Close

The 7 Best Medical Alert Systems with GPS in 2022

Aug 25, 2022

By Jenny Wisniewski
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

  • A medical alert system with GPS tracking allows loved ones and emergency services to locate the medical alert user in the event of an emergency.
  • GPS (a satellite-based navigation system) is included with many mobile medical alert systems at no extra cost.
  • Mobile medical alert systems with GPS can help older adults feel more confident going out by themselves.

Falling or having a medical emergency away from home can be scary, especially if you’re alone. Having a mobile medical alert system can help you to quickly call a monitoring center or 911. If your medical alert device includes GPS (satellite-based navigation), emergency dispatchers and loved ones can find your location and provide the help you need right away. 

Using a mobile medical alert system with GPS tracking means you can be active and have medical protection at the same time, even if you live alone. Many mobile medical alert devices come with GPS at no extra cost, so it’s worth looking for one with this feature for added peace of mind. Here are our Reviews Team’s top picks for the best medical alert systems in 2022 with GPS technology.

Best Medical Alert Systems with GPS

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 caring for older adults
  • Mystery shopped 13 medical alert system brands
  • Surveyed 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.

Table 1 Comparison of the Best Medical Alert Systems with GPS, as of August 2022

Provider

Medical Alert

Medical Guardian

HandsFree Health

Bay Alarm Medical

MobileHelp

LifeFone

Lively

Starting monthly cost

$43

$40

$30

$30

$34

($42 for bundled system)

$36.95

$14.99

Equipment fee

No

$125–$199

$90–$120

$99–$159

No

No

$50–$150

Activation fee

$49

No

No

No

$100

processing fee for some systems

No

$25–$35

Battery life

5 days

5–7 days

24 hours

72 hours

72 hours

Up to 30 days

Up to 4 months (Lively Wearable2)

Response time*

Fewer than

30 seconds

30–60 seconds

15 seconds

60 seconds

About 27 seconds

25–60 seconds

Not determined

Fall detection

Yes,

$10 per month

Yes,

$10 per month

Yes,

$10 per month

with the WellBe Pendant

Yes,

$10 per month with

the GPS Help Button

Yes

With the VIPX model

With Lively Wearable2 and Lively Mobile Plus

Health monitoring

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Location tracking for caregivers

Yes

Yes

No

With the GPS

Help Button

Yes

Yes

Yes

Mobile app

Yes

Yes

Yes

With the GPS

Help Button

Yes

With the VIPX model

Yes

Network

AT&T

AT&T and Verizon

T-Mobile

AT&T

AT&T

AT&T and Verizon

Verizon

Warranty for normal wear and tear

No

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

*As reported by customer service or from Reviews Team internal testing

Best Variety of Medical Alert Systems with GPS: Medical Guardian

Medical Guardian medical alert system

Pros Several on-the-go devices to choose from, including a smartwatch Five- to seven-day battery life on Mini Guardian and Mobile 2.0 TMA Five Diamond certified monitoring center
Cons No warranty
(protection plan costs an extra $7 per month)
No free trial period High equipment fees

Starting monthly cost: $40
Battery life: 24 hours to seven days, depending on the model
Water-resistant: Yes
Fall detection: $10 per month
GPS products and pricing:

Mini Guardian

  • $40 monthly fee
  • $125 equipment fee 
  • Dimensions: 1.4” L x 2.8” H
  • Weight: 1.3 ounces

Mobile 2.0

  • $40 monthly fee
  • $125 equipment fee
  • Dimensions: 1.5” L x 2.6” H
  • Weight: 1.7 ounces

MGMove

  • $40 monthly fee 
  • $199 equipment fee
  • Dimensions: 
    • Screen width: 1.25 inches
    • Wristband length: 5.25–7 inches (regular), 7–7.75 inches (large)
  • Weight: 2 ounces

Payment options: Credit card online or by phone (1-800-892-6319)

Customer service options:

While many companies offer only one or two on-the-go systems with GPS, Medical Guardian carries three models: the Mini Guardian, Mobile 2.0, and MGMove. That’s why our Reviews Team named it “Best Variety of Medical Alert Systems with GPS.”

The Mini Guardian and Mobile 2.0 offer fall detection for an additional $10 per month. The MGMove is a smartwatch that provides a range of extra features, although some of the features do cost extra. Let’s take a look at each of the models Medical Guardian has to offer.

Mini Guardian

At only 1.3 ounces, the Mini Guardian is one of the smallest on-the-go devices with GPS on the market. It comes in three colors: black, white, and silver. You also have the option of a necklace or a belt clip. The Mini Guardian has a few special features, like a five-day battery and advanced location detection using Wi-Fi, cellular (the same connections smartphones use), and GPS. 

