Medical alert systems are designed to help seniors or those with mobility issues to enjoy greater safety and peace of mind. These wearable or in-home monitoring systems connect the subscriber with a monitoring service or local emergency responders. Medical alert devices are popular with many seniors who are aging in place, ensuring that the user can call for help with a simple push of a button. Some types of devices have two-way communication, allowing the wearer to explain the situation, while other types are equipped with GPS and cellular service to track seniors who tend to wander.
Choosing the right medical alert device to meet your or a loved one’s needs can be tricky. Several companies manufacture devices with similar features, and within each company’s selection, there may be several different types of plans. Beyond the wide array of plans, monitoring systems and prices, each company uses marketing language intended to sell their particular selections. We’ve conducted an independent, in-depth analysis of two of the most reliable medical alert device companies, Lifestation and Life Alert, comparing features, costs and other important details about these companies side-by-side.
Through our research, we’ve determined that Lifestation is best for seniors with a limited income, as it doesn’t charge an activation fee for many plans, nor a cost for the equipment. Plus, the monthly monitoring costs are substantially lower than those of Life Alert. However, comparing the durability and reliability of the devices and in-home systems, each company has user-friendly technology and responsive monitoring service.
Overview of Lifestation and Life Alert
|Category||Side-By-Side Comparison||Lifestation||Life Alert|
|Monthly Monitoring||$19.95-$34.95||$49 – $89|
|Activation Fee||None for In-Home Traditional and In-Home Plus Yes for Mobile LTE||$95 – $198|
|Contract||None; payment is month-to-month||3 year|
|Optional Monthly Add-On Services||Fall Detection $5 per month Lockbox for emergency EMS access $2.99 per month Monthly wall buttons for other areas of the house $2.49 per month each Button for an additional user $3.99 per month||N/A|
|FEATURES||Water-Resistant Wearable Devices||Yes||Yes|
|Connection||In-Home Traditional – landline In-Home Plus and Mobile LTE – cellular||Landline and cellular|
|Two-Way Voice Communication||No||Yes|
|Range (from the in-home base unit for landline service)||650 feet for In Home Traditional and In Home Plus Unlimited for Mobile LTE as long as the wear is in cell tower range||800 feet for In the Home and In the Bathroom plans Unlimited for On the Go plan|
|Battery Life||48-hour backup for In Home Traditional and In Home Plus 5 days for Mobile LTE||72-hour backup for In the Home and In the Bathroom plans Up to 10 years for On the Go plan|
|FALL DETECTION, LOCATION and RESPONSE SERVICE|
|Fall Detection||$5 per month||No|
|GPS Locator||Yes with Mobile LTE||Yes, with In the Bathroom and On the Go plans|
|Coverage Away From Home||Yes, with Mobile LTE||Yes, for On the Go|
|24/7 USA Call Center||Yes||Yes|
Lifestation is a reputable medical alert provider and a Consumer Affairs Accredited company. It offers some of the most affordable plans in the industry, appealing to budget-conscious seniors, and each plan has access to a US-based monitoring system. The plans themselves are straightforward and all-inclusive, which makes it easy for seniors unfamiliar with technology to understand what features and services are included. Lifestation offers three different device systems, two that are in-home and one wearable alert pendant: In Home Traditional, In Home Plus, and the wearable Mobile LTE. Each plan has fall detection and the mobile pendant also uses device detection, making it easier for responders to locate the user.
For each device, the company offers three tiers of service, from the standard at $19.95 to the Supreme, which has free fall-detection and a device locator, as well as several complimentary accessories. Lifestation also offers device protection, which includes free replacement for broken or lost devices. Finally, the Mobile LTE plan has a Find My Loved One feature, which allows designated contacts (family members or caregivers) to locate the wearer and receive real-time updates for the wearer’s location.
- Straightforward plans that are all-inclusive
- Optional lockbox to allow EMS fast access to the home
- Additional emergency buttons for each room in the house
- Device protection included for each plan
- No two-way communication between pendant wearer and the monitoring system
- The medical pendant looks like a medical alert device
- No smartwatch style
- Device protection costs extra
Life Alert Overview
Since 1987, Life Alert has been manufacturing medical alert systems. The company was the first to create the wearable alert pendant, and since then has positioned itself at the forefront of medical alert technology development. It was the first company in the industry to incorporate 4G LTE. Life Alert pendants also have the longest battery life among wearable devices, and the company states that these can last up to 10 years. The In The Bathroom system is specifically designed for ease of use in the bathroom. This system is waterproof and features buttons that are large enough to be pushed with wet hands.
Life Alert offers three plans: In The Home, In The Bathroom, and On The Go — a wearable device. Each plan includes 24-hour monitoring through a US-based customer care center. Plus, Life Alert also offers a mobile app, which subscribers can use to contact the customer care center. It’s compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Life Alert Pros
- Lifetime guarantee on all devices
- 10+ years of battery life for In The Bathroom and On The Go devices (with proper care)
- Long history of innovation for devices
- Cell phone apps for subscribers and caregivers
- 24-hour monitoring center
Life Alert Cons
- Mandatory 3-year contract
- No smartwatch style and wearable pendants look like alert devices
- Sign up fee
- Fees are on the higher end, compared to other companies
- No medication monitoring feature
- No fall detection service
Both Life Alert and Lifestation have devices that are easy for seniors to use, especially those who aren’t comfortable with advanced cell phone technology. Each company offers simple push-button access to US-based monitoring centers, with trained operators who can help seniors who are having trouble communicating in an emergency. Comparing the costs of both companies, Lifestation may be better for seniors on a budget as the plans are much more affordable than many others in the industry. Additionally, Lifestation has all-inclusive bundles for each package, which means that there aren’t extra surprises, and subscribers understand what they’re getting.
While both companies have benefits for those who wish to preserve their independence, the affordability of Lifestation edges out Life Alert. However, for seniors who have difficulty with balance or a hard time getting around in the bathroom, the In The Bathroom plan from Life Alert may be the best bet. Lifestation’s lockbox and extra button options may give subscribers the greatest peace of mind, knowing that there’s a button in every room of the house. Plus, the EMS lockbox may work best for seniors living alone. Therefore, we’ve selected Lifestation as our top pick.