A medical alert system or personal emergency response system (PERS) is an important and useful device for monitoring health, falls, and other emergencies. It can make your loved one feel more independent and make it easier for caregivers to monitor their loved ones.
Of the various kinds of medical alert systems, medical alert watches are one of the most popular and widely used. If your loved one would be able to navigate such a device without major difficulty, then it can be a great option for creating an increased sense of security and independence.
In this article, we will discuss how to choose the best medical alert watch as well as the best ones on the market right now.
How Do I Choose A Medical Alert Watch?
Medical alert watches are often most used by seniors who may be at risk of health issues or falls and require a more secure method of monitoring, as it is difficult for caregivers to check on them 24/7.
There are many terms used for medical alert systems that are worn on the wrist such as pendant and bracelet. Medical alert system watches have many more features than a wrist pendant, which may only have a help button and automatic fall detection. While this is important, it is also beneficial if the device would be able to monitor other daily activities as well.
However, it is important to note that a thorough evaluation of your loved one’s abilities and comfort with such technology is necessary to determine whether they would be able to use the device with ease. If they have dementia, they may find it difficult to operate a watch, and they may require something that can detect a fall automatically. If they have limited motor skills, then putting on a watch or pushing small buttons may be too difficult. If your loved one does not have any immediate difficulties that hinder them from using the watch, then a watch can be the way to go.
It can also be beneficial to set up a larger medical alert system along with the watch that extends to an in-home system or something that can link up with a vehicle. This can also be helpful if the watch happens to be charging when an emergency takes place, so your loved one always has some kind of access to emergency care. For an extensive guide on all kinds of medical alert systems, you can read our article here.
Here are a few features to look for when buying a medical alert watch.
Many people turn to medical alert systems for this very feature. Falls are very common among seniors, and when they are not tended to as soon as possible, it can cause prolonged medical issues. While it is great that medical alert systems can bring help in the case of a fall, it is always better to prevent than cure. You can read our article about elderly safety at home here.
Many modern medical alert watches do not always provide automatic fall detection. Some companies claim that fall detection may not always be accurate enough with devices worn on the wrist. It may also trigger many alarms during the day even if a fall has not occurred, which can drain battery life and cause stress for the caretaker and family.
The device should have a help button and feature that can promptly connect your loved one to emergency services or a response center in case of an emergency.
Health Tracking and Monitoring
A medical alert watch that will be able to track heart rate, health information, fitness, and other vital signs can provide a lot of important information that helps keep track of your loved one’s health even if there isn’t an emergency. Some devices can also provide medication reminders if needed.
Built-In Two Way Speaker and Cellular Network Coverage
Many seniors can be hard of hearing which can present difficulties when speaking to a first responder after contacting emergency services. This is why the medical alert watch should have a high-quality built-in microphone and speaker. The watch should be able to work outside the home with good cellular network coverage as well.
Location Tracking and Detection
Medical emergencies can happen anywhere, especially if your loved one is leading an active lifestyle outside the house as well. There may be times where your loved one may not be able to immediately communicate their location in an emergency, in which case high quality, detailed location tracking can be crucial.
Long Battery Life
It is important that the smart watch does not have a battery that drains quickly, as this can cause problems with its usability. It should be able to be used for long durations of time without the hassle of constantly charging it. A battery that lasts throughout the day is possibly the best, as it can then be charged overnight if needed.
Watches are often worn throughout the day, whilst your loved one does different things. Having a waterproof watch minimizes damage significantly, and your loved one can feel more comfortable wearing and using the device. While waterproofing is recommended, many watches may not be able to offer full waterproofing along with their other features. Check to see that they are at least considerably water-resistant however.
Best Medical Alert Watches
There are many medical alert watches to choose from, for the various needs of your loved one. Here are some of the best ones on the market right now:
This is quite a popular option when it comes to medical alert watches. It is offered by the company Medical Guardian, a well-known medical alert company, and has a range of medical alert features.
- The icons are large and easy to see
- The speaker is loud
- The watch has GPS, Wi-Fi and 3G cellular coverage
- SOS button.
- The watch also offers text-to-speech messaging.
