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Best Medical Alert Watches

Medical alert watches are stylish, comfortable, and lifesaving in emergencies. Compare the best in this review.
Written by | Updated May 14, 2020
Freedom Guardian
Medical Guardian freedom guardian watchFreedom Guardian
  • Connects to monitoring center
  • Shares location with caregivers
  • Connects to monitoring center
  • Shares location with caregivers
Best Health Monitoring
Apple Watch 5Apple Watch 5
  • Connects to a wide range of health apps
  • Includes fall detection
  • Connects to a wide range of health apps
  • Includes fall detection
Best Simple Alert
greatcall alert watchLively Wearable 2
  • Converts smartphone into medical alert device
  • Streamlines smartwatches to one button
  • Converts smartphone into medical alert device
  • Streamlines smartwatches to one button

The Bottom Line: Freedom Guardian Blends Protection with Independence 

While comparing the best medical alert watches, we ran into a Goldilocks problem. Some were too simple while others were too complicated. But Freedom Guardian was just right. 

The Freedom Guardian is a simple, stylish smartwatch for older adults with the right amount of bells and whistles. Features like the three-day weather forecast, large-print face, and flexible band make it enjoyable for older adults to wear. And the GPS locator, SOS button, and messaging provide relief for families. 

Check out our full review of the Freedom Guardian smartwatch for seniors and compare it to our other picks for active and in-home adults. 

Best Medical Alert Watches

Compare Medical Alert Watches 

Price
Monthly Fee
SOS Button
Fall Detection
Readable Watch Face
Caregiver Access
Learn More
Best Overall
Best Health Monitoring
Best Simple Alert
Best for Verizon Customers
Budget Pick
Freedom Guardian Apple Watch 5 Lively Wearable 2 Verizon Care Smart Watch FitTech SmartSenior
Medical Guardian freedom guardian watch Apple Watch 5 greatcall alert watch Verizon Care Smart watch product image FitTech SmartSenior
$179.95 $379.00 $37.49 $149.99 $284.99
$44.95 None $24.99 $6.24* None
Yes
No
X
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
X
Yes
Yes
No
X
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
X
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
X
Yes
No
X
No
X
View on Medical Guardian View on Best Buy View on GreatCall View on Verizon View on FitTech

Info current as of 05/14/20. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Verizon customers must agree to a 24-month contract. You can choose to pay full retail price or $6.24 per month for this service.

Our Approach 

Medical alert watches should be enjoyable for older adults to wear and easy to use. After all, nobody wants to feel like they’re on a leash. So we prioritized watches that give the most freedom to older adults and confidence to caregivers. Comfort, simplicity, and access to emergency help also topped our priority list. 

We also awarded brownie points for extras that keep wearers healthy and active—like messaging and health tracking apps. Learn more about how we approach reviews like this one from our methodology.

Elder Care in the Age of COVID-19

The coronavirus has changed how we work, go to school, and visit loved ones. But with social distancing in place, how do we care for the older adults in our life? Learn more about How to Care for Seniors During a Pandemic for helpful tips.

Medical Alert Watch Reviews 

Freedom Guardian: Best Overall

Freedom Guardian is a fully-fledged smartwatch designed by a well-known medical alert company. Its senior-friendly features include a large screen, read-aloud alerts, simple messaging, and a one-touch SOS button.

The emergency button connects you to a monitoring center and your closest contacts. If you fall, get lost, or need help from the monitoring pro, they’ll stay on the line and help you out. If you need emergency responders, they’re on the way. Feel lost? They can call one of your emergency contacts to come get you. Freedom Guardian uses three forms of location tracking to keep tabs on wandering wearers and counts steps to keep you active. 

The monthly fee for monitoring lands around $45 per month, but it’s a worthwhile investment for you or your loved ones. 

Our biggest complaint is that this medical alert watch doesn’t have automatic fall detection, a common feature in medical alert systems that can save lives. Features like messages and reminders also cost a little extra per month.

Pros

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Equipped with one-touch SOS button
  • Compatible with three types of location tech

Cons

  • Messages and reminders cost extra
  • No automatic fall detection

Apple Watch 5: Best Health Monitoring

Best Health Monitoring
Apple Watch 5

The Apple Watch 5 is a great tool for older adults of all activity and tech literacy levels. Its exercise, step, and heart monitoring keep motivation up while the health monitoring apps track things like glucose and calories to reinforce healthy habits. 

While this smartwatch is designed for all ages, it includes automatic fall detection, a feature designed with seniors in mind. In the event of a fall, the watch will ask if you need help. If the user doesn’t respond within 60 seconds, it will call for emergency responders. 

The Apple Watch 5’s large customizable screen makes staying in touch with family and friends easy with texting, calling, and voice chat. The watch bands also swap out. So you can wear one while walking in the park and another out to dinner with the family. 

This smartwatch is expensive up front but doesn’t require monthly payments like medical alert watches with monitoring do. Depending on your comfort level with technology, it could come with a learning curve too. But if you can use your iPhone, understanding the Apple Watch 5 should come naturally. 

Pros

  • Automatic fall detection
  • Health-tracking apps
  • Calls and messaging

Cons

  • Steep price tag
  • Slight learning curve

Lively Wearable 2: Best Simple Alert

Best Simple Alert
greatcall alert watch

The Lively Wearable 2 lives in the middle ground between high-tech medical alert watch and simple one-button devices. Instead of the touchscreen watch face found in devices like the Freedom Guardian and Apple Watch 5, it has a single SOS button that turns your smartphone into the medical alert device. The device on your wrist connects to your phone, using its cellular connection and GPS technology to bring help to you when you need it. 

