By: Editorial Team | Posted: February 12, 2019 | Updated: May 12, 2023
This page contains specific medical alert recommendations for a specific type of person: one that fits a “persona” we call the “Slow Go” persona. These recommendations were updated in Q1 2021.
The “Slow Go” Persona. (Persona B)
Needs some oversight to keep safe.
This is the person who is noticeably starting to slow down. Perhaps they have some early signs of cognitive decline, such as memory lapses. Or perhaps they are physically frail and need a walker to get around. Or have become prone to tripping.
Mostly, these people get along fine. But the risks that something bad might happen in such a persona start to grow progressively as their physical or mental condition declines. In some cases, these individuals would benefit from increased help in the home but cannot afford it (or, can afford it but refuse to consider having “a stranger” in the home).
Older people who have a history of falls or a medical condition that leads to poor balance/coordination or impaired vision fit this persona.
Medical Alerts for the “Slow Go” Persona
The big picture
For this persona, the big question is whether it is better to have a medical alert that can “go anywhere” or whether it is sufficient to have one that works only “at home“.
Generally, people who fit this persona are still fairly active and do indeed go out and about. And for those people we usually recommend one of the mobile medical alerts.
However if the person is largely home-bound or rarely goes out without a companion, then a medical alert system that works only “at home” is probably fine.
The situation where it really makes sense to recommend an “at home” system is when the person is rarely out and about alone. And in addition, when the person is likely to have trouble with the regular charging that is required by the mobile alerts.
Many of the “at home” systems have batteries that last for many months. While most of the mobile alerts need charging daily (or at best every few days). So if charging is going to be a challenge, the “at home” systems are better. But the down side, of course, is that they work only in and around the house (usually including the garden).
For people with this persona, we think it makes sense to have an automatic fall detection “feature” in the medical alert. Most mobile alerts and most “at home” medical alert systems have this as an option, although you often need to ask for it and pay extra.
Most of the Smartwatch as Medical Alerts do NOT have this fall detection feature (the Apple Watch and Kanega Watch are the exceptions). We don’t usually recommend the smartwatch category of medical alerts for people with this persona. Although if they happen to already be devotees of smartwatches, able to handle relatively complex gadgets, and have no trouble managing daily charging, they might still like such a product. If that is the case, see “Smartwatch as Medical Alert“.
(Not sure what all the terms above mean? See our Tutorial: The Basics of Medical Alert Systems)
Will You Wear It?
There is a lot of discussion about which medical alert is more “perfect”. But in many ways, what matters most, especially for this persona, is whether people will actually wear the product.
This is an important issue for many people who fit this persona. They may be slowing down a bit. But they often still care a lot about looking stylish.
The key thing to look at here is the form factor of the medical alert. Many of them come in the form of pendants. Some come in the form of a button on a wrist band. You need to decide if one or other of these would be more likely to get worn all the time.
For technological reasons, the pendants can incorporate an automatic fall detection, whereas the wristband products typically can not. So, if you want automatic fall detection, you most likely need a pendant form factor (The Apple Watch 4 (and later) is a notable exception to this rule as is the Kanega Watch, but see comments above about the Smartwatch as medical alert category).
Finally, the mobile medical alert products are usually a bit bigger and bulkier than the “at-home” products, and that may impact your desire to wear it at all times. Unfortunately the “smallest” pendants are those that work only “at home” (OK) and do NOT include automatic fall detection (not so OK).
So, as you look at the recommendations below, think hard about whether you will or will not wear the product. It is especially important to wear it at times like when you are in the bathroom or shower, as that is when many accidents happen.
NOTE: We are intentionally limiting this page to “recommendations” without too much about the background or testing. If you want to pick your own features and see which products match them, visit our Selection Tool.
The specific products we recommend are mentioned in the text below.
Based on the “big picture” above, you should decide whether a mobile medical alert or an “at home only” medical alert will suit you best. Below are recommendations from each category.
Mobile Medical Alert Category
Here is what we recommend within the mobile medical alert category (more details at “Mobile Alert Systems: Comparison Testing“).
UPDATE May 2023: There have been some changes in the mobile medical alert landscape since we wrote this page, and we have not reviewed all the new products. While we think the products below are still good, there may be newer ones that are even better.
So, we no longer recommend a “best” product in this category.
If you are not sure where to start, we like the product families offered by the vendors: Bay Alarm Medical, Medical Guardian, and Lively.
These products did well in our evaluations.
If you want a single, simple, go-anywhere pendant, and don’t mind charging it each night, we recommend the GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus. This product is quite a bit less expensive than many of its competitors, and has some nice “social-type” features (see review) and the fastest response time of any of the products we have tested.
If charging the pendant every two weeks worries you, and you don’t mind having two things to take with you when you go out (or you don’t need fall detection and you want the rather nice, small, watch-style button in the very top image on this page) then we recommend the MobileHelp Duo product. [You can also buy the same product from LifeFone, where it’s called the LifeFone At-Home & On-the-Go GPS].
If you have bad cell phone reception in your house, then you want a base station and you would choose the MobileHelp Duo.
If you want to broaden your search, the Active Guardian, from Medical Guardian, and the LifeFone At-Home & On-the-Go GPS, Voice-In-Pendant are also good.
At Home Category
This is the “traditional” category of medical alert devices. There are actually a relatively small number of different products, manufactured by a handful of manufacturers, that are then rebranded and resold by other medical alert vendors.
Many of the products are relatively similar. Service and the responsiveness of the monitoring services is an important consideration in selecting.
We don’t really have a “best of” recommendation in this category. We like the vendors MobileHelp, LifeFone, Philips Lifeline, Medical Guardian, and Bay Alarm Medical, and have had good experiences in our tests with all these vendors (in terms of service and quality of the monitoring service). We like GreatCall a lot too, but they don’t have a conventional “at home” product.
In the section at the bottom of the page and on the right you can see specific products from these manufacturers that we recommend. The specific “at home” products are: Bay Alarm In-Home Alerts; Medical Guardian Home and Classic; and MobileHelp Classic. There are other good “at home” products too. But if you want a “recommendation in this category, we recommend these.
One of the downsides of the “at home” category is that most of the products in this category communicate with you via a speaker in the “base station”.
If you live in a small apartment this is not a big deal, as you can hear that from wherever you are. But in a big house, this can mean that after you have an emergency and press the button, the operator will be yelling at you from the base station but will not be able to hear your response. This can lead to false alarms on occasion.
Ideally, the operator would communicate via a speaker in the pendant. This is what we call “voice through the wearable”. Unfortunately most of the “at home” products do not include this feature, and those that do have a somewhat larger pendant. (All the mobile medical alerts do have this feature, which is one of their advantages). If you want to explore this feature, you can do so using the Selection Tool.
Need A Different Persona?
Buying these Products
At the bottom of this page are links to our “review” page for each of these products, on which are a lot more details about our evaluation. Below are also links to the company’s websites, where you can acquire the products if you wish.
*Disclosure: The research and opinions in this article are those of the author, and may or may not reflect the official views of Tech-enhanced Life.
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