Mobile 2.0

The Mobile 2.0 system includes two devices: a lighter help button and the main on-the-go device with a two-way speaker. You must carry the main on-the-go device with you in order for the smaller help button to work, but you can keep the main device in a pocket or purse while wearing the smaller help button if you prefer a more discreet look. The help button has a 500-foot range from the main on-the-go device. Like the Mini Guardian, the Mobile 2.0 includes a five-day battery and advanced location detection. The device is slightly larger than the Mini, weighing 1.7 ounces. 

One unique feature of the Mobile 2.0 is that, according to the company, it’s the only on-the-go device you can use to call for help while it’s charging.1 Knowing you’re protected 24 hours a day, even when you need to charge your device, can give you added peace of mind. 

MGMove

The newest Medical Guardian device is the MGMove smartwatch. Watches are quite popular as medical alerts. Our Reviews Team survey found more customers would prefer wearing a watch to any other type of wearable device. But, the MGMove is a bit heavier at 2 ounces.  

If you’re interested in a mobile medical alert device with GPS that offers extra features, the MGMove may be a good choice. It comes with step tracking and weather forecasts. You can also add apps to stay in touch with loved ones and to send them alerts if you call the monitoring center. These features cost extra, though: The Social Circle app (which allows you to send talk and send messages directly from the watch) is $5 per month, and OnGuard Alerts (which send real-time updates to your contacts in the event of an emergency) costs $3 per month. 

The MGMove has two potential drawbacks: With a battery life of only 24 hours, the MGMove does need to be charged every night, and it does not offer fall detection.

Costs

Medical Guardian offers a variety of payment plans for its three on-the-go systems. You will pay the most if you choose to pay month-to-month. If you pay annually, the company offers a 16% discount, free shipping, and a free lockbox (normally $3 per month). 

One thing to know about Medical Guardian is it doesn’t include a warranty with its devices. But you can pay an extra $7 per month for a protection plan, which covers wear and tear, damage, and manufacturer’s defects. It also includes battery replacement.

Testing results

Our Reviews Team found Medical Guardian provided one of the fastest response times of the devices we tested, at 1–15 seconds. This is an important point for many customers, and the main reason most people buy a medical alert system. In fact, 70% of respondents to our Reviews Team survey said response time was the most important factor in choosing a medical alert device.

Best Smartwatch with GPS: HandsFree Health

Smart speaker and smart watch medical alert system with GPS

Pros High-tech, Bluetooth-enabled devices Smart speaker with health-focused database Includes step tracker and heart rate monitor Reminders for appointments, medications, and prescription refills Option to bundle medical alert system and smart speaker TMA Five Diamond certified monitoring center
Cons Higher equipment fees Limited customer service options

Starting monthly cost: $30
Battery life: 24 hours
Water-resistant: Yes
Fall detection: Yes, $10 per month with the WellBe Pendant
GPS products and pricing:

WellBe Pendant

  • $30 monthly fee
  • $90 equipment fee
  • Fall detection available for $10 per month
  • Dimensions: 1.75” W
  • Weight: 1.3 ounces

WellBe Virtual Health Assistant Smart Speaker

  • $189 equipment fee
  • Dimensions: 8.5” L x 5.25” W x 5.25” H
  • Weight: 3 pounds

WellBe Smartwatch

  • $45 monthly fee
  • $120 equipment fee
  • Dimensions: 
    • Screen width: 1.8”
    • Wristband length: 7–9”
  • Weight: 1.6 ounces

WellBe Medical Alert Plus (bundled system)

  • $55 monthly fee
  • $160 equipment fee

Payment options: Credit card online

Customer service options:

HandsFree Health offers the WellBe Smartwatch for older adults who are active, want a range of health and safety features that include GPS, and want a small, lightweight alert device.

The smartwatch includes most of the features you can find in traditional on-the-go systems. It also includes extra health features, like a step tracker and heart rate monitor. The smartwatch’s extra features and ability to easily pair with the WellBe smart speaker is why our Reviews Team named it “Best Smartwatch with GPS.”

The WellBe Smartwatch also offers a feature that sets it apart from the other medical alert watches on the market: Using Bluetooth technology, you can pair your WellBe watch with the other Lively medical alert offering, the WellBe Virtual Health Assistant Smart Speaker (sold separately). 

You can ask the smart speaker health-related questions, or request stored information about your insurance plan or other health information. You can also receive reminders about medications, prescriptions that need to be refilled, or upcoming doctor appointments. It’s also useful for entertainment—it plays music, the radio, and audiobooks. It can even help monitor your blood pressure and glucose. Your smartwatch can also be connected to your cell phone with Bluetooth.

Drawbacks

It’s worth noting the WellBe Smartwatch does not include fall detection. But this is true of most smartwatch medical alerts since they are worn on the wrist rather than on the chest. Studies have found fall detection is less effective when worn on the wrist, because natural arm movements can cause false alarms.2 

Our Reviews Team does recommend that older adults at a higher risk of falls stick with a traditional system that includes fall detection. This includes people who have fallen before or have a chronic disease that places them at a higher risk of falls. 

