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The Best Medical Alert Watches of 2023

We selected our top medical alert watches based on price, fall detection, safety, and other features.
Aug 25, 2023
Written by: MEd
Written by: MS, RDN, LDN
Medical Reviewer: MSN, APRN, APHN-BC, GNP-BC
Reviewed by: BSPharm, MPH, Senior Director, NCOA Center for Healthy Aging
Fact Checked

Medical Alert Watches: Key Takeaways

  • Medical alert watches combine the benefits of a medical alert system and a smartwatch in one small, lightweight device.
  • Although more costly than some at-home and mobile medical alert systems, medical alert watches may be a good option if you’re comfortable using technology and want the extra features they offer.
  • Pricing for most medical alert watches includes a one-time fee for the watch ($119.95 and up), plus a monthly fee for the monitoring service ($29.95 and up).

Medical alert systems provide added safety and security in the event of an emergency, which is important for people who live alone or have a chronic disease. If you’re interested in a small, lightweight medical alert device you can wear, you may want to consider a medical alert watch.

In addition to serving as a regular watch, the best medical alert watches will connect you with emergency services when you push the help button. Some medical alert watches will also provide fall detection and contact your friends or loved ones in an emergency.

The monthly monitoring fee for most medical alert watches is about the same as for on-the-go medical alert systems. But many companies also charge an upfront fee to buy the watch (compared to on-the-go systems, which sometimes offer equipment rental). One nice thing about all of the medical alert watches reviewed here is you don’t need to sign a contract. You can pay month-by-month and cancel at any time, with no penalty. And because all the watches on this list (except for the LifeStation Sidekick Smart and LifeFone Smartwatch Active) are purchased outright, when you cancel there’s no need to return the watch because you own it.

Even with the additional fee to buy the watch, medical alert watches are becoming more popular for their features and small size. In our survey of 1,000 medical alert users, the majority of respondents (43%) prefer wearing a watch to any other type of device (such as a necklace or bracelet). These are our top picks for the best medical alert watch in 2023.

A Quick Look at the Best Medical Alert Watches

Why you can trust our Reviews Team’s expert reviews

Hours of Research
Surveys Deployed
Brands Tested
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 systems review methodology.

Table 1 Best medical alert watches comparison chart, as of June 2023

Medical Guardian MGMoveBay Alarm Medical SOS SmartwatchUnaliWear Kanega WatchLifeStation SideKick SmartLifeFone Smartwatch ActiveHandsFree Health WellBe Medical Alert Watch RoundApple Watch
Equipment cost$199.95$159$199–$299$0$0$159.95$249–$799
Starting monthly cost$39.95$34.95$59.95$43.95$49.95$29.95Depends on provider (requires no monthly monitoring fee)
Battery life24 hours6–18 hours24 hoursAbout 24 hours24 hours24 hours18 hours
Fall detectionNoYesYesNoYesYesYes
Mobile appYesNoNoNoNoYesYes
WarrantyNoAvailable for extra fee1-year limitedNoLifetime manufacter's warranty1-year limited1-year
Special featuresSocial app, fitness monitorEasy-to-use claspMedication remindersAlexa Smart Speaker compatibilityHeart rate monitor, text-to-locateSmart speaker for extra feeECG, blood oxygen, health tracking

Best Medical Alert Watches of 2023

Best for Premium Features: Medical Guardian MGMove

MGMove watch on wrist with blue background

Pros Easy-to-read screen Variety of extra features (such as medication reminders and voice-to-text) Social app available to stay in touch with friends and family Long battery life (24 hours)
Cons Only comes in black Warranty and some features cost extra Doesn’t include fall detection

Equipment cost: $199.95

Starting monthly cost: $39.95


  • Screen width: 1.25 inches
  • Case width: 1.85 inches
  • Band length: 5.25–7 inches (regular) or 7–7.75 inches (extra large)

Battery life: 24 hours (reaches full charge in two to three hours)

Water resistant: Yes

Fall detection: No

Customer service options:

Payment options: Credit card online or by phone (1-800-951-5983)

The MGMove smartwatch by Medical Guardian has some of the best extra features on this list, which is why we named it “Best for Premium Features.” It not only offers some features found in other smartwatches on this list, like weather forecasts and a step counter, it also has some unique extras.

Medical Guardian includes a free online portal and mobile app called MyGuardian with the following features:

  • Billing and account management
  • “Care Circle” contact management
  • Caregiver communication
  • Task and activity reminders
  • Watch location tracking

For an extra $5 per month, you can chat with designated contacts directly on your smartwatch instead of through the online portal or app. We like that you don’t need to type on a small touchscreen to chat with your caregivers or loved ones—the watch converts your voice to text.

