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Bay Alarm Medical vs. LifeStation Reviews: Comparison in 2022

Aug 15, 2022

By Jennifer Walker-Journey
Medically Reviewed by Christopher Norman, MSN, APRN, APHN-BC, GNP-BC
Reviewed by Kathleen CameronBSPharm, MPH, Senior Director of NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging
Fact Checked

Affiliate Disclosure
This content and its featured products and services were independently reviewed by a third-party, credentialed Reviews Team. If you make a purchase using the links included, our partners may earn a commission. NCOA, however, does not receive a commission for purchases.

Key Takeaways

  • Starting monthly costs vary from $20–$40 for Bay Alarm Medical, and $23–$38 for LifeStation.
  • Both companies offer 24/7 monitoring systems, no long-term contracts, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • Both companies offer at-home and mobile devices.
  • While Bay Alarm Medical and LifeStation offer similar products, services, and pricing, our Reviews Team recommends Bay Alarm Medical based on its cost and product transparency.

Trying to decide between Bay Alarm Medical vs. LifeStation? They’re both well-known medical alert system companies, but which is better? That depends on your individual needs.

Medical alert systems work using a small base unit paired with a wireless help button to connect to a company’s 24/7 monitoring center, using either a landline (for at-home systems) or cellular network (for mobile systems). When you press the device’s help button, the base unit receives the signal and connects you with the monitoring center, where trained operators dispatch emergency services if you need them.

Finding the right medical alert system that fits your needs can be difficult. Many medical alert companies offer similar products, each with multiple plans and models to choose from.

To help make it easier, our Reviews Team conducted in-depth research on Bay Alarm Medical vs. LifeStation. Ultimately, we recommend Bay Alarm Medical over LifeStation, but both companies have pros and cons to consider.

 Keep reading for a comprehensive overview of Bay Alarm Medical vs. LifeStation reviews to find the best product for you.

Why you can trust our Reviews Team’s expert reviews

2,500+
Hours of Research
1
Surveys Deployed
13
Brands Tested
9
Experts Consulted

Our Reviews Team spent more than 2,500 hours conducting in-depth research on medical alert systems. During our process, we:

  • Engaged in ongoing independent research
  • Consulted with licensed adult caregivers and doctors who specialize in senior care
  • Mystery shopped 13 medical alert system brands
  • Surveyed 1,000 medical alert system users
  • Tested various medical alert systems
  • Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties, such as Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot

Read more about our medical alert system review methodology.

Why we chose to review Bay Alarm Medical and LifeStation

To help you decide which medical alert system is best for you, we compared two well-known companies. We chose to review Bay Alarm Medical for its wide product variety and LifeStation for its low costs. 

Our Reviews Team surveyed medical alert system users and created a side-by-side comparison of Bay Alarm Medical vs. LifeStation based on costs, special features, and customer service. While they are similar in terms of products and services, some differences distinguish one brand from the other.

In our list of the best medical alert systems on the market, our Reviews Team named Bay Alarm Medical “Best for the Price” and LifeStation “Best Mobile Medical Alert System.” 

If neither Bay Alarm Medical nor LifeStation are a good fit, there are several other medical alert systems to consider. For example, we named GetSafe “Best At-Home Medical Alert System,” and MobileHelp “Best All-Around System.”

It’s important you take the time to research medical alert systems and find what’s best for you. In our Reviews Team’s survey of 1,000 medical alert system users, more than 35% of respondents did extensive research for a few weeks before deciding which system to buy. Use our Bay Alarm Medical vs. LifeStation review to help you make the right choice for your needs.

Bay Alarm Medical review

Pros Doesn’t require a long-term contract, easy to cancel, and no hidden costs Risk-free, 30-day trial Location tracking included in GPS enabled devices at no extra charge Supports more than 170 non-English languages Bella Charm clip-on accessories to make necklace buttons look more like jewelry Longer range for at-home devices (1,000 feet versus LifeStation’s 500 feet) Fall detection
Cons Some equipment fees are required, depending on the device Manufacturer doesn't test the system automatically

Bay Alarm Medical started as Bay Alarm Home Security in 1947, expanding in 2007 to include medical alert services for older adults. The company contracts two monitoring centers in the U.S. to help guarantee a fast response when users press the help button.

