Life Alert vs ADT

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.

Medical alert systems are gaining in popularity these days, particularly among seniors who want to ensure they can always call for help while maintaining their independence. Also called personal emergency systems or portable call buttons, these systems work by pairing a telephone connection with a small wearable device that the user activates if they suffer a fall or need immediate assistance from a caregiver or first responders. A monitoring center operator answers the call, evaluates what type of assistance the caller needs, and dispatches help.

Basic medical alert systems include a speakerphone-equipped base station and either a pendant or wrist-worn call button. Some companies offer advanced features, such as GPS locating, automatic fall detection, activity monitoring and integrated online dashboards that keep authorized caregivers updated if the medical alert user calls for help.

Life Alert vs ADT – Which One Should You Choose?

With an ever-increasing variety of medical alert devices on the market today, finding the one that best fits your needs and budget can be a real challenge. Most medical alert companies use complicated marketing language to promote their products, and it can be hard to figure out details around pricing, added features and service terms.

To help make the process of buying a medical alert button easier, our team of senior care specialists have put together a collection of comparison articles that weigh the pros and cons of the most popular medical alert services and companies.

In this piece we look at Life Alert and ADT, two established emergency monitoring providers based in the United States. We found that while Life Alert is the more experienced of the two companies, ADT is the better choice due to its lower prices and the availability of automatic fall detection.

ADT Life Alert

COSTS

Up-Front Equipment

$0

$0

Monthly Monitoring

$29.95-$39.95

$49-$68

Activation Fee

$28.99 + $9.99 shipping

$95-$198

CONTRACT

Long-Term Contract?

No

Yes – three year

Optional Monthly Add-Ons

Fall detection +$10/month

ADT Go Mobile app +$10/month

ADT wall-mounted help button +$2.50/month

N/A

FEATURES

Water-Resistant Wearable Devices

Yes

Yes

Fall Detection

Yes

No

GPS Location Monitoring Available?

Yes

Yes

Mobile App/Online Dashboard

Yes

Yes

RELIABILITY/PERFORMANCE

Connection

Landline or cellular

Landline or cellular

Range (From in-home base unit for landline service)

Up to 300′ on landline-based systems; up to 600′ on cellular in-home systems

Up to 800′

Battery Life on Help Button

Non-rechargeable batteries in wristband/pendant of at-home, landline-based devices – free battery replacement provided by ADT

Up to seven years on help button pendant; up to 10 years on wall-mounted HELP button

Battery Back-up on Base Unit

Up to 32 hours

Up to 72 hours

OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES

Wall-mounted HELP button

ADT lockbox

Extra pendants/medical alert bracelets

Additional wall-mounted waterproof HELP button

Overview of Life Alert

Life Alert is a medical alert company that was established in 1987 and today handles more than two million calls from subscribers annually at its Five Diamond, UL listed emergency monitoring center.

Life Alert has two in-home medical alert systems, one connects to an existing landline, and the other that works using cellular networks. There’s also a mobile device called the Life Alert Mobile that includes a GPS locator. All of Life Alert’s help buttons are waterproof and powered with non-rechargeable batteries, making for a maintenance-free user experience.

Pricing for Life Alert starts at $49 and goes up to $68 per month in addition to the $95-$198 activation fee. Subscribers must sign up for a three-year contract that can only be cancelled under strict conditions and with medical documentation.

Life Alert Pros:

  • In-home base units have a 72-hour battery backup to ensure service is available during a power outage
  • All of the wearable help buttons are waterproof and safe for use in the bath or shower
  • Users never need to charge or change the batteries in their help buttons
  • The company has been in business for more than 30 years and maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau
  • There’s a mobile app that lets users call Life Alert directly from their smart phone

Life Alert Cons

  • The monthly monitoring fees are significantly higher than the industry average
  • Subscribers must sign up for three years of service
  • Fall detection isn’t available
  • The devices are somewhat dated
  • Prices aren’t disclosed online
  • Prospective customers must speak with a telephone sales agent to get more information

Overview of ADT

ADT has been providing security solutions nationwide for more than 145 years, and they now offer monitored medical alert systems. The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and all of their electronic devices are UL listed and backed by ADT’s quality guarantee.

ADT’s medical alert systems are relatively straightforward and similar to many other models offered through other companies. There are two in-home systems that come with a base unit with a speakerphone that’s activated by either a waterproof medical alert bracelet or pendant. ADT also has an On-The-Go system that pairs a small, portable base unit with a lightweight wrist-worn call button. The On-The-Go device can also be worn as a pendant without the medical alert bracelet, since the device is equipped with a help button as well.

Monthly monitoring costs start at $29.99 for the basic in-home, landline medical alert system that has a 300-foot range between the waterproof help button and the base unit. The Plus system costs $35.99 per month, connects using cellular phone networks and has a 600-foot range between the call button and base unit. ADT’s premium medical alert system, On-The-Go, provides nationwide coverage throughout the U.S. on the AT&T network for $39.99 per month. Fall detection can be added to either cellular system for $10 per month.

Pros of ADT

  • Wearable help buttons are waterproof for use in the bath or shower
  • The system self-tests every 30 days to ensure it’s working correctly
  • Medical Alert Plus and On-The-Go wrist-worn help buttons are available in black or white
  • Automatic fall detection is available on cellular systems
  • ADT’s in-home medical alert systems also monitors ambient temperature
  • Rates are guaranteed to never increase as long as a customer stays with ADT
  • No long-term service contracts
  • H2U members qualify for free activation and free shipping
  • Battery replacement is free in non-rechargeable emergency call buttons

Cons of ADT

  • Range between in-home base station and the personal help button is limited to just 300 feet when connected to a landline and 600 feet when connected to cellular networks
  • ADT doesn’t offer a discount for a second user
  • No mobile app or caregiver dashboard
  • Prices are higher than many comparable medical alert systems

Our Pick

While Life Alert has much more experience in providing medical alert monitoring services than ADT does, this experience doesn’t translate into better services or prices for Life Alert customers. The entry-level system from Life Alert starts at $49 per month, which is nearly $20 more than a comparable system from ADT. This alone is enough to make our reviewers declare ADT the best choice when picking between ADT and Life Alert.

We also noted that many consumers dislike the fact that Life Alert doesn’t disclose their pricing online, which forces prospective customers to call a telephone sales agent for information. This can leave callers, who are often seniors, feeling pressured to make a purchase from Life Alert.

Another factor that influenced our pick is Life Alert’s three-year service contract versus the month-to-month service from ADT. Life Alert subscribers can only cancel their service if the user passes away or is institutionalized, which means seniors and their family may wind up paying for months or even years of monitoring that’s not needed.

Compare Other Medical Alert Options

To learn more about the wide variety of medical alert systems, devices and features available, take a look at our other head-to-head comparison articles.