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How Much Is A Life Alert System For Seniors?

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“Help – I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” How many times have we heard this commercial and seen the poor lady on the floor after she’s fallen? I ignored it for years, but then my mom fell in the kitchen on Christmas Eve while my Dad was out. For almost two hours, she lay there with a broken shoulder and no way to call for help.

At that point, I researched how much Life Alert systems cost per month. Depending on the equipment you choose, Life Alert costs between $95.00 and $198.00 for the equipment, installation and activation. Monitoring runs between $49.95 and $89.95 monthly (a 36 month contract is required). A mobile GPS option costs $20.00 extra per month.

That said, the peace of mind that the medical alert systems like Life Alert can give you is priceless. When Dad called to tell us what had happened to Mom, he was in tears, and so was I.

People often think that they are covered in an emergency as long as they have a cell phone. But Mom literally couldn’t roll off her side to get up off the floor. She was helpless despite the fact that the cell phone was on the counter just a couple feet above her. Imagine how beneficial it would have been if she’d had a Life Alert system to call 911 that day.

Every second of every day in the United States an older adult falls, making falls the number one cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older Americans. – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Life Alert Monthly Pricing – Breaking Down The Cost

Life Alert is just one brand of medical alert system. There are several others on the market today. A medical alert system is a lightweight, wearable device that lets the user call emergency services if they fall or have some other type of medical issue.

Life Alert works via a base station and a pendant that the senior wears around their neck. There is also a wristband option.

In addition, the company offers a separate, waterproof HELP button for use in the shower or bathtub. This comes as part of a higher-priced monthly package.

The cost for Life Alert can be difficult to find out unless you call the company directly. They don’t sell online from their website. Talking to a salesperson can be time-consuming and somewhat high pressure. So, since they don’t publish their prices online, we did the calling for you to ensure that you have the most updated information, as of 2019.

As you might imagine, the Life Alert system doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all price. There are separate charges for different components, depending on the type of system your loved one wants and whether they’ll need additional features like a HELP button or GPS capability.

Equipment/Activation Fee

To begin with, there is an upfront equipment fee. Depending on the system options you want, Life Alert charges range from $95 to $198. This includes the system, installation, and programming of the equipment. To compare, most of the other medical alert companies charge anywhere between $0 and $95 to activate their system.

Next, to answer how much the monthly fee will be, you need to know how it will be used:

  • If the person rarely leaves their home, they may be fine with an in-home system (it has a range of 800 feet). The pendant must be near WiFi in order to track the senior if they go outside, so they likely wouldn’t be covered during a car ride or if they visited a friend who doesn’t have WiFi.
  • Is the person active and out of the home frequently? Then they would want the GPS-capable system, which Life Alert assures will provide coverage anywhere “GMS cellular phones operate”. This means they can use the system at home, but GPS can track them whenever they are out. If needed, emergency services would know where to find them, regardless if they are in a car or visiting a friend who doesn’t have cell phone service.

Monthly Packages

Life Alert offers three monthly packages. A 36-month contract (3 years) is required for their service. The contract can only be cancelled if the senior requires 24/7 care, goes into a nursing home, or passes away during the term of the contract.

Here are the packages and what you’ll get with each level:

Monthly Package Cost

24/7 Monitoring

800-foot range Pendant or wristband

Medical Records Storage

HELP Button

GPS Tracking

$49.95 + activation fee

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yes

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$69.96 + activation fee

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yes

yes

yes

$89.95 + activation fee

yes

yes

yes

yes

yes

Spouse coverage costs an additional $10 per month.

All three packages have the option of adding the Life Alert app for cellular monitoring.

Life Alert does not offer a senior discount. That being said, you are dealing with a salesperson when you set up the service, so it doesn’t hurt to ask for a discount – you may get lucky.

Life Alert Benefits:

  • They operate their own nationwide monitoring system.
  • When a senior calls for help, their emergency operators will stay on the phone with the person until help arrives.
  • The company will store and provide the senior’s medical history to paramedics.
  • Life Alert will respond even if there isn’t an emergency, which helps seniors feel safer.
  • They will refund 100 percent of all equipment and monitoring fees if the person passes away at home.
  • The battery doesn’t need changing for 10 years and the equipment is maintenance-free.

Life Alert Drawbacks:

  • They do not provide fall detection devices.
  • They are expensive compared to other medical alert systems.
  • No trial period is available so if a senior starts the service, they are locked into it for three years even they aren’t happy with it.

