Security and independence usually don’t go well with each other. Being independent lessens a person’s sense of security, and security itself, means depending on someone or something. For many years, people tried looking for ways to have both. We usually think that a medical alert system is only needed by aging seniors with deteriorating health, but the truth is, we all need alarm systems. We are all facing the risks, thus we all need something or someone that provides security while not affecting your independence. Knowing this, your next question could be, “Great, but how do I know who’s the best? Is it Life Alert or someone else?” For comparisons with other top medical alert providers please see Life Alert vs Medical Guardian.
Life Alert was founded in 1987 and has served the entire US for almost 3 decades. As the technology changed and improved, they improved their service and continued saving lives. According to Life Alert’s website, they handle over 2 million calls a year, and they are able to save a life from a potential catastrophic outcome every 10 minutes.
Life Alert became famous of their “Help! I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!” advertisement. Many of Life Alert’s customers are happy because of their service. In fact, in a recent study conducted by AC Nielsen about Life Alert, 95 percent of Life Alert’s customers say that they feel protected because of Life Alert’s service. Many say that their decision to choose Life Alert has been a major part of their life, especially for aging customers.
Equipment and Services Offered
Life Alert offers a wide array of products. But they all lead to a single goal: making you feel safe. Although their main product is the medical alert systems designed for protecting aging individuals, all their other services are designed to benefit those of all ages. They offer services like fire and carbon monoxide protection that alerts you whenever fire or excess carbon monoxide are detected in your home. They also offer home intrusion protection wherein a trained representative will call for help in your behalf. And last, they have a mobile app that can be used to directly ask for their help when you need it.
Life Alert’s website does not have a clear pricing list and description of their products. Because of their strict marketing and sales approach, it is hard to get hold of this information. But what we do know is that they offer a basic medical alert system that connects to a landline, a mobile help phone, and a mobile application for smartphones. I’ll try to put in as much details as I can about these three.
Landline-Connected Medical Alert System
This product is being marketed like this: If you’ve fallen and you are alone at home, what would you do? Of course, you’ll call for help. But what if the telephones are out of reach? The ‘magic wand’, or the pendant could save your life in such dire situations.
This package comes with the basic products — a base unit and a pendant. The base unit is connected to your landline and it serves as your telephone exclusively used when help is needed, such as the event mentioned above. Unlike a telephone, though, the base unit has no mouthpiece and earpiece, instead, it has a two-way intercom. A high-powered speaker and a sensitive microphone helps you communicate with Life Alert’s Emergency Response Center even if you are meters away from the unit. The base unit also has a back up battery that can run for 48 hours without charge.
It also comes with a help button that can be worn as a pendant or wristband. This help button is waterproof and can be worn even when taking a shower or swimming in the pool, giving you extended security. When pressed, the pendant will immediately alert the Emergency Response Center. Unfortunately, the pendant only works up to a 150 ft. range from the base. Average houses may be covered if the base unit has been placed well, but a larger home will not be accommodated.
This package is $29.95 a month. You may choose to pay it monthly, or you can pay annually. Paying annually will give you a month free. Although there will be no activation fees, watch out because they will charge you for a one-time installation fee. The quote usually runs between $90 to $130. Sometimes, the sales agent will give you a higher quote, even reaching $200. In such a case, it is good to tell them that you did some research and you’ve seen that it only costs around $100.
Life Alert prefers to have their equipment professionally installed. That’s a good thing for seniors who live alone and have no one to ask for help.
Emergency Help Phone
Aside from their basic medical alert system, Life Alert also offers Emergency Help Phone for those who do not have landlines or those who are always on-the-go.
The Emergency Help Phone is basically a cell phone designed to quickly call for help when the “Help” button has been pressed. It’s like getting both a base unit and the help button pendant in one, small device that easily fits in your palm or pocket. It uses GSM phone signals just like a usual cellular phone. It is also equipped with GPS, enabling the Emergency Response Center to find you when an alert is made. This help phone is battery operated, and, according to their website, it can run for 10 years without charging.
I was not able to get hold of their price list on this product because of their sales approach. But you can always feel free to contact them using the number on their website. If you want to have their product, they will be willing to assist you.
The Emergency Help Phone does not need any installation, instead, they will just activate it and its ready to be used. There are no activation fees.
Emergency Protection Using Your Own Mobile
This is something that not all medical alert companies offer. In this kind of world that we live in, cellular or smart phones are a necessity. Almost everyone has one handy at anytime, anywhere. So why not turn it into an emergency protection? Life Alert asked the same question, and they answered, ‘Why not?’
Using your own mobile phone, Life Alert will give you the protection you need when you need it. If you are using a regular cell phone, they will activate it so that Life Alert will be on your speed dial. Dialing their number works like pressing a help button, and they will treat your case accordingly.
If you are using a smartphone, Life Alert has an app that also works about the same. If you called for help, you will automatically be connected to an Emergency Response Center.
The good thing about it is that you won’t need a new unit to use their service. By using your own mobile phone, you will have access to their services. But the downside of this product is that you have to always carry your phone with you to ensure that you are safe and secured. Unlike the waterproof pendant, a mobile phone is much bulkier and heavier. And I think only teenagers carry their phones all the time.
This offer is, first of all, not just for seniors. In fact, a person as young as 16 can sign up for it. The monthly fee in $19.95 . Aside from the monthly fee, there is also a one-time programming fee of $79. You are also required to sign up for a 2-year agreement.
