Medical alert systems help seniors retain their independence and age safely at home. These systems serve as a lifeline, connecting seniors to a contact center that can offer help and assistance, dispatching emergency response teams to the senior’s location in the event of an emergency. Because these systems are used by the elderly and those who are vulnerable due to health conditions or disabilities, reliability is essential.
Here, we look at some of the most reliable and dependable medical alert systems on the market today.
Philips Lifeline: Best for Ease of Use
Philips Lifeline is one of the oldest brands in the world of medical alert systems, having launched in 1974. The company has a huge subscriber base and offers a variety of products, from the simple and affordable HomeSafe system for in-home use to the GoSafe 2, a mobile system equipped with GPS features.
While the company is old, their products are far from old-fashioned. Philips Lifeline has worked hard to offer modern features in its latest products. The Philips Cares app gives caregivers a way to view the status of their loved one’s device and manage a calendar for them.
The devices are slightly more expensive than similar products from some rivals, especially once activation fees and add-ons such as fall detection are factored in. Philips is still worth considering, however, because of its high build quality, ease of use and good customer service. Those who want a hassle-free experience and are willing to pay a premium for it may see value in sticking with such a well-known brand.
Alert1: Best Cellular Coverage
While not as established as Philips Lifeline, Alert1 is still a veteran in the medical alert space, providing products since 1988. This company serves customers in all 50 states and has a U.S.-based contact center that can provide support in 190 languages.
The company is known for its flexible pricing and generous subscription terms. Unlike many of its rivals, it doesn’t require users to sign lengthy contracts. People who sign up for quarterly or annual billing receive discounts, but customers can have month-to-month bills if they prefer.
Customers have a choice of using AT&T or T-Mobile for their cellular-equipped medical alert device. This is a bonus since many companies offer coverage via only one cellular provider. Customers can choose the provider that has the best signal strength in their area.
Alert1’s systems are easy to install and use, and the company offers a variety of useful optional add-ons such as a monitored smoke detector. Fall detection is available as one of the optional extras, and the company offers a package with motion sensor lights that can be placed in areas of the house where falls are likely.
Medical Guardian: Best Range and Backup Battery
Medical Guardian is a brand with a good reputation for customer service, and its products are widely regarded as reliable and easy to use. The company provides landline and cellular in-home monitoring systems and has a selection of wearables, including pendants and wristbands.
What makes Medical Guardian stand out from most competitors is the range of the in-home system. At 1,300 feet, the connectivity offered by the in-home system is far better than most of its rivals. This makes the system a good choice for seniors who rarely leave home but who do like to garden or do yard work and would still need connectivity to feel safe while outside.
Another noteworthy feature is the backup battery. Mobile units have a rechargeable battery with a 24-hour lifespan, and the in-home systems have a backup battery that can be expected to last 32 hours. This should be more than long enough to cover most power outages.
What to Look for in an Alert System
Choosing a medical alert system comes down to finding the right balance between pricing, features, reliability and comfort.
A system is only useful if the owner is willing to wear it or carry it around with them. Some seniors may resist the idea of wearing a help pendant because it makes them feel old, but they may be more receptive to the idea of using a smart watch. Others might find a smart watch too complex or cumbersome but feel quite happy with a device that clips onto their belt.
When it comes to reliability, important considerations include:
- The location of the contact center and whether there are backup contact centers
- Whether the device uses landline or cellular connections or both
- How easy it is to use the help button
- How the company responds to accidental presses of the help button
- The presence, and life, of any battery backup
- Which carriers are used for cellular connections
- The response time of the alert company
- How GPS location tracking works
Consider, also, how the device is likely to be used. Some seniors are quite tech-savvy and can manage their day-to-day affairs well, so having to remember to recharge a pendant or watch every couple of days won’t be an issue. Others may struggle with this due to memory issues or because they lack the dexterity to plug cables into a small charging port. Non-rechargeable pendants are a good hassle-free solution.
All three of the brands we’ve listed have reliable, easy-to-use devices. See our list of the best medical alert systems for other popular brands that may suit people with specific requirements, such as multilingual support or caregiver monitoring.