The company’s website is simple to navigate and clearly describes its products and services, prices, and any promotions or bundled discounts.

One unique perk for Bay Alarm Medical is its Vial of Life program. All new customers get free access to this program, which allows customers to save medical information in their homes for emergency personnel to reference in an emergency. The company also offers the option to purchase clip-on accessories, known as Bella Charms, to make your medical alert necklace look like jewelry for those who want their device to look more discreet.

Long device range and short response time

Bay Alarm Medical also excels in the areas of device range and response time. Its at-home system has a 1,000-foot range from the base unit—which is double the range of LifeStation (500 feet). 

And based on our Reviews Team’s testing, Bay Alarm Medical has a response time of 1–15 seconds (how long it takes for the monitoring center operator to respond when you press the help button). LifeStation has an average response time of 15–25 seconds, which is a little longer. But both are below the industry average of 30 seconds, according to our Reviews Team’s testing.

Equipment and activation fees

One potential downside to Bay Alarm Medical is the company’s equipment fees—it does charge equipment fees between $0–$159, while LifeStation charges no equipment fees. But because LifeStation doesn’t charge equipment fees, the devices aren’t yours to keep and you’ll need to return them in order to cancel. With Bay Alarm Medical, if you pay an equipment fee, the device is yours to keep.

Bay Alarm Medical systems overview

Bay Alarm Medical offers three device options and a choice of eight plans. 

Its device options include an at-home system with a necklace or wrist button that syncs to a base unit, a mobile GPS help button that can be clipped onto clothes or carried in a pocket or bag, and a smartwatch with a built-in GPS locator.  

Plans include options for either a landline or 4GLTE cellular network connection (through Verizon or AT&T) for its at-home system, 4GLTE cellular network connection for its mobile GPS help button, and 4GLTE cellular network connection for its mobile GPS smartwatch. The mobile GPS button includes caregiver tracking on all of its plans, and fall detection can be included for an additional cost. 

Bundled plans are also available. Wall buttons can be bundled for an additional $10 monthly per button with the at-home system, and the at-home-system can be bundled with both mobile systems. 

Bay Alarm Medical systems, in detail

Bay Alarm Medical at-home system base unit with help button

At-home system

  • Starting monthly cost: $19.95 (landline) or $29.95 (cellular)
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Equipment fee: $0
  • Dimensions: 1.38 x 1.38 x .59 inches (length x width x height)
  • Weight: 1.5 ounces

Bay Alarm Medical GPS mobile help buttons

GPS mobile help button

  • Starting monthly cost: $29.95 ($39.95 with fall detection)
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Equipment fee: $79
  • Fall detection fee: $10 per month
  • Dimensions: 2.87” L x 1.85” W x .73” H
  • Weight: 1.8 ounces

Bay Alarm Medical sos smartwatch medical alert watch

SOS Smartwatch

  • Starting monthly cost: $29.95
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Equipment fee: $159
  • Dimensions: 1.25-inch-diameter watch face
  • Weight: fewer than 2 ounces

Bay Alarm Medical bundled deals

GPS mobile help button + At-home system

  • Starting monthly cost: $49.95
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Equipment fee: $79

SOS Smartwatch + At-home system

  • Starting monthly cost: $39.95
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Equipment fee: $159

Customer service and payment options

When we called the customer service team at Bay Alarm Medical, we found them to be informative and friendly. They answered the phone immediately and didn’t subject us to any sales tactics.

The customer service team at Bay Alarm Medical is available by phone, email, or website chat.

The team is available by phone at 877-522-9633 Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. PT, and Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. PT.

You can also email the customer service address at cs@bayalarmmedical.com.

Bay Alarm Medical accepts payments in the form of credit or debit cards: Visa, Mastercard, and Discover only.

