The 3 best medical alert systems for active seniors

Best
Customer Service
Medical Guardian
Medical Guardian
Plans starting at $39.95 per month
Pros
Fastest response time
Long battery life
Excellent customer support
Cons
Lengthier set-up
Price

Why we chose it

Fastest response time

We had high expectations for Medical Guardian — this company won the top spot in our review of at-home medical alert systems. So we were happy to find that their mobile GPS unit performed just as impressively. The average response time for all nine of our finalists was 55 seconds, but Medical Guardian’s “Active Guardian” device ($49.95/month) swept the board with its lightning-fast 23-second response to our emergency calls.

Medical Guardian for Medical Alert Systems

Friendly and helpful service

The reps we spoke with went to impressive lengths to be helpful. Our office wifi was down the day that we tried to activate our device, so our rep contacted a tech team to start the activation process manually, then patiently walked us through the test call process step-by-step before cheerfully signing off. The entire process took about half an hour, and left us feeling like we were in good hands. Once the device was activated, we found the Active Guardian a breeze to use.

Long battery life

The Active Guardian device has a 5-day battery life, which means you’ll only have to charge once a week or so, whereas most mobile devices require charging every 1-2 days.

Points to consider

No Free Trial

Medical Guardian requires a 3-month commitment before you're eligible for a month-to-month contract, and unlike our other top picks, they don’t offer a free trial. You have 10 days from the time you receive the equipment to send it back (minus a $50 restocking fee), but if you miss that window, you’ll have to pay for the full three months. This isn’t a problem if you’re already certain you want a medical alert system, but if you’re still weighing your options, we’d suggest trying Bay Alarm or MobileHelp, which both offer 30-day trials.

Price

Medical Guardian's Active Guardian device impressed us, but at $49.99 per month, it isn't cheap. The company does offer a lower-tier option with its $39.95-per-month Mobile Guardian, but we found that this device had a much slower response time — 1:20 — that puts it on par with Bay Alarm (which is cheaper). If you're looking for a budget-friendly pick, we'd suggest Bay Alarm instead.

Best for
Stylish Equipment
MobileHelp Smart
MobileHelp
Regular plans starting at $19.95 per month. Smartwatch plans starting at $24.95 + cost of watch.
Pros
Cutting-edge equipment
Fast response time
Free 30-day trial
Cons
Unclear price lock policy

Why we chose it

Cutting-edge equipment

In addition to more typical options like wrist buttons and pendants, MobileHelp stands out for its medical alert smartwatch, a modified Samsung Gear S, which the company launched in early 2018. The device looks just like a regular watch, but it's equipped with a touchscreen that allows you to place emergency calls. Additional widgets can monitor heart rate, blood pressure, steps taken, and calories burned. The watch is currently available for pre-order, with plans starting at $24.95 per month (though you'll have to purchase the watch itself for an additional $349.95).

MobileHelp Smartwatch for Medical Alert Systems

Quick response time

MobileHelp’s average response time was just 46.8 seconds, coming in third, behind Medical Guardian and ADT. Its consistently speed performance means you can trust that you'll be able to reach help quickly if you need it.

Free 30-day trial

If you’re not 100% committed to the idea of a medical alert system, MobileHelp does offer a 30-day free trial to help you make up your mind. You’ll need to pay regular costs upfront, but if you return the equipment within 30 days, you’ll receive a full refund. Returning the equipment anytime after 30 days means you won’t be able to get all of your money back, but you can negotiate a pro-rated refund.

Points to consider

Unclear price lock policy

Our other top picks offer price locks, which ensure that your monthly bill won't go up — you'll always pay what you signed up for. But MobileHelp’s contract doesn’t specify whether or not you’re subject to pricing changes. When we called customer service to ask about this policy, we were told there’s "pretty much” a price lock based on “regular retail price." It wasn't the firm answer we were hoping for.

Best
Value
Bay Alarm Medical
Bay Alarm
Plans starting at $19.95 per month
Pros
Great value
Free trial
Long battery life
Discreet calling
Cons
Slower response time
Unintuitive equipment design

Why we chose it

Great value

Bay Alarm Medical offers quality service at a lower price than competitors. Plans start at $19.95 per month, versus the $38-$40 starting price offered by other finalists for similar equipment. And despite the competitive pricing, Bay Alarm was a consistently pleasant company to do business with.

