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Life Alert vs Medical Guardian: Which is Right for You?

Last Updated: January 27, 2022

In-Home System

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The In-Home System is Life Alert’s starter package, which includes a wearable help button and a base unit that can operate with either landline or cellular service. Users can roam within 800 feet of the base unit and stay covered. In an emergency, the customer presses the bright red emergency help button to connect with Life Alert’s TMA-Five Diamond Certified call center.

This starting package is $49.95 per month, with a one-time $96 activation fee.

In-Home System + Help Button

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The In-Home System + Help Button offers all the same features of the starter package, but adds one wall-mounted help button that users can place strategically in a high-risk area of the home. Many users choose to mount this button in the bathroom or stairway. This system costs about $20 more than the starter package at $69.95 per month, with that same one-time activation fee of $96.

In-Home System + Help Button + GPS System

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The premier Life Alert package adds a mobile medical alert system, so users can wear their emergency button both at home and on the go. Users wear the lightweight, portable pendant when they leave the house, so their range of protection extends beyond 800 feet. This is a fit for individuals who want coverage while running errands or traveling.

Unfortunately, the GPS pendant does not include a two-way speaker, so users can only summon for help but not communicate with their operator like they can with the In-Home System. For mobile tracking services and at-home coverage, this Life Alert package is about $89.95 per month, with a one-time $198 activation fee.

Classic Guardian

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Medical Guardian’s base model, the Classic Guardian, is known for its impressive radius. Although it’s an at-home model, users can wander away from the base up to 1,300 feet. This system is suited for those with large properties or who spend time outside their home.

This at-home system is a simple push button that users wear as a pendant around their neck or wrist. In an emergency, the button connects users to the trained medical response team, who can evaluate the situation and decide what response is appropriate; if it’s a false alarm, the operator will confirm there’s no problem. The Classic Guardian operates via landline, making it suited to those with poor cell coverage. This system starts at $29.95 per month. To outfit your device with automatic fall detection, you’ll have to pay an extra $10 per month.

The Medical Guardian Home 2.0 system is the level up from the Classic Guardian. Users get another 100 feet of protection for a total radius of 1,400 feet from the base unit, or about four football fields. This at-home package also tacks on an extra 32-hour backup battery in case of power outage.

The Home 2.0 help button pendant is interchangeable between the necklace and wristband, and comes in white and black to match the user’s color preference. This system is customizable: You can loop in caregivers through the MyGuardian app, add fall detection, order an additional button for your spouse, and include wall-mounted buttons. The Home 2.0 starts at $34.95 per month, but increases with these added customizations.

Mobile 2.0

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The Mobile 2.0 weighs just 1.7 ounces, making it one of the most lightweight portable devices. This feature is important, as many users want a mobile device that fits seamlessly into their more active lifestyles.

As users go about running errands or traveling, they continue wearing their pendant around their neck or wrist, monitoring their movement in case first responders must be summoned. The compact Mobile 2.0—which clips onto a belt, purse, or pendant—uses GPS, WiFi, and 4G LTE to monitor the user without interruption. Bluetooth medical alert systems like Mobile 2.0 allow caregivers to receive updates through the MyGuardian App.

The battery life is three to five days, and the device is waterproof for use in the shower, a high-risk area. Users pay $39.95 per month for this mobile monitoring device.

Active Guardian

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The Active Guardian is another in Medical Guardian’s line of lightweight, mobile devices that users wear while going about their errands, driving around town, or traveling. The amplified two-way speaker offers extra clarity, so users can better hear and be heard by the monitoring operator. The user wears the button as a necklace or around the wrist, which connects to the Active Guardian base device.

Active Guardian’s seven-day battery life makes it a favorite of caregivers who worry about their loved one’s ability to regularly charge this life-saving device. Caregivers also enjoy access to the MyGuardian portal and app, where selected contacts receive updates, chat with customer care, manage billing, and can even message one another to delegate tasks or add appointments. The Active Guardian is available for $44.95 per month.

Mini Guardian

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Like Medical Guardian’s other two on-the-go devices, the Mini Guardian protects through triangulation using 4G LTE, WiFi, and cellular coverage to pinpoint your exact location. It differs from the other mobile devices in that it’s an all-in-one device. The Mini contains the necessary technology to keep you safe in a single discrete device. The two-way speaker, help button, and tracking system exist within one lightweight pendant.

