Life Alert Alternatives: Buying Guide & Reviews [2018]

Have you ever gotten a call from your loved one in dire need of medical help, but you were too far away to help?

How did that make you feel?

I bet it wasn’t a good feeling.

Something similar happened to me once.

A few years ago I was working pretty far from my great aunt who raised me; she has hypertension.

One day, she got dizzy and fell. I got a call from the hospital saying that she had suffered a concussion and had a broken arm.

She had laid there for hours, in pain and unable to get up. I still can’t shake that image out of my head.

I didn’t know anything about medical alert services then.

After the incident, I had to keep calling her neighbor, asking him to check up on her. Despite the neighbor telling me she was doing well, I still didn’t have peace of mind. Quite frankly, I also felt like a nuisance.

Had I known about these services, she would have probably gotten help sooner, minimizing her suffering. It might have also prevented me from experiencing the bouts of fear and the nightmares related to the incident.

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She had laid there for hours, in pain and unable to get up. I still can’t shake that image out of my head.

Today I am going to discuss the alternatives to Life Care, the pioneer in the field. Their services have been saving lives and giving peace of mind to families for decades, and my goal is for you to get to know them better.

What Features Make Life Alert a Force to be Reckoned With?

Let us look at what makes them reliable.

  • Onsite monitoring center

They have a dispatch center in the US.

What’s more, it is UL certified. Their staff is highly trained, and they stay on the line until help arrives.

  • They have a proven track record

Life Alert has no shortage of experience.

With over 20 years in the game, they give their customers the confidence they need to trust that they will deliver.

Clients would need a lot of time to trust someone new as much. Due to this, Life Alert has a significant edge over competitors.

What Issues Give Competitors a Fighting Chance?

Despite the good things about Life Alert, there are some loopholes competitors have exploited.

To name a few:

  • The rigid three-year contract

The Life Alert contract is three years long, and there is no room for cancellation.

Considering their services are mainly geared towards seniors, that is a bit stringent.

The elderly can get into situations that can force them to discontinue the services. For instance, they could end up in full-time nursing facility.

Here’s another good example:

When one becomes eligible for Medicare, they receive assistance and 24/7 monitoring. You may not feel obliged to continue paying close to $50 a month when you have access to a cheaper option.

I feel that they should have made a concession; that is what you do when your customers come first.

  • They do not have a discount when you pay for longer periods

Most companies offering similar products will have a monthly payment amount. The same applies for semi-annual and annual payments.

Not Life Alert.Their monthly fee is $49.95. It doesn’t matter how many months you pay it for. It remains $49.95 per month. There’s no annual option.

Features to Consider When Looking for an Alternative to Life Alert

Life Alert is a good company, but a little variety is good for clients. There are competitors out there giving this, once-giant medical alert giant (www.homesecurityheroes.com/medical-alert-systems-reviews), giant a run for its money.

But like any industry, once one competitor joins in, many more come out of the woodwork. It may be a challenge to differentiate the real deal from the ones out there just to get your money without offering equivalent value.

Here are a few things to consider before committing to any alternatives to Life Alert.

  • Customer service

When you have an issue with a service as critical as an emergency medical alert system, you need help ASAP.

You are therefore looking for a provider whose customer service is available 24/7. They should also be ready to give detailed information when the situation calls for it, in the simplest manner possible.

Any company whose customer service sucks has no business providing such a critical service.

  • The quality of the equipment

I feel this to be one of the essential features. Some of the things to consider under this include:

The type of material used – You should consider if the material used can cause an allergic reaction for the wearer.

Comfort – Just because someone needs emergency care doesn’t mean they should look hideous or walk around being uncomfortable..

Is it waterproof? Since most falls occur in bathrooms and kitchens, this is a significant feature. Waterproof equipment will be more effective, and the level also matters. You want something that will still work even when fully submerged in water.

  • How long will you need the system?

When going into any emergency service, you should consider the amount of time you are contracting the service.

Is your loved one living alone and you are constantly worried about their welfare or are you just traveling for the weekend?

For the former, a medical alert service for an extended period is a viable option. The latter may not exactly be necessary.

  • Is your loved one susceptible to falls?

There is a feature called ‘fall detection.’ If your loved one has a condition(s) that make them clumsy or weak, then this will come in handy.

Here is how it works:

The device the user is wearing senses a fall and triggers a call to a dispatcher. That way, if they get serious injuries from the fall, they can get medical attention in the shortest time possible.