Bay Alarm for Medical Alert Systems

Long battery life

Bay Alarm’s mobile device charges within 3 hours, and has a battery life of 72 hours. This sets it apart from the 24-hour battery life offered by most of our finalists. Bay Alarm's performance was second only to Medical Guardian's much more expensive Active Guardian plan.

Free 30-day trial

If you’re not sure you want to commit to a medical alert system just yet, you can try out Bay Alarm before making a decision: It’s one of a handful of companies that offer a 30-day free trial with no cancellation fee.

Discreet calling

Bay Alarm was the only device we tested that didn’t have a voice prompt confirming a call had been placed when we pressed our help button: perhaps good if you want to place calls discreetly (say, if you’re thinking someone’s following you in a dark parking lot). The device also comes with a lanyard and belt clip wallet for discreet portability.

Points to consider

Slower response time

Compared to Medical Guardian, Bay Alarm didn’t wow us. When we tested the emergency help button, our wait time was lengthy, at 1:22 minutes. In a true emergency, this can feel like a long time.

Unintuitive equipment design

Bay Alarm's device took time to figure out. The power indicator turns off when the device is off, and when the charge is between 30%-100% — which left us confused about whether our device was at full charge, or even on. The user guide also lists additional device statuses according to how quickly the lights on the unit are blinking, but we had trouble telling a two-second blink from a three-second blink. Once you've become comfortable with your device, this may be less of an issue. But be prepared to spend some time familiarizing yourself with your equipment.

Guide to medical alert systems for active seniors

How to choose a medical alert systems for active seniors

Choose a system that matches your lifestyle

Mobile devices are a great choice for on-the-go support, since they're small enough to fit in a pocket or purse, are battery-powered, and come with location tracking. But they're also more expensive than traditional at-home monitoring systems. If you spend more time at home, you may be happier with an at-home monitoring device. These answering-machine-sized units plug into a wall socket and are designed to offer protection around the house and yard. You can read our review of at-home medical alert systems to learn more.

Return your device if you cancel your service

When you order a medical alert device, your monthly payment allows you to continue renting the equipment. Upon cancellation, providers will ask that you return the device in working condition. Failing to do this can result in sizeable fees. Acadian On Call, for example, values its units at $250. The one exception to this rule is MobileHelp's smartwatch: rather than renting, you purchase the device outright for $395.95.

Know that medical alert systems aren’t a replacement for medical care

Although medical alert systems are great for added peace of mind, they’re not a replacement for individualized medical care. Dr. Novak, gerontologist and Oxford University researcher, reminded us that “medical systems are a tool to help individuals retain their independence as long as possible. However, they are not a failsafe and should not be used in lieu of telephones or other tools that are important for safety.”

Medical alert systems for active seniors FAQs

How long can my mobile device go without charging?

Most mobile medical alert devices have to be fully charged before initial setup. This typically takes between 2-4 hours and can be an unexpected slowdown. Plan accordingly! Once your device is fully charged, the battery will last for about 24-72 hours on average (with the exception of Medical Guardian’s Active device, which has a 5-day battery life).

Where can I use my mobile device?

Because mobile medical alert devices rely on cellular signals to work — usually AT&T or T-Mobile — they’ll be fine wherever you’re able to use your cellphone. But be alert for rural areas with spotty signal, or any extremely dense urban areas where you have trouble making calls. These are often the same areas that will offer spotty service for a medical alert device. We’d suggest having a backup plan in place for these locations, whether communicating plans to a family member ahead of time, or just testing the device upon arrival to see if it works.

The best medical alert systems for active seniors: Summed up

Medical Guardian
MobileHelp
Bay Alarm Medical
Best Customer Service
Most Stylish Equipment
Best Value
Battery Life
Up to 5 days
Up to 48 hours
Up to 72 hours
Device Type
Mobile device
Mobile device, wristband or pendant, smartwatch
Mobile device, pendant
Free Trial
X
Price Lock Guarantee
X
Mobile Plan
Starting at $39.95
Starting at $19.95 for regular plans and $24.95 + equipment cost for smartwatch plans
Starting at $19.95
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Shop Regular Plans /
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Our Other Medical Alert Reviews