GreatCall, the makers of the Lively Wearable 2, keep it affordable with simple monthly prices around $25. It’s compatible with smartphones like Android, iPhones, and its own brand, Jitterbug (designed with older adults in mind). 

If you want a no-fuss solution that looks good, consider the Lively Wearable 2. It’s your best bet if you don’t need extras like messaging and reminders. It tracks steps, has automatic fall detection, and calls for help in emergency situations. But we had to bump it down the list because it doesn’t tell time like a normal watch.

Pros

  • One-button design
  • Professional monitoring
  • Step counter

Cons

  • No watch face
  • No messaging

Verizon Care Smart Watch: Best for Verizon Customers

Best for Verizon Customers
Verizon Care Smart watch product image

One of the nation’s most popular cellular providers now offers a smartwatch for seniors. The Verizon Care Smart Watch makes texting and messaging your favorite contacts easy with preloaded messages. It comes with space for ten trusted contacts who you can call or text anytime, making it easier to check on the grandkids. 

Custom texting isn’t available on this smartwatch, so you’ll need to use your phone for custom texts. 

Like many other smartwatches, you can set reminders for medications and appointments. 

The Care Smart doesn’t give caregivers a companion app, though, like the ones found in other medical alert watches like the Freedom Guardian. Instead, users can call for help from a primary caregiver from the watch. It’s a helpful feature in most situations unless users are prone to falling unconscious. If a wearer falls unconscious, they won’t be able to call for help on their own. But a feature like automatic fall detection calls for help automatically. 

We’re excited to see a product designed for older adults from a network as large as Verizon. You can pay for it up front for around $150 or choose a 24-month contract for just over $6 per month. Either way, you’ll need to sign up for a 24-month contract to get Verizon’s cellular service.

Pros

  • Stores up to 10 contacts
  • Set reminders and alerts
  • Pay retail price or choose 24-month contract

Cons

  • No caregiver app
  • No automatic fall detection
  • 24-month contract

FitTech SmartSenior: Budget Pick

Budget Pick
FitTech SmartSenior

FitTech SmartSenior is a smartwatch for older adults on a budget. It costs around $250 up front and charges no monthly monitoring fees, so you’ll save more in the long run. But no monitoring also means you’re on your own in an emergency. When you press the SOS button, the FitTech will call one of your contacts instead of a monitoring center. 

That said, the FitTech is loaded with features for health-conscious older adults looking to get into or stay in shape. This smartwatch packs in features like a step counter, heart monitor, blood pressure monitor, and sedentary alerts to keep you active. It also has an SOS button GPS locator and automatic fall detection—features you’d find in professionally monitored medical alert watches.

Along with messaging, emergency, and health features, other senior-friendly features include

  • Large type for easier reading
  • High-volume read aloud settings
  • Water resistant for the shower 

Unfortunately it works only with Wi-Fi or a 2G SIM card to function outside of your Wi-Fi network. The controls may be a little confusing at first, but it’s a low-cost way to see if a smartwatch is a good fit for your lifestyle.

Pros

  • Health tracking features
  • Large text and read-aloud alerts
  • Automatic fall detection

Cons

  • No professional monitoring
  • Needs SIM card to work out of Wi-Fi

A Final Word 

Medical alert watches are a modern solution to old fashioned medical alert systems. They keep older adults active and independent longer while making it easy for families to stay in touch. Medical alert watches like the Freedom Guardian have features you can be excited about and will make it easier to wear regularly. 

Freedom Guardian’s professional medical alert monitoring, advanced GPS location, and one-touch emergency button makes it our favorite and enjoyable for older adults to wear. After all, it won’t be much help if you’re not wearing it when an emergency strikes.

Medical Alert Watches FAQ

How long does the battery life of a medical alert watch last?

Battery life depends on the features and how often you use your watch. On average, most smartwatches last up to three days on one charge while simpler devices can last up to a week. 

Can I wear a medical alert watch in the shower?

Yes, all the devices we included in this review are water resistant. The slippery surface in showers and bathtubs makes them dangerous for people prone to falls, so this is an important feature to have. 

How do I keep my parents safe as they age?

Talking to your parents about their safety as they age is a tough conversation to start. They want independence while you want to know they’re safe. We recommend asking them about any fears or concerns they have, and go from there. We have a few tips on how to talk to your parents about medical alert systems that may help. 

What do I do with a false alarm? 

Smart watches for older adults are designed to be easy, but the learning curve still exists and false alarms can happen. When you accidentally press the emergency medical alert button, what happens next depends on the type of system you have.

For self-monitored systems (ones without monthly fees or monitoring centers), it will likely be a loud alarm or a call to one of your contacts. For monitored systems, you’ll reach a pro on the other side who you can talk to and explain the false alarm. 

Do medical alert watches require a contract?

Generally, no. Most medical alert providers charge a one-time equipment fee and a monthly monitoring fee (if connected to a professional monitoring center). If you sign up for a medical alert service or buy a watch with monthly fees, it’s likely you’ll pay on a month-to-month basis. So you can cancel or switch your service whenever you wish. 

Still have questions? Get more answers from our Senior Safety FAQ

Written by Katie McEntire

Katie McEntire has tested home security systems in her own apartment, installed GPS trackers in her own car, and watched her cat, Toki, nap all day through a live nanny cam feed. As an expert reviewer, she believes that firsthand experience is the best way to learn about new products (even if it requires being the guinea pig). She specializes in pet safety and DIY security and has contributed to publications like DigitalCare.org and TechGuySmartBuy. Learn more

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