HandsFree Health does offer fall detection with its WellBe Pendant, which can be worn around the neck.

Customer service

HandsFree Health doesn’t offer customer service support by phone, which is unusual for the industry. Our Reviews Team often finds that a good way to learn details not included on the website is by speaking to a customer representative. You can use an email form to contact customer service, and we were satisfied with the company’s prompt response when we asked a question—a representative sent us an answer via email within an hour.

Best Affordable Medical Alert System with GPS: Bay Alarm Medical

Bay Alarm Medical medical alert system

Pros Price-lock guarantee Two-for-one deal for multi-person households Tracking for friends and family Risk-free, 30-day trial period TMA Five Diamond certified monitoring center
Cons Fewer choices than some systems No warranty

Starting monthly cost: $30
Battery life: 72 hours
Water-resistant: Yes
Fall detection: Yes, $10 per month with the GPS Help Button 
GPS products and pricing:

On-the-go GPS Help Button

  • $30 per month 
  • $99 equipment fee
  • Dimensions: 2.87” L x 1.85” W x 0.73” H
  • Weight: 1.8 ounces

SOS Smartwatch

  • $30 per month
  • $159 equipment fee
  • Dimensions:
    • Screen width: 1.25”
    • Case width: 1.75”
    • Band length: 5.25–8”
  • Weight: 1.5 ounces

Payment options: Credit card

Customer service options: 

  • Phone (1-877-522-9633), Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT; Saturday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. PT
  • Email (cs@bayalarmmedical.com)
  • Online chat (on the company’s Customer Service & Support page)
  • Free mobile app (called My Account Manager, also available to download on the Customer Service & Support page)

Bay Alarm Medical offers two medical alert systems with GPS: the GPS Help Button and SOS Smartwatch. Our Reviews Team liked that customers have their choice of two mobile options—one traditional and one specialized—and both come at a reasonable monthly cost of $30. Its low prices earned it the designation of “Best Affordable Medical Alert System with GPS” by our Reviews Team.

Bay Alarm Medical also offers a bundled deal on two GPS Help Buttons. You can get a second medical alert device for an additional $20 per month. Couples or roommates can both be covered for $50 per month, just a few dollars more than what some medical alert providers charge for one on-the-go system.

Costs

The monthly fee is not the only cost we considered. Know you will not be hit with extra activation or processing fees. A few other customer-friendly Bay Alarm Medical policies that could save you money include a risk-free trial period of 30 days and a price-lock guarantee. 

And with the GPS Help Button, you have the option of downloading the free Caregivers’ Tracking App. This app allows three contacts to determine a loved one’s location during an emergency and also receive notifications when weather is severe or the device battery is low. These functions are especially beneficial for a long-distance loved one, or for caregivers. Some companies charge an additional monthly fee for this benefit, but with Bay Alarm Medical it’s free.

You will be required to buy the equipment一$99 for the GPS Help Button and $159 for the SOS Smartwatch—but you will also be able to keep the equipment even if you cancel your service. This may not be as enticing since the GPS Help Button doesn’t work without the connected service, but the SOS Smartwatch has several built-in features that make it useful.

Other features in the SOS Smartwatch

The watch’s large circular face has both analog and digital options and large, easy-to-read numbers. It also includes a step tracker. Finally, the SOS Smartwatch offers a feature not every medical alert watch includes: You can call your emergency contacts directly from the watch. With most other medical alert smartwatches, you can only speak to a monitoring center agent.

Testing results

Our Reviews Team found Bay Alarm Medical had a fast response time of fewer than 15 seconds, excellent customer service, and devices that are easy to set up and use. This brand has quite a bit to recommend, especially if you want to stay connected to loved ones and would like a medical alert device for more than one person in your household.

Best Bundled Package with GPS: MobileHelp

Close up of MobileHelp medical alert system with GPS

Pros Several options for multi-person households Referral program discount Medication reminders available A variety of systems to choose from Free trial period
Cons Processing fee included with some systems No fall detection with the Micro

Starting monthly cost: $34 for Mobile Solo / $42 for Mobile Duo
Battery life: 72 hours
Water-resistant: Yes
Fall detection: Yes, $10 per month with the Mobile Solo
GPS products and pricing:

Touch Classic

  • $55 monthly fee
  • $100 processing fee
  • Dimensions: 8-inch-wide touch screen
  • Weight: 2.2 pounds

MobileHelp Solo

  • $38 monthly fee 
  • Dimensions: 3.1” L x 1.8” W x 0.75” H
  • Weight: 2.7 ounces

MobileHelp Micro

  •  $33.95 monthly fee
  • Dimensions: 2.74” L x 1.71” W x 0.75” H
  • Weight: 1.7 ounces

Mobile Duo

  • $42 monthly fee
  • Dimensions: 3.1” L x 1.8” W x 0.75” H
  • Weight: 2.7 ounces

