Page Reviewed / Updated – October 22, 2020

Medical alert systems allow users greater freedom and independence both inside their home and out. Inside, an intercom system makes it easy for a subscriber to call for emergency assistance, without locating a phone and dialing 911. Many medical alert systems come with wearable devices, pendants or wristwatch styles, able to call for first responders with the push of a button. The simplicity of a medical alarm system allows seniors and those with a disability greater independence, knowing that help can be summoned quickly.

Life Alert, founded in 1987, is one of the oldest medical alarm systems, and as such, it has become a leader in innovation, incorporating both cellular technology and GPS into its programs. In fact, Life Alert was the first medical device brand to add 4G LTE coverage for its wearable watches and pendants. Cellular technology improves the communication between the wearer and the monitoring system and allows for greater range outside the home, while GPS pinpoints the wearer’s location, making it easier for an EMS to find the wearer and to track seniors prone to wandering.

This guide covers different systems and plans available through Life Alert including pricing, options and coverage and the pros and cons of the Life Alert system.

Life Alert: What You Should Know

Life Alert offers three different medical alarm systems: In the Home, In the Bathroom and On the Go. Each of these has a one-touch alert for emergencies and 24/7 monitoring from a U.S.-based call center. When users subscribe to Life Alert, they complete a profile, consisting of personal emergency contacts and the subscriber’s medical history, including whether they’ve suffered from a heart attack or stroke in the past, chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, allergies to any medications and any medications they’re currently taking. With 24/7 coverage, it’s simple for Life Alert subscribers to update their user profile at any time, should their medical profile change. Caregivers of Life Alert subscribers can also indicate whether the user is prone to wandering, and the Life Alert GPS tracking can alert emergency services if the user wanders into an unsafe area.

Life Alert’s professional trained team of operators can help a user determine the level of response needed. If a user falls in their home or slips in the shower, Life Alert operators can send an ambulance. The monitoring service can also summon police, if there’s a break-in, prowler, or if the user feels threatened or in harm’s way. Life Alert operators can also summon the fire department.

Life Alert coverage integrates with the user’s cell phone, protecting them while they’re out and about. Apps compatible with both Android and iOS operating systems can be installed and give users another layer of protection. These apps are included with the monthly fee.

One aspect of Life Alert that is unique from other companies in the battery length of the wearable pendants — these devices don’t need recharging and have a battery life of up to 10 years, ideal for forgetful seniors.

In the Home In the Bathroom On the Go
Connection Type Landline/Cellular Landline/Cellular Cellular
Help Button Yes Yes Yes
Battery 10-year backup 10-year backup 10 years
Water-rating Water-resistant Water-resistant Water-resistant
Two-way speaker Yes Yes Yes
Fall Detection No No No
Wearable Device No No Yes
Range 800 feet 800 feet Unlimited

Life Alert Plans and Pricing

Life Alert has three primary types of service, streamlining the decision-making process and making it easy for subscribers to select a plan that fits their needs without worrying about add-ons and extra services that can quickly add up. The devices are simple to use, without the need to navigate complicated apps, which may benefit people who are uncomfortable with the latest technology. However, all services require a three-year contract, and unless the subscriber has a qualifying reason for terminating the contract (such as moving into a nursing home), users may have to pay for some or all of the remainder of the service.

Life Alert customers can choose to activate two services for $96, instead of double the initial $95 for a single service, and for those who want all three services, the one-time fee is $198. These services are mix-and-match, allowing flexibility for the wearer, and each device will share the same user profiles for the subscriber. However, in order to have the In the Bathroom or the On the Go service, users must purchase the In the Home service.

In the Home

This plan is $49 per month (with a one-time registration fee of $95) and includes the in-home equipment. The device plugs into a landline or operates on the home’s cellular service and consists of a speaker and an emergency button. This plan monitors everyone in the house and may be useful for couples or companions who plan to age in place. Seniors who live in an area where they feel unsafe may appreciate the constant monitoring capabilities of the In the Home device, as it can send a message to the local police to investigate a prowler or break-in.

In the Bathroom

The In the Bathroom plans are specifically designed for use in the bathroom and shower. The device is fully waterproof, and the system is monitored through either a landline or cellular connection. The benefit of the cellular connection is that it allows those without a phone connection in the bathroom to have fast help at their fingertips. The cost per month for this plan is $69 plus an activation fee of $95.

On the Go

On the Go is a wearable pendant, powered by a battery and serviced by cellular technology that integrates GPS to determine the wearer’s location. Users can summon emergency services or contact a Life Alert operator if they feel unsafe and need assistance. The cost per month for this device is $89, and there’s a one-time fee of $95.

Life Alert Pros and Cons

Like any wearable medical device, Life Alert has advantages and disadvantages for subscribers.

Life Alert Pros:

  • A long-established company with over 40 years in business
  • User-friendly alert devices, with large buttons and Braille labels
  • Long-lasting battery – up to 10 years of life
  • In-home and wearable devices share user profiles
  • In-home devices can monitor the entire household
  • Push-button alerts for emergency response
  • Lifetime Guarantee on all products
  • 24-7 monitoring and operator service from a US-based call center

Life Alert Cons:

  • A mandatory 3-year contract for subscribers
  • Wearable devices look like medical alert pendants, not smartwatch technology or costume jewelry
  • No fall detection technology for devices
  • Higher monthly fees than many other medical alert systems
  • One-time registration fee for all users
  • No discounts for paying quarterly, semi-annually or annually

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cancellation policy?

All Life Alert subscriptions require a 3-year contract. A cancellation is only an option if there is a valid changing event, such as the subscriber moving into a nursing home. Each situation is different, and a Life Alert customer care representative can help a subscriber or family member with details of their situation.

Can I use Life Alert on my smartphone?

Yes, Life Alert has an app that can be loaded to most iOS and Android phones and tablets. Friends and family may also signup for a monitoring app.

Does Life Alert make smartwatches?

No, Life Alert does not make smartwatches at this time.

Does Life Alert have fall alert on its devices?

No, Life Alert believes that the technology for fall detection needs further improvement before the company will integrate the technology into its wearable devices.

Does the call center offer only emergency services, or can I call an operator for a non-emergency?

Life Alert operators are available if the subscriber feels unsafe, or has a non-emergency medical need. For example, if the user feels unsafe in their home or current situation, a Life Alert operator will stay on the line with the user until the situation has passed.

What kind of training do Life Alert operators have?

While Life Alert operators aren’t designated emergency responders, operators do go through up to a year of training, specifically addressing the needs of the elderly and infirm. In addition, the Life Alert call center is UL and Five Diamond certified.