It may also be that it’s time for more care than just a LifeAlert system can provide. If this applies to your elderly loved one, read our articles on “Does My Elderly Parent Need Assisted Living?” and “Can My Elderly Parent Live Alone? Signs They Shouldn’t” for more information.

Is Life Alert Covered By Insurance?

One thing everyone wants to know is if Life Alert is covered by insurance. The short answer is “probably not.”

Although the majority of insurance companies will not pay for them, we recommend checking with the senior’s insurance company to be sure. There are some circumstances in which they may be able to get a reimbursement if a doctor has recommended a medical alert system and will put that recommendation in writing.

Long-term care insurance may also reimburse seniors for a portion of their medical alert system if it qualifies as durable medical equipment (DME) under their policy.

Is The Life Alert Cost Covered By Medicare?

Since Medicare covers so many necessities for seniors, you would think something as beneficial as a medical alert system would be covered, right?

Sadly, Medicare Part A (the part that a senior is automatically enrolled in) does not cover Life Alert or any medical alert system. Medicare Part B, which is the optional additional coverage that helps pay for medical equipment also doesn’t cover them.

Depending on the insurance company you choose, if you have coverage under Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage), AARP says you may get some coverage for Life Alert or a similar system. Coverage varies, though, so check with your individual insurance company to see if you have that benefit. NOTE: they may refer to these systems as a Personal Emergency Response Service (PERS). The insurance code is usually: S5161.

If you don’t have coverage through Medicare, you may want to try contacting your state’s Department of Aging Services or the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Ask what benefits they offer and see if they have a program that will help pay the cost of a medical alert system.

Also, a senior may be able to get some of the cost of a medical alert system covered through Medicaid. For more information, visit PayingForSeniorCare.com.

Does The VA Pay For Medical Alert Systems?

The Veteran’s Administration (VA) does not pay for medical alert systems, per se. Instead, they will provide veterans with a free phone dialer. There are several types on the market, such as the LiveLife Mobile Alarm.

These devices are wearable alert buttons like Life Alert’s. The device gets programmed with 3 to 5 phone numbers of the senior’s choice. It will send a text or dial these numbers if the user pushes the button in an emergency.

It’s important to understand that the dialer system is not monitored. It simply sends a call or text to the people the senior designates and alerts them that there is an emergency. It’s up to those contacts to figure out what the issue is and call emergency services.

The VA will pay for the device, but there may still be other costs associated with a phone dialer. For example, LiveLife uses a prepaid SIM card and works off a mobile phone network, so the senior must have a mobile phone which has a monthly cost. Also, a LiveLife user will be charged $9 per quarter to recharge the SIM card (this pays for any calls or texts the device makes).

Contact the Veteran’s Administration for more information.

Can You Get Life Alert For Free?

In general, a low-income senior cannot get a Life Alert or other medical alert system for free. However, they may be able to get a free phone through the federal government’s Lifeline program if they qualify. They would have this phone to call 911 in an emergency.

The Lifeline program allows one discount per household and may reduce or pay for the senior’s monthly phone bill. A qualifying senior could get either a wireless phone or a landline, but not both.

To qualify, the senior must be on a government assistance program, such as Medicaid, Supplemental Social Security, or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. If they aren’t on an assistance program, they must show a pay stub or tax return that proves their income is at or below the federal poverty guidelines.

For more information, visit LifelineSupport.org.

Emergency Necklace For Elderly – Life Alert Alternatives

Let’s face it – Life Alert is the oldest and probably the best known medical alert system in the industry, but it is expensive. Nowadays, there are more competitors, which means more choices in alert necklaces for elderly people, plus a cheaper price.

1. The first company we will look at is LifeFone Medical Alarm – Only $24.95 per month, no long term contract.

LifeFone medical alert system
Image courtesy of LifeFone

LifeFone offers:

  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • Pendant alert button available, as well as a wristband version.
  • The devices are waterproof so they can be used by the shower or in a bathroom. LifeFone does not have an independent help button like Life Alert’s – the senior would simply take their LifeFone pendant/wristband into the bathroom with them.
  • Pushing the alert button connects the senior directly to an emergency care agent at a central monitoring station.
  • The LifeFone product has a 1300 foot range (this is 61 percent larger than Life Alert’s 800 foot range).
  • Lifetime warranty on the equipment.
  • Optional automatic fall detection is available for an extra $10.00 per month.
  • Capability of adding 24/7 monitored fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide detection.
  • Works with landline or cellular service (a plan with cell service runs $30.95 per month).
  • Can add GPS (additional cost per month of about $10.00).
  • The senior can designate who should be alerted in an emergency, so family members or friends (or even their physician) will know there is a concern.

