Best Medical Alert System: LifeFone vs Medical Guardian vs Bay Alarm & More

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Best For…
Home-Based
Medical Guardian logo
Mobile GPS
greatcall logo
Fall Detection
LifeFone logo
Budget
Bay Alarm Medical logo
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Does your elderly parent live at home alone? What if something happens when you’re not available? Or maybe you don’t live nearby. Medical alert systems can save you from worrying about your loved one — and maybe save their lives.

You have a lot of options, from home units that use landline or cellular connections to on-the-go GPS devices that can help keep your active loved one safe no matter where they are. Some even let you keep track of their movements via smartphone apps. We’ve chosen some of the best options for whatever your needs may be.

Article Overview

Who Needs A Medical Alert System?

Here’s a guideline to help you determine if you or a loved one is a good candidate for a medical alert system. You should consider a system for:

Elderly person's hands: Medical Alert System

  • Senior citizens who live alone or who spend a large part of their day alone
  • People with epilepsy, seizure conditions or other potential emergency health situations
  • Anyone who is hard of hearing and may not be able to communicate well with 911 dispatch
  • People recovering from major surgery, a heart attack or stroke
  • Senior citizens or disabled people who are prone to debilitating falls

What Are The Best Medical Alert Systems?

We’ve chosen our top recommendations based on a number of factors, including reliability of equipment and monitoring service center, device options, fall detection availability, pricing and other features.

Best Home-Based: Medical Guardian Review

Medical Guardian logo

Home Guardian

Visit Website | Call: 800-825-6700

Medical Guardian has an excellent variety of home and mobile units, but its Classic and Family Guardian plans really set them apart.

They both have a long 1,300-foot range from the base and long battery backups if the power goes out.

With the Family Guardian plan, you also get a door sensor and 2 motion sensors that can send you alerts to your smartphone to keep tabs on your loved one’s movements, e.g., night wandering, low activity, door opening, etc.

Medical Guardian is hard to beat for its level of service and reliability, with no activation, equipment (except for the GPS wristwatch) or cancellation fees and a fully certified, in-house monitoring center. Medical Guardian gets overall excellent consumer reviews for their equipment and 24/7 monitoring services.

Pros

Cons

  • No activation or cancellation fees
  • No equipment fees for all but the Freedom wristwatch
  • Among the best ranges from the base system
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Good base battery life
  • Fall detection available
  • GPS mobile tracking devices
  • Free monthly monitoring for additional help button
  • Monitoring center is CSAA and UL certified
  • BBB accredited with A+ rating
  • Monthly pricing can get expensive with higher-tech devices and add-ons

Pricing & Tech Specs

With Medical Guardian, you only pay a per month service fee. You’re not required to purchase a long-term contract, but you can enjoy some perks if you pay quarterly, twice a year or annually.

Payment Frequency Perks

  • Monthly – No Add-Ons
  • Quarterly – Free Ground Shipping
  • Semi-Annual – Free Ground Shipping & Free Lockbox
  • Annual – 1 Month Free, Free 2nd button, Free Lockbox & Free Ground Shipping
  • View all options
 Classic GuardianHome GuardianFamily GuardianMobile Guardian (GPS)Active Guardian (GPS, WiFi)Freedom Guardian (GPS, WiFi, Cell)
Monthly Price$29.95$34.95$79.95$49.95$44.95$44.95
Quarterly Price$89.85$104.85$239.85$149.85$134.85$134.85
Semi-Annual Price$179.70$209.70$479.70$299.70$269.70$269.70
Annual Price$329.45$384.45$879.45$549.45$494.45$494.45
Equipment CostNoneNoneNoneNoneNone$179.95
CommunicationLandlineAT&T Cellular NetworkAT&T Cellular NetworkAT&T Cellular NetworkAT&T Cellular NetworkAT&T Cellular Network
Range1,300 feet600 feet1,300 feet350 feetUnlimitedUnlimited
Battery Life32 hours30 hours32 hours24 hours36 hours48 hours
Waterproof Necklace or BraceletCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Wristband ColorBlack band with white buttonWhite or BlackWhite or BlackWhite or Blackn/aWhite or Black
Fall Detection For $10/monthCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark

Read Our In-Depth Medical Guardian Review

Best Mobile GPS: GreatCall Review

GreatCall medical equipment

greatcall splash logo

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GreatCall is an excellent option if your loved one is on-the-go a lot. Its Lively GPS-enabled mobile device is among the best values you’ll find. And fall detection is included in its affordably priced highest plan. Your loved one can get help 24/7 no matter where they are, and you can even keep tabs on their location via a smartphone app.

