7 Best Medical Alert Systems of 2024: Expert Tested & Reviewed

May 23, 2024
Fact Checked
We narrowed down the best medical alert systems based on features, cost, and performance to help you find the right device.
1
Best Overall
9.7
Excellent
Average response time: under 25 seconds
24/7 monitoring center located in the United States
Mobile system holds charge up to 5 days
Military Appreciation Month: 50% off top products when you use the code: SALUTE50
Our Top Pick
2
Best Value
9.8
Excellent
Average response time: under 50 seconds
Plans starting at $19.95/month
No extra fees for most devices
Annual plans with 1 Free Month & 50% Off Fall Detection
3
Best Variety
9.7
Excellent
Average response time: under 25 seconds
24/7 monitoring center located in the United States
Affordable pricing across all plans
30% off Mobile Devices + Free Shipping & Free Month on Select Plans
4
Best for No Extra Fees
9.3
Excellent
24/7 monitoring center located in the United States
ADT ForeveRate™ guarantee means monthly rate never increases
Waterproof wearable devices
Free activation, free shipping, and 50% off fall detection monitoring

Some people might still associate medical alert systems with bulky, outdated buttons and the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” slogan from nightly infomercials. Fortunately, today’s medical alert devices are modern, discreet, and full of high-tech features, like voice recognition, step tracking, and health vitals monitoring. And most importantly, a 24/7 connection to a monitoring center.

These devices are valuable safety tools for older adults, people at risk of falling, and anyone living alone.

Our Reviews Team researched and tested the top medical alert systems on the market to help you make an informed decision for yourself or your loved one. Let’s take a look at our picks for the best medical alert systems in 2024.

A quick look at the best medical alert systems in 2024

  1. Medical Guardian: Best Overall
  2. MobileHelp: Best Value
  3. Bay Alarm Medical: Best Variety
  4. ADT Health: Best for No Extra Fees
  5. Medical Alert: Easiest to Use
  6. LifeFone: Longest Battery Life
  7. UnaliWear Kanega Watch: Best for Watch Fall Detection
Why you can trust our expert review
2500
Hours of
Research
108
Tests
Performed
36
Models
Tested
9
Experts
Consulted

Table 1 Best medical alert systems comparison, as of May 2024

Our comparison table below allows you to easily compare prices and features of the best medical alert systems of 2024. When comparing medical alert systems, pay special attention to connection type, device range, and battery life.

Monthly Cost $29.95 $19.95 $24.95 $29.99 $19.95 $24.95+ $69.95
Range 1,300–1,400 feet 600–1,400 feet 1,000 feet 300–600 feet 800 feet 1,300 feet N/A
Connection type Landline, AT&T, or Verizon cellular Landline, AT&T cellular Landline, AT&T, or Verizon cellular Landline, AT&T cellular Landline, AT&T cellular Landline, AT&T, or Verizon cellular Cellular, Wi-Fi
Battery Life Up to 5 days 30 hours Up to 5 days Up to 20 hours Up to 5 days Up to 10 days Up to 24-36 hours
Response Time 1–25 seconds 25–50 seconds 1–25 seconds 50+ seconds 25–50 seconds 25–50 seconds 1–25 seconds

Best medical alert systems of 2024

Best Overall
9.7 Excellent
Response time: 1–25 seconds
Starting monthly fee: $29.95 for at-home systems and $39.95 for on-the-go systems
Military Appreciation Month: 50% off top products when you use the code: SALUTE50
Why We Chose

Usually, a brand’s at-home or on-the-go systems outshine the other, but we were equally impressed with both from Medical Guardian, making this brand our pick for “Best Overall.” Other factors putting Medical Guardian in the top spot include the at-home systems featuring some of the longest ranges in the industry (1,300–1,400 feet), and the mobile devices’ availability as a lightweight necklace, bracelet, or smartwatch with advanced location tracking, a multi-day battery life, and optional fall detection (not available for the watch).

Combine this with the monitoring center’s less than 25-second response time, and this may be why a majority (43%) of our survey respondents use Medical Guardian for their medical alert system. [1] NCOA Adviser Medical Alert Systems Survey. 1,000 respondents. Conducted using Pollfish. Launched November 2021

Pros & Cons
Pros At-home systems have the longest ranges in the industry Smartwatch and two on-the-go devices available Discount with an annual payment plan No hidden fees Cons One-time equipment fee required for most systems ($149.95–$199.95) No free warranty for wear and tear (protection plan costs extra) Must pay extra for texts to emergency contacts ($2.99 per month)
Features
  • At-home device range: 1,300–1,400 feet
  • Connection type: Landline, AT&T, or Verizon cellular
  • Fall detection: Additional $10 per month
Additional Details

At-home medical alert systems

  • MGClassic: For $30 per month and no equipment fee, the base unit of the Classic Guardian connects to a landline and has a range of 1,300 feet. Fall detection is available for an additional $10/month.
  • MGHome Cellular: Working from a cellular connection, this system includes a base unit and help button with a 1,400-foot range. The equipment costs $149.95, and the monthly fee is $37.95. Fall detection is available for an additional $10/month.

On-the-go medical alert systems

  • MGMini Lite: This lightweight bracelet weighs less than a pencil and looks like a discreet fitness tracker. It has a two-way speaker, a three-day battery life, and optional fall detection. The monthly fee is $44.95 plus a one-time $149.95 equipment fee. Fall detection costs an additional $10 monthly.
  • MGMini: The MGMini is a compact device that can be worn as a necklace or clipped to your purse or pocket. It has a five-day battery life, optional fall detection (for an additional $10 monthly), and includes two lanyards and a belt clip. The device is $39.95 per month plus a $199.95 equipment fee. You can choose from four colors: rose gold, pearl, silver, or black.
  • MGMove: The MGMove is a touchscreen smartwatch and medical alert system in one. It has a built-in speaker and microphone, allowing you to speak with the monitoring staff, as well as a step counter and weather app. Fall detection is available for an additional $10 per month. The monthly fee is $39.95 plus a $199.95 one-time equipment fee.

