Medical alert devices allow seniors and those with disabilities greater independence in their homes. These devices are typically wearable, and either pendant or wristwatch style. Additionally, some medical alert systems are home-based monitoring systems. All of these systems are able to connect subscribers to a 24-hour monitoring service with the touch of a button. Some of the wearable devices utilize cellular connections and GPS coordination to locate the wearer, which can help if an individual is lost, prone to wandering, or unable to accurately tell the rescue team their location.
Medical alert companies manufacture several different types of devices, each with different types of plans and services. While many of these devices share similarities, such as fast response in emergencies, fall detection and professional monitoring centers with live support, comparing the features of each can be confusing. This is especially true because many companies also use positive marketing verbiage to establish their devices as the best in the industry. For seniors who are unfamiliar with these types of technologies, finding the right fit can be complicated.
This guide compares the plans and devices from MobileHelp and Life Alert, two leading medical alert systems. We’re placing the features side-by-side for easy comparison, with straightforward language and unbiased comparison.
We’ve noted that both companies offer a fast response when the system is activated, and each company offers both in-home and mobile devices, which provides seniors ready access to help no matter where they go.
Overview and Comparison of MobileHelp and Life Alert
|Category||Side-By-Side Comparison||MobileHelp||Life Alert|
|Monthly Monitoring||$19.95 for MobileHelp Classic (includes cellular connectivity) $24.95 for Wired Home $37.95 for MobileHelp Solo $41.95 for MobileHelp Duo $44.95 for Mobile Duo $59.45 for MobileHelp Touch||$49 for In The Home $69 for In The Bathroom $89 for On The Go|
|Activation Fee||$49.95 for Mobile Classic $0 for all other models $15 shipping; waived for quarterly, semiannual and annual subscribers||$95 for In The Home $96 for In The Bathroom $198 for On The Go|
|Contract||6-month minimum for MobileHelp Touch; contract must be semiannual or annual Monthly, quarterly, semiannually or annually available for all other devices A 30-day free trial period for all devices||3-year service contract; breakable only under qualifying circumstances|
|Optional Monthly Add-On Services||Fall detection – $10 per month||None|
|Water-Resistant Wearable Devices||Yes, for all models except MobileHelp Touch||Yes, for In The Bathroom and On The Go|
|Connection||Landline for Wired Home Cellular for all other devices||Landline for In The Home and In The Bathroom Cellular for On The Go|
|Two-Way Voice Communication||Yes||Yes|
|Range (from in-home base unit for landline service)||600 feet for Classic N/A for Solo 600 feet for Duo||800 feet for In the Home and In the Bathroom plans Unlimited for On the Go plan|
|Battery Life||30-hours backup for Classic and Wired Home 24 hours for Solo and Mobile Duo 24 hours plus 30-hour backup for Duo 24 hours for MobileHelp Touch and 12-hour backup for tablet||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||$10 per month for all models||No|
|GPS Locator||Yes for mobile devices||Yes, On the Go plans|
|Coverage Away From Home||Yes for mobile devices No for Wired Home system||Yes, with On The Go|
|24/7 USA Call Center||Yes||Yes|
|$2 a month for a wall-mounted help button $5 per month for medication management and reminder system Free lockbox to allow EMS access Jewelry-style wearable pendants for $69.95 – $79.95 MobileHelp Connect Premium service plan, including device replacement and discounts for $5 per month||None|
Florida-based MobileHelp serves clients in all 50 states. It was the first company to incorporate products that combine GPS and cellular technology. The company’s mission is to provide medical alert devices to increase the independence that seniors aging in place desire, as well as using connections that don’t require a landline, allowing greater flexibility of use. MobileHelp also connects users and their family or caregivers through the MobileHelp Connect app, which has event notifications, such as sending out alerts when a senior falls or accesses the care center, and an online tracking platform that helps designated contacts locate and remotely track the wearer.
MobileHelp’s plans vary widely in costs, and while the standard in-home plans are among the least expensive in the industry, the top-tier plans with optional services and accessories can quickly add up. However, many users find these features beneficial, including the medication management option and the lockbox, which allows EMS fast access to the home in an emergency. Plus, many reviewers praise the jewelry-style pendant, which looks like a fashionable accessory instead of a clunky medical alert pendant.
- Easy to understand pricing and inclusive packages
- No additional charge for in-home cellular connection and no landline needed
- Custom premium features to accommodate different needs
- Jewelry-style pendants and smartwatch style wearable devices
- US-based monitoring center
- Fall detection not available with every device
- Activation fee for some models
- Top-tier plans are expensive and extra features can quickly add up
- Lower battery life than many other medical alert models
Life Alert Overview
Life Alert is one of the oldest medical alert systems in the industry and invented the first push-button pendant in 1987. Since then, the company has coupled new technology with the simple-to-operate devices that made Life Alert a household name. The company was the first to include GPS tracking and cellular operations in their wearable devices, and have developed pendants with extremely long battery life. In fact, Life Alert’s website maintains that certain devices can last up to 10 years without needing a charge.
The In The Bathroom plan is one of our favorites, as it’s specifically designed to operate reliably in a shower or near the tub, and is water- and steam-proof. Life Alert also has a 24-hour monitoring service with operators that speak both English and Spanish. The mobile app allows caregivers or family members to track the wearer and gives designated contacts a text alert if the subscriber activates the alert.
However, despite Life Alert’s use of many developing technologies, the company does not have an automated fall detection feature on its devices, as Life Alert feels that this technology can be unreliable. Also, Life Alert only has one style of wearable device, and many seniors may prefer a watch-style or a pendant that looks more like a fashion accessory than a help button.
Life Alert Pros
- Lifetime guarantee for each system and device
- 10+ years of battery life
- GPS and cellular tracking technology
- Mobile app for designated contacts
- 24-hour monitoring center
Life Alert Cons
- Mandatory 3-year contract, complicated to cancel
- Wearable device looks like a medical alert device
- Setup fees and monthly monitoring fee are higher than many competitors
- No medication monitoring feature
- No fall detection service
While Life Alert and MobileHelp both produce durable, reliable medical alert systems, MobileHelp has more benefits and features to offer users. Life Alert’s plans and devices are more expensive than many of MobileHelp’s, and the company also has a pricey activation fee. MobileHelp has several convenient add-ons that address specific needs of different individuals, such as the jewelry-style pendant and the medication management system, which can help seniors who forget to take their medicines or who have a complicated medication regimen.
Therefore, we’ve selected MobileHelp as our top pick, as it’s more affordable than Life Alert and has different types of plans which allow users to customize their level of monitoring.