LifeStation review

Pros No long-term contract Risk-free, 30-day trial and easy to cancel No extra charge for location monitoring on mobile devices No equipment fees Long mobile device battery life
(120 hours)
Cons Activation fees for certain devices Shorter range for at-home devices
(500 feet)

LifeStation started as a family-owned business specializing in senior care more than 40 years ago. The company owns and manages two call centers, one in the United States and the other in Canada. Similar to Bay Alarm Medical, LifeStation offers two packages: at-home and mobile.

According to our Reviews Team’s testing, LifeStation has an average response time of 15–25 seconds, one of the fastest on the market and below the industry average of 30 seconds. Still, Bay Alarm Medical is a little faster, with an average response time of 1–15 seconds. 

But when it comes to battery life, LifeStation has Bay Alarm Medical beat. The LifeStation mobile device lasts up to 120 hours on a single charge, while the Bay Alarm Medical mobile device only lasts up to 72 hours.

Pricing transparency

LifeStation’s website is simple to use, and the starting monthly rates for both at-home and mobile services are easy to locate. But one downside is you won’t know exactly how much you’ll pay until you’re actually ready to purchase the product. 

For example, although the comparison page on the LifeStation website for the mobile system displays straightforward monthly costs depending on whether you purchase fall detection or the company’s protection plan (see Figure 1), it’s not until our Reviews Team got to the final order confirmation page that they saw the additional $99.95 activation fee (see Figure 2).

Figure 1 LifeStation Mobile system comparison page, as of June 2022

Comparison page of LifeStation on-the-go medical alert products

Figure 2 LifeStation Mobile system order confirmation page, as of June 2022

Purchase page for LifeStation on-the-go medical alert system

LifeStation medical alert systems, in detail

LifeStation Medical Alert System

At-home system

  • Starting monthly cost: $22.95
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Equipment fee: $0
  • Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 2.8 inches (length x width x height)
  • Weight: 1.23 pounds for the console, .56 ounces for the help button

LifeStation black on-the-go medical alert device with SOS button

Mobile system

  • Starting monthly cost: $37.95
  • Activation fee: $99.95
  • Equipment fee: $0
  • Fall detection fee: $6 per month
  • Dimensions: 3.06″ L x 1.73″ W x .87″ H
  • Weight: 2.5 ounces

Customer service and payment options

Despite the pricing confusion, the customer service staff is courteous, they answer the phone immediately, and they don’t insist on a strong sales pitch before providing the information you need.

The customer service team at LifeStation is available by phone at 800-998-2400 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. 

LifeStation accepts payments in the form of a linked checking account, debit cards from Visa or Mastercard, and credit cards from American Express, Visa, Mastercard, and Discover

Table 1 Price comparison of Bay Alarm Medical vs. LifeStation, as of June 2022

Bay Alarm Medical

LifeStation

Starting monthly cost

$20–$40

$23–$38

Equipment fee

$0–$159

$0

Activation fee

$0

$0–$99.95

Installation fee

$0

$0

Range

1,000 feet

500 feet

Battery life

32-hour backup battery life
for the base unit;
5-day at-home mobile call button;
72 hours mobile device

32-hour backup battery life for the base unit;
120 hours mobile device

Fall detection option

Yes ($10 per month)

Yes ($6 per month)

Contract

No

No

Connection type

Cellular and landline

Cellular and landline

Water-resistant

Yes

Yes

GPS tracking option

Yes

Yes

Two-way voice communication

Yes

Yes

Mobile app

Yes

Yes

Optional monthly add-ons

Fall detection, extra help buttons, wireless wall buttons, lockbox, Bella Charms to conceal wearable necklace

Fall detection, extra wall-mounted help buttons, lockbox

How do I choose the best medical alert system?

There are dozens of medical alert systems on the market, each with different features and prices. Here are some things to consider.

