Protecting Your Aging Loved Ones

With millions of seniors visiting the ER each year due to falls in the home, it’s important to take precautionary measures to ensure their safety. One helpful tool is to use a medical alert system. With just the push of a button, you or your loved one can be connected to trained staff who can contact family members or medical responders in an emergency. The best medical alert system offers quick response times and reliable equipment that will keep seniors connected and safely independent. investigated 23 popular medical alert providers and hand-tested 5 finalists to find the best systems. Here is how they found the top contenders:


How We Found the Best Medical Alert System


To find the best medical alert system, we talked with elder-care experts, dug into service agreements and order processes, and hand-tested the top contenders. We started our search by compiling all the medical alert companies we could find that met two criteria:


Nationwide coverage. We wanted medical alert systems that would be available anywhere in the US, so we skipped regional providers.


No unnecessary equipment. Many home security companies offer personal emergency response systems, but only as add-ons to a larger suite of security offerings. With so many standalone services available, there’s no need to install an entire security system — that would be like buying a Swiss army knife just for the corkscrew.


We looked for companies with upfront pricing and a painless ordering process.


On paper, most medical alert companies look identical — the exact same products at very similar price points. We found that customer service is one of the main things that sets them apart. Factors like website layout, FAQs, live chat, and a help hotline can be the difference between a breezy 10-minute ordering process or an hours-long ordeal.


When we talked with Scott Knoll, MSW and owner of in-home senior care agency By Your Side Home Care, about how to find a reputable service, he told us, “Look for a company that transparently lists prices and services on their website — while not requiring a lock-in contract.” Many companies had fees hidden behind asterisks: Alert1, ResponseLINK, GreatCall Lively, and Philips Lifeline all added $50-60 activation fees at checkout, with no prior warning. (In fact, Alert1 even claimed to offer “free activation.”) We also docked points from providers that locked us into long-term contracts, preferring LifeStation’s month-to-month plans and Bay Alarm’s 30-day trial period.


We dinged companies if they didn’t provide multiple ways to order, too: While some seniors might feel more comfortable ordering over the phone, many customers are younger people shopping for their elders. Online ordering should be standard and simple.


After evaluating each company’s ordering experience and tallying up our scores, we cut the companies that performed below average. The best medical alert providers should offer ample support and painless checkout.


Then we assessed each provider for quality equipment.


To evaluate equipment, we began by looking for two basic pieces of technology. Given that over 60% of falls occur in the tub or shower, we saw no reason why any service’s wearable devices shouldn’t be waterproofed. We also wanted all units that relied on a wall plug to be equipped with battery backup in case of power outages.