Medical alert companies have helped keep the elderly and disabled safe for decades. Dozens of companies offer service, but only a few stand out as truly valuable. Too many of these providers have let their equipment and options get outdated—making them way less useful.
We like Medical Guardian for their experience in the industry and commitment to giving the fastest response time.
- Medical Guardian
Newer company that's providing better care and equipment than most competitors
An all-in-one solution for elderly tech needs
- Bay Alarm Medical
Discrete wearable devices and delightfully friendly service
Not one, but two trained reps handle every call
One of the oldest and most trusted in the industry for good reason
The best option for on the go seniors who don't want to wear bulky devices
- Philips Lifeline
Higher end service with the best tech
Decent service with no setup or installation fees
- Rescue Alert
Older company with ok service and a great option for non-English speakers
- Walgreens Ready Response
The popular drug store offers a medical alert system and it's pretty good
Your easy guide to medical alerts
Choosing your medical alert system shouldn't be that hard.
If you live by yourself and are prone to injuries when you fall, or have other health issues (e.g. heart problems) you probably need a safe way to call for help in the event of an emergency.
Picking from the group of available companies is a matter of gauging the value and quality of each provider while considering your needs.
We've done the heavy lifting in laying out the best in the business, but some things you want to consider include:
1) Mobility: How often do you go out and is coverage while you're away from home important to you?
2) Range: How big is your home, apartment, or living situation?
3) Services: Do you need a basic coverage, or something more complex like environmental monitoring?
What We Looked For
After you've established what you need out of a monitor, it's time to find the best one to suit your quality standards and budget. We went over all of the important details of the top medical alert companies and boiled them all down into three different categories:
After figuring out how well each provider stacked up, we gave them an overall rating based on value and quality (ranked from 1.0 to 10.0).
Each company has plans and the plans include (at their basic level) monitoring and it goes up to include other features and even equipment in some cases.
Some companies make you pay for equipment up front and charge less of a monthly fee. The companies with this set up usually have little to no contract terms. Most include equipment (or charge way less than cost) with their plans, but they are more expensive (monthly) and will almost always include a contract (1 to 5 years).
Pay special attention to the plans to ensure that you are getting everything you want and not paying for things you don't need.
Mobile plans are common, but almost always cost extra. If you want a home-based system and the ability to leave home with the same level of coverage, it will be a premium price tag.
The equipment itself is also something to look at. The range of home-based and mobile units can vary from a few hundred feet to over 1,000.
If you do want a mobile option, but not bulky equipment, the style and layout of certain buttons that you wear are more fashionable than others.
This is the customer service offered by the company. In a non-emergency situation, can you connect with someone helpful?
Sometimes equipment goes haywire, questions need answered, and other issues may arise. We looked to see if they have a dedicated customer support and then how fast they responded (if they did have one). Surprisingly, very few alert companies have dedicated customer support.
The main reason to have one of these services is to have individuals ready to notify authorities if you can't. You press a button, or in certain cases, the device you wear knows you fell and the monitoring services goes to work and gets you help.
All the companies offer monitoring, but only a few do it "in house". Many use third-party call centers for their customers.
It's not (necessarily) a bad thing, either.
Many of these call centers are highly accredited and rated—you just have to know what you're looking for.
Since this is the crown jewel on any service that you'd want, we spent time looking at exactly who is going to be answering your call for help.
Best Overall: Bay Alarm Medical
- Bay Alarm is one of the best services in the alert industry, but it is also one of the lowest-cost options available.
- All of the wearable equipment is discrete. People may not even notice you're wearing your pendant. It can help you feel more comfortable in your home and out and about.
- Translation services are available in several different languages making it easier for your relatives that are more comfortable speaking their native tongue, as opposed to English.
- Service is not only great, but it's kinda renowned. The department has office hours available if you have non-emergency problems.
- Environmental monitoring is available. If your loved ones aren't able to hear alarms, the authorities will be called out for them.
- The mobility options aren't the best in the industry, but they are adequate for those who don't venture out much.
- The base units are bulky and need to be plugged into an outlet and a working phone line in most cases and plans.
- Monitoring is done through a third-party, but the company is highly accredited and capable of handling any situation.
Best for Options: Medical Guardian
- No contracts and no set up fees means that you will be free to end service whenever you'd like.
- The equipment is durable and the "classic" plan comes with a base that has a 1300 foot range, one of the largest in the industry.
- The mobile plan is a decent value and the equipment and button that it comes with are fairly discrete to keep you on the go and not self-conscious.
- Automatic fall detection is available. It does cost an extra $10/mo and it's only available in the "home" plan and not the "classic".
- A specified customer service phone number and page with a form to fill in your questions and concerns is available to all customers.
- Monitoring is great with EMT trained operators handling every single call that comes into the U.S. based facility.
- There are no options to include environmental monitors, like fire and carbon monoxide, to your plan. Other providers do offer them at an additional charge.
- The "classic" plan only allows for landline connections. If you are looking for cellular plans, it will have to come from a higher priced option. Wireless is not available.
- The equipment options in most of the plans are bulky and less than fashionable.
Best for Mobility: GreatCall
- The best option for those who are on the go. The company only offers a "mobile" solution that can also be used in your home.
- GreatCall has many other tech options including phones that are specifically for the elderly.
- The service isn't as expensive as the others in the industry since they only provide the monitoring and a mobile pendant/wristband.
- There are no base units or extra equipment options (like shower buttons). It's simply a mobile connected alert button and monitoring.
- The company is primarily known for cell phone service and not medical monitoring.