As adults age, the need for medical care often increases. Chronic diseases and vision and hearing loss are common among seniors, and unfortunately, so are serious injuries caused by falls and accidents in the home. The fear of suffering from a medical emergency while alone is one of the reasons why some seniors opt to give up their independence and move into a care facility.
While there’s no doubt that some seniors need the level of care provided in a nursing home or assisted living residence, many simply need the added protection provided by a medical alert system. These affordable devices are designed to give seniors and those living with disabilities the added security that comes with having a 24 hour emergency call operator available at the touch of a button.
There are now dozens of medical alert companies offering a wide range of service plans, help buttons and wireless devices. Sorting through all the different options and prices can be a challenge, and trying to find the system that provides the best possible service can be overwhelming.
To help you narrow down your choices, our team of senior care experts have conducted in-depth research on all the medical alert systems on the market today. We’ve sourced out the most reliable medical alert systems and prepared a brief overview of each of them below.
The 3 Most Reliable Medical Alert Systems
Philips Lifeline is one of the best recognized and most respected names in the industry thanks in part to their 40+ years of experience in designing and selling simple, senior-friendly medical alert devices. The company was founded in 1976 by a gerontologist who set out to create the most reliable medical alert system on the market, and since that time Philips Lifeline has been recommended by over 200,000 health care professionals.
We’ve included Philips Lifeline on our list of the three most reliable medical alert systems because all of the devices are designed with the unique needs of seniors in mind. The basic at-home medical alert pendants and wrist-worn buttons come equipped with a non-rechargeable battery, which eliminates any worry that subscribers may forget to charge up their devices.
Lifeline’s cellular-equipped devices are connected to the AT&T network to provide near-seamless coverage throughout the United States. Another important factor that makes this system one of the most reliable of its kind is the advanced location service that uses six unique technologies that quickly and accurately pinpoint the location of a subscriber.
While many other medical alert companies only use GPS, Lifeline uses cutting-edge assisted-GPS technology, which is faster than conventional GPS. Lifeline mobile pendants can also use nearby WiFi access points to identify location, which is particularly useful indoors where GPS signals may be blocked. To further reduce any delays in locating a subscriber, Lifeline operators are able to activate an audio beacon that transmits a loud sound through the help button.
MobileHelp is known for having a wide variety of medical alert devices designed to meet the needs of seniors who remain in their homes and are active in the community. These devices are designed to be easy to use, helping to increase user compliance which in turn helps make the medical alert systems more reliable.
As a company, MobileHelp holds a number of industry certifications that reflect their commitment to customer care and excellent service. All of the wireless help buttons are FCC certified, and MobileHelp’s systems are UL certified and FDA registered.
One of the reasons why MobileHelp made our list of the most reliable medical alert systems is their best-in-class emergency response services. The company operates two call centers in the United States to ensure service is always available, and there are exceptionally high standards set for all emergency response operators.
Every MobileHelp operator holds a two-year associate’s degree or has completed at least two years of military service. The company performs extensive background checks and preemployment drug screening, and operators must complete a rigorous six-week training program before they can join the emergency response team.
Bay Alarm Medical
Rounding out our list of the 3 most reliable medical alert systems is Bay Alarm Medical, another well recognized and respected name in the industry.
Not only does Bay Alarm Medical offers some of the most innovative medical alert devices in the market today, but their call response system is second to none. They operate two state-of-the-art emergency response centers in Ogden, Utah, and Rexburg, Idaho, to ensure no call goes unanswered, and both centers are CSAA five-diamond certified. The company has partnered with AT&T to ensure excellent nationwide coverage for all mobile devices, and the GPS-enabled help buttons use 4G LTE technology to optimize speed and reduce the risk of dropped calls.
And because it’s important that seniors are served in their native language, Bay Alarm Medical has partnered with a translation service that can provide emergency response in nearly 200 languages.
What Impacts How Reliable a Medical Alert System Is?
A number of factors impact how reliable a medical alert system is, including:
- The location of the company’s call center
- The number of back-up call centers operated by each medical alert provider
- The type of connection (cellular or landline)
- In the case of cellular-based services, the availability of cell signals in the subscriber’s home and community
- The ease-of-use of the actual medical alert help buttons
- Compliance with the subscriber wearing the medical alert device
- The battery life on the help buttons
- If there’s a battery back-up integrated into the medical alert base unit
- The overall reputation of the medical alert company
- Whether or not the company holds industry certifications
- The availability of service in multiple languages
- If GPS location tracking is offered and what technologies are used in the locating system
It’s important to recognize that while all of the above contributes to the overall reliability of a medical alert system, some factors are more important than others. One of the most important considerations is the availability and signal of cellular service when considering a medical alert system that’s connected to mobile networks. If there isn’t a consistent, strong cell signal in the home of the senior who’s using the device, a cellular-connected medical alert system simply won’t perform as expected.
How to Choose the Most Reliable Medical Alert System for You and Your Loved Ones
When searching for the most reliable medical alert system for yourself, a parent or your loved one, take the time to consider how the system will be used, where you need coverage and whether or not additional features, such as fall detection, make sense for your situation.
Also think about the senior who’ll be using the medical alert device.
- Are they able to recharge a help pendant without assistance, or would a non-rechargeable help button be the better option?
- Does the senior need a medical alert system that works outside of their home, or are they always accompanied by a caregiver, family member or friend whenever they leave their house?