Ease of setup

We set up our Medical Guardian devices by following simple steps in the user guides. Unlike some medical alert systems, the at-home base stations and help buttons must be paired during setup. We didn’t mind this step since the user guide walked us through it, and the base station verbally confirmed when we correctly paired it with the help button.

Medical Guardian customer service

Our customer service representative was helpful and responsive when helping us set up our account profile on the MyGuardian app. The same representative also helped us test the Mobile 2.0 system (discontinued) when it had a low battery. It took us about two minutes to reach a representative every time we contacted them over the phone.

Medical Guardian customer reviews

Be aware that Medical Guardian has low customer ratings on its Better Business Bureau (BBB) page—the company has a verified customer review score of 1.07 out of 5 based on 73 reviews. The majority of complaints express difficulties canceling the service and obtaining refunds. Despite the negative reviews, Medical Guardian is still accredited with BBB and has an A+ rating, meaning the company works to respond to and resolve every customer complaint.

Medical Guardian has a higher customer rating on Trustpilot: 3.7 out of 5 stars based on more than 900 reviews. The majority of positive reviews mention peace of mind users get from their device, quick emergency response after contacting the monitoring center, and great customer service. Most negative reviews focus on cancelation issues and poor customer service.

Medical Guardian full review

Best Overall
Best Value
9.8 Exceptional
Response time: Under 50 seconds
Starting monthly fee: $19.95
9.8 Exceptional
Why We Chose

Most mobile medical alert systems include a $100–$200 fee on top of the monthly monitoring fee, but MobileHelp doesn’t charge extra fees for most devices. There’s only one device with an extra fee—a $49.95 processing fee for the Classic at-home system—but the company waives it with quarterly, semiannual, or annual payment plans. It’s this lack of fees that led us to designate MobileHelp as “Best Value.” We also like the variety of devices available, including a smart tablet at-home system with games, a photo gallery, and a health database.

Pros & Cons
Pros 30-day trial period Smart tablet at-home system option Medication reminders available Bundles with two devices for one monthly fee Referral program Cons Fall detection is $11 per month Short range for some at-home systems (600 ft) No free warranty for wear and tear (protection plan costs extra)
Features
  • At-home device range: 600–1,400 feet
  • Connection type: Landline, AT&T cellular
  • Fall detection: Additional $11 per month
Additional Details

At-home medical alert systems

  • Classic: One of the highlights of this at-home system is an industry-high 1,400-foot range. This system’s monthly fee is $34.95, or $19.95 when on sale.
  • Touch Classic: For $54.95 per month, this touchscreen tablet offers Sudoku, a photo gallery, optional activity tracking (the ability to monitor the user’s health activity such as how many steps they walked), and medication reminders. You can also send messages to designated caregivers from the tablet.
  • Wired Home: This system uses a landline connection and costs $26.95 per month. Fall detection isn’t available.

On-the-go medical alert system

  • Solo: This system includes a mobile base unit for use in the home and on the go, as well as a waterproof help button. Both mobile systems have location tracking and optional fall detection. It costs $41.95 per month. Fall detection is an additional $11 per month.
  • Micro: This lightweight and discreet device costs $39.95 per month. It’s about half the size of the Solo and weighs a little more than two AA batteries.

Bundled packages

These bundled packages can be a good money-saving option for households with more than one person:

  • Duo: A combination of an at-home and on-the-go system for $46.95 per month—about $23 for each device.
  • Mobile Duo: Two on-the-go devices for $49.95 per month (or about $25 per month each).
  • Touch Duo: Pay $64.95 per month for the touchscreen tablet and on-the-go device (or $27 per month each).

Ease of setup

Overall, MobileHelp medical alert systems were relatively easy to set up. Setting up the mobile systems only required two steps outlined in the quick start guide. We didn’t like that the Touch Classic didn’t have a complete user guide to walk us through its available features. A thorough user guide would have been helpful since this smart tablet base station has many extra features.

MobileHelp customer service

The MobileHelp customer service phone number was listed on our invoice, but it would have been helpful to have it in the quick start guide as well. During one of our calls to customer service, we had to wait more than five minutes and click through several menu options before speaking with a representative.

MobileHelp customer reviews

MobileHelp has positive customer ratings on its BBB page with a verified customer review score of 4.8 out of 5 based on more than 200 reviews. The majority of reviews express satisfaction with friendly customer service and quick response times. MobileHelp is accredited with BBB and has an A+ rating, meaning the company works to respond to and resolve every customer complaint.

MobileHelp has an “Excellent” rating and 4.8 out of 5 stars with Trustpilot based on more than 2,600 reviews. A majority of reviews praise the brand’s helpful, knowledgeable customer service representatives and quick response during an emergency. Some negative reviewers thought fall detection was too sensitive, while others had issues canceling the service.

MobileHelp review

Best Variety
9.7 Excellent
Response time: 1–25 seconds
Starting monthly fee: $24.95 for at-home systems and $34.95–$59.95 for on-the-go systems
Why We Chose

We were impressed with the quality and features of Bay Alarm Medical’s devices. The range of devices and the starting monthly prices earned the products the title of “Best Variety.” The Reviews Team likes the range of device options (landline or cellular at-home system, two mobile systems, and a smartwatch), as well as the two-for-one bundles, intuitive caregiver app, one- to 25-second response time, and high BBB customer review rating.

Pros & Cons
Pros 30-day trial period Free warranty for wear and tear Three on-the-go devices, including a smartwatch Charms available to beautify your necklace device Cons One-time equipment fee required for most systems ($30–$159) Additional $30 equipment fee for at-home fall detection
Features
  • At-home device range: 1,000 feet
  • Connection type: Landline, AT&T cellular
  • Fall detection: Additional $10 per month
Additional Details

At-home medical alert systems

  • SOS Home: For those with a landline connection, the starting monthly fee is $24.95. The price goes up to $29.95 per month for a system with a cellular connection. Fall detection is available for both the landline and cellular system (with a $30 equipment fee).

