A personal emergency response system can make life safer for older adults, but making a decision can be tough with so many companies to choose from. To make comparison shopping easier, it’s a good idea to decide in advance what your priorities are for monitoring — at home or on the go — and whether you have any special needs such as adaptive equipment or non-English language support.
MedicalAlert offers “help at the push of a button.” The company is based in Broomall, Pennsylvania, and is part of Connect America, a larger emergency monitoring company. MedicalAlert’s features include Braille text on some models of its monitoring equipment, Spanish-language emergency operators, and a streamlined selection of equipment.
MedicalAlert offers 24/7 US-based monitoring and 3 different equipment options.
- The original Medical Alert System connects with the user’s telephone landline or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service for in-home monitoring.
- The Cellular Alert System offers an in-home monitoring option via AT&T’s wireless network for clients without landline or VoIP service.
- The Mobile Alert System works in the home and as a wearable, portable system for errands, travel, and outdoor excursions.
All three systems come with a wearable, waterproof emergency call pendant or wristband.
The basic Medical Alert System can be installed 4 different ways: with a landline phone, with an answering machine, with Voice over Internet Protocol hardware, and by connecting directly to the home’s landline jack. It also features Braille control buttons for visually impaired users. The company web site has downloadable printed directions and a short instructional video for each installation option.
The Mobile Alert System has built-in GPS tracking for quick location by emergency responders, and it can function as an in-home monitor as well, which saves the cost of a second device-monitoring fee. The mobile and cellular systems do not require users to have a separate wireless service plan.
The company provides Spanish-speaking operators on request. Medical Alert’s parent company, Connect America, has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau as of June 2015 and has been an accredited BBB business since 2005.
Unlike many other PERS providers, MedicalAlert does not complete service orders over the internet. Prospective customers must either call the company or fill out and submit an online form to receive a call back from a company representative to complete the order.
There is a 3-month minimum requirement for monitoring service, and an up-front deposit equal to 3 months of service is required before the company delivers the monitoring equipment. The monitoring agreement auto-renews monthly; 30 days’ written notice is required in order to cancel the service. Customers must return their monitoring equipment to MedicalAlert after the service ends; the company charges $350 for unreturned or damaged equipment, plus a $29.95 monthly fee until its return.
Monthly monitoring cost is $29.95 for the in-home Home Alert System, $34.95 for the in-home Cellular Medical Alert System, and $39.95 for the Mobile Alert System that works at home and on the go. There are no fees for installation, activation, or cancellation.
Seniors who want rapid assistance when a phone call isn’t possible, especially visually impaired or Spanish-speaking seniors.