Duo

  • $45 monthly fee
  • Dimensions: 3” L x 1.7” W x 0.75” H
  • Weight: 2.6 ounces

Touch Duo

  • $55 monthly fee
  • $100 processing fee
  • Bundled Duo and Touch Classic

Payment options: Credit card online or by phone (800-930-0488)
Customer service options:

  • Phone (1-800-809-9664), Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Mail:
    • MobileHelp
      5050 Conference Way N., Suite #125
      Boca Raton, FL 33431

Bundling refers to buying two systems together, often at a discounted rate. Some companies offer one or two bundled deals. With MobileHelp, you have your choice of three bundled options. All of these bundled systems include at least one MobileHelp Solo, which is the company’s mobile device with GPS. The wide variety of bundling options earned MobileHelp the distinction of “Best Bundled Package with GPS.”

Mobile Duo

The Mobile Duo comes with two of everything you get with the Solo. This means you get the same mobile device that lets you call for help, along with GPS location detection一times two. At $45 per month, this is a good deal for multiple members of the same household. It’s not quite a two-for-one deal, but it beats all other bundled packages that offer two mobile devices. 

MobileHelp Duo

The MobileHelp Duo comes with the MobileHelp Solo plus the MobileHelp Classic, an at-home system that uses a cellular connection. This is perfect for the person who wants protection both at home and on the go, or for households with multiple older adults. The price is $42 per month. That’s a good deal compared to systems that charge $46 per month for a single on-the-go medical alert with GPS.

MobileHelp Touch Duo

The MobileHelp Touch Duo includes the MobileHelp Solo plus the MobileHelp Touch Classic, a touchscreen tablet for at-home use. The Touch Classic is Bluetooth-enabled and offers games, medication reminders, and a help button that connects with the monitoring center. 

Because the Touch Classic is a high-tech device, the MobileHelp Touch Duo is somewhat higher in price一$55 per month一but for those who are active and enjoy technologically advanced devices, it might be worth the cost.

On-the-go device

We would like to highlight a few things about the MobileHelp on-the-go device. Most importantly, it’s a solid device that covers all of the safety features we expect in a medical alert with GPS. This includes free location tracking for loved ones and alerts sent to caregivers when the help button is pressed. 

But keep in mind that it’s larger and somewhat boxier than other devices we have seen. Some carry their help button in a bag or clipped to a belt and wear a smaller help button around their necks. If you want a smaller device, you may want to look at the WellBe Smartwatch or LifeFone VIP. With that said, MobileHelp does not charge equipment fees, which makes the bundled packages an even better deal.

Testing results

Our Reviews Team found that, like Bay Alarm Medical, MobileHelp had a fast response time (1–15 seconds), good customer service, and easy-to-use devices. Due to the variety of choices and prices MobileHelp offers, we feel this brand could be a good choice for a range of customers, especially those with more than one person in their household.

Best Battery in a Medical Alert System with GPS: LifeFone

Pros Long battery life (up to 30 days) Price-lock guarantee Access to loved ones with the VIPX app Referral program discount Two-way communication 30-day trial period Vibration feedback for vision and hearing impaired
Cons No fall detection option for VIP Expensive add-ons

Starting monthly cost: $36.95
Battery life: 30 days for the VIP, 16 days for the VIPX, 30 hours for at home and on-the-go 
Water-resistant: Yes
Fall detection: Yes for the VIPX and at-home and on-the-go systems, no for the VIP
GPS products and pricing:

At-home and on-the-go devices

  • $40 monthly fee
  • Dimensions: 6.1” L x 3.5” W x 1.7” H
  • Weight: 2 ounces

VIP (Voice-in-Pendant)

  • $44 monthly fee
  • Dimensions: 2.9” L x 1.5” H
  • Weight: 1.5 ounces

VIPX

  • $46 monthly fee
  • Dimensions: 2.7” L x 1.4” H
  • Weight: 1.3 ounces

Payment options: Credit card online or by phone (1-866-221-1936)
Customer service options:

If you are someone who likes to stay busy and you don’t want to worry about stopping to charge your medical alert device, LifeFone may be a good fit. This company offers two on-the-go systems with GPS: the VIP and VIPX. Its long-lasting batteries make LifeFone the “Best Battery in a Medical Alert System with GPS.”

The VIP has a battery life of 30 days and the VIPX has a battery life of 16 days before needing to be recharged. The LifeFone bundled at-home and on-the-go system includes a mobile device with a battery life of 24 hours.

Advanced features

In addition to long battery life, the VIP and VIPX have other stand-out features. Both offer advanced location detection that uses Wi-Fi and cellular technology in addition to GPS for precise tracking. LifeFone also provides your choice of a connection through either AT&T or Verizon, depending on which signal is the strongest in your area. And, somewhat unique to the LifeFone brand, both devices provide vibration feedback for those who are hearing or vision impaired. Vibration feedback works by using a series of light vibrations to communicate with the user rather than visual cues.