  • Transparency in pricing from the onset and if you can afford it

You may find a system you like, that isn’t within your budget. In this case, you ought to the payment options. You may find some that are better suited to your means.

For instance, is paying in installments an option? Sometimes that works better than shelling out an annual payment.

  • Do you want a system that is monitored?

With a monitored system, the call button connects the user to a 24-hour dispatch service. One that is not monitored, on the other hand, calls an emergency contact such as a friend, caregiver or family member.

Deciding on a system will depend on your concerns and the nature of the emergency most likely to affect your loved one.

Imagine this:

Your loved one is prone to heart attacks more than any other issues. The condition requires lightning speed response time, and a few minutes could be the difference between life and death.

I know we don’t like to think of the worst case scenario when it comes to those we love; but wouldn’t you rather they spoke directly to a dispatcher?

A family member or friend might not be in a position to provide the help required.

  • Number of covered states

If the person you are purchasing the system for travels a lot, you want to pick a system that caters for that.

If they have specific states they travel to, it will be easier as you can zero in on them. However, if they travel randomly, you will need to look for an option that will cover the whole country or one that includes the most number of states.

  • Response time

Health emergencies are time sensitive. You need a system that comes to your aid in the shortest time possible.

There are services that keep you waiting for a full minute before someone comes on the line. This is an emergency and the response should echo this sentiment.

A Review of 3 Alternatives to Life Alert

Based on the factors above, I have put together a summary of three services which make the best alternatives to Life Alert.

Medical Guardian (Read Full Review)

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This is one of the fastest growing medical alert companies. Since its inception in 2005, they have been bringing technological advances to the sector.

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What do they have to offer?

They have five offerings:

  • Classic guardian- The traditional telephone line system.
  • Mobile Guardian – A cellular-based system with a GPS enabled mobile option, for protection in or outside your home.
  • Active Guardian– This is like the Mobile Guardian, but with longer battery life, improved technology, and optional fall detection service.
  • checkFamily Guardian– This one is cellular-based but requires no phone line system. It has more options than the rest.
  • checkHome guardian – This is a cellular network-based system and you don’t require a phone line to use it.

Questions to Ask

Cost of Equipment and Installation?

One of the things that wowed me about them is that they offer free equipment and there are no installation or activation charges.

They charge a shipping fee of $9.50 but waive even that, should you make an annual payment.

Cost of the Services?

The minimum monthly fee is $29.95. However, there is a discounted rate for the annual payment.

Do they have a Commitment Clause?

Yes, they do.

You will be required to commit to three months of the service. After the period ends, you will have ten days to cancel the subscription if you do not wish to continue using it.

You will also get a refund if you had paid anything more than the initial three months fee. This is an improvement from Life Alert’s three years contract.

Is Their Equipment Any Good?

For starters, the average range of their equipment is 1300 feet. The battery lasts between three and five years and has a low battery indicator.

What I love, however, is that they are also waterproof and have 32 hours worth of backup power.

You can get a device to wear either on your wrist or neck.

Another great thing is that if you need the system for both mum and dad, you don’t need to purchase it separately (provided they live together). You only need to pay an additional $2 per month for an extra button.

How cool is that?

What if I Need Repairs or a Replacement?

You will not incur charges for the replacement of faulty devices, and you can take a cover to insure the equipment against theft or loss. It will cost you $5 per month.

Without the cover, you could pay up $350 for replacement of lost equipment.

As of January 2018, they introduced a money-back-guarantee. If you are not satisfied with the system, you can return it and get a refund!

How is Their Response?

They do not have their own monitoring center, but they have partnered with companies that are Five Diamond Certified.

Their response time is excellent!

It averages 30 seconds which is one of the fastest in the industry.

Are There Any Advanced Features?

There is an option for an activity and inactivity monitor. These are placed near the kitchen and bathrooms to ensure your loved ones are up and about.

If they are not, they could be in danger, and the company’s monitoring system will alert you for the next cause of action.

Another impressive feature you can add is the fall detection which for me is mandatory. I feel like it is a must have for everyone who is prone to falls.

The GPS medical alert tracking system is also a nice touch. If the individual is unable to talk to a dispatcher for some reason, the system can track their location and get to them early in an emergency.

Things We Wish They Did Better?

I would have like for them to have a pill reminder.

Seniors are prone to memory loss and having the system remind them to take their pills would be a big plus.