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Voice-to-text messaging was one of my favorite features while testing the MGMove smartwatch. I could record my message and leave it as a voice message or convert it to a text message. I was also able to play back the message before sending it. The watch perfectly translated all my verbal messages into text.

On top of this messaging feature, caregivers can also send reminders to your watch. You can either read or listen to the reminders, which is helpful if you have low vision.

You can subscribe to OnGuard Alerts to keep family and friends informed in an emergency for an additional $3 per month. If you press the help button, your chosen contacts get real-time updates about your location and condition. You can also add a Support Circle for an extra $5 per month. This keeps you in touch with loved ones through the chat and text functions and sends you appointment and medication reminders as well. Using the app, you can add your whole calendar and receive notifications for all your events and appointments.

In contrast to some other medical alert watches we tested, the MGMove does not offer the ability to call people directly from the watch and it does not include fall detection.

Medical Guardian customer service

Whenever we called customer service, it took us about two minutes to reach a customer service representative. Each representative we spoke with was helpful and friendly, and one even helped us to set up our MyGuardian account over the phone.

To buy: Medical Guardian MGMove medical alert system, $39.95 and $199.95 one-time equipment cost;

Best for the Price: Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch

Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch on wrist with blue background

Pros Risk-free, 30-day trial One of the lowest equipment and monthly fees among medical alert systems Monitoring center supports more than 170 languages Two-for-one monthly monitoring package for multi-person households
Cons Short battery life compared to other watches (6–18 hours) Warranty costs extra

Equipment cost: $159

Starting monthly cost: $34.95


  • Screen width: 1.25 inches
  • Case width: 1.75 inches
  • Band length: 5.25–8 inches

Battery life: 6–18 hours (reaches full charge in about two hours)

Water resistant: Yes

Fall detection: Yes

Customer service options:

  • Phone (1-877-522-9633) available Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT, Saturday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. PT
  • Email (
  • 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)

Payment options: Credit card

Bay Alarm Medical is our “Best for the Price” medical alert watch for two reasons: The watch costs less than several other brands (three of the six brands on this list are more expensive), and Bay Alarm Medical offers a two-for-one deal. This lets you add another person in your household to the plan for no additional monthly fee. Just keep in mind you will need to buy a second SOS Smartwatch.

The watch’s two-way communication lets you speak to monitoring center operators directly through the device. To reach the 24/7 monitoring center, press and hold the SOS button on the left side of the watch. You’ll connect to a dispatcher in less than 25 seconds (based on our testing). The SOS Smartwatch has a built-in speaker and microphone, so you can talk into your watch to speak with the dispatcher. They will determine your location with the watch’s GPS system and send local 911 help if needed. The dispatcher can also alert your emergency contact list. Plus, the Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch offers fall detection for an additional $10 per month.

The Bay Alarm Medical watch has a sleek design and an easy-to-use touchscreen. It offers two wristband lengths to fit most people. And if you’re active, you may enjoy using the built-in step tracker.

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I like the watch’s loud, clear verbal cues regarding battery charging. When I placed my SOS Smartwatch in the charging cradle, the watch announced, “Your device is now charging.” It also said, “Watch not fully charged,” when I removed it from the charging cradle before the battery reached 100%.

One of the biggest downsides to the SOS Smartwatch is its battery life: It only lasts for six to 18 hours (it takes about two hours to reach a full charge), compared to 18–24 hours with the other watches on this list. But if extra features combined with a lower price are important to you, the SOS may be a good choice.

Bay Alarm Medical customer service

It took us less than a minute to speak with a customer service representative over the phone. Our representative was friendly and explained how emergency contacts worked while we were setting up our SOS Smartwatch. They also offered to help us set up our contact list in our online portal.

To buy: Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch medical alert system, $34.95 per month and $159 one-time equipment cost; or call 855-781-6379

Best for Fall Detection: UnaliWear Kanega Watch

UnaliWear Kanega Watch on wrist with blue background

Pros Includes fall detection Can be worn 24/7 without having to remove for charging Risk-free, 30-day trial Wi-Fi and cellular connection Comes in three colors (black, champagne gold, and rose gold)
Cons Doesn’t include a mobile app Highest monthly cost on this list Only available in English

Equipment cost: $199–$299

Starting monthly cost: $59.95


  • Screen width: 1.61 inches
  • Case width: 1.61 inches
  • Band length: 5–7 inches

Battery life: 24 hours (reaches full charge in about four hours)

Water resistant: Yes

Fall detection: Yes

Customer service options:

Payment options: Credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Diners, JCB)

The UnaliWear Kanega Watch is one of the only smartwatches that offers personalized fall detection based on users’ real falls. This RealFall fall detection technology is patented by UnaliWear. It actively learns your movements to help improve fall detection accuracy and reduce false falls, making the Kanega Watch our selection for “Best for Fall Detection.”

