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.
According to the U.S. Alzheimer’s Association, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and one in 10 adults age 65 or older have dementia linked to the disease. One of the most common symptoms of dementia is wandering, which can quickly lead to a crisis, particularly for seniors who suffer from other medical conditions.
Medical alert systems with GPS are quickly becoming popular among seniors who live with memory loss from Alzheimer’s or another medical condition, as these devices combine traditional medical alert monitoring with GPS location tracking. When a senior activates a medical alert device that’s equipped with GPS, the emergency call center is able to pinpoint the wearer’s exact location so help can be dispatched right away.
What is GPS?
The Global Positioning System, better known as GPS, is a satellite-based navigation system that uses dozens of satellites that transmit signals to and from a GPS receiver. Originally developed by the U.S. Department of Defense, GPS technology is now widely used in vehicles and personal electronic devices, such as smartphones. Because the system is wireless, the signals are unaffected by weather conditions.
Why Get a Medical Alert System with GPS?
Medical alert systems with GPS are quickly gaining popularity because they address a common problem — identifying the exact location of a person who needs help. Anyone who’s been involved in a car crash or needed to call 911 for help knows it can be difficult to determine where they are, particularly if they’re traveling in an unfamiliar area or dealing with a stressful situation. Seconds count in an emergency, and a GPS medical alert device can help eliminate delays that often occur while first responders are searching for a caller.
GPS location technology can also give loved ones and caregivers added peace of mind when supporting someone who suffers from memory loss. Most medical alert systems with GPS come with a caregiver app that lets authorized users track the exact location of a subscriber through the medical alert device. Not only does this feature reduce stress on caregivers, it may also help delay institutionalization among older adults who are prone to wandering.
And while medical alert systems are largely marketed to seniors, medical alert systems with GPS can provide invaluable protection to adults who live alone, work in high-risk situations or are on the road. This same technology has been used by trucking companies, police departments and transportation services for a number of years to improve safety and accountability.
The 4 Best Medical Alert Systems with GPS
Bay Alarm Medical
Bay Alarm Medical ranks as one of the best medical alert systems with GPS. The company operates three emergency call centers in the United States to ensure continuous coverage for all subscribers, and their GPS medical alert devices use cutting-edge 4G LTE cellular connections to provide users with the fastest connection speeds.
Bay Alarm’s 4G LTE medical alert pendant is a stand-alone device that’s connected to the AT&T cellular network. It’s IPX7 water-resistant, making it safe for use in wet environments, such as the shower or bath, and it features an integrated speaker and microphone to enable two-way voice communication. The device is available in black or white and equipped with a manual help button that users can activate at any time.
Bay Alarm also has the world’s first in-vehicle GPS-equipped medical alert system. This portable plug-in device can be quickly installed in any car, truck or van to provide drivers and passengers with on-the-go protection. The device is equipped with internal GPS and an impact sensor that automatically notifies the Bay Alarm call center if a crash is detected. There’s also a microphone and speaker that lets users talk with emergency operators and a manual help button.
Costs for the in-car GPS medical alert device start at $29.95 per month and include access to the Bay Medical in-car caregiver app that lets users track the location of the device and set up automatic alerts if the device moves outside a user-programmed area.
MobileHelp‘s GPS-enabled medical alert system is unique in that it pairs a small, coin-sized help button with a portable base unit equipped with a cellular transmitter and GPS locator, while most other medical alert systems include GPS in a larger, all-in-one pendant. The smaller pendant offered through MobileHelp may be a good choice for seniors who find other GPS medical alert devices too bulky or heavy to wear.
Starting at a cost of $37.95 per month, MobileHelp’s GPS medical alert system includes 24/7 monitoring service, and no contract or activation fees are required. Fall detection can be added for an additional $10 per month.
Based in Boston, MA, QMedic is a relatively new medical alert company that uses technology developed by MIT scientists and endorsed by medical doctors. The QMedic mobile GPS medical alert system is an all-in-one wearable pendant that’s connected to the AT&T cellular network to provide protection anywhere AT&T services are available.
The small pendant comes in black only and is equipped with a rechargeable battery that needs to be charged on the included cradle every 2 weeks or sooner. The lanyard has a magnetic breakaway clasp to protect against accidental entanglement, and the device is water-resistant. To call for help, subscribers simply need to press and hold the button on the front of the device to activate a two-way call with the 24/7 emergency response center.
Costs for QMedic’s mobile GPS medical alert system monitoring start at $45 per month, and QMedic retains ownership of the device. Monthly fees include access to the QMedic Caregiver Dashboard, an online app that lets authorized users monitor information about their loved one, such as their location, sleep patterns and wear compliance.
Philips Lifeline has been providing medical alert solutions for more than 40 years, and they now offer two systems with GPS tracking: the GoSafe and GoSafe2.
Both Philips Lifeline GPS medical alert systems use a combination of technologies to provide highly accurate, real-time location monitoring for subscribers. In the event of an emergency, call center operators can pinpoint the exact location of the caller and relay that information to first responders. These devices use advanced assisted GPS technologies combined with Wi-Fi access points and intelligent location breadcrumbs that can monitor the location and direction of travel.
Another unique feature of Philips Lifeline GPS devices is the audio beacon. Call center operators can activate a loud sound that’s transmitted through the help button to aid responders in locating the subscriber. One-time device fees start at $99.95, and monitoring fees start at $49.95 per month.
What Impacts the Costs of GPS-Enabled Medical Alert Systems?
Medical alert systems with GPS cost more than traditional, landline-based help button systems because GPS-enabled devices are equipped with additional hardware. The monitoring costs for GPS medical alert systems are more expensive because these systems rely on cellular signals to work, and cellular service is included in the monthly fees.
How to Choose a Medical Alert System with GPS
Once you’ve narrowed down your medical alert systems to only include ones that offer GPS tracking, here are some of the things to consider:
- The monthly monitoring costs
- Any upfront equipment costs, activation costs or shipping fees
- The return policy
- The battery life of the device
- Whether or not a caregiver app is offered
- The availability of additional devices such as in-home help buttons and PIN-protected lock boxes
- Whether cellular service is available where you plan to use your GPS medical alert button
Some medical alert companies include the cost of a caregiver app, location tracking and additional services such as fall detection in the monthly monitoring fee, while others price each additional service separately. When weighing the true cost of each service, be sure to add in all the options and services you want to calculate your total monthly monitoring fees.