While caregivers do their best to take care of their loved ones, or the person that needs caring for, it is not always possible to monitor them 24/7. This can be a source of unease for both the caregiver and the patient. In such cases, investing in a device that can do some of the monitoring for you, and allow your loved one greater independence in their activities can be life-changing and life-saving. This is where medical alert systems come in.
A medical alert pendant or necklace is a wearable alert device that can provide emergency assistance with the push of a button by putting you in contact with a trained operator who can send help to you. It is often part of a larger medical alert system for monitoring a loved one, often a senior, who is at risk of falling, or other medical emergencies.
How Do I Choose A Medical Alert Necklace?
Firstly, it is possible to get confused between ‘Medical ID Necklace’ and ‘Medical Alert Necklace’. A medical ID necklace or bracelet, is a piece of jewelry made from materials like gold and silver with important emergency information engraved into them. This can include allergies, contacts and medications.
Medical alert necklaces however, serve a different functional purpose as they come with a SOS/call button that contacts an emergency operator that can send help to your loved one. These necklaces often also come with automatic fall detection, which can potentially be life-saving, as it ensures that your loved one does not remain alone in case of a fall, and gets help as soon as possible.
As always, it is important to consider the practicality of your loved one using a device such as a necklace in emergencies. Many people have limited motor skills, or may find it uncomfortable in general to press something that is hanging around their neck, in which case they may be better off using a watch or a similar kind of portable device.
While most people look for portable devices as it enables their loved ones to use it on the go, it is still worth looking into in-home systems that can be used along with such portable devices. It can provide all-around, improved security, especially if your loved one doesn’t go outside very often. To read more about the different kinds of medical alert systems, you can read our article here.
Important features to consider for medical alert necklaces
This ensures that even if your loved one is outside, they will be able to use the device wherever the cell towers reach.
GPS can be another life-saving feature, as in the event your loved one is not able to communicate their location to a responder, or has trouble speaking or hearing, help will still find them quickly. Some devices come with more than one kind of location tracking so that the person in crisis can be reached even in places like large buildings. To read more about GPS trackers for the elderly, you can find our article here.
Automatic Fall Detection
As aforementioned, fall detection can be an essential feature. It is not always possible for a person to be able to press the button in an emergency. An automated detection of this fall can notify the monitoring centre or emergency service, who can dispatch help if there’s no response from the person who fell.
Long Battery Life
Charging devices is something that slips past a lot of us, especially seniors. It is easy to forget to charge a device in old age, especially for a senior who is not very familiar with such technology. This is why a device that is able to go for a long period of time without charging is essential. If it constantly runs out of battery, it can lose its purpose, and not provide help when help is needed.
Best Medical Alert Necklaces
Great Call Lively Mobile Plus
This is one of the most functional necklaces on the list, with some of the best overall features out of the products on this list. It comes with most features that you would require from a medical alert necklace.
- Emergency button
- Built-in two-way speaker
- Can be worn on the go
- IPX7 waterproof rating
- GPS tracking
- Cellular signal
- Long battery life (80 hours of standby time)
- Automatic fall detection with optional cost per month
- Companion app that allows loved ones to monitor (with additional cost)
- Quite fast response time
While there are no prominent cons to the device, automatic fall detection, urgent care and the companion app do require an extra cost.
The lively mobile plus device is a one-time payment of $50, plus your monthly plan. For the monthly plans you can choose between a basic plan at $20 a month, a preferred plan at $30 per month, and an ultimate plan at $40 per month.
You can read about and find the product here.
LifeFone At-Home and On-the-Go GPS Voice-in-Necklace
The main stand-out feature that you will notice about the LifeFone necklace is its excellent battery life which can go up to 30 days, if you don’t have the fall detection feature. With the fall detection feature, the battery life is reduced to around 5 days, which is still a long time compared to some of the other necklaces on this list.
- Can be worn around neck or on belt using a belt clip that is included
- Water and dust resistance, but it is recommended not to submerge the device in water
- The LED ring around the button on the necklace glows different colors according to the action being performed which can make it easy to understand for seniors
- GPS and Wi-Fi
- Cellular service; the company depends upon the feature you are using. For example, with the fall detection feature, the necklace uses AT&T, but to place calls normally it uses Verizon.