The majority of our survey respondents (60%) said fall detection is the most important special feature they want in a medical alert device. The fall detection technology in the Kanega Watch learns the movements that are normal for you, decreasing the number of false falls (see our note above about fall accuracy).

Richard Hirsch, chief marketing officer of UnaliWear, explained that “the Kanega’s technology is connected to the cloud and continuously learns what is and isn’t a fall. [For example], when the watch asks “Is this a fall?” the user either confirms or denies and the technology remembers that.”

Another feature that stands out with the Kanega Watch is that you never have to take it off to recharge it. The watch comes with four rechargeable lithium-ion batteries—two that are connected to the watch and two that stay in the charger until they’re needed. The batteries are easy to access at the front of the watch.

To swap the batteries, disconnect the two batteries located at the top and bottom of the watch, replace them with the two fully charged batteries in the charger, and then place the discharged batteries into the charger to be recharged. This protects you throughout the day, in case of a fall.

The Kanega also has an internal safety backup battery that keeps the watch powered enough to provide a medical operator with your GPS location, which can be reassuring if you fall and the batteries dislodge.

Keep in mind that while you don’t have to take the watch off to charge it, the charge time for a fully charged battery is about four hours, the longest charge time on this list.

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Unlike most watches in this review, setting up my Kanega Watch was not a simple “plug and play” process. It required a lengthy call with customer service to set up my account, emergency contacts, health information, and more. Some users or caregivers may like this guided setup process, while others may rather set up everything themselves through an online portal or app.

Two of the biggest drawbacks of the Kanega Watch are the price, and that it doesn’t offer a mobile app. The high equipment fees ($199–$299) and monthly costs ($59.95–$69.95) are more expensive than most of the medical alert watches in this review, and the lack of a companion smartphone app can be a disadvantage for caregivers and family who want to keep track of their loved ones.

The UnaliWear Kanega Watch is a good option if you want discreet fall detection and simple battery recharging. If price is a concern, the UnaliWear Kanega Watch may not be what you’re looking for.

UnaliWear customer service

We were impressed that we were able to reach a representative in less than a minute every time we called customer service. UnaliWear encourages users to contact the company directly for all account setup tasks and troubleshooting issues since it doesn’t offer an online portal or app.

To buy: UnaliWear Kanega Watch, $59.95–$69.95 per month for monitoring service, and a one-time equipment cost of $199–$299;

Enjoy a free month of service when you use discount code “NCOA” at checkout.

Best Smartwatch You Can Rent: LifeStation Sidekick Smart

LifeStation Sidekick Smart watch on wrist with blue background

Pros 30-day money-back guarantee No upfront equipment cost Includes heart rate monitoring and step tracking Best when a medical alert device is needed for short periods of time
Cons Only available in black Doesn’t offer fall detection

Equipment cost: $0

Starting monthly cost: $43.95


  • Screen width: 1.82 inches
  • Case width: 1.85 inches
  • Band length: 7–9 inches

Battery life: 24 hours (reaches full charge in about three hours)

Water resistant: Yes

Fall detection: No

Customer service options:

  • Phone (800-998-2400) available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET

Payment options: Credit card over the phone

If you want to try out a medical alert watch without buying one, LifeStation may be a good choice. The company offers a monthly subscription plan that includes both the cost of its Sidekick Smartwatch and the monitoring fees.

Unlike other medical alert watches that you own after paying the equipment fee, the Sidekick is on lease while you use the monitoring services. That means no equipment cost (it’s the only watch on this list that doesn’t require one), which is why we named it “Best Smartwatch You Can Rent.”

LifeStation doesn’t require any contracts, so if you decide a medical alert watch is not for you, you can cancel your subscription at any time.

Along with medical monitoring, the LifeStation Sidekick Smart comes with weather forecasts, a heart rate monitor, and a step tracker. In an emergency, this watch works much like Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch. Both have GPS and two-way communication, so when you press the help button dispatchers will know where you are, and you can speak to them directly through the watch.

LifeStation also offers an app called Find My Loved One, which gives users and identified friends or loved ones the ability to check in with each other and pinpoint the location of the watch wearer.

