Best Medical Alert Watches

Medical alert watches are stylish, comfortable, and lifesaving in emergencies. Compare the best in this review.
Freedom Guardian
Medical Guardian freedom guardian watch
Freedom Guardian
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Connects to monitoring center
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Shares location with caregivers
Best Health Monitoring
Apple Watch 5
Apple Watch 5
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Connects to a wide range of health apps
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Includes fall detection
Best Simple Alert
greatcall alert watch
Lively Wearable 2
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Converts smartphone into medical alert device
  • Icon Pros  Light
    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.



Compare Medical Alert Watches 

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

Price

$299.95

$349.00

$37.49

$149.99

$89.99

Monthly Fee

$44.95

None

$24.99

$6.24*

None

SOS Button
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Fall Detection
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Readable Watch Face
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Caregiver Access
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Learn More

Info current as of 01/15/21. 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.

Notepad
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.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Comfortable to wear
Pro Bullet Equipped with one-touch SOS button
Pro Bullet Compatible with three types of location tech
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Messages and reminders cost extra
Con Bullet No automatic fall detection

Apple Watch 5: Best Health Monitoring

Best Health Monitoring

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.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Automatic fall detection
Pro Bullet Health-tracking apps
Pro Bullet Calls and messaging
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Steep price tag
Con Bullet Slight learning curve

Lively Wearable 2: Best Simple Alert

Best Simple Alert

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.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet One-button design
Pro Bullet Professional monitoring
Pro Bullet Step counter
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet No watch face
Con Bullet No messaging

Verizon Care Smart Watch: Best for Verizon Customers

Best for Verizon Customers

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.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Stores up to 10 contacts
Pro Bullet Set reminders and alerts
Pro Bullet Pay retail price or choose 24-month contract
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet No caregiver app
Con Bullet No automatic fall detection
Con Bullet 24-month contract

FitTech SmartSenior: Budget Pick

Budget Pick

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.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Health tracking features
Pro Bullet Large text and read-aloud alerts
Pro Bullet Automatic fall detection
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet No professional monitoring
Con Bullet 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

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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

Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire
As a renter, pet-owner, and woman living alone, Katie McEntire takes safety seriously. She’s tested devices like pet cameras, home security systems, and GPS trackers in her own home and devices in the name of safety. In addition to testing, writing, and reviewing for SafeWise, she also makes videos for the site’s YouTube channel. She’s been featured on publications like TechGuySmartBuy, Forbes, Healthy Moms, and Digital Care. Katie has a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. She’s held previous writing positions at Overstock.com and Top Ten Reviews.

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