The VIPX provides a few other extras too. First, it comes in three colors—black, white, and silver—and it’s very lightweight at only 1.3 ounces. The VIPX also includes optional built-in fall detection for an additional $10 per month, something not offered with the VIP. 

For an additional $8 monthly fee, you have access to the Caregiver Mobile App, which provides location tracking, activity tracking, and notifications for low battery levels and emergencies. 

One other function offered through this app is unique to the industry: a first motion of the day notification. This tells loved ones the user is out of bed and up for the day. In addition to providing safety for older adults, it can bring peace of mind to their loved ones, especially those who are long distance.

LifeFone also offers a daily check-in service for an extra $19 per month. With this service, a LifeFone representative calls you each day (at whatever time you would like) to see how you are doing and give any reminders you, caregivers, or loved ones ask for. You can ask for reminders for medications, appointments, and other tasks. The daily check-in service is available to all LifeFone subscribers no matter which device they use. 

LifeFone expenses

LifeFone has much to offer with its on-the-go devices, but the systems do come at a higher-than-average monthly cost: $44 for the VIP and $46 for the VIPX. This is $13–$15 higher per month than what you would pay for Bay Alarm Medical, the system our Reviews Team rated “Best for the Price” in their review of the best medical alert systems

With LifeFone, you will not pay an equipment fee, and while many other brands require a $10 monthly fee for fall detection, LifeFone charges $5 per month. Also, LifeFone rates high with customer service and customer friendly policies, like a 30-day, risk-free trial period, a price-lock guarantee, and a lifetime warranty for manufacturer’s defects.

Best Medical Alert System Phone with GPS: Lively

Close up of two medical alert systems from Lively with GPS

Pros Easy-to-use devices Built-in cameras and large screens on phones Referral program discount Personal operator can schedule appointments or rides with Lyft car service A variety of accessories to choose from Low starting fee of $20 per month
Cons Activation fees of $25–$35 Requires T-Mobile service Devices are actual cell phones, and you may already have one (or this could replace your existing phone)

Starting monthly cost: $14.99
Battery life: Up to four months (Lively Wearable2)
Water-resistant: Yes
Fall detection: Free with Wearable2, $10 per month with Mobile Plus
GPS products and pricing:

Jitterbug Smart3

  • $14.99 starting monthly fee 
  • $150 equipment fee 
  • Dimensions: 6.3-inch-wide screen
  • Weight: 5.6 ounces

Jitterbug Flip2

  • $14.99 starting monthly fee 
  • $100 equipment fee 
  • Dimensions: 2.2” L x 4.3” H
  • Weight: 4.7 ounces

Lively Mobile Plus

  • $19.99 starting monthly fee 
  • $50 equipment fee 
  • Dimensions: 1.7” L x 2.7” H
  • Weight: 2 ounces

Payment options: 

  • Credit card online or by phone (866-482-1424)
  • Retail stores (Walgreens, Rite Aid, Best Buy)

Customer service options: 

  • Phone (800-733-6632) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT
  • Contact form online
  • Mail: Lively
    10945 Vista Sorrento Pkwy, Suite 120
    San Diego, CA 92310

Lively specializes in on-the-go systems with GPS. For those older adults who are tech savvy or don’t want to wear a device, Lively is a great option. It’s different from all other systems we have reviewed in that two of the four of its most popular systems are cell phones. This unique offering is why our Reviews Team named it “Best Medical Alert System Phone with GPS.”

The Jitterbug Smart3 is a smartphone, and the Jitterbug Flip2 is a flip cell phone. Both are easy to use and include the following features:

  • Large screens and buttons
  • Cameras
  • Bluetooth connectivity 
  • Hearing aid connectivity 

Both phones also include GPS, allowing the monitoring center and selected contacts to access the user’s location. 

The Lively phones do not include fall detection, but the company does sell one other product—the Lively Mobile Plus—that does have this feature. The Lively Mobile Plus is the brand’s traditional on-the-go device.

You can purchase Lively devices directly from the company or from retail stores such as Walgreens and Best Buy, which may be preferable for those who like to shop in person.

Costs

The Lively Jitterbug has one of the lowest starting monthly prices for an on-the-go system at $14.99. But you have to look out for a few other costs that come with this system. You will be required to pay an equipment fee of $150 for the Jitterbug Smart3, an Android smartphone with 16 GB of storage, or $100 for the Jitterbug Flip2 flip phone. And keep in mind both phones require an additional $25–$35 one-time activation fee. 

While this is much less than you would pay for other smartphones, you will still be required to purchase a talk and text plan, and an additional data plan for the Jitterbug Smart3, just as you would for any other cell phone. You may still consider this a bargain一if you use a cell phone, you already pay these costs, but with Lively you’re getting a cell phone plus a medical alert system. 

Customer service

While you will find lots to love about the Lively systems, one area we did not have a favorable experience in is customer service. When our Reviews Team called to inquire about the Lively response time, we received a vague answer and were transferred to three different customer service representatives who didn’t have the information. The third representative answered that the response time is “within seconds.”