On-the-go medical alert systems

  • SOS Mobile: This simple, lightweight mobile system includes location tracking and optional fall detection (for an additional $10 per month). It costs $34.95 per month with a one-time $99 equipment fee.
  • SOS All-in-One: This compact device is designed to be used at home and on the go. Weighing 1.8 ounces (about the size of two AA batteries), the All-in-One looks like a standard mobile system, but unlike the SOS Mobile, it pairs with a help button bracelet and necklace. The starting monthly price is $39.95, and fall detection is available for an additional $10 per month.
  • SOS Smartwatch: In addition to connecting to the monitoring center, this smartwatch includes a step tracker and fits like a regular watch without being bulky or heavy. The watch is $34.95 per month and has a $159 upfront equipment fee. Fall detection costs an additional $10 per month.

Bundled system

Consider one of the bundled packages if you want to monitor two people in one home:

  • SOS Mobile 360° Bundle: Combine the SOS Home and SOS Mobile in one package. Fall detection is an optional add-on for the SOS Home, while the SOS Mobile includes fall detection. This bundle is $59.95 per month—breaking down to about $30 for each system.
  • SOS Smartwatch 360° Bundle: Get the SOS Home and SOS Smartwatch with this bundle for $59.95 per month (or about $30 for each device). The smartwatch includes fall detection, and you can add fall detection to the at-home system.

Ease of setup

Getting started with our Bay Alarm Medical systems was a smooth process. We didn’t have to activate our medical alert systems before using them. The general directions for all devices we tested were to plug it in (at-home system) or charge it (mobile and smartwatch), and then it was ready to use.

Bay Alarm Medical customer service

Overall, the customer service representatives we spoke with were friendly and helpful. During a call with a representative, they explained how emergency contacts worked and offered to help set up our contacts in the online portal. It took us less than a minute to talk with someone over the phone.

Bay Alarm Medical customer reviews

Bay Alarm Medical has high customer ratings on its BBB page—it has a verified customer review score of 4.24 out of 5 based on 141 reviews. The majority of the medical alert company’s reviews express satisfaction with helpful customer service and easy device setup. Bay Alarm Medical is accredited with BBB and has an A+ rating, meaning the company works to respond to and resolve every customer complaint.

The company has a “Bad” rating on Trustpilot, with 1.3 out of 5 stars based on more than 900 reviews. Many negative reviews mention poor-quality products that didn’t connect to the monitoring center during an emergency. Other reviewers experienced poor customer service and difficulty canceling the service. Positive reviews cite how simple it is to install and activate the device. Other reviewers were pleased with customer support and troubleshooting.

Bay Alarm Medical review

Best for No Extra Fees
9.3 Excellent
Average response time: 50+ seconds
Starting monthly fee: $29.99
Fall detection cost: $11 per month
Why We Chose

ADT Health’s medical alert system offers straightforward pricing with no hidden costs or excess charges for shipping, activation, or processing, earning it our selection as the “Best for No Extra Fees.” We also appreciated ADT Health’s simplicity in setting up and using their devices, and the brand’s three distinctive options when choosing the right system for your needs.

Pros & Cons
Pros 30-day trial period Three different payment plan options: monthly, quarterly, and annual Wearable devices are waterproof Two-way communication Cons Shorter device range than many competitors Limited extra features
Features
  • At-home device range: 300 feet
  • Connection type: Landline, cellular
  • Fall detection: Additional $11 per month
Additional Details

At-home medical alert systems

  • Basic System: this landline system has a starting cost of $26.99 monthly and includes home temperature monitoring, a feature rarely offered in at-home medical alert systems. 
  • Plus System: for $34.99 monthly, ADT’s at-home cellular device provides all the features of the Basic system, as well as the ability to add fall detection. It also has a 600-foot device range, double the Basic system’s 300-foot range.

On-the-go medical alert systems

  • On-the-Go System: ADT only has one on-the-go medical alert system. Costing $36.99 monthly, it provides GPS location tracking and a mobile device that’s small enough to wear as a necklace or on your wrist. 

Ease of setup

Arriving with simple packaging and unboxing the ADT Heath devices is easy. The system’s installation is fast, and our testers were impressed with how effortless it was to connect with the emergency center. The full process of setting up and connecting the ADT devices took only minutes.

ADT Health customer service

ADT Health offers customer service via a live chat on their website or by phone at 800-238-2727. When we spoke with customer support, we found them well-informed and helpful.

ADT Health customer reviews

ADT Security Services has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and a poor rating on Trustpilot, but ADT Health doesn’t have a specific BBB associated with its medical alert systems. Unfortunately, most customer reviews on both sites relate to ADT Security Services. It’s difficult to find any reviews for ADT medical alerts.

ADT Health full review

Easiest to Use
9.6 Very Good
Average response time: 15–25 seconds
Starting monthly fee: $19.95 (when paid annually)
Why We Chose

Medical Alert is our top pick as the “Easiest to Use” medical alert system, due to its clear, easy setup instructions, its all-in-one technology, and its push-button system. Medical Alert keeps its product line and devices simple, offering a mobile system and a home system. The home system has a landline option or a cellular version, which offers the same benefits, and a waterproof wearable device. Medical Alert’s mobile system device can be worn like a necklace and includes a built-in help button, GPS location tracking, and two-way communication. The mobile system has an impressive five-day battery life, while the backup battery for the home system is 30 hours. You can add fall detection to your Medical Alert device for $10 a month.

Pros & Cons
Pros Risk-free 30 day trial Simple, straightforward setup and use No equipment fees or long-term contracts Cons Only one option for on-the-go systems No warranty included, and protection plan costs extra Limited features
Features
  • At-home device range: 800 feet
  • Connection type: Landline, AT&T cellular
  • Fall detection: Additional $10 per month
Additional Details

At-home medical alert systems

  • Home Landline System: services start at $27.95 a month, but if you pay annually, the $239.40 cost breaks out to only $19.95 a month. The backup battery life for The Home Systems is 30 hours, and it would only be in use if you experienced a power outage.
  • Home Cellular System: services start at $37.95 a month, dropping to $29.95 when paid annually ($359.40). The range on Medical Alert’s Home Systems is 800 feet, which is not as far as some competitors, who boast a range of 1,300-1,400 feet.

On-the-go medical alert systems

  • Mobile System: services on the mobile system start at $47.95 monthly or $39.95 a month when paid via an annual subscription ($479.40). Medical Alert’s Mobile System has GPS location tracking, unlimited device range, and a five-day battery life.

