Medical alert systems help seniors continue to live independently for as long as possible. Many seniors lose confidence in their mobility as they get older, and having the knowledge that help is just a button-press away allows them to remain in their own home for longer.
Fall detection is one common use of medical alert systems. According to the National Council on Aging, one in four Americans aged 65 or older falls every year. Even minor injuries following a fall can be a serious concern for seniors. For example, a broken bone may be a minor issue for a young adult, but it can be serious for an elderly person due to longer recovery time and increased risk of complications.
Another common use of a medical alert system is for general medical advice. For example, a senior may become confused about the medication they have been prescribed but feel embarrassed at the idea of calling family members for advice. Having access to a contact center 24/7 allows them to seek advice when they need it without losing their sense of dignity or independence.
MobileHelp and Life Alert are two well-known brands in the world of medical alert systems. The basic features of both brands are similar, but the pricing, support, and added extras differ.
|Up-Front Fee||$0 – $50||$95 – $198|
|Monthly Fee||$19.95 to $44.95||$49 to $89|
|Contract||No minimum contract on most packages, 6-month commitment on MobileTouch.||3-year contract|
|Add-Ons||$10 per month for fall detection, one-off fee of $98 for each Trela Pendant, $5 per month for medication reminders.
Several other optional extras including lockboxes, beaded lanyards, and a wall button.
|Connection Type||Landline or cellular, mobile + GPS||Landline or cellular, mobile + GPS|
|Battery Life||Up to 24 hours for the mobile device||72-hour backup for an in-home device, 7-year battery life on the pendant|
|Fall Detection||Optional extra add-on||N/A|
|GPS||Included with the MobileHelp Solo, MobileHelp Duo (cellular) and Mobile Duo (cellular) packages.||Included with the HELP On-The-Go GPS device|
|Outdoor Cover||Included with the MobileHelp Solo, MobileHelp Duo (cellular) and Mobile Duo (cellular) packages.||Included with HELP On-The-Go|
|Call Center||24/7 support, USA-based||24/7 support, USA-based|
|Range from Base Center||Up to 1,400 feet||Up to 1,000 feet|
|2-Way Voice Communication||Included as standard||Included as standard|
|Optional Extras||Lockbox, wall mount, extra alert button, fashion pendant, beaded lanyards.||N/A|
MobileHelp is a wireless system that relies on AT&T for its emergency cellular connectivity. The equipment is GPS-enabled, and the home base unit has impressive range. The basic system offers 24/7 access to a US-based support team, and those who want extra features can pay for add-ons such as fall detection and medication reminders.
Poor medication compliance is a serious issue for seniors. There are many techniques used by seniors to help them remember to take medication on time, including traditional pill boxes and more modern mobile apps. MobileHelp’s medication reminders may help seniors who struggle to keep track of their pill schedules take care of themselves independently.
One area where MobileHelp truly shines is the versatility of the peripherals. In addition to the standard help button, seniors have the option of using a more fashionable pendant. Users can also purchase a beaded lanyard for the alert device. This is a simple addition that helps seniors feel less self-conscious about wearing a call device when out of the house.
Active seniors who are tech-savvy may appreciate the MobileHelp smartwatch. This device has a relatively short battery life, but is discreet and versatile, meaning seniors are more likely to remember to wear it and make use of the features.
Life Alert is a trusted brand in the world of medical alert devices. The core of Life Alert’s offerings is its waterproof pendant and its cell phone. Life Alert is a good choice for seniors who tend to rarely leave the home. The in-home base station is robust and has a quality speaker. The battery life on the device is very good, too.
There are some areas where Life Alert is lacking, compared to Mobile Help. The device does not include automatic fall detection, for example. In addition, there is a minimum contract of three years. This may be off-putting for a senior who is unsure if wearing a medical device will work out.
Where Life Alert stands out is with its hardware and response times. In addition to the portable pendant, it offers a wristband and a shower button as well as a cellphone offering for peace of mind when the user is out of the home. The response time for calls is noteworthy too, with the company promising average responses of between 15 to 20 seconds. When a user presses the call button, the user’s contacts will be notified by text or telephone.
Both MobileHelp and Life Alert are trusted and reliable systems and could qualify to be close to the top of any list of the best medical alert systems. For most seniors, however, we recommend the MobileHelp system.
MobileHelp’s month-to-month billing, with no contracts, is a big selling point. The company’s added extras such as fall detection and medication reminders are also worthy of note. It’s hard for any company to compete with such a feature-rich and affordable offering.
The primary selling point of Life Alert is the caregiver notifications. If being able to monitor the senior who uses the device is important then it may be easier to justify the long contract period of Life Alert.