Older adults and those living with chronic medical conditions are increasingly relying on medical alert systems to connect with caregivers, family members and first responders in an emergency. Also called personal emergency response systems or panic buttons, these small, lightweight devices are affordable, easy to use and widely available.
Watch-style personal emergency call devices are gaining popularity as a discrete alternative to traditional pendant and wrist-worn help buttons. These wrist-worn medical alert systems connect with an emergency call center using existing wireless networks, making a medical alert watch ideal for anyone who wants a mobile emergency call system that works at home and in the community.
Like smartwatches, medical alert watches are relatively new, which means there are few options for consumers who are seeking a watch-style personal emergency response system. There are two devices available for those who want the security of a monitored medical alert watch, the Freedom Guardian and MobileHelp Smart.
In this article, we cover the features, costs and functions of each watch-style help button. We’ve also provided a list of tips that highlights what to look for when searching for the best medical alert system watches.
The Best Medical Alert System Watches
Freedom Guardian is a watch-style medical alert system from Medical Guardian, a Better Business Bureau accredited medical alert monitoring company that offers a wide range of personal emergency response systems. Call monitoring services are provided through a UL and TMA Five-Diamond certified U.S.-based call center staffed by experienced bilingual (English/Spanish) operators, and additional languages are supported through a real-time translation service.
The Freedom Guardian medical alert watch is a water-resistant standalone medical alert system that connects to the nationwide AT&T mobile network. It looks and feels much like a mainstream smartwatch, making it ideal for users who prefer a discrete medical alert button.
Freedom Guardian Medical Alert Watch Features:
- Simple, user-friendly design
- Available in black or white
- Comfortable soft silicone watch band
- Clear, high-resolution watch face
- Analog-style clock with date and day
- On-screen cellular signal meter
- On-screen battery meter with automatic low-battery notifications
- Wireless charging cradle
- Integrated GPS locator with Wi-Fi
- Built-in speaker and microphone
- Users can set up their own Care Circle of contacts
- Users can send and receive SMS messages using the speech-to-text feature
- Custom alerts can be set through the Freedom Guardian Companion App
- Battery lasts up to 48 hours, depending on use and cellular signal strength
- AT&T cellular SIM card is preinstalled and activated
Not only is the Freedom Guardian a user-friendly, low-maintenance medical alert watch, but it also has a few built-in smartwatch apps. Users can send and receive SMS messages from their Care Circle contacts using the text-to-speech messaging function that also reads SMS messages aloud. It also has a localized weather app, and a reminder and alert function that sends notifications to the watch through the Medical Guardian’s companion app.
There is a one-time equipment cost of $179.95, and monthly monitoring fees start at $44.95. Recurring monthly fees include access to the Medical Guardian mobile app that lets subscribers and authorized caregivers set medication and appointment reminders, check the location of the subscriber and receive real-time alerts if the help button is activated.
Designed by technology giant Samsung, MobileHelp Smart is a discrete medical alert system watch that connects users with one of two MobileHelp 24/7 emergency call centers located in Syracuse, New York, and Corona, California. The watch is sold and supported by MobileHelp, an industry-leading FDA-registered provider of monitored medical alert systems based in Boca Raton, Florida.
MobileHelp Smart is a streamlined version of Samsung’s Galaxy LTE smartwatch. While the MobileHelp Smart uses the same case, band and charging system as the Samsung Galaxy, the apps on the MobileHelp Smart are specially designed to meet the needs of medical alert system users.
MobileHelp Smart Medical Alert System Watch Features:
- Available in two sizes – standard 46mm and a 42mm size for smaller wrists
- Comes in a choice of colors including silver, midnight black or rose gold
- IP68 water and dust-resistant
- Looks and feels like a standard, nonmedical smartwatch
- Includes AT&T SIM card that connects to the nationwide AT&T mobile network
- Samsung Health app to track steps, calories and water consumption
- Heart rate monitor
- Location-based weather forecast
- GPS location tracker
- Integrated speaker and microphone
- Wireless charging cradle
- 4G cellular connection on the nationwide AT&T network
- Rotating bezel to navigate apps
- Up to 48 hours of battery life
Costs include a one-time $349.95 device purchase price and a recurring monthly monitoring cost of $24.95. The monthly fee includes nationwide wireless service on the AT&T network and monitoring through MobileHelp’s U.S.-based call center.
Why Use a Medical Alert System Watch?
Medical alert system watches are ideal for active users who want the safety and security that comes with having a personal emergency response button and who may dislike the idea of wearing a traditional help button.
Medical alert watches look and feel like regular smartwatches, making them easy to wear in any situation. These devices also come equipped with added features, such as GPS location tracking, and some medical alert watches include heart rate monitors, messaging apps and health monitoring apps. Another notable benefit of medical alert watches is the fact that they are connected to nationwide mobile networks, providing users with coverage anywhere that cell phone service is available.
Watch-style medical alert systems may not be the best option for those who have poor vision, as the screen on the watch is quite small. These systems aren’t suitable for users who could have difficulty navigating the built-in interface, or who don’t want to deal with a device that needs recharging every 48 hours or less.
How to Choose the Best Medical Alert System Watch
If you’re in the market for a medical alert system watch, take the time to carefully review the options, features and costs of each device.
Users who are comfortable with tech devices may prefer a medical smartwatch that has a variety of apps and functions, while those who want a simple, no-fuss solution may prefer a medical alert watch with limited features.
Here are some questions to ask when shopping for a medical alert system watch:
- Are you looking for a full-featured medical alert watch or one that comes with just the essentials?
- Do you want a medical smartwatch that looks and feels exactly like a regular smartwatch?
- Would you like a device that connects to a caregiver app?
- Do you have reliable mobile phone service in the area where you’ll be using your medical alert system watch?
No matter which medical alert system watch you choose, you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by simply activating the panic button on your medical alert watch.