We at Home Security Heroes also think that a smoke and carbon dioxide detector could also be a helpful addition.

 

Life Sta​tion

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They have been in business for over 40 years and promise high-quality equipment to help your loved ones live a better life.

What else are they about? Let’s find out.

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What do They Offer?

They have three package options:

  • In-Home Traditional:Only covers the home and requires a landline.
  • In-Home Plus:Covers the home, but doesn’t require a landline.
  • Mobile with GPS:You can use this while on the go to help dispatch pinpoint your location in case of an emergency

Questions to Ask

The Cost of Equipment and Installation?

You do not pay anything, and the installation is so easy you can do it yourself in a matter of minutes.

How Much Will Their Subscription Set Me Back?

Their pricing is fair: the monthly minimum cost is $26.95.

They also have a quantity discount- if you pay annually, it goes down to $22.95 per month. For the quarterly option, you will part with a monthly fee of $24.95.

They also have a discount of $2 per month for AARP.

And if you are a veteran, you get the annual discount for monthly payments.

However, you are only allowed to use one discount at a time.

Is There a Minimum Commitment Period?

Thankfully, you renew your contract monthly, and you can opt out at any time.

Finally!

Someone who doesn’t want to tie you down.

How is Their Equipment?

Their range is 1000 feet, and the battery will last up to four years. Additionally, there is a 32-hour backup system in case you aren’t near to charge it.

Good news!

All their equipment is waterproof and has a weekly automatic test to ensure it is working correctly.

It is also UL certified. You can choose to either wear it on the neck or wrist, and there is 24-hour technical support in case anything goes wrong.

Are There Charges for Replacement and Lost Equipment?

You will not pay for damaged items, but if you lose the button, you will need $30 to replace it. The base station will cost you $300.

Alternatively, you can join their assurance plan and pay $5 per month to cover the loss.

What is Their Response Time?

Wait for it!

20 seconds!

That is like lightning. I love it.

They also have their own monitoring centers that are TMA CSAA 5 diamond certified.

Any Optional Features?

Yes!

For extra payments, you can have a fall detection added to the system, a non-GPS mobile alert button for those always on the go, and a GPS medical alert system.

What Don’t I Like About Their Services?

They do not have a pill reminder option which I would have loved. They also don’t offer a smoke and carbon dioxide detector option.

 

Bay Alarm Medical (Read Full Review)

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This is a subsidiary of Bay Alarm which has been in business for over 70 years!

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What do they offer?

They have Four package options:

  • In-Home Medical Alert:It is an in-home system that requires a landline.
  • In-Home Cellular Alert: This is also an In-home system that doesn’t require a landline.
  • Mobile GPS Help Button:You can use this on the go and indoors, and you don’t require a landline.
  • checkMonitored Fire, Smoke & Gas (CO): An In-home system that requires a landline and provides fire, smoke & carbon monoxide (CO) gas detection. (Finally!)

Questions to Ask

The Cost of Equipment, Installation, and Subscription?

All you pay is shipping $9.95 for standard and $39.95 for express (if you don’t want to wait). The monthly payment stands at a minimum of $19.95.

The best part of the contract is that you can cancel it at any time.

What’s more, there is a 30-day money back guarantee. If you get the equipment and do not like it, you are free to return it and receive a full refund no questions asked.

The only caveat is, you have to do so in 30 days, and you will pay to ship the items back.

Do I Pay for Replacement and Repairs?

If the equipment is faulty when you get it, you will get a replacement free of charge. However, if you tamper with it, you will pay for the damage.

A lost button will set you back $44.90 inclusive of shipping. For the whole set, you pay $200.

There is an alternative where you can buy a guarantee for $49.95 upfront.

What’s the Deal With Their Equipment?

The battery lasts up to five years and, you guessed it: It has a power back-up of 32 hours.

They have a range of 1000 feet indoors and up to 800 outdoors depending on where you base station is placed.

The wearer can choose to wear their device either on their wrist or neck.

Any Optional Features?

A senior fall alert option is available for an additional $10.

What Didn’t I Like?

Three things stood out

  • They have no pill reminder option
  • They do not offer free shipping and
  • They have no activity monitoring option.

 

Final Thoughts

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I consider all the alternatives are solid options, but I am especially intrigued by Bay Alarm Medical. The only qualms I have with them is their pricing and the no-activity monitoring.

Medical Guardian and Life Station are more of a a tie, due to their similar features.