Best Medical Alert Watches of 2020 (Pricing & Features)
This table lists the five providers side-by-side to make it easier to see their strengths and weaknesses. Check out pricing, support, and key features that will play into the buying decision.
|Provider||Total Score||Price||Monthly Fee||BBB Rating||DIY instal||Trial Period||Warranty||Battery Backup||Connectivity||Contacts List||Fall Detection||GPS||Mobile App||Money-Back Guarantee||Two-Way Talk||Range||Waterproof|
|GreatCall||9.8||$49.99||$24.99+||A+||Yes||30 days||1 year||Yes||Cellular||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||30 days||Yes||Unlimited||Yes|
|Freedom Guardian||9.7||$179.95||$44.95||A+||Yes||–||1 year||Yes||Cellular||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Prorated||Yes||Unlimited||Yes|
|Apple Watch||9.5||$399||$10+||A-||Yes||14 days||1 year||Yes||Cellular||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||14 days||Yes||Unlimited||Yes|
|HeartGuide||9.1||$499||$0||A+||Yes||30 days||1 year||Yes||Cellular||No||No||No||Yes||30 days||No||–||–|
Features of Medical Alert Systems
Products like the life alert watch gained nationwide attention for the ability to detect trips and falls as well as connect elderly clients to a call center in seconds. In 2020, there are a few more features that customers want in their panic button pendants and products.
While no one wants to think about a crisis happening at home, it's a real possibility. That's why more and more products are making it simple for customers to tap the device and get connected to an urgent response center. Think of it as a guardian angel.
Piggybacking off of the 24/7 urgent care response, the two-way talk feature is what makes that possible. Clients see this functionality in wristbands, necklaces, bracelets, and more. They push the panic trigger, and they can communicate with the call center via the device’s built-in microphone.
Just about every urgent care response device these days runs on cellular connectivity. This is great because it allows grandma or grandpa to do their daily activities without worrying about being tethered to a base unit in the house. Plus, accompanying mobile apps mean that family members can check-in remotely.
Extended Battery Life
This is something that most people might forget to consider, but it’s crucial. Without a long-lasting battery, clients run the risk of losing connection with their device. If a crisis occurs, they’re left without a panic button or ICE contact. Whether the product runs on a cell network or a battery charge, ensure there is a power backup.
This is particularly important for older adults with dementia or physical disabilities that limit their mobility. Tripping over objects or slipping in the shower are two of the most common causes of injury among the elderly. Having a product that can pick up on that and automatically call the authorities is critical.
GPS Location Tracking
Another convenient capability has a location tracker within the device. This way, mom or dad can go about their daily activities, knowing that they’re still within reach of family members or the call center. Or, if they get lost or fall, it’s much easier to find them and get immediate assistance.
Many life alert watches and other products run on a 3G cellular connection. Some even use a 4G LTE plan for greater reliability and freedom. This means that clients can travel and live life uninterrupted, all while getting the services they want. Just be aware that this often requires a plan with a provider like AT&T.
Older adults can be somewhat notorious for not understanding technology. Providers don’t want to play into that stereotype, so they try to make their products as easy to set up as possible. In many cases, it’s simply a matter of plugging it in and pushing the “on” tab.
This is perhaps one of the most important factors to take into consideration. Mobile monitoring allows clients to live freely and move about on the day-to-day while still receiving assistance when they need it. Again, look for a strong cell connection to minimize interference or disruptions in the mobile signal.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Medical Alert Watches Work
It depends on the brand and model, but for the most part, these products work in much the same way.
- First, the patient wears it on their wrist, usually all the time.
- Then, the device syncs to a base station or picks up a signal connection from a cell tower. This depends on the connectivity of the product.
- Next, there is a panic trigger or tab on the wristband or watch face. When a person pushes it, they get connected to an urgent care response center.
- Other devices have an accompanying app that allows users or family members to access data from a smartphone.
Does AARP Recommend a Medical Alert System?
Yes, and AARP is a great resource for older adults who want to read reviews and advice on how to utilize these products. The organization has recommended things like the life alert watch as well as other watches, pendants, and bracelets. Just like other healthcare professionals, AARP makes these overall suggestions, and it’s up to individuals and their caretakers to decide which is the best option for them.
What is the Best Medical Alert Bracelet?
This depends on what the individual wants and needs. Some might like the Apple Watch for its entertaining features, but others might not want all of that extra stuff. Other people might prefer something more basic that simply dials 911 if it detects a fall.
Are Medical Alert Watches Waterproof?
Most of them are. This is great because it lets older adults keep the device on their wrists at all times. Since slipping in the shower is so common among the elderly, having a waterproof product is essential. This also comes in handy when gardening or just going about one’s daily activities. Be careful to check whether the device is water-resistant, splash-resistant, or waterproof because they vary slightly.
Do I Need a Phone to Use Medical Alert Technology?
Yes, most of the time. Many of the smartwatches come with an accompanying mobile app that proves very useful. Others aren’t as high-tech but still rely on a cell connection or a landline phone. Once a person pushes that panic trigger, they usually need to be near a phone, so they can speak to the urgent care response team. That said, some products have built-in speakers and microphones so that clients can engage in two-way conversation straight from their wristwatch.
Stay Safe Without Putting Your Life on Hold
At the end of the day, these devices are wonderful for older adults who want to continue living their lives but need some extra assurance that they’ll be okay in case of a crisis or injury. These products fit the bill and look stylish, too. No one has to know that they’re wearing such a device, but in case of a disaster, they’ll be able to contact someone immediately.