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Lively vs Medical Alert Reviews: Compare Medical Alerts in 2022

Last Updated: January 27, 2022

Lively vs. Medical Alert: Overview

Lively (previously GreatCall) and Medical Alert are two leading budget-friendly brands providing personal emergency response systems, or medical alert devices, to seniors and other people at risk of falls.

Lively provides wireless medical alert products and simplified cell phones created for older adults. Medical Alert’s offerings are more traditional, with both in-home and on-the-go medical alert systems. This review delves into the similarities and differences between these two medical alert companies so you can decide which brand is best for you.

Comparing Lively and Medical Alert

Cost

Coins in a bottle and the green tree

It’s essential to find a medical alert system with a price point you can afford long-term. Both Lively and Medical Alert are more affordable than most companies that made our list of the Best Medical Alert Systems.

The base price for Lively’s emergency support starts at just $19.99/month, and there are discounts for AARP members. With Medical Alert, the base cost is $22.95/month, and it decreases to $19.95/month when you pay annually. Many other leading options start at closer to $30/month.

Additionally, both Lively and Medical Alert have few add-ons. The features these companies provide, including mobile apps for caregivers, are typically included in the monthly price. That’s not to say that you won’t pay more for certain features, like automatic fall detection, which we’ll cover shortly.

Lively Medical Alert
Base Monthly Cost $19.99–$39.99 $22.95–$42.95
Activation Fee $35 $0
Equipment Fee $49.99 (Mobile Alert Devices) $99.99–$149.99 (Cell Phones) $0
Contract? No No
Add-On Services
  • Fall detection
  • Warranty
  • Lockbox
  • $0 (only in highest monthly package)
  • $2.50/month
  • Not available
  • $10/month
  • $5/month
  • $2.99/month

Lively and Medical Alert Product Features

Simplicity and Wearability

When selecting the right personal emergency response system, you want to ensure that you or your loved one will use it. According to Kelly O’Connor, a lifestyle advocate for older adults, “The most important feature families should look for when choosing medical alert devices is wearability. Most older adults resist devices because they are bulky or readily identifiable as assisted devices.”

Both Medical Alert and Lively have wearable buttons that blend in reasonably well and are easy to wear. The Lively Wearable2 smartwatch doesn’t automatically look like a medical alert device, while Medical Alert’s small button is discreet on a wristband. But keep in mind that the Medical Alert button needs the primary device close by, so you’ll need to carry the primary device and wear the button.

Additionally, you want to consider how easy the product is to use. As Kelly explained, “Some devices must be within close proximity to their cell phone, and their cell phone must remain charged as well.” This is the case with the Lively Wearable2, which only works when it’s within Bluetooth range of a fully charged smartphone.

And there are other useability considerations, such as how many products you need to carry around. For instance, Lively’s medical alert systems have fall detection built into the Wearable2 and Mobile Plus. But with Medical Alert, you must wear a separate fall detection pendant alongside the main medical alert device. So if you want simplicity, we recommend Lively’s Mobile Plus.

Two-Way Communication

When you press your medical alert button, an emergency call center representative contacts you to help. To talk to them, you need to use a two-way speaker through your wearable button, smartphone, or home base unit.

With Lively, here’s how you communicate with the urgent response team:

  • Wearable2: This watch doesn’t have a two-way speaker but instead connects to your cell phone through an app. When you press the button, you should have your phone with you to talk to an agent.
  • Mobile Plus: This wearable button has a two-way speaker built in, making it incredibly simple to use. When you press the button, you communicate directly through the button with a Lively representative.
  • Jitterbug Phones: With both Jitterbug phones, you speak through your phone just as you would on a phone call when you request emergency help.

With Medical Alert, there are differences in how you communicate depending upon multiple factors. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Home System: The two-way speaker is through your base unit. When you press the button on your pendant or bracelet, you’ll need to be close enough to the base unit to talk with an agent.
  • Mobile System: The mobile medical alert system has two parts: the primary mobile device and the wearable button. The wearable button does not have a speaker, so you must use the mobile device to talk to an emergency support representative.
  • Fall Detection Button: When you pay for automatic fall detection with either device, you’ll receive a fall detection button that replaces your current help button. The fall detection button boasts two-way communication, so you can speak directly through the button you wear as a bracelet or pendant.

Battery Life

Users must regularly charge medical alert devices, and different products vary in how long their batteries last. With Lively, the on-the-go device lasts between two and three days, compared to five days for Medical Alert’s mobile device. However, we recommend simply charging your device overnight—just as you do with your cell phone—so it’s easy to remember.

For impressive battery life, consider the Lively Wearable2. The battery lasts up to 40 days, although you need your fully charged smartphone nearby for it to work.

Water-Resistance

Most medical alert wearable buttons are waterproof, offering protection in places like the bath and shower where falls frequently occur. Fortunately, both Lively and Medical Alert have waterproof medical alert devices, so either company works well here.

The one caveat is Lively’s Jitterbug phones. While these phones have optional urgent response support, they can’t go into the shower or bath. Because of this, these phones don’t work for as many emergencies as the medical alert devices from Medical Alert or Lively.

GPS Monitoring

Most people are better served by on-the-go devices with built-in GPS monitoring than home-based systems. As Kelly O’Connor explained, “For the person who is active in the community or works in the yard or walks the neighborhood, a wearable device is preferred.” Additionally, “GPS is important for anyone with cognitive impairment.”

GPS tracking systems not only provide protection everywhere you go, but these devices from both Lively and Medical Alert allow loved ones to locate you using the app. So if you or your loved one is mobile and leaves home, an on-the-go device is the only option for all-day coverage. And even if the person who will use the medical alert system typically stays in one place, GPS monitoring can help caregivers locate and help them if they get lost.