Best Traditional Medical Alert System with GPS: Medical Alert

Close up of Medical Alert medical alert system with GPS

Pros Risk-free trial period TMA Five Diamond certified monitoring center Free Medical Alert Connect app monitors your location and connects you with friends and loved ones Alerts sent to selected contacts when help button is pushed Two-way communication Lightweight mobile device No equipment fee U.S.-based monitoring center
Cons Very few add-ons $49 programming fee No warranty
(protection plan costs an extra $1 per month)
One of the most expensive systems we tested

Monthly cost: $43
Dimensions: 2 x 1.5 x .75 inches (length x width x height)
Weight: 1.3 ounces
Battery life: Five days
Water-resistant: Yes
Fall detection: $10 per month
Payment options: Credit card online
Customer service options: 

Medical Alert offers traditional on-the-go systems with devices worn around the neck, on the wrist, or attached to a belt. These systems include all of the important medical alert functions: 24/7 monitoring, two-way talk, optional fall detection, and GPS location detection. That’s why our Reviews Team named it “Best Traditional Medical Alert System with GPS.”

The Medical Alert Connect app is included with your monthly fee. It lets you test your device, track your contacts, and call the support center. It also allows friends and loved ones to know where you are through GPS tracking. 

All-in-one device

We compared several traditional on-the-go models and liked the fact that Medical Alert offers an all-in-one device, which you can wear as either a necklace or bracelet. All of the functions, including the help button and optional fall detection, are built right into this single device. 

Our Reviews Team thinks this is helpful because you will only need to grab one piece of equipment when you go out, and you reduce your risk of losing equipment when you carry only a single piece. Also, the Medical Alert device is smaller than some others, such as Life Alert. Overall it’s comfortable to wear, weighing fewer than two ounces.

Costs

One disadvantage of Medical Alert is the higher-than-average monthly cost of $43. Compare this to the Bay Alarm Medical $30 monthly fee or to another high-end system, Medical Guardian, which charges a $40 monthly fee. And while you won’t be required to pay for equipment with Medical Alert, the company does charge a one-time programming fee of $49.

Testing results

In the testing process, our Reviews Team found two drawbacks to this medical alert system. 

First, the device wasn’t quite as easy to set up as some of the other brands we tested. It took longer to get it ready to use (it took about 10 minutes to set up, while most other brands took about five minutes), and we felt the instructions could have been clearer.

The second drawback is when we pressed the help button, it took 15–25 seconds for the monitoring center to respond (compared to fewer than 15 seconds for several other brands). This is a small time difference, but it’s worth pointing out. The majority of respondents to our Reviews Team’s survey of more than 1,000 medical alert customers said response time was the most important factor.

What is GPS?

GPS is an acronym that stands for Global Positioning System. Basically, GPS is a navigation system that uses radio signals transmitted from satellites. The satellites orbit Earth twice per day and work in any weather, at any place on the globe, and at any time, 24 hours per day. GPS is used in devices like cell phones, shipping containers, ATMs, and medical alert systems.

What is a medical alert system with GPS?

GPS can be found on most on-the-go medical alert devices. The most essential job of any medical alert system is to provide an easy way to connect with trained monitoring center agents during an emergency. GPS makes this function better by giving the agents a way to instantly determine your location. 

There are many ways this technology can be used in a medical alert system. In the case of a medical emergency, if you aren’t able to tell the monitoring center where you are, the agent can instantly identify your location. GPS can also be used with automatic fall detection devices in case you fall and feel confused or lose consciousness.

Advanced location detection

Some medical alert companies are now using GPS with other technologies to provide advanced location detection. These systems, which use cellular signals and Wi-Fi in addition to GPS, enable even more precise location tracking. For example, while GPS might indicate a point on a map, Wi-Fi could pinpoint a location within a building.

Traditional medical alert system vs. smartphone or smartwatch

Some older adults may not think they need a medical alert system because they use a conventional smartphone or smartwatch, which also have GPS technology. But, there are important differences between the two. “People overestimate the ease of using a cell phone,” said Laura French, an estate and elder law attorney and owner of French Law Group in Watkinsville, Georgia. “We are walking around with computers in our hands. These devices are much more than phones, which means that cell phones can be very tricky to use. With security features, in the event of an accident, fall, or stroke, it may be very difficult for a person to access the telephone feature of the cell phone. Facial recognition may fail. The individual may not recall the passcode. Meanwhile, critical seconds are ticking away.

“Conversely, a medical alert system is a push of the button. Someone who is suffering from cardiac arrest, stroke symptoms, or a fall can more easily press the signal button as compared to operating a cell phone,” said French.

Pros and cons of medical alert systems with GPS

While we think on-the-go medical alert systems have more advantages than disadvantages, it’s important to consider both to get the full picture.

