We spent 46 hours researching dozens of Medical Alert companies to bring you the best system we could find. We called each company directly and personally tested each system. Bay Alarm Medical is our top pick for 2017.
We wanted to keep the results simple by choosing companies that were professional, reliable, and easy to work with. Price, ease of use, and customer service were most important to us when choosing our top three. When you are in the market for a Medical Alert System, you’re not just buying a product, you’re buying peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
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Best Medical Alert System
Bay Alarm Medical is our top choice for the best medical alert system in our 2017 reviews. We loved their outstanding customer service and affordable pricing. The company has been in business for decades and is known for their great customer service. Their base system is one of the best in the industry and it offers a built-in, high-efficiency speaker and highly-sensitive microphone that allows for exceptional communication in the event of an emergency.
Base services start at $25.95 per month
- 14-day free trial period
- 100% waterproof necklace
- Long-life battery backup
Mobile Help is our runner-up for Best Medical Alert system because of their great service and modern technology. Their website is filled with information on not only their products but on Medical Alert Systems in general. They offer a base-level service that starts as low as $29.95 a month
- 30-day, risk-free trial period
- 7 price plan levels
- No landline needed
We like Medical Alert because of the attentive service we received on the phone. They also have the best introductory offer which currently includes a free month, a free lockbox, and free shipping. They have systems to fit every lifestyle with everything from home systems, to GPS systems that cover you wherever you go. At Home Landline service starts as low as $32.99 for a month-to-month plan. (This plan pricing drops if you pay semi-annually or, annually).
- 24/7 Protection
- Specialist in Personal Emergency Response Services (PERS)
- Simple Set Up
How We Selected the Medical Alert Companies
We spent 46 hours on the phone talking directly with each company as well as interviewing employees at assisted living centers and nursing homes. We also hand-tested each system and scoured any review we could find.
Not all of these systems are created equal and we wanted to narrow our search and compare products with similar capabilities. We determined that the following characteristics were most important in order for us to consider a company for our list.
- Nationwide Service – with this your service can travel with you wherever you go
- Affordability – with many seniors living on a fixed income, monthly cost is paramount
- Easy Setup – we chose systems that needed nothing more than plugged in
- Ease of use – just one, easy, push of a button to contact the call center
- Professional Call Center – a quick response from helpful, knowledgeable professionals
- Ability to activate with one hand – in case of an accident, one-handed activation is critical
- A choice of either a wristband or a pendant – to keep you living your normal, unrestricted lifestyle
- Adequate Battery Backup – in case of a power outage, a long backup battery is important
- Range that extends your property – critical that you can contact your base unit in case of a fall while outside
- Base Station that has multiple phone numbers it can contact – gives peace of mind to family and friends knowing they will be notified
AARP, a leading company in senior care, senior benefits, discounts, and coupons, offers additional information on their website on how to choose a Medical Alert System. Be sure to ask the company you’re looking at if they offer an AARP discount.
Companies That Were Not Reviewed
Our first cut was made after researching who offered Nationwide Service. Some of the companies on our original list only offer regional service and so we cut them.
- Heartland Security (Southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa)
- Per Mar Security Services (13 Midwest States)
- Habitec Security (Only in Ohio and Michigan)
- Halo Care Alert (Not monitored by a call center)
- On-Call Medical Alerts (Atlanta area only)
Bay Alarm Medical
Bay Alarm Medical is the clear-cut winner for many reasons including their unparalleled customer service and their commitment to the community. They are dedicated to helping others in more ways than one, such as supporting the local community, which shows great business character. During our initial call to Bay Alarm, the customer service representative was warm and helpful. This is where Bay Alarm Medical really shines. They are the best when it came to customer service and you feel that they genuinely want to make sure you are safe and well taken care of.
When we tested our Help button, their first question was to ask if everything is ok. When we said “yes, we’re just testing our button”, they seemed genuinely pleased to hear that we did not have a problem. Their system offers a quick response and, if necessary, will contact family, friends, neighbors and even your local 911 services. We love this aspect of their service and find it comforting to know that family can be notified in an emergency.
The company’s headquarters are in California, which is the home base from where they consult, give technical support, and provide customer service. For additional help, their website includes dozens of helpful how-to videos on subjects such as “When Would Someone Use Fall Detection”? and “What Happens if the Dispatcher Can’t Hear Me”? All videos are recorded using actual Bay Alarm Medical employees.
Hooking up the system was as easy as plugging it into the wall and connecting a phone line. It’s really as simple as that! If you like visual instruction, Bay Alarm Medical has a quick one-minute video showing how simple it is to set up one of their devices:
We loved the long-life backup battery which allows the system to continue for up to 32 hours in the event of a power outage. Their emergency button necklaces are 100% waterproof which protects you even while in the bathroom and they have up to a 1000 ft. range and a Lifetime Warranty. An added bonus is that the system can answer a phone call so you don’t need to rush to the phone and its simple setup allows for it to be plugged into any home in the US with a standard landline. This beneficial feature can protect you wherever you go. One thing we love most about Bay Alarm Medical is that they provide complimentary service for your spouse. Just buy a second pendant for them to wear and they’re covered!
Customer service at MobileHelp is fast and efficient. During an initial phone call to the company, the representative was attentive and patient while explaining to us the different levels and pricing plans. He even asked about our personal situation and gave us real-life scenarios based on that to help us understand what we needed.
They answered within 15 seconds when we pushed/tested our button and the customer service rep was helpful and said we could call and test the system any time we wanted. To test the system, depress and hold the Test button on the base station until it turns green. Next, press a neck or wrist button and the base station will say “test sent to emergency call center”. When you hear a beep, you know the test was successful and the base station will announce “Thank you for testing your device”.
