Medical alert systems help seniors remain independent and active, allowing them to stay in their own homes longer by giving them the peace of mind that help is always available should they fall ill or have an accident. MobileHelp and GreatCall are two of the better-known brands in the medical alert space.
Both MobileHelp and GreatCall offer 24/7 access to a help center via their alert buttons or pendants. A basic help pendant is a useful tool for seniors who spend a lot of time at home and are worried about falling in the shower or in the kitchen. For more active seniors, however, a more sophisticated device may be a better choice.
MobileHelp and GreatCall both have a good reputation and produce reliable, high-quality devices. Our detailed, side-by-side comparison of these medical alert systems can help seniors and their families choose between the two brands based on features and value for money.
We’ve found that both brands have a lot to offer seniors looking for some reassurance and improve their safety at home. Overall, GreatCall provides the best value for money, thanks to its simple pricing structure and low fees.
MobileHelp offers similar features to GreatCall, but it charges extra for fall detection, and when comparing subscription tiers like-for-like, its monthly fees are usually slightly higher. Seniors may still wish to consider MobileHelp, however, because it has some appealing product options, such as the Mobile Duo product, which comes with two help buttons, making it ideal for a couple living together.
|Up-Front Fee||$0 – $349.95||$49.99 plus $25-$35 activation fee|
|Monthly Fee||$19.95 – $41.95||$14.99 – $39.99|
|Add-Ons||Fall detection +$10 per month||N/A|
|Connection Type||Landline or 4G/LTE cellular from AT&T; mobile GPS available on some products||Landline or 4G/LTE cellular from AT&T; GPS also available|
|Battery Life||5-year, non-rechargeable battery for in-home pendant/wrist button 30-hour battery backup in home-base unit for power cuts
48-hour battery life on MobileHelp smart watch, 24 hours on mobile GPS pendant
|Wearable comes with a user-replaceable battery|
|Fall Detection||Offered on some membership tiers||Yes|
|GPS||Included with mobile GPS device||Yes|
|Outdoor Coverage||Included with the mobile GPS device||Yes|
|Call Center||24/7 support from two USA-based contact centers. Multilingual support available.||24/7 support|
|Range from Base Center||Up to 600 feet||Depends on device; Bluetooth-linked smartphones must be within 150 feet of wearable.|
|Two-Way Voice Communication||Included as standard||Included as standard|
|Optional Extras||Lockbox, wall mount, extra alert button||N/A|
MobileHelp is based in Boca Raton, Florida, and has a long history in the field of medical alert devices. It has two USA-based contact centers and proudly states that all of its operators have at least two years of either military service or post-secondary education.
The company offers service in English and Spanish as standard, and 200 other languages are available through the use of a translation provider. The company provides a selection of devices, including a pendant, a traditional call button and a smart watch.
MobileHelp’s fees are slightly higher than GreatCall’s when looking at comparable service tiers; however, the company does offer some nice added extras. For example, the Mobile Duo package comes with two call buttons, making it a cost-effective option for a couple who both want to have access to the support service.
The smart watch is an appealing option for seniors who are generally mobile and active and prefer something more discreet than a standard help button. It’s also a nice-to-have feature for those who are tech-savvy.
In terms of reliability, MobileHelp definitely stands out. The company’s pendants are water-resistant, and the in-home devices have a range of up to 600 feet. The in-home base station has a backup battery, ensuring users have continued access to support through their landline in the event of a power outage.
Unfortunately, pricing is an area where MobileHelp falls short. Fall detection services are available, but only for an additional fee. Other nice-to-have extras such as lockboxes also carry extra charges. The base pricing is already slightly higher than GreatCall’s for most tiers, and these extra fees may make it hard to justify signing up for the service.
GreatCall makes medical alert devices for Best Buy and is also the brand behind the Jitterbug range of senior-friendly smartphones. The company has a good reputation, and while it hasn’t been around as long as some of the main brands, it is a firm challenger in the medical alert device space.
The company produces two medical alert systems, the Lively Mobile Plus and the Lively Wearable. The Lively Wearable pairs with Android or iOS smartphones and is a no-frills device that works by activating the speakerphone on the user’s mobile device. When the alert button is pressed, it places a call to the monitoring center.
The Lively Mobile Plus is a more sophisticated device with fall detection, GPS location and its own integrated cellular service. Both the Lively Wearable and the Lively Mobile Plus devices are self-contained and don’t come with a base unit.
The Lively Wearable must be kept within Bluetooth range of the device that it’s tethered to in order to be usable. This makes it a less-than-ideal choice for seniors who may forget to charge their device or take it with them. The self-contained nature of the Lively Mobile Plus makes it a better option. GreatCall’s devices are waterproof and have a fairly good battery life. The Lively Mobile Plus has integrated fall detection. The company offers the standard 24/7 medical alert monitoring service with U.S.-based call centers and also has an Urgent Care service that allows callers to speak to a registered nurse or medical doctor.
The features mentioned above make GreatCall an appealing choice for anyone who is looking for a reliable, easy-to-use alert system for an affordable price. The pricing structure is simple and transparent, and there are no contracts, so users know exactly what they’re signing up for.
When evaluating medical alert systems, one of the key things to look for is fall detection, especially given the severity of falls for seniors. Every 11 seconds, a senior in the United States is injured due to a fall. Both MobileHelp and GreatCall produce devices worthy of inclusion in a list of the best medical alert systems on the market today.
Between the two, we would rank GreatCall’s devices as the best choice, simply because their pricing structure is more transparent and their packages are more affordable. In addition, the Urgent Care feature is a very useful offering that MobileHelp lacks. There are some instances where MobileHelp’s devices make sense, however. Seniors who are resistant to the idea of wearing a help pendant may feel more comfortable wearing a smart watch that provides similar features. In addition, MobileHelp has an in-home option with a base station that connects to a landline. This could be appealing to seniors living in an area where cellular service is poor.