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The setup manual wasn’t very helpful when I tested the Sidekick Smart. I had to call customer service to get further testing instructions. The representative put my watch in testing mode, and I was able to test my connection to the monitoring center over the phone. I also learned that I needed to call customer service to add people to my emergency contact list, but the manual hadn’t mentioned that.

We found that the monitoring center staff members provide excellent support and will stay on the line until assistance arrives, making this a good choice if you live alone (not all medical alert companies may do this).

Despite having no equipment cost, the Sidekick Smart does have a high monthly cost ($43.95). And if you ever want to switch to a different medical alert company, you’ll have to return the watch, since you’re renting it. Although the other watches on this list include charges for equipment, the device is yours to keep after the contract ends.

For those who plan on using a medical alert watch for only a short, set period of time, you may be able to save money by renting your smartwatch from LifeStation rather than buying a device from another company on this list.

LifeStation customer service

We waited much longer to speak with LifeStation customer service representatives than the other brands in this review. It took us almost eight minutes to finally reach a representative during one of our calls.

When we did speak with a representative, they were helpful and thorough when adding info to our account. They asked specific questions about hospital preference, emergency contacts, pets, and how to enter the house if it was locked to better understand how to handle a situation during an emergency.

To buy: LifeStation Sidekick Smart medical alert system, $43.95 per month; or call 866-599-1498

Best Real-Time Location Tracking: LifeFone Smartwatch Active

LifeFone Smartwatch Active on wrist with blue background

Pros Fall detection available Real-time location tracking Heart rate monitor, weather app, and step tracker included
Cons No caregiver app Watchband available in one size

Equipment cost: $0

Starting monthly cost: $49.95


  • Watch face: 1.82-inch diameter
  • Band: 1.85 inches

Battery life: 24 hours (reaches full charge in two to three hours)

Water resistant: Yes

Fall detection: Yes

Customer service options:

  • Phone (877-330-3658) available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, Saturday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET
  • Email (

Payment options: Credit card online or over the phone

The LifeFone At-Home & On-the-Go Smartwatch Active is a touchscreen watch with a step tracker, heart rate monitor, weather app, and optional fall detection for $5 per month. The monthly monitoring fee is $49.95 with a monthly payment plan, and there is no equipment fee.

The watch’s impressive text-to-locate feature is why we named the LifeFone Smartwatch Active “Best Real-Time Location Tracking.”

Approved caregivers can receive on-demand location updates without logging into an app. They’ll simply text “Find [name]” to 855-999-3224 and get a message immediately with the smartwatch’s real-time location and a link to it in Google Maps. 

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I tested the text-to-locate feature in three different locations around town, and it was accurate each time. All location notifications came in within two to five minutes. Real-time location tracking is also helpful for finding a lost or misplaced watch.

While fall detection isn’t a common feature for medical alert watches, more brands, like LifeFone, are beginning to offer it. We asked a customer service representative how to test fall detection since the user guide doesn’t include fall detection testing instructions. They told us to drop the watch from a standing position and wait 20 seconds. We dropped the watch multiple times from a standing and seated position, and fall detection activated when it hit the ground. 

We also tested fall detection with slower, more realistic falling motions while wearing the Smartwatch Active. These slower “falls” did not trigger fall detection, and we think this wrist-based fall detection may not activate unless it hits a hard surface. 

It’s worth noting that no fall detection is 100% accurate. Additionally, a 2016 study found fall detection worn around your left wrist is more accurate than fall detection worn around your neck. [1] Gjoreski, Martin, et al. How Accurately Can Your Wrist Device Recognize Daily Activities and Detect Falls? June 2016. Found on the internet at  But more recent research showed medical alert devices worn on the wrist are likelier to cause false alarms due to rapid, jerky movements of the hands and arms, which is why we recommend a necklace worn at chest level. [2] 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

You can also contact the monitoring center by pressing the help button on the side of the watch face. We like that the watch vibrates and verbally confirms it is contacting the monitoring center. A six-second countdown allows you to cancel your call before reaching the monitoring center. 

Whenever we conducted a test call to the monitoring center, we could hear the staff member clearly and speak with them without having to hold the watch to our faces. 

Like most medical alert watches, the watch face is large since it has a built-in microphone and speaker. Users with a small wrist may find the watch bulky compared to a standard watch or bracelet. Overall, we thought the watch was pretty comfortable since the band is soft silicone, and we were able to perform daily activities without it getting in the way or setting off fall detection.

LifeFone customer service

We called customer service multiple times when testing our LifeFone Smartwatch Active and generally waited about one to five minutes to speak with a representative. We liked that we never had to search for the customer service phone number if we had a question—the user guide and activation instructions listed it multiple times.