The device is about half the size of a credit card (although thicker in-depth), and it comes with a keychain clip. GreatCall offers AARP discounts, free shipping and no long-term contracts.

Pros

Cons

  • Monthly service fees are least expensive we reviewed
  • No activation fee
  • Service is wherever Verizon is active
  • Fall detection included in top-level plan
  • Device is GPS enabled
  • Monitoring center is IAED certified
  • No contract required
  • BBB accredited with A+ rating
  • Device charge of $49.99, but they often have specials
  • Must charge battery nearly every day (battery life is 36 hours)
  • No additional help button available — must purchase a second device and a second service plan

Pricing & Tech Specs

The GreatCall GPS-enabled device is a one-time charge of $49.99. You then choose from three monthly service plans.

 BasicPreferredUltimate
Price Per Month$24.99$29.99$39.99
CommunicationVerizon Cellular NetworkVerizon Cellular NetworkVerizon Cellular Network
24/7 Connection to Emergency ServicesCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Unlimited Access to Registered Nurses & DoctorsCheckmarkCheckmark
Fall Detection IncludedCheckmark

Best Fall Detection: LifeFone Review

LifeFone equipment

LifeFone Medical Alert System logo

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LifeFone, in business since 1976, offers all the features you’d want, including a lifetime equipment guarantee, a lifetime subscriber price and a 30-day money-back guarantee — all for attractive pricing compared to its competitors. But LifeFone really stands out for its affordable fall detection add-on pricing at only $5 per month for all but one plan (most others charge $10 per month).

They have a good variety of devices, bundles and upgrades to choose from. What’s missing? LifeFone’s wireless range from its base is shorter than other systems, which could make a big difference if your loved one lives in a larger home.

Pros

Cons

  • Competitive monthly pricing
  • No activation or equipment fees
  • Lifetime subscriber price & equipment guarantee
  • Great battery backup
  • Fall detection for most devices is only an additional $5/month (less than our top two picks)
  • Free monthly monitoring for additional help button
  • CSAA and UL certified monitoring center
  • GPS enabled device
  • No contract required
  • BBB accredited with A+ rating
  • Some consumer complaints about devices not working
  • Delivery fee with some plans

Pricing & Tech Specs

View all options.

 At-Home LandlineAt-Home CellularAt-Home & On-the-Go GPS
At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-in-Pendant
Price: Month to Month$24.95$30.95$39.95$43.95
Price: 3 MonthsUnlisted$98.85$119.85$125.85
Price: 12 MonthsUnlisted$340.45$406.45$439.45
CommunicationLandlineAT&T Cellular NetworkAT&T Cellular NetworkAT&T Cellular Network
Range1,300 feet1,300 feet600 feet from base station
350 feet from mobile unit
300 feet
Battery Life32 hours32 hours30 hours30 days
Waterproof Necklace or BraceletCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Fall Detection Available (up to 600 ft range)$5/month$5/month$10/month$5/month

Best Budget: Bay Alarm Medical Review

Bay Alarm Medical equipment

Bay Alarm Medical logo

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Bay Alarm Medical has been in business for nearly 70 years and has an excellent reputation for reliable devices and monitoring service. Overall, their monthly pricing is the most affordable you’ll find, especially for home-based units. And they also offer member discounts from AARP, AAA, and USAA.

For a one-time fee of $34.95 you can order an additional lanyard button, and your spouse gets free monthly service. You even get a 30-day risk-free period with a full refund if you’re not satisfied. And there’s no contract required and no activation or cancellation fees.

Pros

Cons

  • Competitive monthly pricing
  • Up to 1,000-foot range from base (among the best)
  • Strong base battery life at 32 hours
  • Fall detection available
  • GPS mobile device
  • Free monthly monitoring for additional help button
  • CSAA and UL certified monitoring center
  • No contract required
  • 30-day trial period with full refund
  • BBB accredited with A+ rating
  • Mobile GPS device equipment fee
  • Shipping fee with some plans (but no activation fees)

Pricing & Tech Specs

You have the option of bundling either in-home device with the GPS device. View all options.