Ease of setup

Setting up and using the Medical Alert devices is easy. We could open the packages with just one hand and found clear, thorough instructions with lots of visual cues. The home devices are simple to plug in, and you can follow the prompts to pair the device with fall detection. Medical Alert also offers backup instructions in case you miss the prompts.

Medical Alert customer service

Our experience with Medical Alert customer service varied. The representative who helped us purchase our medical alert system was friendly and helpful. They even gave us their direct extension if we had any other questions. A different customer service representative called us to clarify something with our account, but we were busy and unable to take the call. We told the representative this and asked if they could call us back later, but they immediately hung up on us.

Medical Alert customer reviews

Medical Alert is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), but its parent company, Connect America, has an A+ BBB rating and 1.25 out of 5 stars based on 20 customer reviews.

On Trustpilot, Medical Alert has 2.8 out of 5 stars, based on three customer reviews.

Many of the customer complaints from BBB and Trustpilot express frustration around returning the medical alert system equipment to cancel their service.

 

Medical Alert full review

Longest Battery Life
9.8 Very Good
Average response time: 1–25 second
Starting monthly fee: $24.95
Fall detection: $5 per month for most systems
Why We Chose

LifeFone’s medical alert systems are full of features for those who enjoy added technology. But we found the VIPx mobile device’s 10-day battery life to be one of its most impressive qualities, earning it our rating of “Longest Battery Life.” 

LifeFone also offers a range of devices and plans, so you can choose wearable, on-the-go devices, or at-home systems to find the option that best suits your needs. Lastly, we appreciated the easy setup and testing process when we used LifeFone’s devices.

Pros & Cons
Pros Flexible plan options No activation fees, long-term contracts, or cancellation fees Water-resistant devices Two-way communication Cons Lifetime warranty only covers manufacturer defects Accessing the optional caregiver app requires additional monthly fees.
Features
  • At-home device range: up to 1,300 feet
  • Connection type: Landline, cellular
  • Fall detection: Additional $10 per month
Additional Details

At-home medical alert systems

  • At-Home Landline: costing $29.95 monthly, including the base station and a waterproof help button. LifeFone’s At-Home Landline has a 1,300 ft range and a 32-hour backup battery. 
  • At-Home Cellular: the cellular version of LifeFone’s At-Home device costs $34.95 monthly and uses AT&T’s cellular network. 

On-the-go medical alert systems

  • Voice-In-Pendant (VIP) Active® system: the VIP Active system pairs with LifeFone’s At-Home systems, starting at $43.95 monthly. The device is small, easily worn around the neck, and offers advanced location technology using a combination of GPS, Cellular, and WiFi.
  • VIPx®: Costing $45.95 monthly, the VIPx is among LifeFone’s most expensive devices but also one of the most advanced. Extremely small and lightweight, the VIPx has a long-lasting battery; you won’t need to charge it for up to 10 days.
  • VIP FlexTM: priced at $41.95 a month, the VIP Flex is LfieFone’s most versatile option. It can be worn as a necklace, watch, or clipped onto a belt. 
  • Safe Watch Active®: for a monthly fee of $49.95, the Smart Watch Active offers a list of extra features, like activity tracking, weather updates, and heart rate monitoring.

Ease of setup

Setting up LifeFone’s medical alert systems was straightforward. The At-Home Cellular base station was up and running in under 10 minutes. The At-Home & On-the-Go VIPx mobile device took a bit longer, at around 30 minutes, to fully activate. We encountered no issues during the initial setup. However, enabling fall detection required an additional 30 minutes on top of the base activation time. Overall, the installation process was smooth and we appreciated LifeFone’s clear instructions for getting both the home and mobile systems online rapidly.

LifeFone customer service

The LifeFone customer service phone number was listed throughout our user guide and activation instructions, so we never had to search for the number when we had questions while setting up our medical alert systems. The representatives were knowledgeable and able to answer our questions during our calls. Only one instance involved multiple calls to resolve an issue—we didn’t receive an email code right away to set up the caregiver app.

LifeFone customer reviews

LifeFone has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot. Customers on Trustpilot and BBB note the company’s fast response time, ease of setup, and feelings of reassurance they felt when using LifeFone. Some customers noted frustrations when dealing with LifeFone’s customer service team, as they were unable to resolve their issues.

Best for Fall Detection
8.3 Good
Response time: 1–25 seconds
Starting monthly fee: $69.95
Free month of service with code “NCOA”
8.3 Good
Why We Chose

Kanega Watch fall detection is based on actual falls from wearers, and it’s one of the only medical alert watches to detect falls based on your movement. That makes Unaliwear the clear winner of “Best for Wrist-Based Fall Detection.”

This unique feature makes it more difficult to test fall detection accuracy—our testers had to call customer service to increase our watch’s fall detection sensitivity. After increasing the sensitivity, we were pleased with the watch’s performance: It detected most of our test falls.

The biggest drawback is the high equipment fees ($299) and monthly cost ($64.95–$79.95). There is also no caregiver app to monitor the wearer’s location, watch battery status, or other health information.

Pros & Cons
Pros Can change the fall detection sensitivity Fall detection included in monthly fee Don’t need to remove the watch to charge it Medication reminders available Cost of equipment includes complete pre-shipment set-up Cons High monthly fee ($64.95–$79.95) and equipment fee ($299) No caregiver app Bulky, heavy watch
Features
  • At-home device range: N/A
  • Connection type: Verizon cellular, Wi-Fi
  • Fall detection: Yes, included with monthly fee
Additional Details

On-the-go medical alert system

  • The watch uses RealFall technology to improve fall detection accuracy and help reduce false alarms. The Kanega Watch is designed to be worn at all times—you don’t even need to take it off to charge it. It comes with four rechargeable batteries and uses two at a time. When the batteries are low, you remove them from the watchband to charge and swap them out with fully charged ones. Users with dexterity issues may need help with removing and inserting batteries. Still, the user guide offers specific instructions for swapping out batteries, including how to place your fingers to remove batteries. The Kanega Watch is available in three colors and has a large watch face that’s controlled by the “crown” button on the side. Caregivers or users can also schedule medication reminders on the watch through an online portal.