To buy: LifeFone At-Home & On-the-Go Smartwatch Active, $49.95 per month; or call 800-331-9198

  • Multiple high-tech features included at no extra charge
  • Large, easy-to-use screen
  • Fall detection-enabled
  • Digital or analog clock face with large numbers
  • Only comes in black
  • Smart speaker costs extra
  • No customer service phone number or email address

Equipment cost: $159.95

Starting monthly cost: $29.95


  • Screen width: 0.96 inches
  • Case width: N/A
  • Band length: 6.5–10 inches

Battery life: 24 hours (reaches full charge in about three hours)

Water resistant: Yes

Fall detection: Yes

Customer service options: Contact form on website (

Payment options: Credit card

The WellBe Medical Alert Watch Round from HandsFree Health is an excellent choice for people who are comfortable using technology. We named it the “Best Technologically Advanced Smartwatch” for its wide range of tech-forward features:

  • Medical alert monitoring with access to a 24/7 help center
  • Fitness monitor (for heart rate and steps per day)
  • GPS location tracking
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • An app that keeps track of your health information
  • Two-way communication
  • Voice-activated virtual health assistant

You can also add a smart speaker for $99.95 with a $19.95 monthly fee, or you can bundle the watch and speaker for $189.95 with a $39.95 monthly fee—the price increases to $199.95 with the same monthly fee when fall detection is added. Smart speakers are nice to have because they are voice-activated, meaning you can communicate with them using only your voice. The WellBe Medical Alert Device and Smart Speaker can help in the following ways:

  • Reminding you about medications and appointments
  • Tracking your blood pressure and blood sugar
  • Sending messages to your family, friends, and caregivers
  • Playing music, audiobooks, or news
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I love that the WellBe Medical Alert Watch includes the WellBe virtual health assistant. I accessed this voice-activated assistant by pressing the microphone icon on my watch’s main menu and asking questions like “What is the weather like tomorrow?” or “Where is the nearest health clinic?” The watch verbally answered questions about my reminders, general health, location services, and general knowledge.

One of the reasons the WellBe Medical Alert Watch Round is an excellent pick for older adults is the large size of the help button. Located on the side of the watch, the help button is big enough to find quickly in an emergency but low-profile enough to give the watch a sleek look. Don’t worry if you accidentally press it—like all the watches on this list, you have several seconds to cancel a help call if you press the button by mistake.

The WellBe Medical Alert Watch Round is a good choice if you enjoy using technology and are looking for a watch that offers extra features at a reasonable price. It may not be a good fit if you’re looking for a simpler device with less complicated features or one with a more robust customer service.

HandsFree Health customer service

HandsFree Health is the only brand in this review that doesn’t list its customer service phone number on its website. Fortunately, we received the phone number with our equipment packages. It took less than 30 seconds to speak with a customer service representative, but our first representative couldn’t answer our questions about the monitoring center. We appreciated that they recorded our questions and had a second representative call us back with answers.

To buy: HandsFree Health WellBe Medical Alert Watch Round, $29.95 per month and $159.95 one-time equipment cost;

Best for Active Lifestyles: Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 8 on wrist with blue background

Pros Series 8 and SE models offer fall detection and international emergency calls Large, easy-to-read display screen Wide range of prices, features, and styles to choose from Automatically contacts friends and loved ones in an emergency Numerous customer service options
Cons High equipment cost ($249–$799) No 24/7 monitoring center More complicated to set up and use An iPhone is required to set up the watch

Equipment cost: $249–$799

Monthly cost: None


  • Screen width: 1.6–1.77 inches
  • Case width: 1.6–1.77 inches
  • Band length: Regular (fits wrists 5.5–8.2 inches) or extra large (fits wrists 6.2–9.6 inches)

Battery life: 18 hours (reaches full charge in about two hours)

Water resistant: Yes

Fall detection: Yes

Customer service options:

Payment options: Credit card, debit card, Apple Pay, and PayPal

The Apple Watch is a popular tech device, but you may not know about its medical alert capabilities. It’s not a traditional medical alert watch that connects you to a company’s monitoring center, but it does have features to help in an emergency and monitor your health, including the ability to track your heart rate and rhythm, number of steps each day, time spent in physical activity, and more. These features convinced us to name the Apple Watch as “Best for Active Lifestyles.”

All models of the Apple Watch monitor your heart rate and rhythm and alert you if anything seems unusual. The Series 8 model also allows you to check your blood oxygen levels (via an app that preloads when you set up your Apple Watch) and take an electrocardiogram (ECG). ECGs record the electrical signals in your heart to quickly detect heart problems and monitor your heart health, according to the Mayo Clinic. [3] Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Mayo Clinic. Found on the internet at

To take the ECG, make sure the ECG app is set up in your Health app. It will record your heartbeat and analyze its rhythm. Always check health monitoring results with your healthcare provider for the most accurate interpretation.

