A medical alert system is a device set up in your home with or without a mobile component, which can call for assistance in the event of a health emergency. Typically, this is at the very least a base station for the home, which is plugged into the wall, and/or a pendant button worn around the neck or a wristwatch.
During a medical emergency, the wearer of this device can press a button and summon emergency help. They can also be paired with a mobile device, which the user can carry with them, in order to have emergency coverage even when out of the house.
Medical alert systems typically are associated with seniors who have mobility and health problems, but they are also used by people far younger who have medical issues which may require unexpected, immediate assistance.
In-Home vs Mobile Devices
Just about every medical alert system has an in-home station so that the user can be covered when they’re at home, but the limited mobility this provides isn’t right for everyone. With a mobile device, you are covered even outside of the house, typically by way of a pendant or a wristwatch.
The mobile devices are linked with a cellular company and use GPS and cellular technology to allow the user to travel freely and still be able to call for assistance if needed. These can make a huge difference in quality of life for people who otherwise would feel compelled to stay close to home so that they can be sure to call for assistance.
How Do Medical Alert Systems Work?
The basics of the devices are the same whichever company you choose. Press the button on your medical alert necklace or on the medical alert system, and you will be on the line with a professional in under a minute. But similarities tend to end there. One good example is monitoring. Some companies simply have a 24/7 call center that can dispatch emergency services or call loved ones in the case of an emergency. Others have powerful automatic monitoring of fire/smoke or carbon monoxide.
Intruder alerts or the ability to speak to and get help from board certified doctors are niche features you might be interested in, too. If you have a large home, check that the range suits your needs. This can vary from 400 feet to 1,500 feet, with unlimited range across the United States for mobile solutions. This is especially helpful if you want to choose a medical alert system which allows you to pick up regular phone calls from the medical alert necklace or wristband itself.
While historically many medical alert devices relied on a landline to get up and running, this is no longer a necessity. Both cellular at home options, as well as completely wireless mobile medical alert devices are now popular.
What Should I Look for in a Medical Alert System?
With all of the options available, it can be difficult to find the right choice for you or your loved ones. The best medical alert system for one person may not be the best for another, which is why it’s important to consider the health, capabilities, lifestyle, and habits of the person it’s intended for. That way, you can make sure that the features of a particular device are best suited for the needs of your loved one.
One universally important detail is support. No matter what your other needs are, you want to make sure that the medical alert system you choose has a reliable, on-the-spot call center. The best medical alert systems will have reputable monitoring services with short response times and 24/7 availability. Though not a necessity, a US-based call center is ideal and definitely a feature to look out for.
From there, the features you’ll want to look for should align with the needs of the wearer. If the wearer is active and plans to spend time outside of the home, it’s best to consider a medical alert device with a long range and GPS tracking that can instantly and accurately inform response teams of their location. If the wearer is advanced in age or has mobility issues, fall detection technology is a critical component that will ensure your loved one receives help in the event that they’re unable to activate the alert themselves.
Wearability is another factor. The best medical alert devices are lightweight and non-intrusive. Since everybody wants to look their best, you also want to consider the appearance of the device you’re considering. Today, medical alert devices are made to blend in with or even enhance one’s appearance. With sleek designs, sophisticated detail, and sharp features, many of the best medical alert devices can pass for jewelry or an accessory.
How Much Should a Top Medical Alert Device Cost Me?
Medical alerts are an affordable option if you’re on a fixed budget—but make sure before you make your purchase that you’re not buying a system that includes any features you don’t need.
Prices for the top medical alert companies can be on a monthly, 3-month, annual, or semi-annual basis. Typically these can range in price from as little as around $20 per month to as much as $80 depending on what your plan includes. You should also read the fine print to see if the package also includes shipping or any initial installation fees.
The main considerations that can affect price include whether or not you want just a stable, home device, or one that also has mobile coverage and includes alert devices you can take with you. Other extras such as a fall detector, medical reminders, and the like, can also increase the price.
Whatever you pay, you’ll want to ensure first that the company guarantees 24/7 emergency assistance and that you will receive coverage in your location.
How We Chose The Best Medical Alert Systems
We took many factors into consideration when choosing our top 10 best medical alert systems. Some of the questions we asked when considering which services were the best include:
- How easy is the device to use?
- How affordable is the service?
- How reliable is the support team?
- Does it include fall detection?
- Is the device comfortable and wearable?
- What is the field range of the device?
- What other technologies make this better than others on the market?
In addition to the above questions, we tried to focus on medical alert systems that were best suited to a wide variety of users. These include homebound users, active seniors, those with severe health and mobility issues, and those with different sized support systems. Lastly, we made sure to choose companies that are well-reputed and boast the experience, technology, infrastructure, and professionalism necessary to provide prompt, professional, reliable care.