Medical alert systems let seniors contact emergency services at the touch of a button or automatically in case of a fall. As parents and loved ones age, it may not be safe for them to remain at home alone. A medical alert system may help extend their time at home, while also giving caregivers peace of mind. Many caregivers can’t be home around the clock, leaving seniors alone for several hours each day. Fast access to medical care can directly impact health outcomes, making it important for seniors to receive assistance as quickly as possible. A medical alert system is one way to provide that assistance when a caregiver can’t be on-site.
This guide helps caregivers find the right medical alert system for their loved ones. It includes information about pricing, features and optional add-ons available from several top medical alert systems.
Caregivers might be frequent visitors to their loved one’s home or live out of town and coordinate care through local providers. Bay Alarm Medical offers alert systems that give both local and out-of-town caregivers peace of mind. The company’s 360-degree protection system includes a home monitoring base station, mobile device and in-car monitoring. No other company offers an in-car system, so this brand is the ideal choice for caregivers worried about active seniors who still maintain a vehicle. The total monthly cost for all devices is $59.95, with fall detection available for an additional $10.
One of the features that makes this system good for caregivers is the option to add on-demand location tracking and geofencing for $5 per month. With geofencing, caregivers can get automated notices if their loved one leaves the house. The caregiver mobile app — included in the price of the system — allows users to see where a loved one goes and monitor their travels in real time.
Medical Guardian offers five alert systems, but it’s the Family Guardian program that’s most beneficial for caregivers. This system includes all the standard components of a medical alert system — in-home and cellular-enabled devices and a wearable help button — along with extras like motion and door sensors. At $79.95 per month, it’s one of the most expensive options, but it also includes activity tracking and automatic notifications of unusual behavior. The included caregiver portal can be used to monitor at-home activity.
For comprehensive monitoring, caregivers may want to bundle the Family Guardian program with the Active Guardian. The device for the Active Guardian system enables location tracking via both GPS and cellular towers, and includes a mobile help button with unlimited range. The battery lasts for 5 days between charges, making it a good choice for caregivers who can only visit intermittently.
GreatCall uses one convenient mobile device to provide three monitoring and alert levels. The premium level is the one most likely to appeal to caregivers since it includes fall detection at no additional cost. GreatCall requires an upfront investment of $49.99 for the device, and a $35 activation fee. Monthly service is very affordable at $39.99 and includes device protection in case of loss, damage or theft. This may be particularly valuable for caregivers of seniors with memory loss or other cognitive disorders.
GreatCall includes a few helpful features, such as the Urgent Care option that connects seniors with a health care provider to answer questions and offer medical advice. The Urgent Care feature also lets seniors have standard prescriptions refilled at their pharmacy for pick up. The GreatCall Link feature is a mobile app designed for caregivers that can track a senior’s activity levels, check the device’s battery life remotely and allow viewing of the system’s call history.
The Home & Away Primo option from Medical Care Alert combines a home base station with a mobile device to ensure a senior always has a way to call for help, and its on-demand location tracking makes it a good choice for caregivers. The package comes with an all-in-one device that includes a speaker and help button, cellular service, GPS and Wi-Fi tracking, all in a waterproof housing. At $39.95 per month, the Home & Away Primo plan is one of the most affordable options with location tracking, and the device has a 4-day battery life that’s helpful for seniors who may forget to charge a device daily. However, the Primo plan doesn’t include fall detection, and it’s not available as an upgrade.
For caregivers of seniors who don’t need location tracking, the Home & Away Elite system may be a better option. This system offers optional fall detection for $10 per month, and while caregivers can’t check on a senior’s location, the monitoring company can. In the event of a medical emergency, EMTs can be dispatched to the user’s last known location.
A senior’s activity level often plays an important role in determining which medical alert systems are best for caregivers. Caregivers of active seniors may prefer features such as on-demand location tracking, and a mobile app that allows for regular check-ins. Some medical alert systems include medication reminders or have the option to send out wander notifications. For caregivers of homebound seniors, activity tracking can be helpful to ensure a loved one is acting normally. An at-home only system won’t be adequate for seniors who travel, while those who have an active social life may prefer a lightweight device that’s easily hidden.
For caregivers, passive monitoring services are often key features to look for. Systems with companion apps and transparency might be a better choice than pendants that offer no communication with a primary caregiver. Always look at all of the available features and compare prices to find a system with the right mix of features. Some providers may offer discounts for seniors who pay annually, while others may have a set monthly fee. Discuss the options with your loved one and find the medical alert system they are comfortable using. If your loved one won’t wear a device, or it needs frequent charging, it might not be a good fit.