 In-Home LandlineIn-Home CellularGPS Mobile Help ButtonIn-Home Landline + GPS BundleIn-Home Cellular + GPS Bundle
Equipment CostN/AN/A$79$79$79
Price: Month to Month$19.95$29.95$24.95$49.95$59.95
CommunicationLandlineAT&T CellularAT&T CellularLandlineAT&T Cellular
Range1,000 feet1,000 feetUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Fall Detection$10/month$10/monthN/A$10/month$10/month
Battery Life5 years5 years72 hours per charge72 hours per charge72 hours per charge
Battery Backup32 hours32 hoursN/AN/AN/A

Compare Medical Alert Systems

 Best Home-Based: Medical GuardianBest Mobile GPS: GreatCallBest Fall Detection: LifeFoneBest Budget: Bay Alarm MedicalADT Medical Alert SystemAlert 1Life AlertLifestationMobileHelpPhilips LifelineRescue Alert
Lowest At-Home Monitoring Price (Month-To-Month)$26.95N/A$24.95$19.95$29.99$28.95$49.95$29.95$24.95$29.95$32.95
Lowest GPS Monitoring Price
(Month-To-Month)
$49.95$24.99$39.95$24.95$39.99$45.95$69.95Unlisted$37.95$49.95$44.95
Activation FeeCheckmark$95Checkmark
Equipment Fee$179.95 for GPS watch (none for standard GPS)$49.99 for GPS$79 for GPS$99.95 for GPS
Range From Base1,300 FeetIn any Verizon area1,300 Feet1,000 Feet600 Feet600 Feet800 Feet500 Feet600 Feet800 FeetUnlisted
Battery Backup For Home Unit24-48 Hours30 Hours30-32 Hours32 Hours20 Hours24 Hours72 Hours32 Hours30 Hours30 HoursUnlisted
AppCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Best Home-Based: Medical GuardianBest Mobile GPS: GreatCallBest Fall Detection: LifeFoneBest Budget: Bay Alarm MedicalADT Medical Alert SystemAlert 1Life AlertLifestationMobileHelpPhilips LifelineRescue Alert

What Are My Other Options?

ADT Medical Alert System | Alert 1 | Life Alert | LifeStation | MobileHelp | Philips Lifeline | Rescue Alert

ADT Medical Alert System Review

ADT Medical Alert System logo

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You likely recognize ADT as one of the largest home security systems in the world, but they also offer medical alert systems. Unfortunately, the medical alert branch of their business doesn’t live up to many other medical alert companies’ services.

We’re less than impressed with their devices’ range and battery life. They do offer a 20% discount for AARP members and a monthly service price guarantee for life. But compared to other systems, ADT just doesn’t get our vote.

Pros

Cons

  • Affordable monthly pricing
  • No equipment fees
  • Lifetime price guarantee
  • Fall detection available
  • GPS enabled device
  • No contract required
  • BBB accredited with B+ rating
  • Activation and shipping fee with every system
  • Shorter range from base at 300/600 feet
  • Shorter battery backup than many other systems
  • Monitoring center isn’t CSAA or UL certified
  • Additional button is an extra $5/month for monitoring service

Pricing & Tech Specs

ADT charges an extra $5/month for an additional button for you or your spouse. You’ll also incur a $9.99 delivery fee for any of their systems.

 Medical Alert BasicMedical Alert PlusOn-the-Go
Price Per Month$29.99$35.99$39.99
CommunicationLandlineAT&T CellularAT&T Cellular
Range300 feet600 feetUnlimited
Automatic Fall DetectionNo$10/month extra$10/month extra

Alert 1 Review

Alert 1 logo

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Alert 1 offers no equipment or activation fees for any of their equipment. And they have one of the best mobile alert systems on the market with a 30-day battery life and compact size. You can also enjoy major savings if you prepay up for 12 or 36 months.

Alert 1 has been in business for nearly 30 years and has a great reputation for reliability and customer service. Their two emergency monitoring centers are CSAA certified, but they outsource the centers.

Pros

Cons

  • No equipment fee and free delivery
  • Average range from base
  • Mobile device has excellent battery life
  • Fall detection available
  • Free monitoring with second help button
  • GPS tracking enabled device
  • Monitoring center is CSAA and UL certified
  • No contract required
  • BBB accredited with A rating
  • $50 activation fee with some plans
  • No refunds for month-to-month plans
  • No refunds on prepaid plans after 30 days

Pricing & Tech Specs

Alert 1 doesn’t require a contract, but you can save $3/month with quarterly, $9/month with annual and $12/month with 3-year plans.

 HomeHome Fall DetectionOn-The-GoOn-The-Go+Fall DetectionOn-The-Go+Home Fall Detection
Price: Month to Month$28.95$39.95$45.95$55.95$61.95
Price: 12 Months$239.40$371.40$443.40$563.40$635.40
CommunicationLandlineCellularCellularCellularCellular
Range600 feet400 feetUnlimitedUnlimited600 feet
Battery Backup24 hours24 hours30 days30 days24 hours/30 days

Life Alert Review

Life Alert logo

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Life Alert is best known for its prominent TV commercial, “Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.” They have a long-standing reputation, and their emergency dispatch center is reliable with helpful operators. They also stand out for the long 72-hour battery life on the base station, and the pendant batteries can last up to 10 years.