Ease of setup

When setting up our Kanega Watch, we had to call customer service to set up our account, emergency contacts, health information, and connect the watch to our Wi-Fi network. While it was nice to be guided through the entire process, it was a lengthy call that took some time. We were also emailed multiple how-to videos to supplement the user guide.

UnaliWear customer service

UnaliWear encourages users to call customer service for any questions, troubleshooting, or changes that need to be made to the watch. We reached a representative in less than a minute every time we called customer service, and each representative was friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.

UnaliWear customer reviews

UnaliWear has 4.33 out of 5 stars on BBB based on more than 80 reviews. Most positive reviews mentioned how easy it is to charge the batteries, the company’s excellent customer service, and the quick emergency response. Many reviewers also emphasized their peace of mind when using the Kanega Watch and how it looks like a chic piece of jewelry. A few negative reviews stated the material is cheap and breaks easily, while others weren’t happy with the $75 restocking fee when returning the watch.

The company has 4 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, but only three reviews. All of the reviewers wrote about how happy they were with the brand’s quick response after a fall.

Other brands to consider

With so many medical alert systems available, our Reviews Team wanted to refine and shorten our top recommendations to help you find the right one for you or your care recipient. We chose the above brands based on our testing experience as well as various price ranges, features, and device options.

GetSafe and Aloe Care Health are not our top picks, but we wanted to mention them here. Both have unique features that may be right for you or your care recipient.

GetSafe

GetSafe is a medical alert system you don’t have to wear. Instead, you place voice-activated and standard wall buttons that are connected to the base station throughout your home. You contact the monitoring center with your voice (say “Call 911” twice), pressing the wall button, or pulling the cord. GetSafe also gives users the option to contact caregivers directly prior to calling 911.

GetSafe may be a good option for users who don’t always remember to wear their medical alert system or find the devices uncomfortable. Packages are grouped by the size of your home; they range from one bedroom to four to five bedrooms.

GetSafe drawbacks:

GetSafe full review

Aloe Care Health

Aloe Care Health is an excellent choice for caregivers who want to closely monitor their care recipient. The base station, called the Smart Hub, includes a motion sensor as well as air quality and temperature monitoring. Caregivers can use the motion sensor to track the user’s daily activity and they’ll receive activity notifications through the caregiver app.

One of our favorite Smart Hub features is two-way calling. The user can make and receive hands-free calls to designated caregivers directly from the base station. Users can also contact the monitoring center with their voice if they’re within range of the Smart Hub by saying “Emergency” two to four times.

Aloe Care Health drawbacks:

Aloe Care Health full review

What is a medical alert system?

A medical alert system is a device that connects to a 24/7 monitoring center with the press of a button. Monitoring center staff can dispatch emergency services, care recipients, or both to the user’s location.

Medical alert systems can foster a sense of security and independence for older adults, those with health conditions, or anyone living alone who may require immediate assistance. [2]Stokke, Randi. The Personal Emergency Response System as a Technology Innovation in Primary Health Care Services: An Integrative Review. JMIR. July 2016. Found on the internet at https://www.jmir.org/2016/7/e187/

“Medical alert services can help reduce the risk of living alone—increasing independence for older adults and providing peace of mind for their caregivers,” said Liron Sinvani, MD, director of the geriatric hospitalist service at Northwell Health in the New York City area. “In the event of a fall or medical situation, an alert system makes help available at the push of an emergency button.”

Christopher Norman, a geriatric nurse practitioner based in New York state, urged us to remember that calling for help instantaneously and the time it takes for help to actually arrive are very different things, and they can vary depending on location.

“Urban versus rural locations are going to have different response times, and connectivity may be an issue in rural settings,” said Norman. “People should have appropriate expectations going into buying any medical alert device. They can be incredibly useful, but they’re not magic.”

How do medical alert devices work?

A medical alert system connects to a 24/7 monitoring center when activated. Depending on the medical alert device, your device may use a button, fall detection sensors, or voice commands to connect to the monitoring center.

Not all medical alert systems have the same connection type—some only connect to landlines, while others use Wi-Fi or cellular connections (such as AT&T or Verizon cellular, which is the same technology your smartphone uses). On-the-go systems, for instance, connect via a cellular network, meaning you’re able to contact the monitoring center anywhere cellular service coverage is available.

Monitored medical alert systems vs. calling 911

A monitored medical alert system offers notable benefits compared to just relying on a call made to 911. Owning a medical alert system can mean a quicker response time when faced with an emergency, around-the-clock monitoring from a dedicated center, location tracking, and most importantly, peace of mind that help will still be available when a caregiver is not around.

Additionally, even though a medical alert system is a monthly expense, it may actually be more cost effective. The monitoring center and services provided by the medical alert company can potentially cost much less in the long run when compared to a 911 call paired with the cost of an expensive ambulance ride.

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You don’t need to be an AT&T or Verizon customer to purchase a medical alert system with cellular service— you just need to live within range of the provider’s network. Both cellular networks cover most of the United States, but if you want to confirm you’re in-network, check out the Verizon Coverage Map and AT&T Coverage Map.

Who should use a medical alert system?

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” reason to use a medical alert system. Caregivers and care recipients may choose to purchase a medical alert system for a number of reasons. Maybe you or your care recipient experienced a fall or other medical emergency and weren’t able to get help right away.

Developing a chronic disease, injury, or recent medical condition that affects your mobility and overall health may be another reason to consider 24/7 medical alert monitoring.

Adults age 60 and older are disproportionately affected by chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Nearly 95% have at least one chronic condition, and nearly 80% have two or more. [3]National Council on Aging. Chronic Inequities: Measuring Disease Cost Burden Among Older Adults in the U.S. A Health and Retirement Study Analysis. Page 5, Figure 2. April 2022. Found on the internet at https://ncoa.org/article/the-inequities-in-the-cost-of-chronic-disease-why-it-matters-for-older-adults

A medical alert system with fall detectionA fall detection necklace has a built-in sensor that detects downward motion. It automatically contacts the monitoring center if it detects a fall, even if the user didn’t press the help button. is a good match for anyone with a condition that increases their risk of falling, like Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, diabetes, COPD, and impaired vision or hearing, said Sinvani. For those with a known heart condition, some medical alert devices are specifically designed for people with pacemakers or defibrillators.