Pros Monitoring center agents can instantly determine your location during an emergency. Many companies offer apps that can be paired with GPS, allowing friends and family to determine your location during an emergency. Medical alert systems with GPS provide peace of mind to family and other loved ones. Automatic fall detection works with GPS to provide assistance if a user falls or has another medical emergency, causing them to be unable to share their location. None of the medical alert systems in this review require a contract; you can cancel at any time. All mobile medical alert systems tested by our Reviews Team are water resistant, so you can wear them in the shower. Medical alert systems with GPS provide users with the confidence to go out safely. Users have a wide variety of GPS-enabled medical alert systems to choose from.
Cons Some systems that offer location detection for friends and loved ones charge an additional monthly fee. On-the-go medical alert systems with GPS tracking are generally more expensive than at-home systems. Medical alert systems, on their own, don’t provide high value at-home functions some people want, such as activity sensors or the ability to sync with other smart appliances/devices, like window and door sensors or phones. You’ll need more advanced devices for those functions.

Who should use a mobile medical alert system with GPS?

The short answer is, anyone who travels away from home, especially if you are over 65. It’s difficult to know when a medical emergency is going to happen. If this type of event does occur while you’re alone, you want to be sure emergency services can pinpoint your location quickly. GPS communicates this information to the monitoring center and 911, even if you can’t.

Also, some people are at a higher risk of emergencies. This includes people with heart disease, diabetes, epilepsy, or a condition affecting balance, like Parkinson’s disease, and can include people both young and old. “I do recommend medical alert systems for individuals younger than 65 with chronic diseases or recovering from surgery,” said Jonathan Marsh, a certified dementia practitioner and owner and administrator of Home Helpers of Bradenton, a home care agency. “My recommendation is less about the person’s age and more about their health condition, their current living situation, and the probability of there being an emergency where they would require help.”

Loved ones with dementia

People living with dementia can also benefit from a mobile medical alert system with GPS. Wandering from home while confused is common, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.3 If a person with dementia wanders but is wearing a medical alert with GPS, they are more likely to be quickly found and brought to safety. 

Along with taking precautions to help keep a loved one with dementia safe, this tool can help provide peace of mind to loved ones.

How much do medical alert systems with GPS cost?

If you’re looking for a medical alert system with GPS, you’ll be looking at on-the-go systems. You will find prices are often higher for on-the-go systems than at-home systems. Companies often charge a starting monthly fee that is $5–$10 more expensive than the price of at-home systems.

Also, some companies charge an equipment fee for on-the-go systems but rarely for at-home systems. This makes sense since on-the-go system equipment tends to be more sophisticated and high-tech than at-home system equipment. Even so, a wide variety of medical alert systems with GPS are on the market to fit many budgets.

Many of the best on-the-go systems that charge the lowest monthly prices include an equipment fee, so be sure to consider all of the costs, not just the monthly fee.

Table 2 Comparison of Fees for Medical Alert Systems with GPS, as of August 2022

Provider

Starting Monthly Fee

Equipment Fee

Fall Detection Monthly Fee

Hidden Fees

ADT Health

$40

0

$10

$30

(waived if ordering online)

Aloe Care Health

$40

$250

(includes at-home and on-the-go equipment)

0

0

Bay Alarm Medical

$30

$99–$159

$10

0

HandsFree Health

$30

$120–$189

N/A

0

LifeFone

$44

0

$5

0

LifeStation

$38

0

$5

0

Lively

$20

$50–$150

$10

for some systems

$25–$35

activation fee

Medical Alert

$43

0

$10

0

Medical Care Alert

$40

0

$10

0

Medical Guardian

$40

$125

for some systems

$10

0

MobileHelp

$34

0

$10

$50

processing fee for monthly payment plan

Important features of medical alert systems with GPS

Two-way talk

Many mobile medical alert devices contain a built-in microphone and speaker that allow for two-way communication between you and an emergency monitoring center agent. Some systems also give you the ability to speak to others, like the Lively Jitterbug phones and the Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch.

Location detection

As we mentioned above, you should expect your on-the-go system to include GPS, which enables location detection. Some companies offer advanced location detection, which uses cellular signals and Wi-Fi in addition to GPS for precise location tracking. 

Many medical alert companies offer smartphone apps that caregivers and loved ones can use to track the location of the user, but you may be required to pay an extra monthly fee to add this feature to your medical alert service.

Automatic fall detection

A fall can occur anywhere. This is why the best medical alert systems come with GPS and automatic fall detection. 

With fall detection technology, the device sends an alert to the monitoring center immediately following the detection of a fall. If your medical alert device includes GPS and you are unable to communicate after a fall, the monitoring center will know where to send help using location detection. With some systems, fall detection is built into the all-in-one device, while in others it’s offered in a separate lightweight necklace. In either case, the device must be worn around the neck to work effectively. 