But their pricing is very expensive compared to other companies, and they lock you into a 3-year contract. While they do offer a GPS mobile unit, it’s only as an add-on with the required home system. This is another big drawback because other companies offer GPS devices as a stand-alone option.

Pros

Cons

  • No equipment fees
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Excellent base and pendant battery life
  • Good range from base
  • GPS mobile pendant available as add-on
  • Monitoring center is UL and TMA certified
  • Generally good customer reviews for their monitoring center representatives
  • BBB accredited with A+ rating
  • Monthly pricing is much higher than average
  • Pricey activation fee of $95
  • Requires a 3-year contract
  • No fall detection available
  • No money-back guarantee
  • Can’t get GPS unit separately (only as an add-on with home base system)
  • Can’t purchase online, only via phone
  • No pricing on website
  • Several user complaints that their business customer support reps are rude and unhelpful

Pricing

Life Alert doesn’t list its pricing on its website, so you must go through the long phone sales pitch just to know how much their services cost. But we contacted Life Alert to get their pricing so you don’t have to.

  • $95 activation fee
  • $49.95/month for home base station and pendant (landline or cellular)
  • $69.95/month for base station/pendant + bathroom help button
  • $69.95/month for base station/pendant + GPS device
  • $89.95/month for base station/pendant + GPS device + bathroom help button

Tech Specs

  • 72-hour battery backup on base station
  • 800-foot range
  • Pendant/wristband battery life up to 10 years

Read Our In-Depth Life Alert Review

LifeStation Review

LifeStation logo

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LifeStation has affordable pricing for its At-Home System with no activation, equipment, cancellation or delivery fees — and they offer a price lock guarantee (as well as no long-term contract). The base station’s battery life is good, and the range to the wearable device is slightly less than average, but if you don’t need a wider range, LifeStation is definitely worthy of consideration for the price.

They do charge fees per month for an additional user, a lockbox and a mobile emergency button, but LifeStation’s monitoring center certification is among the best — and you get two dedicated, well-trained representatives with every emergency call.

Pros

Cons

  • Affordable monthly pricing
  • No activation, equipment or delivery fees
  • Great battery backup at 32 hours
  • Monitoring center certified by CSAA and UL
  • GPS device available
  • Fall detection available for additional fee
  • No contract required
  • BBB accredited with A+ rating
  • No information on their website about cellular system
  • Smaller than average range from base at 500 feet
  • Additional monthly service fee for a second help button

Pricing & Tech Specs

LifeStation’s website only includes pricing and other device information for its At-Home System (and add-ons). You must call for information on their Cellular System, GPS-Enabled System and Fall Detection.

At-Home System

  • $29.95/month month-to-month; $27.95/month for 3 months; $25.95/month for 12 months
  • 500-foot range
  • 32-hour battery backup
  • Landline required
  • Waterproof wristband or necklace

MobileHelp Review

MobileHelp logo

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MobileHelp is a solid option, and they offer a variety of home and on-the-go devices and plans. Their landline home unit has an excellent 1,300-foot range. They have a good refund policy with a 30-day guarantee and a prorated refund if you paid for a long-term contract. And you get a free lockbox with every order. One thing that stands out with MobileHelp compared to other services is that they give you two help buttons at no extra charge. They also have attractive jewelry pendants as an option.

Pros

Cons

  • No activation or equipment fees
  • Excellent range from base
  • Good base battery life at 30 hours
  • GPS enabled device available
  • Fall detection available
  • Free monthly service monitoring for a second help button
  • Monitoring center is CSAA and UL certified
  • BBB accredited with A+ rating
  • Range from base for home cellular unit is unlisted on website
  • Hefty shipping fee for month-to-month plans

Pricing & Tech Specs

You get free delivery with all pricing plans except their monthly plan, which includes a $15 shipping charge for either system’s equipment.

 MobileHelp Wired HomeMobileHelp ClassicMobileHelp SoloMobileHelp Duo
Price: Month to Month$24.95$34.95$37.95$41.95
Price: 3 Months$74.85$98.85$104.85$119.85
Price: 6 Months$137.70$179.70$197.70$221.70
Price: 12 Months$275.40$359.40$395.40$443.40
CommunicationLandlineCellularCellularCellular
Automatic Fall DetectionN/A$10/month$10/month$10/month

Philips Lifeline Review

Philips Lifeline logo

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Philips Lifeline was the first medical alert system in the U.S., and they’ve had a good reputation for more than 40 years. Philips Lifeline offers many of the same features as other systems but at a higher price.

