COVID-19 Update: Medical Alerts are considered essential devices during the COVID crisis, so monitoring and customer service centers are still open and ready to help. To learn more about how these and other essential products can keep older adults safe and connected during this crisis, take a look at our list of 10 essential products.
Seniors today are living longer, more independent lives than ever before, which has led to a growth in assistive technologies, such as medical alert systems. These small, wireless devices are designed to provide added protection and peace of mind to those who are at an increased risk of falling due to age-related deterioration or who may live with disabilities.
Although medical alert systems can’t prevent accidents or medical emergencies, they can make a big difference when it comes to getting help quickly. All too often seniors suffer from a fall in their own home and are left unable to stand or reach the phone, which can lead to tragic results. Medical alert devices, such as a help bracelet, ensure that seniors can always call for assistance no matter what type of emergency they’re experiencing.
Why Get a Bracelet Medical Alert System?
Bracelet medical alert systems are popular among seniors because these devices are lightweight, water-resistant and easy to wear. With the look and feel of a traditional wristwatch, bracelet help buttons are a good alternative to pendant help buttons for a senior who dislikes wearing something around the neck or wants a device that’s discreet.
In addition to being functional and noninvasive, bracelet medical alert systems are typically the lowest-priced option when it comes to medical alert devices. Costs for most bracelet help buttons run around $20-$25 per month, and consumers may be able to access discounts through service club memberships, time-limited offers or by purchasing a semiannual or annual plan.
It’s important to know that most bracelet medical alert systems work in conjunction with an in-home base unit that connects to either a landline or cellular phone service. This means that the device only works within a particular range of the base unit, leaving the subscriber without medical alert coverage when they’re away from home, which is fine for seniors who have friends, caregivers or family members who remain with them when out in the community. This type of medical alert system may be best suited to users who only need the added protection of a help button while they’re in their own home.
The 3 Best Bracelet Medical Alert Systems for Seniors
Bay Alarm Medical
Bay Alarm Medical is known for having a variety of senior-friendly medical alert devices, fast call response and affordable service plans. Their in-home bracelet medical alert system is simple, maintenance-free and available with either a landline or cellular connection, and the base unit includes a 32-hour battery backup.
The range between the medical alert bracelet and the base unit is 800-1000 feet, making this system suitable for use in most small apartments and homes. Bay Alarm also offers free spouse monitoring, which lets subscribers add a second user at the same address for only the cost of the medical alert bracelet.
The Bay Alarm Medical bracelet starts at $19.95 per month, and discounts are available for AARP, USAA, AMAC and a number of other senior organizations. A Vial of Life personal medical information package is included with every system, new subscribers have a 30-day risk-free trial period, and the company has a price-lock guarantee.
Founded by gerontologist Dr. Andrew Dibner and his sociologist wife Susan in 1974, Philips Lifeline is widely regarded as being the first personal medical alert system in the world. In 2006 Philips purchased Lifeline, and since that time the company has continued to focus on developing innovative, senior-friendly help buttons and medical monitoring systems.
The HomeSafe Standard is Philips Lifeline’s bracelet medical alert system. Available with either a landline or cellular connection, this no-frills system gives seniors around-the-clock access to the emergency response center. When the help button on the bracelet is pressed, a call is placed to an emergency operator through the in-home base unit equipped with a speakerphone for hands-free communication.
Outfitted with a long-lasting, non-rechargeable battery that’s automatically replaced when it reaches the end of its service life, the Philips Lifeline bracelet is water-resistant, so it can be worn in the shower. The system costs $29.95 per month for a landline base unit, and $43.95 for a cellular base unit plus a one-time $50 activation fee.
LifeFone has been in business since 1976, making it one of the most established medical alert companies in the country. LifeFone consistently ranks high for having senior-friendly devices and extra service options, such as daily wellness checks, activity assurance monitoring and medication reminders.
LifeFone makes our list of the 3 best bracelet medical alert systems for seniors because their wearable help buttons are simple, reliable and attractive. Designed to look and feel like a traditional wristwatch with an adjustable black strap and a non-rechargeable battery, this medical alert bracelet can be worn by men and women alike.
It has an impressive 1,300-foot range between the help-button bracelet and the base unit, making this system ideal for seniors who live in a larger home. The bracelet is water-resistant for safe use in the shower, and there’s a 32-hour battery back-up on the base unit, keeping the device running in a power failure.
Pricing for the LifeFone medical alert bracelet system starts at $24.95 per month.
Advantages and Drawbacks of Bracelet Medical Alert Systems
While bracelet medical alert systems are increasingly common and a popular alternative to pendant help buttons, wrist-worn medical call devices aren’t for everyone. Before signing up for one of these systems, consider the following pros and cons:
Pros of bracelet medical alert devices:
- Lowest-cost option from most medical alert companies
- Lightweight and easy to wear
- Maintenance-free and water-resistant
- High user compliance rates
- Offers good service range between bracelet and base unit
- Is suitable for men and women
- Ensures seniors can call for help from anywhere within their home
Cons of bracelet medical alert devices:
- Not available with automatic fall detection
- Seniors must push the button to call for help
- Range is limited to in-home use
- The bracelet may be uncomfortable for seniors who dislike having something on their wrist
- The device may be easy to misplace if it’s taken off
How to Choose the Best Bracelet Medical Alert System
With dozens of medical alert companies offering a wide variety of devices and systems, finding the one that best matches your needs and budget can be tough. Start by considering the size of the home where the system will be used, since medical alert bracelets need to be within range of the base unit to work properly.
Think about what your budget is as well. Most bracelet medical alert systems cost less than $25 per month, and some companies offer price protection guarantees that lock-in pricing for as long as a customer stays with the company. There are also special discounts available for subscribers who purchase prepaid plans and are members of certain senior organizations.
If there is more than one senior in the home, try to pick a company that provides free or discounted coverage for a spouse or roommate to save on monitoring costs. You may also want to choose a provider that offers a 30-day trial period so you can test out the system at home without worrying about cancellation fees or penalties.