And although falls are unpredictable, Christopher Norman, a geriatric nurse practitioner in New York state, believes you should assess your fall risk and try to ensure that all falls you’re likely to experience will be detected by the device. “Falls from a height (such as a bed or from a standing position) are often detected because they are sudden and have enough velocity to be detectable, whereas a slide off a chair or other piece of furniture may be slower and thus may not trigger the automatic response,” said Norman.

To determine your risk of falls and to learn falls prevention tips, use the NCOA Falls Free CheckUp tool.

Health features

Some specialized on-the-go systems, like smartwatches and smartphones, include extras that can help you monitor your health. These include step trackers, heart rate monitors, and medication reminders. Norman recommends consulting your health care provider to determine whether these features are appropriate for you.

Battery life

Most on-the-go medical alerts have a battery life of one to five days. The system with the highest battery life in the industry, LifeFone, has a battery life of up to 30 days. 

A charger will be included with your alert system. You may find it helpful to have a loved one call and remind you to charge your device, so it always has power.

How to choose the best medical alert system with GPS

Once you have narrowed your choices down to an on-the-go system with GPS tracking, you have several other options to consider.

First, what style of on-the-go system would you like? Some want to stick to a basic medical alert device that hangs from your neck. Others want something smaller, like a smartwatch, or a device with many features, like a cell phone. Keep in mind that the type of system you choose can determine whether an equipment fee is included.

Next, if you decide on a traditional medical alert, do you prefer an all-in-one device (including built-in fall detection), or would you rather carry the main device in your purse or pocket and wear a smaller, lightweight necklace with a help button and fall detection? They come both ways, so it’s worth thinking about what you will wear the most, and which features you really want. 

Choose your features

If you prefer a specialized on-the-go system, what features are important to you? A step tracker? Heart rate monitor? Ability to text and talk as you would on other smartwatches or smartphones?

Another consideration is must-have functions. Will you opt for fall detection? Is it essential that your system includes a caregiver’s app that has location detection for loved ones? Not all providers offer this feature. Of those that do (all of the companies reviewed here except HandsFree Health), some charge an additional monthly fee.

Monitoring center

And finally, take a look at the monitoring center. Is it TMA Five Diamond certified by The Monitoring Association (the gold standard in monitoring center certifications)? Do you or your loved one speak a primary language other than English? If so, you’ll want to make sure the monitoring center offers translation services. 

And, most important, what is the response time for a monitoring center agent to answer a call after you press the help button? Read consumer reviews from trusted third-party sites such as BBB or Trustpilot to see if a system you’re interested in has a pattern of slow response times.

Tips for saving money on medical alert systems with GPS

Below are a few ways to save money on a medical alert system with GPS.

Uncover hidden fees

Look at the company’s website and call the customer service number to find out about all of the fees the company charges. Ask about the following:

  • Activation 
  • Installation 
  • Processing
  • Membership fees 

Also, ask the company if it can offer any discounts. Many companies often run specials, particularly during the holidays.

Choose an alternative to the monthly payment plan

If you are able to pay up front, choose an annual, semiannual, or quarterly payment plan. You will often receive a discounted monthly rate and freebies, like a free month of service or a free lockbox.

Put memberships to work for you

If you have a membership to Costco or another shopping club or organization, look at the membership benefits page online. You may be able to get a discount on certain systems.

Take advantage of veteran discounts

Veterans qualify for full or partial coverage on medical alert systems provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.4 You can use the online locator to find an office near you to call and see what you qualify for. Some medical alert providers, such as LifeStation and MobileHelp, also offer veteran discounts.

Check into insurance coverage

Call your insurance provider to find out if it provides coverage for medical alert systems. Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does not offer coverage. A Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, Medicaid, or long-term care insurance policy might, depending on the state you live in and the details of the plan.

Use a referral program

Recommend a medical alert system to your friends, especially those who live alone or have a chronic disease. Many providers offer referral programs that give you a free month of service or other discount if your friend signs up for service. 

Bottom line

Our Reviews Team believes medical alert systems with GPS are a good investment, but you should personalize the device to your needs.

Is your budget a priority? We recommend Bay Alarm Medical. Want the protection of a medical alert while on the go but prefer wearing a watch? HandsFree Health has a smartwatch that could be to your liking. Don’t want to fuss with a battery that needs constant charging? LifeFone may be a good option for you. 

While everyone has different, important factors in choosing a system, you can find an on-the-go medical alert device to fit your preferences and budget. Hopefully, we’ve helped you to be well on your way to picking the system that is the best fit for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Sources

  1.  Medical Guardian. “Mobile 2.0.” Found on the internet at https://www.medicalguardian.com/medical-alert-systems/mobile-gps-alert
  2. Pannurat N, et al. “Automatic fall detection: A review.” Found on the internet at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166886/
  3. Alzheimer’s Association. “Wandering” Found on the internet at https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/stages-behaviors/wandering
  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Find VA Locations.” Found on the internet at https://www.va.gov/find-locations/

Find the best [category]