Although they don’t have cancellation fees, they tack on fees pretty much everywhere — activation, shipping, additional buttons — and there’s no savings for quarterly or annual payments. But if price isn’t a game-changer for you, Philips Lifeline is a solid, reliable choice.

Pros

Cons

  • Good range from base at 800 feet
  • Good base battery backup at 30 hours
  • Fall detection included in price with two higher-tier plans/devices
  • GPS enabled device available
  • No contract required
  • BBB accredited with A+ rating
  • Overall one of the most expensive services we reviewed for monthly service fees
  • Activation fees with HomeSafe Standard and AutoAlert and device fee with GoSafe GPS
  • Shipping fees with every device
  • Only ETL certified (not CSAA or UL)
  • Hefty monthly service fee for second help button

Pricing & Tech Specs

Philips Lifeline doesn’t offer discounts if you pay for multiple months, like most other systems. They also charge a $19.95 shipping charge and a $50 activation fee for HomeSafe plans.

 HomeSafeHomeSafe with AutoAlertGoSafe (GPS)
Landline Price Per Month$29.95$44.95N/A
Cellular Price Per Month$43.95$58.95$49.95
One-Time Equipment FeeN/AN/A$99.95
Automatic Fall ButtonCheckmarkCheckmark

Rescue Alert Review

Rescue Alert logo

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Rescue Alert only offers one home unit (landline) and a GPS device. Their home unit pricing is among the highest we’ve seen, but the GPS plan is competitive. You can add a fall detection device for $10 per month with either plan. Unlike other companies, Rescue Alert also gives you the option of purchasing the home unit’s equipment upfront, which includes lifetime monitoring. This could be a good option if you don’t want to incur monthly fees.

Unfortunately, there’s no information on their website about the range, battery backup and other features of the home unit. The GPS unit has a battery life of 48 hours, but it was out of stock when we updated our review.

Pros

Cons

  • No activation, equipment or delivery fees
  • Choice of a free lockbox or second button
  • Fall detection available
  • No contract required
  • ETL and UL certified & EMP certified monitoring center attendants
  • Monthly fee for second help button

Pricing & Tech Specs

For the MXD3G, there is the option to pay a one-time fee of $849, which includes both new equipment and monitoring for life.

 MXD - LandlineRescue Alert (GPS)
Price: Month to Month$32.95$44.95
Price: 3 Months$89.85$119.85
Price: 12 Months$335.40$455.40
CommunicationLandlineAT&T Cellular

Why Is Fall Detection So Important?

Injuries resulting from falls are the leading cause of death among older people, says the AARP. Check out this Philips Lifeline video that features medical experts explaining their experiences with fall victims.

Tips On Caring For The Elderly

You have so many options when shopping for medical alert systems for seniors, and your decision really comes down to what the best fit is for your loved one and your family. Your choices depend on how mobile your loved one is, his or her budget and risk of falling, among many other factors.

To help care for your loved one better, read these 10 tips for caregivers. The guest post was written by someone from Medical Guardian to help caregivers learn safety tips.

Has a medical alert system helped you or your loved one?

About The Author:

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations, Sally began a long career researching and writing about hard-to-understand topics, such as insurance and finance.

Her additional experience in marketing, fundraising, public relations and financial planning at various foundations and nonprofit organizations over the years has given her the practical tools to inform consumers about making the smartest business and personal financial decisions.

Speaking of smart living — growing up in the (at-the-time) per-capita murder capital of the U.S. (Richmond, VA) taught her a thing or two about the need for personal and home safety. Sally stays on top of all the latest gadgets and services to protect her and her teenage daughters from potential predators and thieves. And she brings this knowledge to every article she writes.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

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Sophia Wells
October 6, 2016 4:03 am

I suggested for my mom to use medical device because I worry about her especially when she is alone at home. I have chosen BlueStar because my father supports the veteran affairs and they offer 10% discount to veterans and their family. The BlueStar team have all been very pleasant and helpful especially when I first got it and had to hook it up. Also, one day I hit it by accident when I was changing clothes and they came on promptly.

Lynn and Ben
May 23, 2016 9:23 am

My husband and I have been researching medical alert systems for his mom who is getting to the point where she needs one. Since she doesn’t live in a retirement community yet (and lives alone) we wanted to rest assured she’d be okay in case something were to happen. I automatically assumed that Life Alert would be one of the top picks since they’re all over TV but interesting to see there are so many other companies that offer just as great (if not better) products.