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Page Reviewed / Updated – September 09, 2020

Life Alert and Medical Guardian are two popular and highly respected brands in the world of medical alert devices. Life Alert has invested heavily in marketing and is well-known in most senior communities. Medical Guardian is a relative newcomer to the industry, but over the last few years, it has attracted a lot of positive attention.

Medical alert systems help seniors continue to live independently for longer, offering peace of mind for seniors and their loved ones. Early studies suggest that the use of medical alert systems could help improve the outlook for seniors who have recently sought health care services for emergency reasons.

There are many factors that go into choosing a good medical response system. The support team should be available to respond to alerts quickly. Users should feel that the system offers value and that it supports their lifestyle rather than getting in the way. Ease of use, portability, range and battery life are all important considerations.

Both Life Alert and Medical Guardian offer reliable products and good support. The key differences are in the variety of features and the pricing structure. Comparing the two brands side-by-side makes it easier to select the best product for your lifestyle.

Life Alert vs Medical Guardian Comparison Table

Feature Life Alert Medical Guardian
PRICING
Up-Front Fee $55 to $198 No
Monthly Fee $49 to $89 $29.95 to $49.95
Contract 3-year contract No
Add-Ons None Fall detection: $10/month
Spouse monitoring: $2/month
GPS and smartwatch options also available
DEVICE INFORMATION
Water Resistance Pendant Yes
Connection Type Landline and cellular Landline and cellular
Battery Life In-home device has up to 120 hours of battery backup. Pendant battery lasts 7 years 24-hour backup battery
Fall Detection N/A N/A
GPS Included as part of Help On-The-Go Included in mobile/cellular options
FEATURES
Outdoor Cover Included in Help On-The-Go Included with cellular devices
Call Center 24/7 support, USA-based 24/7 support, USA-based
Range from Base Center Up to 1,000 feet Up to 1,300 feet
2-Way Voice Communication Included as standard Included as standard
Optional Extras None N/A

Life Alert

Life Alert is a longstanding brand in the world of medical alert systems and has served seniors since 1987. It’s the company that launched the iconic “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” advertising campaign. This history has made it a household name and therefore the default choice for many seniors.

Life Alert’s name is, unfortunately, not enough to keep it competitive in a world where there are many other vendors. The company does its core service of robust hardware and high-speed call response times well, but it’s lacking in other areas.

Life Alert doesn’t offer fall detection, for example, and its products lack other convenient services such as better-looking pendants, reminder services, or sophisticated mobile apps. In addition, it is one of the few brands that requires a long contract for its services. This could be a significant deterrent for seniors who are unsure if they’ll get value for money out of a personal alert service.

There are some good things about the Life Alert range. The company offers a companion app for caregivers. If the senior consents to sharing their information with nominated caregivers then those people will receive alerts when the help button is pressed and can view other information, such as the senior’s location if they have a GPS-enabled device.

Overall, it’s hard to recommend Life Alert when it is compared directly to other offerings such as Medical Guardian. There was a time when Life Alert was the market leader, but its products have been overtaken by rivals in terms of the features offered, and its pricing is expensive too.

Life Alert remains a good option for seniors who rarely leave the house, for those who want a simple pricing structure and for families that wish to make use of the caregiver app. Active seniors and those who require advanced features such as fall detection or medication reminders may wish to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Caregiver app
  • Transparent pricing
  • Answers calls quickly
  • Rugged devices with a long battery life

Cons

  • No fall detection
  • Up-front fees
  • Long contract

Medical Guardian

Medical Guardian may be a comparatively new addition to the world of personal medical alert services, but its products have certainly attracted attention, and it is now a trusted brand. The Medical Guardian service offers more features than Life Alert and is more affordable too.

Medical Guardian’s products have a lot going for them. The range includes automatic fall detection, for example, and there’s an optional spouse monitoring package for added peace of mind.

The device has a battery life of up to 120 hours, and the at-home device has a range of up to 1,300 feet from the base station. These features are offered for an affordable monthly fee, with no minimum contracts.

Fall detection and spouse monitoring require an additional monthly fee over the base subscription, but even with that additional fee, Medical Guardian’s pricing is competitive with other similar services.

Medical Guardian has done a good job of making its systems easy to use. The charging cradle supplied with the device does double duty as an updater and will automatically download and install any software updates required for the device. Users can position the cradle wherever they wish. The cradle charges the device from empty to full in four hours, and a fully charged battery can power the device for up to 36 hours.

Medical Guardian’s Family Guardian software notifies family members when the user wakes up each day, when they go out and if they miss meals. It also provides information about the temperature in their home.

Medical Guardian’s ease of use, affordable pricing, features and lack of a contract make it the obvious choice for almost all users.

Pros

  • No minimum contract
  • Affordable pricing
  • Easy to use
  • Fall detection

Cons

  • Fall detection requires an additional monthly fee
  • Users must carry a transmitter and the pendant/smartwatch for mobile service
  • The smartwatch requires an additional up-front fee

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Our Pick

While both Life Alert and Medical Guardian offer enough features to be included on the list of the best medical alert systems, there is a clear winner. Medical Guardian offers more features for a more affordable price. It’s hard to justify paying Life Alert’s prices and signing on to a long contract, when other companies also offer 24/7 USA-based support and provide equal quality hardware, with features such as automatic fall detection. Some families feel that Life Alert’s caregiver app is superior to those offered by rivals; however, Medical Guardian’s app has become quite sophisticated too and should suit most people’s needs. In our opinion, Medical Guardian is the logical choice for most families.

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