You’ll also have the ability to track the following:

  • Number of steps each day
  • Speed of physical activity
  • Time spent in physical activity
  • Calories burned
  • Hours of sleep

Fall detection is available with the Apple Watch Series 4 or later, including the SE and Series 8 models. When the Apple Watch detects a hard fall, it vibrates against your wrist, sounds an alarm, and shows an alert. You can dismiss the alert, which tells the system you’re okay and ends the alarm, or you can call 911. If the watch detects you haven’t moved for one minute, it will call 911 automatically. It will also send messages to your emergency contacts, letting them know your location, that your watch detected a fall, and that you may need help. Falls are also recorded in the Health app.

Since the Apple Watch is designed to detect hard falls, it may not be suitable for detecting the slower, more gradual falls that are common for older adults.

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I tested fall detection with my Apple Watch Series 8 by conducting more than 10 test falls, but they never triggered fall detection.

The Apple Watch isn’t connected to a 24/7 monitoring center, unlike medical alert systems. Instead, the watch contacts the nearest 911 dispatcher when you trigger fall detection or press the SOS Emergency button. 

If you’d like your Apple Watch to function like a monitored medical alert system, consider the Care Smart app from Verizon. During an emergency, your watch connects to the Care Smart monitoring center instead of dialing 911 automatically. The monitoring center staff member will call emergency services, a designated caregiver, or both, depending on the situation. They’ll also stay on the line with you until help has arrived.

The watch does require an iPhone for setup. Apple offers an option called Family Setup to allow people who don’t have an iPhone to use an Apple Watch, but someone in the family still needs an iPhone to set up the watch and manage its features.

The Apple Watch is a good choice if you’re an iPhone user looking for a high-tech device with features for an active lifestyle, fall detection, and GPS. But if technology is not your thing, it might take some time to adjust to this watch. It’s also the most expensive watch on our list.

Apple customer service

There are two main phone numbers to contact Apple, but 800-MY-APPLE is generally for product and service questions, while 800-APL-CARE is for technical support. We were impressed that we reached a live customer service representative in less than a minute, especially since Apple is such a large company. Our representative was patient and knowledgeable, and they answered all of our questions.

To buy: Apple Watch, $249–$799;

What is a medical alert watch?

A medical alert watch is a device that looks like a regular watch, but it can call 911 or a monitoring center in the event of an emergency. Some medical alert companies offer smartwatches in addition to their traditional on-the-go and in-home medical alert systems. Like medical alert watches, the best medical alert systems can keep you safe and grant you peace of mind.

James Dan, MD, a geriatric clinical advisor and member of the Senior Helpers board of directors, believes medical alert devices or watches are well worth the cost.

“Medical alert watches range from fairly simple alert buttons to two-way communication devices, patient locator features, fall sensors, and more,” said Dan. “[Necklaces] with alert buttons provide a limited measure of help, but we find seniors often don’t wear them as they feel stigmatized or simply inconvenienced to wear them.” That makes watches more appealing since they’re not obvious medical alert devices. Plus, they can provide a plethora of benefits and significantly enhance older adult safety.

Some companies offer wrist buttons that look like a watch but do not have smartwatch features, like time, GPS, fitness tracking, health monitoring, and two-way communication. You’ll want to consider a medical alert smartwatch to get all of these features in one device.

Pros and cons of medical alert watches

All medical alert systems and watches come with benefits and drawbacks. The key is finding the device that best fits your needs and budget. Here are some general pros and cons of medical alert watches.


  • A smartwatch and medical alert system in one device
  • Looks like a watch, not a medical alert system
  • Works anywhere with cell coverage
  • Most include the following features:
    • GPS services to identify the user’s location
    • Built-in microphone and speaker for two-way communication with monitoring center
    • Fitness and health tracking features
    • Apps for caregivers to monitor the user’s location and get emergency alerts


  • Some don’t offer fall detection
  • Most require a one-time equipment fee
  • Some don’t have many smartwatch features
  • May be too bulky if you’re used to wearing a small watch
  • Must be charged daily—most batteries only last 24 hours, although some last up to 48 hours
  • May be hard to use if you’re not comfortable with technology
  • Small touch screens are harder to navigate than a simple alert button

Who should use a medical alert watch?

