Medical alert systems are not usually thought of as fashion accessories, but the look of these wearable safety devices affects how effective they are. To work properly, a medical alert system must be worn, and many seniors resist the clinical look of typical alert buttons, preferring to leave them at home. This leaves seniors at risk when they’re outdoors, or even in their own homes if they aren’t in the habit of wearing their alert system.
Wearable medical alert systems for fashion must, of course, still work as call buttons. They usually need to be large enough to contain a transmitter, GPS locator and other electronics. Those components are small enough now that even relatively discreet accessories can house them. A wearable medical alert system that looks good and goes with most of a senior’s outfits is more likely to get worn—and used— in the case of a fall or other medical emergency.
This guide is written for seniors and their loved ones who are interested in a wearable medical alert system, but who may be uncomfortable with large and bulky call buttons. Here we discuss some of the most popular options on the market, highlight their strengths and help seniors and caregivers select a wearable medical alert system that is fashionable.
MobileHelp produces the Belle Pendant in cooperation with jewelry manufacturer Trelawear. These pendants are made with a tough, lightweight brass casing. The pendant is suspended by a 30-inch brass cable chain with a breakaway magnetic connector to hold the casing. Casings and chains come in both gold-colored and silvertone finishes. The centerpiece in the round pendant is a hand-cut resin stone. The components of the Belle Pendant include a transmitter that connects with either a base station at home or the cellular device. Pressing a button on the back of the pendant summons a response from the MobileHelp monitoring center. Belle Pendants are powered by a 3-year battery and carry a 1-year warranty.
In addition to its regular base unit and mobile call button, Medical Guardian has two stylish offerings that look nothing like medical alert systems. The first is a pendant from the Limitless Icons Collection. This black onyx-and-gold pendant hangs gracefully around the neck on a lightweight gold chain. The onyx is the button, and the interior volume of the circular pendant contains a GPS locator and transmitter unit that connects with one of Medical Guardian’s U.S.-based response centers to summon help.
Medical Guardian’s other offering is a smartwatch called the Freedom Guardian. This device has two-way communication and GPS tracking in an ordinary-looking smartwatch. Downloadable apps provide an analog watch face, fitness tracker and heartbeat monitor. Oversized text on the screen, voice reporting of the current time, calendar alerts and incoming messages are especially senior-friendly features. Freedom smartwatches come in a range of solid colors with durable waterproof casings and adjustable wristbands.
Bay Alarm Medical takes a novel approach to its wearable medical alert system for fashion. Instead of redesigning its pendants and wrist units from scratch to resemble fine jewelry or workout gear, the company offers a lightweight and easy to attach facing for its pendants. This attachment, which the company calls Bella Charm, is very light and sturdy and made from durable plastic. The charms come in a variety of mostly abstract designs and can be switched out in a few seconds to go with a change of clothes. The Bella Charm covers are entirely cosmetic and do not interfere with the operation of the pendant, nor do they block quick access to the call button. Bella Charms are all made to a standard size and fit Bay Alarm Medical’s round pendant perfectly. The company is considering expanding this extremely low-cost and versatile option to some of its other wearable alert system devices.
LifeFone is one of the oldest medical alert system services, and it offers several fashionable options for both mobile and on-the-go devices. One of the company’s simpler options is a slimline wearable wrist button that’s made with a tough rubberized casing and an adjustable band. The wrist buttons work within 1,300 feet of the base station, which is far enough for a walk around the block. Wireless service connects with a compatible device within 350 feet.
Another wearable option from LifeFone is the GPS and voice-in necklace. This pendant is predominantly marketed toward men, so it’s styled in a sleek electronic black with glowing highlights. The pendant is equipped with a GPS unit and two-way communication system, and the battery is good for up to 30 hours without recharging. The LifeFone pendant is suspended from a dark-colored fabric cord that resists tangling and fraying.
All LifeFone systems come with optional fall detection and several safety measures to keep seniors safe. Optional services include daily check-ins and medication reminders, as well as a push-button check-in function seniors can activate by pushing their call button once a day.
Wearable medical alert systems for fashion are potentially life-saving devices seniors and people with disabilities can wear almost anywhere they go. At the push of a button, these devices connect the user with a monitoring center that can either communicate with the user or summon help to their location. Most mobile alert devices contain a GPS locator to make lost or injured seniors easy to find.
Many medical alert system devices are designed to do more than just summon help. Fashion alert devices are also designed to look more like common accessories than clinical devices that are common in care homes and hospitals. Many seniors choose to wear medical alert systems for fashion as an alternative to the bulkier plastic mobile units because they look less like medical appliances and usually go better with street clothing or evening wear. Medical alert devices that look more natural are more likely to get worn, which extends coverage and makes it more likely the device will be available when it’s most needed.
Seniors have a lot to think about when picking a wearable medical alert system that can keep them safe. Function is the most important consideration for a device that can literally save a life, but looks matter too. The aesthetics of a wearable alert device vary widely, from smartwatch to electronic pendant to actual jewelry, and prices are just as variable. A basic call system might run from free setup and a nominal fee for hardware, especially if the user signs up for an annual service contract, to $50 for the device and on up from there.
Wearable devices that are designed for fashion tend to be around 10% more expensive than the equivalent unit in the same product line, though the Bella Charm approach of cheaply modifying the look of a call button has a lot of promise, especially for seniors on fixed incomes. Learn more about paying for wearable medical alert systems for fashion in our article on the topic.