One of the things that can help seniors age in place longer is getting (and using!) a medical alert device. While there are a variety of these on the market, the following are the ones we currently recommend here at Senior Safety Advice:
Here’s a warning about the older devices that run on 2G or 3G networks: Those are shutting down by the end of 2022. 2G and 3G networks will no longer function for anything after 2022. If your aging loved one has such a device, now is the time to upgrade or replace it.Forbes.com
Medical Alert Device With Fall Detection
We like two monitored medical alerts systems, so we’re going to talk about them separately.
Belle+ Medical Alert (Family 1st)
The first monitored medical alert system we recommend is the Belle+ Medical Alert Device from Family1st.
It has a GPS system capable of following you pretty much anywhere – the backyard, the grocery store, or across the state and country.
This device works anywhere in the USA that has Verizon service coverage, although you do NOT have to have Verizon service in order to use the medical alert device.
They actually piggyback their signals on Verizon’s cell towers, which covers all but the most remote areas of the country.
What we love about this device is that, unlike the well-known Life Alert system that charges you separately for each service (expensive!) and locks you into a long term contract – the Belle+ Medical Alert Device is comparable in coverage and services – without the hefty price tag and the contract.
Another great feature is that you can add fall detection for just $5.00 per month. That option isn’t even available on many other systems (including Life Alert).
The Belle+ Medical Alert is also water resistant, so you or your senior loved one can wear it into the shower without worry (and there’s no need for an extra, ugly panic button in the bathroom or other rooms in the home).
- The device itself is FREE with a subscription sign up (monthly, semi-annual, and annual plans are available)
- No contract required (plus they have a 30-day money back guarantee). Also, there is no cancellation fee
- Capable of fall detection (optional cost)
- Water resistant so you are safe while showering or bathing
- Two way voice through the pendant connects you with the monitoring agents so you are never alone while waiting for emergency help to arrive
- One touch button on the pendant if you have an emergency
- No landline required
- GPS enabled so you are assured that emergency services will be able to locate you wherever you need help
- Contact list so your loved ones will be alerted if you have an emergency
- Emergency care instructions, allergies, current medications and physician info are available to emergency responders
- Easy-fasten lanyard features a magnetic clasp
- Lanyard can be removed and the device can be used with a belt clip instead
- The device needs to be charged (but only about every 5 days if you have the fall detection service enabled)
- Fall detection may not be accurate if the device is worn on a belt instead of on the lanyard around your neck.
Here’s our video review:
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Philips Lifeline specializes in selling medical alert devices, offering a select range of products tailored towards seniors.
Unlike other companies that provide a wide range of items, Lifeline focuses on a few core areas, but with optional add-ons and modifications available.
These areas include in-home base units and on-the-go pendants for use outside of the home.
The HomeSafe AutoAlert and On the Go systems from Lifeline come equipped with fall detection at no extra charge.
AutoAlert integrates three fall detection technologies:
- The device is capable of detecting the speed at which a person falls
- An internal barometer that can detect even the slightest changes in air pressure and is sensitive enough to pick up on pressure fluctuations at varying distances from the ground
- A formula to verify the accuracy of the sensor, allowing AutoAlert to detect falls that may be overlooked by other systems.
The company reports that this combined approach gives their devices a 95% accuracy rate, by helping to minimize false alarms or missed falls (when the user has fallen, but a fall detection device does not detect it).
In fact, the National Council on Aging says, “Its high accuracy earned it our Reviews Team’s designation of “Most Accurate.”
Undoubtedly, the primary advantage of Lifeline’s medical alert devices is their reliability and efficacy, which is crucial for such devices.
The Lifeline devices are designed to be user-friendly, uncomplicated, and to provide prompt assistance whenever necessary, ensuring that you get the support you need without any issues.
Philips Lifeline has some significant drawbacks worth considering.
One of the major downsides is the cost, which is considerably higher than that of many of its competitors.
Several other companies offer comparable products that are significantly more affordable, particularly when factoring in monthly fees.
Moreover, Philips Lifeline has yet to adopt some of the latest technological advancements that are gradually becoming the norm in the industry.
This includes specialized smartwatches and alert applications that can be integrated with your existing devices and carried with you.
Other Recommended Medical Alert Devices For Elderly
Another monitored medical alert system we recommend is the Life Fone Medical Alarm.
The drawback to this one is that he 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 has a monthly extra cost.
- Has a wristband or pendant option.
- It is waterproof, so the senior can shower while wearing it (which is great because bathrooms are one of the most dangerous areas in a home).
- Optional fall detection is available for an additional monthly fee.
- Features an alert button that connects the wearer directly to an emergency care agent at a central monitoring station.
- 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.
- 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.
- No long term contract.
Unmonitored Medical Alert Systems
Esther, one of our Senior Safety Advice cofounders, personally uses and loves Invisawear Smart Jewelry.
This alert device looks like a pretty charm that you wear on a necklace, bracelet or key chain. It doesn’t look clunky and obvious the way other medical alert devices do.
She says, “It’s the smart new way to wear an alert device without looking as if you are wearing one.”
- Invisawear is essentially a GPS-enabled panic button, not a true medical alert device. The wearer must be able to double click on the back of the pendant, so this would NOT be a good choice for someone who has dementia or Alzheimer’s.
When the senior double clicks on the pendant, this sends a text message along with their GPS coordinates immediately to the individuals they designated on their emergency contact list. They can have up to 5 people on their contact list.
- The device does NOT automatically call 911, however the senior can set up the option to contact 911 dispatchers in their area. There is no cost for this.
- It is not waterproof, however it is sweat and weather resistant.
- Because it’s a Bluetooth paired item, it will only work if the smartphone it’s paired to is nearby (within 30 feet).
- There is no contract for the service.
You can watch our YouTube Invisawear review and read our in-depth article about the product by clicking here.