Medical alert systems provide seniors with an important lifeline, allowing them to remain independent and stay in their own homes for as long as possible. Many seniors feel that living at home, close to their friends and relatives, is essential. Fear of falling and the risk of fall-related injury may lead many seniors to limit their lifestyles earlier than they truly need to.
Rescue Alert and Alert1 are two established brands in the world of medical alert systems. Both offer a choice of in-home and mobile help systems. Their pricing structures, device range and available add-ons differ significantly, however.
Both brands produce dependable devices and have contact centers staffed 24 hours a day to answer calls from seniors. Our side-by-side brand comparison looks at the other features of the service providers to help families decide which one offers the best value and is the most useful given their circumstances.
We found that while the two companies are quite similar in what they offer, Rescue Alert’s month-to-month billing makes it a more appealing choice compared to Alert1’s three-month initial contract requirement. Some users, however, may feel that the extra features offered by Alert1 are worth the commitment.
Rescue Alert and Alert1 are both trusted brands that perform well when it comes to the key features of medical alert systems. They have USA-based call centers, and both have a GPS option available. We feel that the flexibility of Rescue Alert makes it a better choice in most circumstances, but Alert1 is still worthy of consideration, especially for seniors who feel they need additional accessories, such as a medication reminder device or smoke detector.
|Up-Front Fee||$0 – $849.00||None|
|Monthly Fee||$0 – $32.95||$19.95 – $61.95|
|Contract||Month-to-month||Three month minimum, can be month-to-month after that.|
|Add-Ons||Fall detection + $10 per month||$10 per month for monitored smoke alarm|
|Connection Type||Landline or cellular from AT&T; mobile GPS available on some products||Landline or cellular, GPS also available on some products|
|Battery Life||90-hour backup battery on base unit
48-hour battery on GPS-enabled pendant
5-year non-rechargeable battery for help button
|24-hour backup battery on base unit
48-hour batteryon GPS pendant
|Fall Detection||Yes, as an optional add-on||Yes, as an optional add-on|
|GPS||Included with mobile GPS device||Yes|
|Outdoor Coverage||Included with the mobile GPS package||Included with the mobile GPS package|
|Call Center||24/7 support from U.S.-based call center with EMT-trained operators
Multilingual support available through a translation service
|24/7 support from U.S.-based call center, multilingual support available|
|Range from Base Center||Up to 600 feet||Up to 600 feet|
|Two-Way Voice Communication||Included as standard||Included as standard|
|Optional Extras||Key safe, wall buttons, additional help button||Medication organizer and reminder tool, lockbox, wall-mounted button, voice extender, fall detection pendant|
Rescue Alert is a family-owned medical alert company based in Utah. It offers both home and cellular-based medical alert systems and is one of the longest-standing brands in the industry, having released its first system over three decades ago.
The company offers a variety of services and pricing tiers. Users have the option of paying a monthly, quarterly or annual rental fee. Alternatively, they may buy the in-home monitoring device outright then pay a reduced monthly service fee. There’s also the option of paying a one-tune lump sum to purchase the in-home device and receive ongoing service.
Rescue Alert’s service is fairly bare bones compared to some providers. It offers an in-home monitoring service and a mobile GPS option. Fall detection is available for an additional fee, and there are some optional extras available, such as a lockbox. However, device options are limited. For example, there’s no smartwatch option, and no mobile app for spouse or caregiver monitoring.
Where the company shines is in the level of service it offers. Callers can receive assistance in one of 150 languages via a translation service, and all operators are EMT trained. This allows seniors to feel confident about receiving high-quality support should they ever need to use their help button.
Rescue Alert’s pricing structure makes it appealing, since there are no contracts. However, seniors may find the cost of replacing a lost or damaged help pendant off-putting.
Alert1 is based in Philadelphia and is a diamond-certified medical alert company. It offers a variety of at-home and mobile alert systems. Users can receive support from a U.S.-based call center, 24 hours a day.
Alert1 is highly regarded as a reliable brand, however the company’s equipment is somewhat dated. The in-home units rely on a built-in speakerphone for two-way communication. This means users must stay within 600 feet of the base station. Seniors who are less mobile and don’t tend to go outdoors much, and those who live in smaller homes, may be OK with this, but it may be a significant limitation for active seniors.
The company’s GPS-enabled devices are more robust and flexible and could be an appealing choice for active seniors. The brand also offers a number of add-ons, such as bracelets, pendants, wristbands, a medication reminder tool and even a monitored smoke detector. These devices could be useful for seniors who want some extra support and peace of mind around the home.
Alert1’s pricing is less customer-friendly than some other brands. The company requires at least a three-month contract (although there is a month-to-month billing option once this period is up), and all plans except the annual prepaid plan have an activation fee. If a user decides they don’t like the device and want to send it back within the first month, they must still pay the activation fee as well as return shipping.
This pricing structure makes it hard to recommend Alert1 to a senior who’s looking to test the waters with medical alert systems, or for those who know they want a device with a call button, but are unsure about add-on features.
Both Rescue Alert and Alert1 offer multilingual, 24/7 support. In addition, both providers have a fall detection option, although for an extra fee. The fall detection service is an important one for seniors because falls are a major cause of death for older adults. The National Council on Aging reports that every 19 minutes, a senior in the United States dies due to injuries caused by a fall.
Since both brands offer similarly-priced waterproof pendants with fall detection features, the choice between brands comes down to the pricing structure, other features and quality of service. It’s fair to say that both Rescue Alert and Alert1 are among some of best medical alert systems on the market today, but we feel that Rescue Alert has the edge in terms of value for money.
Rescue Alert’s services may be simpler, but their prices are more consumer-friendly, since users have the option of a large up-front payment for ongoing service, a mobile-phone style “buy the device and pay for service” offering or a monthly rental. This allows seniors to pick a plan that suits their budget. Alert1’s pricing locks users in for longer periods and is far less flexible. However, seniors who want more options and or would benefit from medication reminders or smoke alarm monitoring may feel that signing up for a three-month period is worthwhile.