Traditionally, medical alert systems used to contact emergency personnel are wearable help buttons that work off a home base console that is tied to a land line – many still do but there are some new mobile medical alert products that are emerging onto the market.
For emergency calls, medical alert systems uses a reliable cellular connection to contact the responder of your choice. You can also use the system to call for help even if you can’t speak. With two-way communication, the responder will be able to hear you and determine how best to assist you.
These devices can be worn on a belt clip, as a bracelet or a necklace. They’re perfect for most anyone, including active seniors.
These medical alert systems are simply a mobile device that work by sending your information to a monitoring center. They can give you and family caregivers some peace of mind knowing that if something happens, you can push a button and get the help you need.
A monitoring center (aka call center) is a facility that is staffed 24/7 by trained professionals who can provide assistance in the event of an emergency. The monitoring center will be able to contact the appropriate authorities and/or first responders, as well as your loved ones, in the event that you are unable to do so yourself.
Does Verizon Have A Medical Alert System For Seniors?
A few years ago, Verizon’s cellular network offered a mobile personal emergency response system called Verizon SureResponse but it was discontinued in 2016 due to several issues that they were not able to correct in the product.
The main problems were…
- Battery life was dismal, requiring frequent re-charging.
- There were many customer complaints that the product was not as “waterproof” as was advertised.
- The service required the user to sign a 2 year contract.
Verizon decided that it was best to discontinue the product and the service vs. working to address and correct these problems.
Medical Alert Systems That Use Verizon
But there are 3 other medical alert products that use Verizon’s services and are excellent alternatives to Verizon Medical Alert Systems.
Family 1st Medical Alert – their system not only piggybacks off Verizon’s cell towers (giving you access pretty much everywhere in the USA), you don’t even need to have Verizon’s service.
Their device works on WiFi, so no matter who you have service with (or even if you have no service!) you can use this medical alert. Plus, it has optional fall detection that can be added for a small monthly fee.
Prime Medical Alert – they offer a variety of medical alert products from the basic wearable devices to those with built in fall detection and GPS capabilities.
Care Smart Watch – although this is NOT a medical alert device, it IS a watch by Verizon that is intended for seniors and does give them the function to easily contact someone via their watch.
When you sign up for a medical alert system, you’ll be given a phone number to call in case of an emergency. You can also add this number to your speed dial, so you can reach it quickly in case of an emergency.
Medical alert systems can give you and your loved ones peace of mind, knowing that help is always just a phone call away in case of an emergency situation.
What We Recommend For Medical Alert Devices For Seniors
We have written about medical alert devices, their pros and cons, costs, etc. In researching these products and also getting recommendations from friends and family who use these products – we can give you our list of the best medical alert systems that we recommend.
But if you or a senior loved one is hesitant to use a wearable medical alert device, you may want to consider using Alexa devices as a medical alert system. But know that this would only work while you are at home.
The major benefit of using Alexa in the home is that there is no additional fee other than what you are currently paying for your Wi-Fi connection.
There are multiple mobile medical alert systems that work with Verizon’s services.
Family 1st Medical Alert
We personally tested and reviewed the Family 1st system, so we can tell you that it gives you a lot of bang for the buck. As I said above, it uses Verizon’s cell towers to triangulate your position in an emergency (you don’t need to have Verizon service or even a landline to use this device).
- 24/7 monitoring.
- Two-way voice – just press the button on the device to be connected to a customer care representative who will talk to you through the device (no phone needed!)
- Water resistant – can be worn in the shower.
- Optional fall detection can be added for a minimal monthly fee.
- It can also provide the call center with the user’s location using GPS location tracking.
- Important information like your medical info, physician info, medications and emergency care instructions are stored on their system and made available to first responders in an emergency.
- Can add up to 5 emergency contacts to be notified.
- NO long-term contracts! You can cancel anytime with no cancellation fees.
- 30 day money back guarantee. You only pay for the service time you have used.
- NO activation fees.
The Life Alert product is probably one of the most well known medical alert devices. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t see a commercial about them on my TV.
Life Alert works via a base unit 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.
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.
Life Alert is just one brand of medical alert system. There are several others on the market today that may better fit your budget and your needs.
One of these other companies is LifeFone Medical Alarm – Only $24.95 per month, no long term contract.
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.
- 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.
Freedom Guardian (by Medical Guardian)
The Medical Guardian medical alert device ONLY works through AT&T’s cellular service so if you do not have AT&T then it may not be an option.
- 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.
On The Go Guardian (by Medical Guardian)
This medical alert device is the kind that you can take with you everywhere you go.
It works without needing to have a smartphone or WiFi service in the home. It has it’s own proprietary WiFi location service which means that you can use it at home or when you are out and about without having to pay an extra fee (like you do with Life Alert).
It has a 30 day battery life and yes, it is shower proof!
Ripple Personal Safety Monitoring Device
The Ripple device is also NOT a medical alert device but it is a monitoring device which may be all that someone needs. But please note that it’s tiny, it can actually be worn on a charm bracelet so if your elderly loved one has problems managing small object, this may not be suitable for them.
- 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.
- 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.
Invisawear Smart Jewelry
The Invisawear Smart Jewelry line is one of the newest alert devices on the market. It’s not necessarily a “medical alert” device but it does provide a call to 911 as well as a contact that you designate.
For a senior person who is independent but yet wants some extra protection – I would recommend an Invisawear product.
What makes this product so amazing is that it’s a decorative small charm that can be worn on a necklace or a bracelet. It’s the smart new way to wear a medical alert device without looking as if you are wearing one.
It’s free to use – no monthly fee. It’s a GPS device to alert your contact list and / or 911 (which is optional and also free) of an emergency and also to provide them with your GPS location.
This elegant alert device has the following features:
- You activate the alarm by simply double pressing the back of the pendant. This sends a text message along with your GPS coordinates immediately to the individuals you designated on your emergency contact list.
- When you set it up you can add up to 5 individuals to be contacted when you activate the alarm.
- You can also set up the option to contact 911 Dispatchers in your area. There is no cost for this and it’s an option in addition to contacting your personal contact list.
- It’s sweat and weather resistant.
- Because it’s a Bluetooth paired item – it will only work if the smartphone it’s paired to is nearby.
- There is no battery to charge.
- There is no monthly fee.
- It currently only works within the USA
- For more information about Invisawear – check their website FAQs here.
One additional item that I can recommend for older adults is to add a magnetic clasp to the Invisawear necklace. This makes it much easier to put on and take off for anyone who has problems managing small jewelry clasps. I know that I do so this makes it quick and easy for me to wear my Invisawear necklace.
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. Manufacturers likely make this easy by offering newer versions, but don’t count on your aging parent to follow up on any letters sent to them about this.forbes.com
All in all, we would rank medical alert devices as one of the most useful things that any person can purchase and wear.