Info You Should Know:

The basic system is only going to work INSIDE your home. It probably won’t be able to follow you out to the garden and definitely not to the grocery store or to a friend’s home. If you want that capability, you will need to upgrade to the GPS-enabled device, which runs about $10.00 extra per month.

Visit LifeFone Now

2. The next company is Freedom Guardian Medical Alert System by Medical Guardian™ – Starting at $44.95 per month, plus a one time equipment charge of $99.00. *NOTE – The Freedom Guardian ONLY works through AT&Ts cellular service! It will NOT work on any other phone system.


  • The Freedom Guardian is a wearable medical alert device that doubles as a watch.
  • It comes in either black (shown) or white and is made with seniors in mind.
  • It has larger screen icons and an analog watch face plus a HELP touch screen and an emergency button.
  • It features alerts and reminders so the owner can remember things like taking their medications on time or going to their doctor’s appointment.
  • The Freedom Guardian also has text-to-speech capability so the senior can talk to a loved one through the watch (ala Dick Tracy) – there is no keyboard required.
  • It reads the date, time, messages, and calendar alerts aloud so seniors can hear it better.
  • The alert device also gives the weather for up to 3 days.
  • Has advanced location tracking through GPS so a senior who gets lost can be found even if they aren’t sure where they are.

Info You Should Know:

Again, the Freedom Guardian Medical Alert System ONLY works through AT & Ts cell service. If you have another carrier, such as Verizon or TMobile, this system WILL NOT WORK.

3. Ripple 24/7 Personal Safety Monitoring – about $40 to buy (as of 2019), which includes 3 months of monitoring.

Frankly, I’m on the fence about this one, while the other half of the SeniorSafetyAdvice team (Esther) thinks this device is awesome.

Okay, this is Esther speaking – there are several reasons why I think this little personal safety device is amazing!  I’m old enough to remember the brick cellular phones when they first came out and it’s just incredible how much technology has evolved to make our lives better!

Anyway, Robin did a great job of listing the pluses and minuses below of this device and I think the pluses make it worthwhile!

The pluses:

  • It is tiny and can be worn on a charm bracelet or necklace (or hung on a ring of keys).
  • Ripple is cost effective, coming in at less than 25 percent the cost of most medical alert systems.
  • It features 24/7 professional monitoring and reviews suggest that the response from the monitoring team is fast – they seem to be calling within about 15 seconds of pressing the alert button.
  • It is waterproof (which is good if you forget you are wearing it on a necklace and hop into the shower).
  • The battery lasts up to 6 months. Monthly subscribers get a new device in the mail once the battery begins to run low.

The minuses:

  • It is tiny – I mean really tiny (remember I said it could be worn on a charm bracelet?). I can see where it might be difficult for a senior who has fallen and is hurt or in panic mode to grab hold of this device.
  • To get emergency help, the senior must press the device at least three times to have help dispatched or it won’t activate. Again, if someone is in pain or upset, will they remember to press the device 3 times? *NOTE – if the person clicks it just once, the monitoring team will still call them or text them to see if there is an actual emergency – but an ambulance won’t be sent until after the team talks to the user.
  • It can only be set to alert the police or an ambulance.
  • It uses Bluetooth to connect with the owner’s smartphone to send a distress signal, then GPS locates the smartphone. This means the smartphone must be nearby to work (within 30 – 50 feet of the device).
  • Reviewers have noted that it seems to automatically disconnect from the phone app after a certain time frame, which means the senior might have to go into the app often to and re-pair it – which might prove difficult for a person who is not tech-savvy.

Related Questions

Are medical alert systems tax deductible? No, as of 2019, the IRS does not consider medical alert systems to be tax deductible. If the device stores medical information in a computer and makes it available to a physician, you may be able to claim it under the Medical Information Plan.

Does Apple watch have medical alert? Apple watches have a built-in Emergency SOS app that calls 911 when the watch’s side button is pushed. The Apple Watch Series 4 has SOS and fall detection. It calls 911 if the wearer does not respond after a fall. To work, the phone must be nearby if the watch doesn’t have cellular (is GPS only).

Related Reading:

Technology To Help Seniors Live Independently

How To Help Elderly Remember Medications

Scamming The Elderly Online

How Can Alexa Help Seniors?

Is Google Home Good For The Elderly?


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