Medical Alert Systems: Selection Guide

Medical Alert Systems selection guide

Welcome to the Tech-enhanced Life guide to medical alert systems & services for older adults. (These products are also known as personal emergency response systems, or PERS.) This guide is designed to help you answer the question: "Which medical alert system is right for me?"

Table of Contents




Introduction. How to Use this Guide.

In our research we have found that while there is no one "best medical alert system" for everyone, there are often a handful of systems which are best suited to any given individual.

But which flavor of system matches your needs, and which exact products have those characteristics? And of those, which is "best of breed"?

In this work we have tried to create an independent and objective guide that helps you:

  • understand what types of medical alert systems exist;
  • decide which flavor will be right for a specific individual;
  • sort through the marketing chaff to generate a short list of products that have the right feature set for your needs; and
  • pick the "best of breed" based on independent and objective analysis and testing, supported by clearly explained data.

If you need to buy a medical alert system now, you will want the Selection Tool, as it helps turn a set of desired features into a short list of actual products. Before using the Selection Tool, you may need to use the Learning Module to understand what features are likely to matter to you, and which flavors of medical alert system are likely to suit your life situation.

Once you know which types of product you need, you can use the Best of Breed Recommendations to learn which products worked best within a given category. And the individual Medical Alert System Reviews are where we document our testing, and summarize what we learned about individual products.

Sometimes, we get feedback along the lines of "I don't want to become an expert on medical alerts. Just tell me what to buy". In Medical Alerts: Just Tell Me What to Buy" we make specific product recommendations for several individual "personas", so all you need to do to get some specific recommendations is to identify which persona is the best match to the person for whom you are shopping. 




Learning Module: About Medical Alert Systems

We have created a simple tutorial about medical alert systems.

And we have a recorded lecture (audio plus slides) of Dr. Richard Caro presenting to one of the Chicago "Villages" on Summoning Help in an Emergency: Devices; Emerging Trends.

We also created a much more in-depth and detailed workshop, that is designed to step you through a five step process that will educate you about the available types of medical alert system, help you decide which features matter for a given individual, and give you a personalized list at the end of the best actual products for that individual.

You can access all this material from our Learning Module: Medical Alert Systems.

Go To: Learning Module.

Learn which medical alert features matter, and for whom. 




Selection Tool: Choose a Medical Alert

If you already know what features you want in a medical alert system, use the selection tool to turn that list of features into a list of specific products. And access reviews and analysis of those products from our analyst team.

Go To: Selection Tool

Choose the Best Medical Alert System for YOU.

Turn Desired Features into a list of Actual Products. 




Best Medical Alert for You

Once you have narrowed down the products to a handful that match your life situation, use our Best of Breed Recommendations to make a final decision.

Go To: Best of Breed.

Comparison Testing & Recommendations.

Find the "best" within specific sub-categories of medical alert. 




Just Tell Me What to Buy!

Some people like to understand all the nuances and then make their own decisions. We designed the Selection Tool (above) with that sort of person in mind.

For those of you whose point of view is "I don't want to become an expert on this stuff. Just tell me what to buy!", we added a section in which we make specific product recommendations for each of several specific personas. So all you need to do is to pick the most relevant persona, and then you can see what we recommend. Of course, you can always go back and broaden your search later with the Selection Tool if you wish.

Just Tell Me What to Buy! 




Medical Alert System Reviews

The best way to access the individual reviews of the medical alert systems in this guide, is via the Selection Tool (above). It will let you narrow down your selection using a set of feature selectors, and then you will be able to click through to individual reviews of the products that match your needs.

If you prefer to go straight to the product reviews, follow the green button below.

Go To: Individual Reviews.

Hands-on Evaluation and Testing.

Individual reviews for many different medical alerts. 




About Our Research

We started evaluating medical alert systems back in 2015, when members of the Tech-enhanced Life community told us they were having great difficulty making sense of the competing marketing claims, and that there seemed to be no objective source of information on the Internet about these products.

In our initial evaluations we acquired, and did in-depth, hands-on evaluation of over 50 medical alert products, and then published our research in the form of a "Guide" and "Selection Tool" — so others could benefit from our work. Since 2015 we have updated this research multiple times, and expanded it, and today it represents a rather comprehensive resource for anyone who needs to find the right medical alert for a specific life situation.

The people who do the actual evaluations are technologists rather than journalists, and are themselves either older adults or the children of aging parents.

And for our initial research project, we recruited a panel of expert advisors to guide our questions, including clinicians and aging services professionals with extensive experience in working with the older adult population that uses these medical alert systems. Professional competencies in the advisor panel included social work, physio-therapy, and nursing, and experience operating independent living communities.

We strive to produce independent and objective research — with a focus on helping older adults and their families. 

Thus, our research is NOT funded by any of the vendors. Nor do we accept sponsored content or allow the medical alert manufacturers or distributors to influence what we write. For our initial research project we acquired all the products at our own expense, without the vendors being aware we were conducting the study. As we subsequently updated our research, we sometimes ask the vendors to loan us the equipment.

We do sometimes use affiliate links, which means that if you purchase products that you learn about on this website, we sometimes receive compensation as a result of being a member of an affiliate program. See How we Fund our Research.


Learn More

You can read why we created this guide to medical alert systems, and some testimonials from people who have found it useful here:

Medical Alert Systems: Help!



Individual Sections of this Guide

Learning module  |  Selection Tool  |  Best of Breed  |  Medical Alert System Reviews  |  Just Tell Me What to Buy




The Medical Alert Email Series & Lecture

Get our series of bite-sized, email insights on medical alerts: 

  • It starts with a recorded overview lecture by Dr. Caro; and
  • Continues with specific advice on how to find the right medical alert product for your life situation.
  • You will also get Tech-enhanced Life's (monthly) newsletter.

You can unsubscribe at any time.

Get "Medical Alert" email series (free).


Key words: 
medical alert systems

Last Updated: July 24, 2021.