Many people think that only older adults use medical alert systems, but experts recommend these safety devices in other situations, too. For example, people recovering from surgery or managing a chronic disease can benefit from a medical alert system. Dr. Dan, the geriatric clinic adviser, said older adults who live alone may benefit from wearing a medical alert watch.

According to Christopher Norman, a geriatric nurse practitioner in New York state, using a medical alert system in addition to having support from family, friends, neighbors, or other caregivers is important.

“A fall may result in a situation where a person is not able to press the button, or in the case of a stroke, a person may not be able to say what’s wrong when the device is automatically triggered,” said Norman. “Having a person that has a routine time to check in can be a lifesaving added benefit to the right medical alert device. I’ve had patients use simple systems like, ‘If you don’t see my living room light on, come check on me.’”

For safety, anyone at risk of falling at home should consider wearing a device with fall detection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one out of four older people fall each year, and the risk of falling and falls-related problems rises with age. [4] Facts About Falls. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Found on the internet at

If you or a loved one is concerned about falling at home or having a medical emergency and not being able to get to a phone, a medical alert watch can provide peace of mind.

How much do medical alert watches cost?

Medical alert watch costs usually include the fee to buy the watch and the monthly monitoring fees. In general, the equipment fee for a medical alert watch runs between $119–$299. The Apple Watch is much higher, with prices ranging between $249–$799. The LifeStation Sidekick and LifeFone Smartwatch Active don’t charge an equipment fee.

Six of the seven medical alert smartwatches in this review require monthly subscription fees to cover monitoring services. Prices for the monthly monitoring service range from $25–$70. The Apple Watch is the only device that does not have a 24/7 monitoring center—it links directly to 911.

If you want to add extra features or apps to your medical alert watch, you may need to pay extra. For a breakdown of cost comparisons between medical alert watches, see Table 2 below.

Table 2 Cost comparison of medical alert watches, as of June 2023


Starting monthly cost

One-time equipment fee

Medical Guardian MGMove



Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch



UnaliWear Kanega Watch



LifeStation Sidekick



LifeFone Smartwatch Active



HandsFree Health WellBe Watch



Apple Watch



Important features of medical alert watches

Medical alert watches offer similar benefits to traditional medical alert systems, but they require a few extras to really make them worthwhile. Here are some important features of medical alert watches to consider when shopping for a device.

GPS technology

GPS technology is important because it shows the monitoring center your location when you call for help. If your Apple Watch isn’t connected to the Care Smart monitoring center, 911 dispatchers can detect your watch’s location during an emergency.

Fall detection watch

More medical alert brands are starting to offer fall detection on watches, including most of the medical alert watches on this page.

If fall detection is a priority, keep in mind some studies have found fall detection is more accurate when it’s on a device worn near the center of the body. [5] 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 A watch or bracelet with fall detection tends to cause false alarms due to normal arm movements, which is why we recommend a necklace worn near the center of the body.

When considering the fall detection feature, ask the company what type of falls are detected and not detected. Falling from a standing position is a faster fall than a slide out of bed or from a chair. While falling from a height is sometimes more traumatic, sliding out of bed or from a chair can be just as challenging in terms of getting back up.

To check your risk of falling and get tips on falls prevention, use NCOA’s Falls Free CheckUp tool.

Battery life

Battery life and charging time are key factors to consider in a medical alert watch. Most devices need charging every 24 hours and reach a full charge after about two to four hours, depending on how much you use them and what features you use (some features drain more battery than others). It may be helpful to set up an alert (outside of the smartwatch), such as a call from a friend or caregiver, to remind you to charge your device.

Response time

The time between pushing the help button and getting connected to an operator is critical. Most medical alert watches will contact a monitoring center in 20–45 seconds. It’s a good idea to call and ask for specifics about response times before settling on a watch.

This was one of the most important factors in choosing a medical alert system for 70% of our survey respondents. In the testing process, we found that Medical Guardian and Bay Alarm Medical had the fastest response times of 1–25 seconds. Unaliwear had the slowest response time: more than 50 seconds.

For more information on monitoring centers and response time, check out how medical alert systems work.

Style and size

Take some time to compare different watch styles and read reviews about how other customers like each brand. This will help you make an informed decision and ensure that you’ll enjoy wearing your medical alert watch.

Two-way communication

A built-in microphone and speaker make two-way communication possible. This feature makes a difference when calling for help because you can speak directly to an operator and explain what kind of help you need.


Fitness tracking and health monitoring are just a few reasons people choose medical alert watches instead of traditional mobile devices. Medical alert watches offer the ability to send messages, check the weather, count your steps, monitor your heart rate, and more.