No installation is required. All they have to do is activate your phone or app to be able to contact them.
Life Alert 50+
At times, people want a complete protection bundle that would protect them not only from medical emergencies but also from fire and carbon monoxide. Life Alert 50+ provides the all-around protection that you need.
Life Alert 50+ comes with the basic medical alert system that includes the base unit and a pendant. This provides for your medical assurance. It also comes with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. It also includes protection from home intrusion.
Let’s have a look at each of them.
The smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are connected to the base unit. When fire, smoke, or carbon monoxide are detected, it will immediately contact the Emergency Response Center. They will, in turn, contact you and alert you of the emergency. In addition, they will also contact the fire department and the police for you, if needed. So all you have to worry about is getting out of danger.
The home intrusion alert is another safety feature provided by Life Alert. Basically, if you heard something strange or if you feel like there’s an intruder in your house, you can call them by pressing the help button. If you told them that you feel like there’s an intruder, they will contact the authority’s. And since the base unit has speaker phones, the Response Center can scare away the intruders, or so, theoretically. But mainly, help comes from the police contacted by Life Alert.
Life Alert 50+ which includes all the above mentioned services costs $49.95 a month. It may also include an installation fee that costs around $95 to $115, although sometimes, their sales agent could give you a quote that can reach as high as $200 for the installation. It is wise to tell them that you did some research and you’ve read that it just usually costs around $100. You will either get an explanation or the discount.
Since all units will be installed professionally, you won’t have to worry about the hassle of installing it. After installation, your system will be activated with no added cost.
Extra’s and Upgrades
Life Alert does offer some upgrades, however, not as many as some of their competitors.
Extra Help Button
Some houses have 2 seniors who both need medical protection. Life Alert offers an extra help button for the other senior for a one-time fee of $49. In return, the other senior will get the same monitoring service as the other. It’s like protecting both for the price of one.
911 Help Phone
The 911 Help Phone works like a regular phone, but it is special in some ways. When the red button is pressed, it will connect you with a 911 dispatcher. This is a great add-on for an elderly who spends a good amount of time outdoors.
Unlike a regular cell phone though, the 911 Help Phone needs no additional subscription fees to a service provider. All calls to 911 are covered by your monthly fee. Unlike the Emergency Help Phone that contacts Life Alert, the 911 Help Phone does not have GPS so they will have to ask you about your location. But it is still a great help and a good way of keeping yourself safe when outdoors.
The 911 Help Phone is very handy, in fact, it perfectly fits your palm and can be easily kept on your pocket, bag, or purse. So unlike regular phones that can be bulky, the 911 Help Phone is easy to carry.
How Alerts are Handled?
Help can come to you in 3 easy steps, one involving you, the other, an Emergency Response agent, and last, the help that they send you.
Alerting the Emergency Response Center
An alert, like a distress call, will tell the Emergency Response Center that you need help. Usually, a push of the help button does that. When a fall happens, or when you need medical assistance, you can push the help button to speak with an agent. You may also do so if you heard strange noises and feel like there are intruders. You can also press the help button when you are feeling unsafe.
The Emergency Response Center will also be alerted if smoke, fire, or carbon monoxide are detected.
Assessing the Emergency
Once they are alerted, the Emergency Response Center will speak with you and try to assess the situation. If it is a medical emergency, they will send the help you need. It could be an ambulance to take you to the hospital, your caregiver, or one of your relatives.
If there’s an intruder, the agent will try to scare off the intruders. While doing so, they will also be sending police to your place. They will keep you on the line until help comes or until you feel safe.
Or if the monitoring center received fire, smoke, or carbon monoxide alarm, they will immediately contact your base unit and let you know. At the same time, they are also dispatching the fire department.
Depending on the situation, the agent will send you the appropriate you need. It can be an ambulance, the police, fire department, caregiver, doctor, or a relative. The agent will decide, and even though you say that you do not need medical help, if he feels that your situation can be something urgent, it will be at his discretion. Life Alert offers a 100% refund if the user dies at home, so they are pretty confident of their service.
- Over all things, Life Alert has a good customer support service. Many of their customers are satisfied with their service. They are quick to respond, polite, and friendly.
- They offer carbon monoxide and fire, and smoke monitoring. To be fair, they are not the only ones who do have such offers. But not all do, so thumbs up to Life Alert.
- Their Home Intrusion Protection service is a great add-on.
- They can use your phone, regular or smart phone, as your emergency help button.
- Years of experience give them great advantage.
- The range of the base unit and the pendant is too short compared to other companies. It can only reach 150 ft.
- They will require you to sign a contract. The 3-year contract will also automatically renew if you do not cancel within 6 months after it expires.
- Life Alert’s website doesn’t show a price list of their products. In fact, it is hard to get a price list even by contacting them.
- Their sales approach is quite aggressive. So when contacting them, make sure that you have done a bit of research. Before signing any contract, make sure to read the whole agreement. Do not hesitate to take your time and talk, question, and research the agent.
Life Alert is pretty commendable because of the quality of their service to their customers. The number of appreciations from customers is overwhelming, which just shows that they are really dedicated to providing good customer care. But we suggest that before signing in to their product, carefully consider it because you will be tied to a 3-year contract, so make sure that their product will work for you.