At-home vs. mobile systems

At-home systems include a base unit that connects to a monitoring center via landline or cellular service network. The user pushes a button worn around the neck or wrist, activating the base unit and sending a call to the monitoring center, where a live operator receives the call. Depending on user settings, the operator will check in with the user or the user’s caregiver, or call emergency services immediately. 

These systems are intended to work whether you’re wearing the button inside or outside the house, as long as the button stays within range of the base unit. The Bay Alarm Medical base unit has a 1,000-foot range (equal to a little more than three football fields), and the LifeStation base unit has a 500-foot range (about the length of 1.5 football fields).

Mobile devices are worn on a necklace or wristband, clipped onto clothing or carried in a pocket, or integrated into a smartwatch. Mobile devices connect directly to a monitoring center using a cellular network, with built-in GPS tracking to alert the monitor to your location, so emergency services can be directed to you. 

Mobile devices must be within range of the cellular network’s coverage to be effective, a detail users must always account for when traveling. 

Monitoring center

One of the main benefits of having a monitored medical alert system is the 24/7 monitoring, which both Bay Alarm Medical and LifeStation offer. That means monitoring center operators are available at all times, ready to dispatch emergency services whenever users press the help button. 

The Monitoring Association (TMA) has designated both companies as TMA Five Diamond certified, which means they adhere to random inspections and follow quality control criteria specified by TMA.

Reliable, 24/7 monitoring can be a powerful tool for those who live alone. According to the Pew Research Center, 27% of adults age 60 and older live alone, and many want to age in place.1 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”2 Medical alert systems can help older adults age in place with reassurance that help is on the way if an emergency occurs.

Fall detection

Both Bay Alarm Medical and LifeStation offer fall detection for an additional $10 per month, which is standard.

Medical alert systems with fall detection (also called automatic fall detection) use built-in motion sensors to identify when you fall and then send an emergency alert to the medical alert company’s monitoring center. It’s a popular function—the majority of respondents to our Reviews Team’s survey chose it as the most desired special feature in a medical alert system.

Some medical alert smartwatches also have a fall detection option, but experts generally agree the best way to wear a fall detection device is as a necklace worn high on your chest, above your sternum. Research from 2016 shows fall detection worn around your neck is more accurate than fall detection worn around your wrist.3

For more tips on falls prevention, see NCOA’s Falls Free CheckUp tool.

Battery life

Most at-home base units have backup batteries to keep the equipment running in case of a power outage. Both Bay Alarm Medical and LifeStation offer 32-hour backup battery life for base units.  

At-home buttons and wearable devices from both companies use rechargeable batteries that need to be recharged every few days. 

For mobile devices, the LifeStation battery stays charged for 120 hours, while the Bay Alarm Medical battery lasts 72 hours.

Bottom line

Bay Alarm Medical and LifeStation are both reputable companies that provide trustworthy products and services. Neither company requires long-term contracts, and both provide a 30-day, risk-free trial period with easy cancellation. 

LifeStation offers two simple packages, a perk that helps make the decision process easier. And it charges no equipment costs, which Bay Alarm does.

But ultimately our Reviews Team chose Bay Alarm Medical over LifeStation for several reasons. Bay Alarm Medical has lower starting monthly costs, a faster response time, a longer device range, and more product variety to choose from. The company also made a better first impression on our Reviews Team than LifeStation by being open about product services and costs online. Bay Alarm Medical also includes the Vial of Life program in all new subscriptions, which allows customers to save medical information, such as their current medication list, in their homes for emergency personnel to reference in an emergency. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about this review? Email us at reviewsteam@ncoa.org.

Sources

  1. Pew Research Center. Older People Are More Likely to Live Alone in the U.S. Than Elsewhere in the World. Found on the internet at https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/03/10/older-people-are-more-likely-to-live-alone-in-the-u-s-than-elsewhere-in-the-world/
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy Places Terminology. Found on the internet at https://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/terminology.htm
  3. Gjoreski, et al., How Accurately Can Your Wrist Device Recognize Daily Activities and Detect Falls? Found on the internet at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166886/

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