How to choose the best medical alert watch for you

A medical alert smartwatch only works if you wear it and can operate it in an emergency. That’s why it’s a good idea to research different companies when choosing a watch.

Here are some questions to consider when comparing devices.

  • What is your budget? Medical alert watches range in price from $119–$299 (except for the Apple Watch, which can cost up to $799). Most companies require a one-time, upfront equipment fee to cover the cost of the watch. The good news is, you’ll own the watch after paying that fee. Other than the Apple Watch, the rest of the companies have a monthly monitoring fee that costs between $29.95–$69.95, which adds to the overall cost. Knowing your budget ahead of time will help you narrow your choices and find the medical alert watch that works best for you.
  • Does it have fall detection? Many of the well-known, reputable medical alert companies do not offer fall detection within smartwatch models. There are a few that do come equipped with fall detection, but they have low ratings in other areas. If fall detection is important to you, consider the UnaliWear Kanega Watch, LifeFone Smartwatch, or Apple Watch. Fall detection is not 100% accurate, and the best way to contact the monitoring center is by pressing the help button.
  • What features do you want? One reason people choose a medical alert smartwatch is for the extras that come with the device. In addition to a help button, a watch may include fitness tracking, calorie counting, health monitoring, weather updates, and more.

Tips for saving money on medical alert systems

The high cost of medical alert systems is one reason many people don’t buy them. The good news is there are budget-friendly options, such as the HandsFree Health WellBe Watch that starts at $119.95 for the equipment fee and $29.95 for the monthly monitoring fee, and the Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch, which starts at $159 for the equipment fee and $34.95 for the monthly monitoring fee. Although Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch is slightly more expensive than the WellBe Watch, we named it “Best for the Price” based on its two-for-one deal.

Medicare coverage

Unfortunately, medical alert watches and other systems are generally not covered by Medicare Part A or Part B. Sometimes Part C plans (Medicare Advantage) cover a portion of your fees. Check with your insurance provider for more information. For help navigating your Medicare benefits and finding what other benefits programs are available in your area, use NCOA’s Benefits CheckUp tool.

Most private health insurance plans do not cover the costs associated with a medical alert watch. In very rare cases, some plans include a benefit for covering medical alert devices, but you’ll probably need your doctor to fill out paperwork showing that they are medically necessary. It’s always a good idea to call your health insurance company to get exact coverage details before purchasing a medical alert system.

There are other ways to save money beyond insurance and Medicare.

  • Reach out to the medical alert company. Your first order of business should be to call customer service and explain your situation. You may be able to get a discount on the price of the watch or a lower monthly subscription fee. Several companies reduce the equipment fee during sale events.
  • Ask about partner coverage. Companies like Bay Alarm Medical offer a two-for-one deal that provides monthly monitoring for you and a spouse or partner. You will just need to purchase two watches, so you each have one.
  • Look into veteran benefits. If you or a loved one receive veteran benefits, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for information about medical alert benefits. Its website offers an online locator to help you find your local office. Just keep in mind that the VA sometimes offers discounts only for specific companies.
  • Use flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or health spending accounts (HSAs). According to the IRS, medical alert bracelets or necklaces may be covered by your FSA or HSA. [6] Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans. Internal Revenue Service. 2021. Found on the internet at Speak with your FSA or HSA provider for more information.

Medical alert watches: bottom line

The best medical alert watch is one you’ll wear and enjoy using.

If you’re looking for premium features, we recommend the Medical Guardian MGMove. If you’re interested in the best features for the lowest price, the Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch may be a good choice. If cost is an issue and you would prefer to lease the equipment, LifeStation Sidekick Smart might be the way to go. You’ll pay a monthly fee that includes the monitoring costs and the fee for using the watch.

If you want a low-tech watch with real-time location tracking, we recommend the LifeFone Smartwatch Active. For the most technologically advanced smartwatch, the HandsFree Health WellBe Watch is likely a good fit.

If you want a fall detection watch with health and wellness features, then the Apple Watch may be your best bet. Finally, if you’re looking for fall detection technology that’s customized to your movements, the ​​UnaliWear Kanega Watch could be a good option for you.

We do not recommend Life Alert for watches or any other medical alert device.

Frequently asked questions

Have questions about this review? Email us at


  1. Gjoreski, Martin, et al. How Accurately Can Your Wrist Device Recognize Daily Activities and Detect Falls? June 2016. Found on the internet at
  2. 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
  3. Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG). Mayo Clinic. Found on the internet at
  4. Facts About Falls. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Found on the internet at
  5. 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
  6. Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans. Internal Revenue Service. 2021. Found on the internet at
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