- Extremely long battery life
- Many add-ons such as fall detection, daily check-in service and the LifeFone Location Service that allows caregivers to track whereabouts on a map.
- Two-way audio
- Extra features are pricey and may be confusing to keep track of
The monthly plan is $43.95, plus $5 per month if you want to add the fall detection feature.
The product is available here.
Bay Alarm Medical 4G LTE Mobile Button
Bay Alarm Medical is one of the most popular medical alert system brands, and offers a range of different products, including their medical alert necklace. This is one of their portable medical alert products that can put you in touch emergency services with the press of a button.
- Waterproof and weatherproof
- Long battery life
- All plans, even Standard plans come with Vial of Life, which is a packet that contains important medical information of the user in the case of an emergency.
- User-friendly tracking app (if you purchase the plan that includes it), with extensive activity history
- Cellular connectivity
- Fall detection (at additional cost)
- Urgent care features not offered, so you can’t get easy access to medical professionals
- Certain features come at additional cost
The mobile button comes with a one-time equipment charge of $79, then a plan of about $25 a month. It’s $5 more per month if you’d like to add caregiver tracking, and $10 more per month to add auto fall detection.
Browse Bay Alarm Medical products here.
MobileHelp Solo Mobile Device
While this device is better for a pocket or a purse, it can be used with a pendant to page a monitoring center at any time. It is a two-piece system which can come with its drawbacks, but it is still a good device to use on the go as it has a mobile GPS unit.
- Waterproof (the necklace is more waterproof than the GPS device, and can be worn in the shower with the GPS device nearby).
- Flexible payment plans
- No upfront device fee is required
- Fall detection (at additional cost)
- Email and text message alerts, even in non-emergency situations
- Needs to be in range of the GPS device
- Certain features come at additional cost, which may not be the case for some other products.
The plan is $37.95 per month, or a one-time annual payment of $365.40.
Browse their products here.
Philips Lifeline GoSafe 2
The Philips GoSafe 2 is an all-in-one medical alert necklace. It is also a trusted brand that is known to create reliable products. It’s not the most fashionable to wear as a necklace, but it is functional and quite comfortable.
- GPS tracking, uses five kinds of GPS locating technologies
- Emergency button
- Two-way communication
- Automatic fall detection
- Small in size, only a couple inches long
- Pricey; you have to pay an installation fee, and a monthly cost that is higher than most monitoring subscriptions
The device itself is a one-time payment of $99.95, then monthly payments of $49.95.
You can find the product here.
Free Medical Alert Necklaces
Medical alert systems, and technology similar to it can often be quite expensive. It can be very helpful to explore and be aware of the options available to you to make the devices more affordable. These options can include:
Medicare Part A and Part B generally do not pay for medical alert systems. However, Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage may provide coverage for the medical alert device you need. It is a supplemental health plan that offers private coverage for seniors who already receive Medicare.
As Medicaid is a state-funded insurance plan, coverage and benefits may vary by location. However many plans may provide waivers and coverage on the devices you need.
Some insurance providers recognize that medical alert devices can be life-saving, and may offer partial to full coverage for them. Descriptions of what devices are covered and which aren’t may be vague or confusing so it is important to make sure that the specific services and products you need are covered.
Many providers themselves may offer assistance programs to make their devices more affordable. Senior assistance agencies may also offer grants, and other kinds of financial assistance. Reaching out to agencies in your area can bring you different options for making medical alert devices more affordable.
All portable medical alert devices can be potentially life-saving and bring a sense of ease to your loved one and you. You can feel safer knowing that there is a way for your loved one to call for help even if you happen to not be around at the time. They may also feel more confident going out by themselves. With the many options for financial assistance, and value for money that many brands offer, getting a medical alert necklace for your loved one has become a worthwhile investment for its life-saving capabilities.
- The Best Mobile Medical Alert Pendants of 2020, Safety, https://www.safety.com/best-medical-alerts/necklaces/
- Bay Alarm Medical 4G LTE GPS Help Button, PC Mag, https://in.pcmag.com/security-devices/137696/bay-alarm-medical-4g-lte-gps-help-button
- LifeFone At-Home and On-the-Go GPS Voice-in-Necklace Review, PC Mag, https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/lifefone-at-home-and-on-the-go-gps-voice-in-necklace