Looking for free or inexpensive medical alert systems for senior citizens?
In this article, we’ll take a look at three affordable options to help protect the seniors in your life.
Check Out These Cheap or Free Medical Alert Systems
Medical alert systems can help seniors trying to maintain their autonomy. But money expert Clark Howard says you have to beware of the most common business model in this space.
“These services are advertised on many of the cable channels. Most companies want to capture you. They want you to get their device. And often they’ll subsidize the cost of the device so that you’ll then pay them a relatively large monthly fee for monitoring.”
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some options for free or relatively cheap medical alert systems.
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Assistive Technology Services
- Monthly base price of service: Free
- Monthly price of medical alert feature: Free
Assistive Technology Services offers a medical alert device with no monthly fee, and it works with both landlines and VoIP phones.
This device sells for around $280. So you pay more upfront, but you can save money over time.
“These people are not trying to make money on a monthly fee. They just want people to have the ability to get help,” Clark says.
“Their site doesn’t look like a slick website or anything like that, but their two-way pendant communicator is one that I’ve talked about for years as an alternative to the ones with all the monthly subscriptions.”
You can set the device to call up to four phone numbers in the event of an emergency. Typically that would be numbers for four relatives and 911.
Another nice feature is that the senior can answer telephone calls right through the pendant. In addition, the unit is water-resistant so it can be mounted in a shower.
This communicator runs on four standard AAA batteries, and the company says it can operate in standby mode for more than a year without a battery change.
- Monthly base price of service: Varies based on phone and plan
- Monthly price of medical alert feature: Starting at $19.99/month
Maybe you know Jitterbug as the flip phone marketed toward seniors — the one with big buttons and big icons to make cell phone use easy and accessible.
But what you may not know is that Jitterbug phones feature a 5Star Urgent Response function that’s built into the keypad or screen of each handset or device.
Just touch the button and you’ll be connected with a U.S.-based 5Star Urgent Response Service agent. The agent can then confirm your location, assess your medical situation and send the help that you need.
But there is a charge for this service upgrade, starting at $19.99/month.
Read more about the Jitterbug phone here.
- Monthly base price of service: Varies by device
- Monthly price of fall detection feature: Starting at $39.99/month
Another product from the makers of the Jitterbug, Lively, offers more geographical range.
It uses an in-home hub with built-in cellular connectivity to provide emergency response coverage up to 1,500 feet around the home or yard. No home internet connection is required.
Whenever you push the help button, Lively’s 24/7 Monitoring Center will respond. If needed, the agent then calls the user’s selected contacts and dispatches emergency services.
Lively also includes “passive activity sensors.” You place them around the home, and they measure healthy living patterns. If the system detects missed meals or decreased physical activity, Lively notifies designated caregivers via email, text or its mobile app.
Lively can also connect the user with an agent automatically if it senses a sudden movement that might indicate someone has fallen. But this “fall detection” feature isn’t standard. To get it, you have to buy the company’s Ultimate Health and Safety Plan, which starts at $39.99/month.
However, if you don’t want to pay that, you still can get access to 5Star Urgent Response minus the fall detection feature starting at $24.99/month.
People can reach their wits’ ends trying to help an aging relative or friend stay independent. Medical alert systems can be a big help.
$30 a month is a pretty common price point for monthly service. But zero dollars a month is much better if the system works for your loved one’s needs.