A||N/A|
|Water-Resistant Wearable Devices||Yes||Yes, for both pendant and wristband|
|Connection||Landline and cellular||Landline or cellular (AT&T network only)|
|Two-Way Voice Communication||Yes||Yes, through the in-home communicator or GoSafe 2 pendant|
|Range (from the in-home base unit for landline service)||800 feet for In the Home and In the Bathroom plans Unlimited for On the Go plan||Up to 800 feet|
|Battery Life||72-hour backup for In the Home and In the Bathroom plans Up to 10 years for On the Go plan||HomeSafe wristbands and pendants have non-rechargeable batteries. The wearable devices are automatically replaced by Philips when the battery is low. 48-hour battery backup in HomeSafe base unit 2-7 day backup in GoSafe wearable devices|
|FALL DETECTION, LOCATION and RESPONSE SERVICE|
|Fall Detection||No||Included in the monthly fee with HomeSafe with Auto Alert and all GoSafe units|
|GPS Locator||Yes, with In the Bathroom and On the Go plans||Included in GoSafe and GoSafe 2 products|
|Coverage Away From Home||Yes, for On the Go||Included with GoSafe devices|
|24/7 USA Call Center||Yes||Yes; service available in up to 140 languages|
Life Alert Overview
The company has been making wearable medical pendants since 1987 and was one of the first companies to develop the technology. Life Alert has continued to embrace innovative technology and was the first to offer subscribers 4G LTE coverage. Forgetful seniors may appreciate the long battery life of the pendants, which don’t need to be recharged and can last up to 10 years.
Life Alert customers can choose between three types of coverage plans: In The Home, In The Bathroom, and On The Go. These systems, when a client subscribes to all, provide complete, 24-7 coverage for the user. Emergency services are alerted with a push of a button, while the subscriber can also contact the customer care center for assistance with less urgent matters. Life Alert maintains a company-administered monitoring service that helps users determine the right level of response. Plus, Life Alert also employs Spanish speaking operators.
Life Alert Plans and Pricing
|In the Home||In the Bathroom||On the Go|
|TYPE OF DEVICE||In-home system||In-home system||Mobile system|
|RANGE||800 feet||800 feet||Unlimited|
Life Alert Pros:
- Most established company in the medical wearable device industry
- Lifetime guarantee on all products
- 10+ years of battery life for On The Go and Bathroom devices
- Cell phone apps for additional coverage at no extra cost
- Live support through customer care call center
Life Alert Cons:
- Mandatory three-year contract
- Wearable devices look like medical alert devices, not a smartwatch
- Users must pay a one-time sign-up fee
- Higher monthly fees for plans than other companies
- No fall detection services
Philips Lifeline Overview
Philips Lifeline, a subsidiary of the Philips Electrical company, is a medical alert device creator and service provider. The company manufactures wearable medical devices, and has over 7 million subscribers, with client care centers in both the US and Canada. These operators undergo over 80 hours of professional training when first hired, as well as ongoing company training to ensure compassionate, thorough protection of their subscribers.
Unlike many other medical alert providers, Philips requires that in-home, wired devices be installed in the home by a Philips-certified technician. Where this medical alert system really shines is in its medication monitoring system, which allows caregivers or the user to load medications into the in-home device and program when the medications are dispensed. This feature is useful for seniors who live alone, who have trouble remembering when to take their medication or those who have difficulty opening secured pill bottles.
Medical alert systems from Philips Lifeline are available with month-to-month contracts, reducing a financial obligation for those on a limited budget. The price range for Philips plans runs from $29.95 to $54.95, although the medication monitoring system is extra. Philips systems may be helpful for seniors who live in homes with large outdoor spaces, as the In The Home plans offer a larger range than many other types of medical alert plans. Another benefit to Philips plans is the multi-lingual monitoring system, with operators trained in many languages.
Philips Lifeline Plans and Pricing
|HomeSafe||HomeSafe with AutoAlert||GoSafe 2||GoSafe|
|STARTING MONTHLY COST||$29.95 + activation fee||$44.95 + activation fee||$44.95 + activation fee||$54.95 + activation fee|
|TYPE OF DEVICE||In-home system||In-home system||Mobile system||An in-home and mobile system|
|CONNECTION||Landline or Cellular||Landline or Cellular||Cellular||Landline or Cellular|
|RANGE||500 feet||500 feet||N/A||N/A|
|COST PER DEVICE||$50||$50||$99||Included|
Philips Lifeline Pros:
- Multilingual operator support
- Larger range for in-home devices
- Medication dispensing system
- Professional installation available
Philips Lifeline Cons:
- Substantial up-front fees
- The cost of add-on services can quickly add up
- No apps for cell phones and no ability to store friends and family as contacts
Philips Lifeline and Life Alert both have distinct advantages for seniors, and each one is rated highly by reviewers and subscribers. Seniors with complex medication schedules may appreciate the thoughtful, detailed medication management aspect of Philips Lifeline, while those who find newer technology challenging may prefer the straightforward design and user-friendliness of Life Alert. Plus, with 10+ years of battery life, seniors won’t have to remember to charge their devices or change the batteries. Both of these systems have plenty of benefits for seniors who wish to preserve their independence, yet wish for the security of knowing that help is a push of a button away.