Call Center

Both Medical Alert and Lively have U.S.-based call centers that are open 24/7, every day of the year. Thanks to the consistent staffing, you won’t have to worry about a lack of help during the evenings, weekends, or holidays.

Fall Detection

Automatic fall detection alerts the emergency call center whenever someone wearing the medical alert device falls. Fall detection means that you have someone to help, even if you’re unconscious or confused.

Both Medical Alert and Lively have automatic fall detection, but small details vary between companies.

With Medical Alert, you may add automatic fall detection for $10/month to either the home or mobile systems. When you do this, you receive a fall detection pendant that you wear for coverage. The fall detection button replaces the other wearable button. However, it still needs to be near the base unit (home plan) or the primary mobile device (mobile system).

With Lively, you can only have fall detection with the medical alert devices, not the cell phones. Lively stands out compared to Medical Alert because you don’t need a separate fall detection pendant. Both the Wearable2 watch and the Mobile Plus button have fall detection technology. You must pay for the most comprehensive Lively monthly plan for fall detection, which costs $39.99/month.

Basic Package Preferred Package Ultimate Package
Monthly Price - Medical Alert Systems $24.99 $29.99 $39.99
Monthly Price - Jitterbug Phones Safety Package $19.99 $24.99 $34.99
Features
  • Urgent Response
  • Urgent Response
  • Urgent Care
  • Lively Link app
  • Urgent Response
  • Urgent Care
  • Lively Link app
  • Automatic fall detection*
  • Lively Rides*
  • Personal Operator*

Lively Mobile Plus

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The Lively Mobile Plus is a GPS-enabled medical alert device. You can wear the Mobile Plus around your neck or on your belt clip for emergency assistance at the touch of a button. If you opt for the Ultimate Package, this device provides automatic fall detection.

Lively Wearable2

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The Lively Wearable2 has a modern look and is typically worn as a watch. However, you can alternatively wear it on a lanyard. The Wearable2 isn’t an all-in-one device, because it must pair with a smartphone using the Lively Link app. To speak with a Lively emergency response agent, you press the button on the Wearable2 and then talk to the agent through your smartphone. The Wearable2 has an impressive battery life of up to 40 days.

Jitterbug Smart3

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Lively’s Jitterbug Smart3 is a smartphone designed for older adults. It has a touchscreen and supports data usage, such as sending emails or installing apps. But what separates it from other smartphones is a straightforward scrolling menu, large display, Urgent Response button, and affordable price. With the Smart3, the phone is only $149.99, and monthly plans start at just $14.99/month.

Jitterbug Flip2

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The Jitterbug Flip2 is a flip phone for people who don’t use the internet and want a phone with buttons rather than a touchscreen. The Flip2 only supports talking and texting, with plans as low as $14.99/month and the phone costing an additional $99.99. If you pay for a Lively Health & Safety Package, you can press the Urgent Response button for emergency assistance.

Home System Mobile System
Monthly Price $22.95 (landline) or $32.95 (cellular) $42.95
Activation and Equipment Fees $0 $0
Fall Detection $10/month $10/month
Lockbox $2.99/month (free with annual payment) $2.99/month (free with annual payment)
Warranty $5/month $5/month

Home System

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The Medical Alert home system is an affordable option for people who want added security and don’t leave home unaccompanied. If you have a landline, you will pay as little as $19.95/month when you pay annually. There’s also an option that uses AT&T’s cellular coverage, so you don’t need a landline, but this costs $10 more each month. You may add automatic fall detection for $10/month.

Mobile System

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Medical Alert’s mobile system is a GPS medical alert button that provides an added layer of safety when you leave home. You may also wear it inside the home for coverage there. Medical Alert’s primary wireless device has a two-way speaker, but most people choose to wear the smaller pendant that can go on a wristband or around the neck. If you choose automatic fall detection, that pendant replaces the smaller wearable button for fall protection.

“I bought this for my mother who lives miles from the city so I wasn’t sure if she would have service but she does have service. When I called to set this up the associate was very helpful, then we sent a test to see how it was answered and I was very impressed.” – 5/5-star review on Trustpilot.

“Phone was easy to hook up. Nice phone for visual impairment.” – 5/5-star review on Trustpilot.

“I spoke to a rep back in December to cancel my service and received a bill this morning stating that the service was just canceled in February. The rep that I spoke to this morning was very rude and wouldn’t connect me with a supervisor. She kept repeating the amount that was due. I finally hung up.” – 1/5-star review on Trustpilot.

“The service was OK, but when we canceled, they calculated the refund from the date they received the equipment return, not from the date it was canceled and placed in shipment. In effect, my mom paid for a whole month at the end that she only has the service for 5 days because it was packed up and shipped. They refused to prorate it. Do not recommend this company!” – 1/5-star review on Trustpilot.

“Member for many years. Fine until this year. Lots of emails reminding me to renew. No response to two questions once I’d renewed. No purse MedicAlert card in renewal paperwork. No quote for re-engraving—it’s so worn it’s illegible. No excuse for it as it doesn’t take long to reply to an email.” – 2/5-star review on Trustpilot.

“I’ve used this company for many years. Unfortunately getting any service from them is terrible!! Apparently the system they use is not 100% reliable! I’ve had my contacts and fire departments arrive at my home by the system used by this company, when it was never notified by me. I’ve had to pay for some of their mistakes!” – 3/5-star review on Better Business Bureau.

Resources

The Personal Emergency Response System as a Technology Innovation in Primary Health Care Services: An Integrative Review. July 14, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4965612/

Author:Nicole Gleichmann