The Mini Guardian features high-definition and noise-cancellation technology to streamline communication, and packs a lot of go into its small package. The device’s long-lasting battery can run up to five days on a single charge. The Mini Guardian costs $39.95 per month, but customers should note that this is one of the rare Medical Guardian devices that includes an equipment fee, which is $124.95.

Freedom Guardian 2.0

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The Freedom Guardian 2.0 is different from traditional smartwatches by virtue of its straightforward, senior-friendly design. The Freedom Guardian tracks users as they go about their day wearing a discreet medical alert that just looks like a tech-savvy accessory. However, in an emergency, it becomes a link to the 24/7 response center by pressing and holding the red help button.

In addition to emergency monitoring, Freedom Guardian wearers can also access weather reports, medication management, appointment reminders, and heart rate monitors. The watch battery lasts 48 hours on a two-hour charge, so users don’t ever have to leave the house without it. The Freedom Guardian one-time equipment fee is $179.95, and the monthly monitoring is $44.95.

“I fell in my driveway after returning from the hospital for a broken foot and ankle. I was on crutches and lost my balance. I had my GPS device and pressed the Life Alert button. I got a fast response and the rescue squad was promptly there and got me into the house. They even moved some furniture so I could get about even easier! That was above and beyond. Through the whole event the Life Alert person stayed on the phone with me with encouraging words until I was safe inside. Thank you!!” – Verified customer review, consumeraffairs.com.

“My father passed last week. My mother had signed a contract for the both of them at $49.95 a month each. I just called to ask Dad to be dropped from the account, which is on a month-to-month contract. I was told that the only way to remove Dad was to present a copy of the death certificate or an obituary (Mom doesn’t want one), a letter, and his equipment. We can wait weeks for a certificate, during which time Life Alert will continue billing for him. Once Dad is taken off, mother’s bill will be $89.90 a month; they offered only a discount of $10 for taking Dad off. I had to disturb my mom THREE times to even be able to cancel the service, which is what she told the man to do the FIRST time I had to disturb her. I am furious that my 82-year-old mother had to deal with these people. HORRIBLE customer service. This was my seventh call for mom, and every other company was extremely helpful. Not so Life Alert. I’m so angry they just put my mother through this.” – Verified customer review, trustpilot.com.

“The sales person is very good and tells you that if your mother can no longer use the service because she dies or is incapacitate that the contract ends. But when that happens and you call Life Alert they put you through three switchboards and then tell you that they need a letter from a doctor! Outrageous. As if things aren’t hard enough caring for an elderly family member with dementia who can no longer live independently!” – Verified customer review, bbb.org.

“The device worked very well for my mother. The choice of a necklace or a wristband was very nice to have. It allowed her to stay independent much longer because if she fell, help would be on the way immediately. They always called me at home to notify me that her device had been activated. Peace of mind… priceless.” – Verified customer review, consumeraffairs.com.

So far the first time the button was activated by accident, they responded quickly and it appeared to be working great. A few times the battery was low and they did email one of us about it. However, they did not follow the order of notification that we requested and they did not email all of us as they said they would. Recently the unit’s battery went completely dead and NO ONE received an email so I am a little concerned about whether we can rely on them if an actual emergency occurs. – Verified customer review, trustpilot.com.

“I cannot say enough good things about Medical Guardian. My mother recently received a system in Dec 2018. This past week, she suffered a stroke while at her home, alone. Activating her necklace pendant, she had emergency personnel in her home within 7 minutes, and was transported and receiving emergency stroke protocol within 25 minutes. This is monumental in time! Without them, she would not have been so lucky! Great staff answering her call. Very professional, and reassuring! I highly recommend them!” – Verified customer review, bbb.org.

Resources

Safe Use of Medicines for Older Adults. National Institute on Aging. June 26, 2019.
https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/safe-use-medicines-older-adults

Facts About Falls. Center for Disease Control. August 6, 2021.
https://www.cdc.gov/falls/facts.html

Older people are more likely to live alone in the U.S. than elsewhere in the world. Pew Research Center. March 10, 2020.
https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/03/10/older-people-are-more-likely-to-live-alone-in-the-u-s-than-elsewhere-in-the-world/

Falls: Key Facts. World Health Organization. April 26, 2021.
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/falls

Author: Hannah Sherk