People using four or more prescription medications every day should also consider a fall detection device. Research shows that taking four or more prescribed medications per day can double your risk of falling. [4]Ming, Yu and Zecevic, Aleksandra. Medications & Polypharmacy Influence on Recurrent Fallers in Community: a Systematic Review. Canadian Geriatrics Journal. March 21, 2018. Found on the internet at https://cgjonline.ca/index.php/cgj/article/view/268/381

Those living with dementia can also benefit from using a medical alert system. Some companies offer Bluetooth-enabled products that can be integrated with smart home devices, like window and door sensors. These products can alert a caregiver through their smartphone if their care recipient wanders away from home.

We asked Natali N. Edmonds, a board-certified geropsychologist and founder of Dementia Careblazers, what specific features a caretaker for someone with dementia should look for in a medical alert system.

“Some people with dementia might not remember to use the medical alert device after a fall,” she said. “Having a system that automatically detects the fall can help with this possibility.”

Edmonds added that the device should connect to an app so the caregiver can receive alerts and check in on the person with dementia while they’re away.

Note: A medical alert system should supplement in-person caregiving—not substitute it.

Types of medical alert systems

So, how do medical alert systems work? Learn more about at-home and on-the-go systems below.

At-home medical alert systems

At-home medical alert systems have a base unit that contacts trained staff at a monitoring center and a portable help button that connects to the base unit. You plug the base unit into an outlet in a central location, such as the living room or kitchen, and wear the portable help button as a medical alert necklace or wristband, or carry it in your pocket. This allows you to contact the monitoring center from a different room, and even from outside as long as you’re within range of the base station. Base units also include a battery backup in case of a power outage.

Most at-home systems are available with a landline or cellular connection.

a person pushes the red help button on a medical alert system best medical alert systems

On-the-go medical alert systems

An on-the-go system uses a mobile device with a cellular connection, enabling you to call for help when you’re away from home. Some systems also use a lightweight help button that communicates with the mobile device. You can carry the on-the-go system in your purse or on your belt while wearing the help button around your neck or wrist.

a person with a green shirt wears an on-the-go medical alert systems as a necklace best medical alert systems

On-the-go medical alerts come in a variety of sizes and styles. Unlike at-home systems, mobile systems don’t need to stay plugged in. They have rechargeable batteries and include a charging cradle that plugs into an outlet.

Many mobile systems are about the size of a pager and can be worn as a necklace or clipped to your pocket or purse. Many brands, like Medical Guardian and Bay Alarm Medical, now offer medical alert smartwatches as an on-the-go option.

Learn more about common medical alert system features.

Mobile medical alert system hanging from a car rearview mirror.
We tested GPS accuracy of on-the-go systems by traveling to different locations and contacting the monitoring center to verify our location.
Fall detection necklace laying on a striped carpet.
We tested necklaces with fall detection by dropping each one from shoulder height and recording whether the monitoring center was contacted.

Research from 2021 and 2023 shows that fall detection devices are more accurate when worn around the neck than on the wrist. Remember this when considering wrist-based fall detection devices like the Kanega Watch or Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch. In the event of a false fall detection alarm, the company will verify whether you need assistance. [5]Javier González-Cañete, Francisco and Casilari, Eduardo. A Feasibility Study of the Use of Smartwatches in Wearable Fall Detection Systems. Sensors. March 23, 2021. Found on the internet at https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/21/6/2254 [6]Lee, Yongkuk, et al. Experimental Study: Deep Learning-Based Fall Monitoring among Older Adults with Skin-Wearable Electronics. Sensors. March 2023. Found on the internet at https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/23/8/3983

If fall detection is a feature you’re interested in, see our best medical alert systems with fall detection review.

Mobile system in a charging cradle on a gray bedside table.
Our Reviews Team evaluated how simple it was to place on-the-go systems in their charging cradles and how long they took to charge.

In our Reviews Team survey of 1,000 medical alert system users, automatic fall detection was the top feature our survey respondents wanted with their medical alert system, with 60% of respondents indicating that this feature was important to them. Automatic fall detection was followed by a mobile app for caregivers and GPS location tracking, with 55% and 53% of respondents indicating this feature was important, respectively. [1]NCOA Adviser Medical Alert Systems Survey. 1,000 respondents. Conducted using Pollfish. Launched November 2021

Medical alert system costs

The cost of medical alert systems, also known as personal emergency response systems (PERS), depends on a few different factors. For example, some brands charge an upfront equipment fee, while others rent the equipment to you, waiving the equipment fee.

Starting monthly fees generally range from $20–$35. That doesn’t include one-time equipment fees, which can range from $50–$350, and activation fees of up to $200.

Some systems come with the option to add extra products or services, which can mean added costs, while others might include a few freebies.

Take a look at the four major cost categories below.

Monthly fees

The monthly cost of your system depends on the type you choose. At-home systems tend to be the least expensive, with monthly costs running between $20–$35. On-the-go systems usually cost about $30–$40 per month, but some may cost $50 or more. Bundled systems, which include two medical alert systems, can cost $40 to more than $60 per month.

Here are the lowest starting monthly prices of the best medical alert systems:

Connection type

Model

At-home landlineBay Alarm Medical SOS Home ($24.95)
At-home cellularMobileHelp Classic ($34.95)
On-the-goBay Alarm Medical SOS Mobile ($34.95)
SmartwatchBay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch ($34.95)

There are also medical alert systems with no monthly fees that don’t connect to a 24/7 monitoring center. Instead, an unmonitored medical alert system connects directly to 911 or your personal contacts during an emergency. Most don’t offer fall detection, GPS tracking, and other important caregiver features. We don’t recommend these systems.

Equipment fees

You either rent or purchase medical alert system equipment. If you’re charged an equipment fee on top of your monthly fee, you own the equipment and don’t need to return it if you cancel your subscription. High-tech devices like medical alert smartwatches, mobile systems, and smart tablets often have an equipment fee.

Most at-home systems are rentals and don’t include an equipment fee. Unlike purchased devices, you must return rental equipment when you cancel your subscription.

