Page Reviewed / Updated – March 12, 2020

Cellular medical alert systems are highly desirable for active seniors because they work both inside and outside the home. Because a mobile system typically has a GPS tracker and cellular connection that runs off local towers, a cellular medical alert system can pinpoint a senior’s location to within a few feet for emergency responders. This is exceptionally helpful for active adults who like to hike, camp or visit new places without sacrificing the safety they enjoy at home, while in range of their call system’s base unit.

Though all cellular medical alert systems have some things in common, they are not all created equally. Some have features that suit them to outdoor recreation, such as durable waterproof casings, while others are suited to road trips and other long-distance activities in areas where cell coverage can get spotty.

The purpose of this guide is to help seniors and their loved ones find a cellular medical alert system that matches their lifestyles and budgets. By highlighting some of the standout alert systems in a crowded field, this guide can help readers identify the features that matter most and make a decision about which cellular medical alert system is worth the investment.

The 4 Best Cellular Medical Alert Systems

Bay Alarm Medical

Bay Alarm Medical makes it easy for seniors to sign up for their first cellular medical alert system. There are no start-up fees and no contracts for continuing service. It offers a free 30-day trial period to test out the system at home, and all of the equipment comes with a comprehensive one-year warranty and a price-lock guarantee. Seniors can switch between the available plans at will, with no penalty or restrictions. Spousal coverage is also provided free of additional charge. Discounts are available for members of AARP, USAA, AMAC, and several other senior associations.

The system consists of a rugged waterproof call button with mobile GPS. This unit connects to any of the three redundant call centers, where operators are able to assist in several languages. The mobile device that comes with the most affordable service package has a two-year battery, while the upgraded model lasts five years. Premium options, such as automatic fall detection and a front door lockbox, are available with the highest service level, as is a GPS tracking portal for caregivers.

Medical Guardian

Medical Guardian encourages new customers to opt for an annual subscription package with free shipping, activation and two months of free service. Designed to work as a two-piece system, Medical Guardian comes as a wearable pendant and either a smartwatch or a wrist button with adjustable volume controls. Two-way communication is possible on the watch, which can support the downloadable app with several optional features.

The Medical Guardian system runs off of the AT&T wireless network, which provides adequate coverage in every urban area and most of the open space in the continental United States. Users do not need to sign up for extra features or incur additional charges on their AT&T bill because this cellular medical alert system is already included in phone users’ service contracts. All calls to Medical Guardian go to U.S.-based monitoring centers which can summon help and activate GPS tracking. Several hardware add-ons, such as mobile car chargers and extra call buttons, are available for premium subscribers.

Mobile Help

Mobile Help devices work both inside and outside the home, solo or in tandem, and all units include real-time GPS location tracking. There are two systems that work both inside and outside of the home: Cellular Duo System, for two people sharing a home, and Solo System, for those living alone. The Classic System only protects users inside the home, but it can be upgraded at any time to the Duo system should the user’s needs change. 

Service is provided without contracts or hidden fees, and hardware ships for free. Seniors opting for the annual plan may qualify for a discount, and no cellular contract or data plan is required. The system connects to AT&T wireless networks anywhere coverage is available. Mobile Help users enjoy 24/7 monitoring from U.S.-based service centers.

GreatCall Lively Mobile

GreatCall Lively Mobile frequently offers steep discounts to new users willing to try the service. All service packages are offered with no contracts, no obligations, and no cancellation fees. A one-time start-up fee may be required, though devices ship for free.

The waterproof and shock-resistant call buttons GreatCall Lively Mobile provides come in a variety of colors and can be worn around the neck or wrist with a quick change of the band. Using proprietary GPS tracking technology, the all-in-one GreatCall devices connect users to U.S.-based monitoring centers. Automatic fall detection is available for premium users, though this may come with an additional fee for service.

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What is a Cellular Medical Alert System and Why Does Your Choice Matter?

Active seniors spend a lot of time away from home. Trips outside the coverage area of a home-based alert system take seniors outside the zone where they have 24/7 monitoring for falls and other emergencies. Cellular medical alert systems make those trips safe by connecting with the local cell tower coverage and effectively extending the alert system’s range to thousands of miles from coast to coast.

There is no typical cellular medical alert system, but nearly all of them use a GPS tracker similar to the one in most smartphones to keep a geographic fix on users, wherever they are. Seniors who tend to get disoriented or lost or even just who find themselves in an unfamiliar neighborhood out of town can signal for help and immediately have their position relayed to emergency workers who can dispatch help straight to their location. Cellular medical alert systems frequently include a wearable pendant or watch, sometimes both. Smartwatch-based systems also usually have a suite of apps that make the device useful even without an emergency, which encourages new users to get into the habit of wearing their alert system everywhere they go.

Alert systems vary in start-up costs and equipment fees. Other things to consider include the number of devices included in a basic or premium package, whether the system offers automatic fall detection and whether users are charged a fee for false alarms. The reliance on U.S.-based response centers many services have is important, since many overseas monitoring centers are limited in how they can call for fire, police and ambulance rescue inside the United States. Multilingual two-way communication is also helpful for seniors whose first language is not English, and who may have to communicate complex information in an emergency.Seniors looking for a good cellular medical alert system have several factors to weigh before making a choice. Providers vary in terms of service, from basic pricing and available discounts to service commitments and spouse coverage. Monthly costs can range from as little as $20 to as much as $75, with some variation based on the number of devices and add-ons, such as caregiver tracking. You can find out more about costs and service options in our comprehensive guide to paying for cellular medical alert systems.