Their base station comes with a 30-hour backup battery and the system has a 600-foot radius – approximately two football fields. With this range it’s feasible that someone in the yard could push the call button around their neck and have another person in the house alerted by the call center returning the call.
Base stations with MobileHelp are all cellular which means that no landline phones are required. You just set it on a flat surface and plug the electrical cord into the wall. Be sure that the outlet isn’t controlled by a light switch and you’re on your way.
Mobile Help offers 7 different pricing plans. The 3 most popular being:
We like Medical Alert because they have the best, introductory, money-saving offer which includes free equipment as well as free shipping. The company’s primary service is medical alert systems and they belong to a larger, nationwide system called Connect America.
When we called them, they pointed out that they consider themselves a support network and not just an emergency response center. We liked knowing that they cared about being able to provide assistance in non-emergency situations too. The operator took her time explaining the system and we liked that she didn’t try to upsell us to a unit that we didn’t need. She was also sure to point out the current introductory offer.
Installation is a breeze. We literally just plugged the base unit into the wall and connected the phone cord to a phone jack. From there we turned it on and the unit was working. Easy!
*Protection Plan includes replacement of equipment for lost buttons, damaged buttons, theft of buttons or damage to the unit. Fall Detection includes accelerometer fall detection technology which calls emergency operators if you cannot push your button.
What is a Medical Alert System?
Medical Alert Systems have been around for over 50 years. They can also be referred to as Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) and were designed to offer 24-hour protection in case of a medical emergency and for older Americans who live alone. They are devices that use interactive two-way wireless technology to connect the wearer to a base unit that can call for help in an emergency. They offer a piece of mind to seniors who continue to live independently. They also help to ease the minds of families who care for those seniors. Unlike in years past, nearly 90 percent of seniors prefer to and DO live in their own homes which are why these systems have become increasingly popular.
These days, modern technology has advanced the capabilities of Medical Alert Systems and the devices have become more responsive and easier to use. In fact, many companies now offer cellular monitoring for an added fee. This is a great option as cellular coverage will ensure safety even when you’re out of range of your base station or when you’re away from home.
Current trends and the need for mobility have prompted companies to offer a bracelet style monitor that users can wear if they prefer. Most people agree that it’s important that these devices don’t interfere with everyday life or restrict mobility.
The system is multifaceted and consists of hardware (a base unit and a worn device) that is connected to (either by landline or cell signal) a 24/7 emergency monitoring center. The user wears a button, either as a necklace or in the form of a bracelet which can easily be pushed to summon help. The button communicates with a base unit which is connected to a call center. Call centers are staffed with emergency operators who monitor calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
One of the most popular aspects of these systems is that many of them offer Automatic Fall Detection calling. Although none of the companies would confirm that they can detect falls with 100% accuracy, they are an added layer of protection that can give a further piece of mind. When we tested it out and simulated a fall, the device contacted our base unit which called the call center.
According to a report by the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older Americans and one-fourth of Americans over the age of 65 falls each year. This number is staggering! In the year 2013 alone, fall injuries cost Americans a total of $34 billion.
Important Facts to Consider
Seniors are more active than ever and most do not want to be tied down by their Medical Alert Device. Medical Alert companies are well aware of this and the current systems can, in fact, increase the quality of life for seniors. With cellular systems, seniors can be more mobile than ever while continuing to have peace of mind for their safety. With additional options such a bracelet-style devices, they can continue to lead the life they’ve always lived and still be covered in the event of an emergency.
Fear of Falling
According to the National Council on Aging, a growing number of older adults fear falling and limit their daily functions and engagements because of it. Every 11 seconds an older adult is taken to an emergency room to be treated for a fall and every 19 seconds an older adult dies from a fall.
Falling can be life-changing for older adults because the recovery time can be long and difficult. Their bodies do not recover as quickly as when they were younger. The NCOA is dedicated to implementing fall prevention programs and education to reduce the incidence of falls. Their site offers tools, best practice information, and strategies for fall prevention.
Discounts May be Available
It is important to evaluate the entire cost of a Medical Alert system when shopping for the best choice. It is also important to realize that although most insurance companies believe they help prevent injury, most do not cover or even subsidize the monthly cost of the system. The only exception to this may be Long-Term Care Insurance. If you have a medical disability and Long-Term Care Insurance, check with your insurance provider to see if they offer a discount.
If you are not medically disabled, there are still a few options for possible discounts. Check with each of the Medical Alert companies you are looking at to see what discounts they might offer. or example, Bay Alarm Medical offers discounts to members of AARP, AMAC, and USAA. Call them directly to ask about their current offerings.
Another way to save money is by paying for a longer span all at once such as quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. Many companies will give a discount for paying more at once which will save you money provided this option is in your budget.
Returning the System
Every Medical Alert company we interviewed required that we return the system when it’s no longer needed. It’s important to realize that you do not actually own the system but will be renting it from the company. All companies say the return process is simple.
Simply call the company to let them know you are canceling your service. They will provide you with a Return Authorization number to include with the return. This will ensure that they properly credit the equipment to your account upon receipt. Billing and monitoring will be stopped as soon as the company receives your device.
We can all agree that living a happy and healthy life is the ultimate goal for the majority of us. But, with our busy lives, it can be difficult to have everything covered and eliminate all worry. We can’t be all places at all times.
Whether you’re a senior living independently, or a family member of an older adult, a Medical Alert System can help you obtain the peace of mind you desire. You’ll breathe easier knowing that you’ll be alerted and/or taken care of in case of an emergency.
With so much to think about, consider if it is right for you and your family to entrust the safety of your loved ones to a professional monitoring company by using a Medical Alert System. It will most likely give you that extra sense of calm knowing that you’re covered by professionals – leading to a happier and healthier life!