Add-on features

Optional features are a great way to customize your medical alert system to your care recipient’s or your needs. Some popular add-on features include:

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If using medication reminders with your medical alert system, keep your reminders updated. “Updates at least every month, after every health care provider encounter, and after every hospitalization are highly recommended,” said Norman.

Hidden fees

Hidden fees may include additional activation, initiation, processing, and membership fees. Most top brands will not add in these fees, but it’s best to confirm with a customer service representative when shopping around.

Warranties and Policies

When reviewing medical alert systems, examine the warranty details carefully. Warranties on top systems usually cover replacing worn or damaged equipment with certain exclusions. For example, Bay Alarm Medical provides an optional protection plan for an added fee for a one-time replacement of the base station or device, plus discounts on lost or damaged accessories. Look for a warranty that protects against defects and equipment failure under normal use. Also, consider supplemental protection plans if available, as they can offset costs from damage or loss not covered under the standard warranty. Understanding the warranty and protection options will help you select a medical alert system that provides appropriate coverage.

How to save money on medical alert systems

Unfortunately, Traditional Medicare (Part A and Part B) doesn’t cover medical alert systems, and private health insurance rarely does. Here are some potential ways to save money. [7]Medicare.gov. What Part A Covers Found on the internet at https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/what-part-a-covers [8]Medicare.gov. What Part B Covers. Found on the internet at https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/what-part-b-covers

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“There are a number of organizations, such as the AARP and other not-for-profit area agencies on aging—in Florida, we have the Alliance for Aging, for example—which provide discounts on medical alert systems, and in some cases, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs or Tricare may cover a medical alert system at no cost,” said Jeremy Radziewicz, MAcc, chief financial officer at Community Health of South Florida, Inc.

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If you’re living on a low to moderate income, you may be eligible for money-saving benefits programs to help you pay for daily expenses. Visit NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp® to learn more.

How to choose a medical alert system

The best medical alert system for you will depend on your situation and lifestyle. Thinking about your budget and the factors that are most important to you in a device can help you narrow down the options.

These factors will be different for each shopper, but the majority of our survey respondents agreed that fast response time is the most important quality in a medical alert system. This was followed by the system being easy to set up and use, with price ranking as the third most important consideration. [1]NCOA Adviser Medical Alert Systems Survey. 1,000 respondents. Conducted using Pollfish. Launched November 2021

As a starting point, refer back to Table 1 to compare the features and costs of the top medical alert brands. Then use the following tips as a guide when researching the best medical alert systems:

If you’re a caregiver shopping for a medical alert system, it may be difficult to talk about medical alert systems with your care recipient, especially if they aren’t receptive at first. We asked Sean Marchese, a registered nurse in Orlando, Florida, with more than 20 years of patient care experience, how to navigate this conversation.

“Understanding someone’s main concerns for not using a medical alert device is the best way to learn why they’re hesitant,” said Marchese. “Consider discussing the topic with a health care provider present who can also answer questions and assuage worries.”

Considerations when shopping for a medical alert system

Even if you’ve narrowed down your choices to two or three medical alert system companies, you still have multiple models and features to choose from.

Keep the following considerations in mind to help you narrow down your choices.

Considerations

Device typeWe recommend an at-home system if you spend most of your time at home and are accompanied by a caregiver when outside your home.
A mobile system may be better if you’re more independent and enjoy on-the-go activities outside your home without a caregiver.
ConnectionIf your area has poor cellular service, a medical alert system with a landline connection may be the right choice. Remember that you must have an active landline connection for the system to connect to the monitoring center.
RangeMost at-home systems with a cellular connection have a longer connection range than a landline system. If you have a large home or yard and prefer an at-home system, an at-home system with a cellular connection may be the best option.
Battery lifeIf you’re often away from home, a lengthy battery life is important. Do you find yourself regularly away from home for hours at a time? An on-the-go device with a longer multi-day battery life may be important.
Fall detectionAre you or the person you’re buying a medical alert system for at risk of falling or have fallen in the past? You may want a wearable device with fall detection.
Water-resistanceWater-resistant help buttons and mobile devices can be safely taken into the shower but cannot be submerged in water, such as while swimming or taking a bath. Waterproof devices can be fully submerged in water.

Best medical alert systems: Bottom line

Medical alert systems are not one-size-fits-all devices. Older adults and caregivers have different needs, preferences, lifestyles, and budgets, so the right medical alert system will vary for each person.

Medical Guardian earned our title of “Best Overall” for its impressive at-home and on-the-go systems. Its at-home systems have some of the industry’s farthest ranges, and there are three discreet mobile system options available: a necklace, bracelet, and smartwatch. MobileHelp stands out by offering high-quality systems at low costs, making it a great value.

Bay Alarm Medical offers a range of high-quality systems, giving you a variety of options. ADT Health offers 24/7 monitoring, straightforward pricing, and a strong brand reputation. Medical Alert may be the best option for those seeking a straightforward, easy-to-use system. Additionally, installation is effortless, allowing users to set up and begin using their devices quickly.

If you’re shopping for a medical alert system for your care recipient, involve them in the selection process as much as possible. Ask your care recipient what styles and features they prefer. You can also frame the trial period as a chance for them to try the device and give you feedback before deciding on a brand. Help them feel empowered by deciding on the right medical alert system together.

Frequently asked questions

Medical alert systems provide users with a way to call for help during emergencies like falls. These systems come in two main formats: at-home base units, or mobile devices that can be worn outside the home.

Wearable medical alert devices typically use cellular service and GPS technology to keep you connected to an emergency call center at all times. Some wearable medical alert devices offer fall detection at an additional monthly cost. Learn more about the best medical alert necklaces, medical alert bracelets, and medical alert watches we recommend.

The best medical alert systems include Medical Guardian, MobileHelp, Bay Alarm Medical, ADT Health, and other companies mentioned in this guide. But ultimately medical alert systems are not one-size-fits-all, and you should find the best medical alert system for your needs by considering things like your budget, what type of device connection you need, and battery life.

Medical alert systems have starting costs between $20–$30 per month. This doesn’t include one-time equipment fees, which can range from $50–$350, and activation fees of up to $100.