- Counts your steps
- Emergency button connects you to a monitoring center and your loved one’s closest contacts.
- Companion mobile app
- Effective as a standalone device
However, here are some drawbacks to the watch.
- There is no automatic fall detection, which can be a dealbreaker, as this feature is essential to many people.
- Messages and reminders cost extra per month.
- Not completely waterproof
The watch itself is $300. After that, the monthly plan is $44.95 per month. You can add a protection plan, including unlimited battery replacement and any repairs needed within one year of purchase, for an extra $6.99 a month. For reminders and alerts and text-to-speech messaging, you’d pay another extra $5 per month. Enhanced emergency messages, which notify you and your circle of caretakers of any emergencies, cost $2.99 extra per month.
Overall the watch is a good option, but its lack of fall detection can make it a bad option for those who require that feature specifically.
You can find the product here.
This is a more budget oriented option, but still offers quite a few features. MobileHelp works with Rapid Response, a US based medical alert monitoring company that also works with security companies.
- Monitor heart rate
- Tracks steps
- Weather forecast
- Monthly cost for monitoring is relatively lower than others
- Long battery life
- Day planner with reminders and alerts
- Two-way speakerphone
Some drawbacks include:
- No messaging feature
- Water-resistant not waterproof
- No fall detection
- Cost of monitoring services can change at any time
- Cannot be used to receive regular phone calls when not in an emergency
- Can get better watches that can offer more at the same price point
The hardware costs $349.95, then the following monthly plan is $24.95 per month.
If you are interested, you can find out more about the product here.
Apple Watch Series 5, 6
The Apple Watch is one of the most pricy, luxury smartwatches, regardless of whether you are buying it for the purpose of medical alerts. It comes equipped with many features for health tracking and monitoring, while also being a great social device that helps connect its users with their loved ones. The full functionality of the Apple Watch is extensive.
- Best automatic fall detection that asks if you need help in an event of a fall. If the person does not respond within 60 seconds, it will call for emergency responders.
- Customizable screen
- Easy to text and call loved ones
- Monitors health; glucose, calories, number of steps, heart rate.
- One-time purchase
- Built-in GPS capabilities
The Apple Watch does come with its own drawbacks however.
- Overkill if your loved one does not require as many features
- Water-resistant but not waterproof
- Some of the features are dependent upon an iPhone, and often people are only comfortable using the Apple Watch if they already use an iPhone
- Does not have built in cellular capability, depends upon the cellular capability of iPhone.
Prices range from $399 to $799. Sometimes discounts are available if you buy used on Facebook marketplace, Ebay, or a similar site.
Find out more about purchasing the product here.
Great Call Lively Wearable
This is one of the more simpler devices on the market right now. It is not the most hi-tech option out there, which is not always a bad thing, as it makes it a simplistic and easy to navigate device. The device does not have a touchscreen watch face, but has a SOS button that turns your loved one’s smartphone into the medical alert device.
- Tracks steps
- Can be integrated with other devices from the same brand to create a wider safety network
- One button, easy to use design
- Compatible with many phone brands
However, the simplicity does come with its drawbacks:
- Does not tell the time like a regular watch
- Requires smartphone for some of its features
- No messaging
- Large for smaller wrists
- Fall detection feature costs extra
- Requires Verizon cellular network
This product costs $50.
You can read more about the product here.
Medical alert watches can be a life-saving device to many people, making them worthwhile to purchase. However, they are not always very affordable, which is why exploring payment options that can cover the cost partially is a good option. Insurance providers, and certain plans from Medicaid and Medicare may provide coverage for the device you need. Senior assistance agencies also provide grants and other financial assistance depending on the state you live in.
Medical alert watches can bring a lot of ease and security to your loved one. It can provide a simple way to call for help in case of emergency, while also helping your loved one contact their family and friends with minimal hassle.
With the many options to choose from, it is important to choose a watch that you know your loved one will find easy to use and will want to wear everyday without hesitation.
- How to Choose a Medical Alert System, AARP, https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/home-care/info-2017/medic-alert-systems-options/
- The Best Medical Alert Watches of 2020, Safety, https://www.safety.com/best-medical-alerts/watches/