Medical alert systems work by connecting you to a 24/7 monitoring center after you push a help button. The monitoring center staff speak with you through your medical alert device, decide whether you need help, and send the necessary assistance.

When choosing a medical alert system, there are several factors to consider. First, think about whether you need a system that operates only at home or also while you’re on the go. Then, choose between wearable systems, typically a necklace or watch. It’s also important to determine whether you are prone to falls and if you will benefit from fall detection. Depending on your budget, you can opt for a more basic device that offers assistance in case of emergencies. If you prefer to spend a little bit more, you can choose more fashionable styles, like necklace pendants or tech-forward options that will help with everything from monitoring your activity to sending you medication alerts. Based on your lifestyle and needs, you’ll want to find the device and brand that works best for you.

Yes, medical alert systems are certainly worth it. They serve a wide variety of purposes, from immediately responding to calls for help in life-threatening situations to giving older adults the confidence to leave home in order to remain active and social. Medical alert devices can also provide peace of mind for caregivers and supplement health services for aging family members. Medical alert systems, or PERS, are a solid layer of protection for people who live with chronic diseases, are at a greater risk of falling, or live alone.

It depends on the type of insurance you have. Most private insurance or Affordable Care Act plans will not cover the cost, and those that do require a doctor’s signature. Your best chance for insurance coverage is if you have long-term care insurance or use Medicaid. In both cases, plans vary according to state. Call your provider to learn more.

Original Medicare, otherwise known as Medicare Part A and Part B, does not cover the cost of the top medical alert systems. Medicare Advantage, also referred to as Medicare Part C, might cover part of the system’s cost. [3]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Percent of U.S. Adults 55 and Over with Chronic Conditions. Found on the internet at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/health_policy/adult_chronic_conditions.htm The plans differ in each state, so if you use Medicare Advantage, call your plan provider to check for coverage. For more information on how to maximize your Medicare benefits, see the in-depth Medicare Guidance on NCOA’s Age Well Planner.

The AARP recommends that older adults use a medical alert system. While the organization doesn’t promote a specific brand, it does provide a discount on Lifeline medical alert systems for AARP members. Learn more about AARP recommended medical alert systems.

Life Alert systems offer less technology and a shorter range, but a higher price tag, than many other medical systems on the market. For these reasons, we do not find Life Alert to be a good value.

Medical Guardian, MobileHelp, Bay Alarm Medical, and ADT Health, are better than Life Alert. They offer fall detection, don’t require a contract, and have lower monthly prices than Life Alert.

We don’t recommend Life Alert because it has expensive monitoring and installation fees, requires a three-year contract, doesn’t offer fall detection, and doesn’t offer pricing information on its website. The brand has too many drawbacks compared to other top medical alert systems.

Yes, unmonitored medical alert systems work, but they provide limited protection. Most work by connecting with 911 or predesignated contacts in the case of an emergency. They use either a landline or connect through a cellular plan. Many of these systems are bare-bones and lack important features like fall detection and a caregiver’s app. The most important thing to remember is they do not include 24/7 monitoring coverage, but this does mean they are more affordable and don’t require a monthly fee.

While most medical alert systems have a monthly fee to cover the cost of 24/7 monitoring and emergency response services, there are alternatives. Some companies may offer quarterly or annual payment plans, which could result in overall savings. A few models on the market don’t require a monthly fee, but these typically do not include professional monitoring services. Instead, they function as personal alarms that notify pre-selected contacts or 911 in the event of an emergency. If this type of system interests you, learn more about the best medical alert systems with no monthly fee.

No, most medical alert systems do not require Wi-Fi, but some specialized at-home systems do.

Activity tracking is an optional feature available on some medical alert systems. It uses motion sensors and software to monitor your daily movements and activity levels. Common measurements include:

  • Steps taken
  • Distance traveled
  • Calories burned
  • Time spent active vs. sedentary

Activity tracking can provide insight into your physical health and mobility. However, it is not essential for the core function of a medical alert device – contacting help in an emergency.

An appropriate range for an in-home system should be based on the size of your home and property. The home-based systems we tested featured ranges from 300 to 1,400 feet to accommodate different needs. If you have a larger home, Medical Guardian or MobileHelp are good options.

Medical alert systems can be a useful way to provide care for someone with memory loss. They can alert you in the event of an emergency, and some medical alert systems include reminders to take medications. On-the-go systems with location detection may also be a good option for people who may be at risk of wandering.

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

Sources

  1. NCOA Adviser Medical Alert Systems Survey. 1,000 respondents. Conducted using Pollfish. Launched November 2021
  2. Stokke, R. The Personal Emergency Response System as a Technology Innovation in Primary Health Care Services: An Integrative Review. July 2016. Found on the internet at https://www.jmir.org/2016/7/e187/
  3. National Council on Aging. Chronic Inequities: Measuring Disease Cost Burden Among Older Adults in the U.S. A Health and Retirement Study Analysis. Page 5, Figure 2. April 2022. Found on the internet at https://ncoa.org/article/the-inequities-in-the-cost-of-chronic-disease-why-it-matters-for-older-adults
  4. Ming, Yu and Zecevic, Aleksandra. Medications & Polypharmacy Influence on Recurrent Fallers in Community: a Systematic Review. Canadian Geriatrics Journal. March 21, 2018. Found on the internet at https://cgjonline.ca/index.php/cgj/article/view/268/381
  5. Javier González-Cañete, Francisco and Casilari, Eduardo. A Feasibility Study of the Use of Smartwatches in Wearable Fall Detection Systems. Sensors. March 23, 2021. Found on the internet at https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/21/6/2254
  6. Lee, Yongkuk, et al. Experimental Study: Deep Learning-Based Fall Monitoring among Older Adults with Skin-Wearable Electronics. Sensors. March 2023. Found on the internet at https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/23/8/3983
  7. Medicare.gov. What Part A Covers. Found on the internet at https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/what-part-a-covers
  8. Medicare.gov. What Part B Covers. Found on the internet at https://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/what-part-b-covers
  9. Medicare.gov. How do Medicare Advantage Plans work? Found on the internet at https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/types-of-medicare-health-plans/medicare-advantage-plans/how-do-medicare-advantage-plans-work
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