LifeFone may have fallen just short of making the top three in our lists of best medical devices in the past, but its competitive pricing, simple cancellation policy, and wide variety of options make it a strong contender this year.
LifeFone’s Broad Product Range
With medical alert equipment, smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring, and medical alert mobile apps (for subscribers, not just caregivers), LifeFone Medical Alert has one of the widest ranges of product offerings on the market.
We really like its customer-friendly policies, including a price lock for as long as you own your system, a full lifetime warranty on all equipment, and no hidden activation or equipment fees.
Our search for LifeFone customer reviews turned up hundreds of positive comments, with only a handful of negative experiences. With the exception of pricey add-ons, LifeFone has very few drawbacks as a medical alert system.
Data effective 1/9/2020. Offers and availability subject to change.
It’s important to note that the fees listed are your monthly fees if you pay for your LifeFone Medical Alert service annually. Otherwise, you’ll pay about $5 more a month on a month-to-month program. Paying yearly puts LifeFone right in the middle price range for medical alert systems, but once you start adding on things like fall detection and mobile app access, the fees start creeping up.
Fortunately, LifeFone will provide an additional pendant and monitoring for your spouse for no additional charge. Fall detection for spouses is an additional $5 a month.
Our favorite things about LifeFone’s pricing are no installation fees, no activation fees, no contracts, and no complicated cancellation policies. Pricing is listed right on the website (which means no pesky sales calls), and if you decide you don’t want the system anymore, you can cancel anytime by mail, email, or phone.
If you’ve already paid for a year up front and you cancel halfway through, all you have to do is return the equipment and LifeFone will refund the money for the unused months. If you do become a long-time customer, though, you can rest assured that LifeFone’s price lock guarantee will keep your monthly fees the same from year to year, unless you choose to upgrade your system.
Tech and Equipment
Your LifeFone Medical Alert system starts with a base station that plugs into a wall outlet, with a 32-hour backup battery in case of a power outage. The unit uses either your landline phone or an AT&T cellular connection provided by LifeFone.
The base unit acts as a powerful two-way speakerphone so you can call the LifeFone monitoring center with the press of a button if you ever need help. The base unit is also equipped with temperature sensors, and it will send an alert to the monitoring center if the temperature readings get too low or too high, based on your preset preferences.
Pendant or Watch
All systems also come with your choice of a waterproof emergency button pendant or watch that you can use up to 1,300 feet away from the base unit. If you choose a fall detection pendant, you’ll have a range of only up to 600 feet. When you press the help button on the alert device, it sends a signal to the base unit, and the base unit will call the LifeFone monitoring center for you.
All medical alert pendant and watch help buttons have batteries designed to last two to five years, and LifeFone monitors their battery life for you. When LifeFone agents detect that the battery life has dropped below 20%, they will send you a fully-charged replacement device at no cost, so you never have to worry about changing batteries.
LifeFone’s GPS device acts like portable LifeFone base units without the temperature sensors. It uses rechargeable batteries with a battery life between 30 hours and 30 days, depending on the device. It has an unlimited range, so you can use it anywhere. The built-in GPS alerts LifeFone to your location if you ever need help, and both devices offer two-way communication, so you can talk to an agent at the monitoring center until help arrives.
Add-on devices include fall detection, a pendant help button that looks like jewelry, lock boxes, a wall-mounted help button, a beaded lanyard, smoke/fire detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors. Add-on services include caregiver tools like check-in calls by LifeFone agents, medication reminders, and a mobile app.
Mobile App Offerings
If you think LifeFone is only for aging adults, think again. One unique thing about LifeFone is its mobile alert app, which gives you all the convenience of the LifeFone service through your mobile device instead of a separate medical alert device.
The mobile app can be an add-on for existing LifeFone users, or you can purchase it as a standalone service for yourself and family members. The app includes a panic button for immediate emergency response, and a “Concern” mode that lets you keep a LifeFone agent on the line with you like a virtual escort until you feel safe.
Like LifeFone’s regular services, if the monitoring center receives an alert from you and agents are unable to communicate with you for whatever reason, they will dispatch help to your location immediately.
The FamilyGuard mobile app also includes GPS location so you get arrival alerts to let you know when a family member has arrived at their destination, and the company has announced that this app will soon include geofencing and “lead foot” alerts, to help you know when teens may not be driving safely. The individual mobile app is $7.95 for non-Lifefone subscribers, and costs $5.95 for current subscribers. The FamilyGuard app starts at $9.95.
Setting up your LifeFone is as simple as plugging it into a wall outlet. All units come preprogrammed and ready to go. Once you have your unit plugged in, you press the help button and an agent will walk you through the rest of the setup and testing process. Agents will make sure your medical alert button pendant or watch works in all areas of your home.
When we started researching customer reviews for LifeFone, we kept expecting to dig up some dirt, but LifeFone came up surprisingly clean. It gets rave reviews from the majority of users, and the few who give it lower reviews are usually still pretty satisfied, with no major problems.
Like any product, there are a handful of decidedly unsatisfied customers, but we didn’t notice any recurring trends or major red flags with this company.1 It gets an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. LifeFone’s customer service is 24/7, and we like that you can pay your bills and update your customer care profile online or by snail mail.
Emergency Care Plan
Another LifeFone feature we like is the Emergency Care Plan. Rather than an automatic call to emergency services, or a standard list of people to call in an emergency, you can create your own customized plans of action for various potential emergency situations.
For example, if you’ve just gotten into a tricky spot and need a hand getting up, LifeFone can call a neighbor or nearby family member to come assist you rather than calling emergency responders. You can make changes to your Emergency Care Plan by phone, email, web portal, or through the mail. LifeFone never charges for false alarms.
LifeFone falls right in the middle of the pack when it comes to pricing for medical alert companies, but compared to its competitors, it has the best of both worlds. It has the same range as Medical Guardian, but it’s less expensive and it has more additional optional features. It’s a little more expensive than Bay Alarm, but it has a better range. Bay Alarm Medical’s mobile app is just for caregivers, while LifeFone offers apps that can be used in place of the medical alert devices.
Can I take LifeFone with me when I move?
Yes. The LifeFone base station can use any landline connection. Just call LifeFone when you’re ready to move (or even just go on vacation) and agents will update the address on your account to ensure that emergency services can find you if you call for help.
Should I get an at-home service or an on-the-go plan?
It depends. If you’re still independent and like to go out on your own, but you worry about the risk of medical emergencies, an on-the-go plan with GPS is a good option. If you’re more of a homebody, or if you usually have a companion with you when you leave the house, then an at-home plan will be sufficient and cost less. Keep in mind that you can always transition between the two by subscribing to a combination plan.
How can I keep my aging family members safer?
In addition to getting a medical alert system with fall detection, it’s important to do what you can to reduce the risk of falls. Regular checkups to test hearing, balance, and vision are important, as well as frequent blood pressure testing and treatment of illnesses that may cause low blood pressure or muscle weakness.
At home you can look for and remove potential trip hazards like loose rugs and items on the floor. Add secure handholds and extra traction to areas that might be tricky to navigate, like the tub.2 Our Senior Safety FAQ can help you learn more about keeping your aging loved ones safe.
If we were to create our own medical alert system, LifeFone would be it. It’s simple to install, it has quick response times, and it’s easy to cancel at any time. We like the straightforward pricing and wide variety of add-on options and devices for helping seniors and their families have more peace of mind, like fall detection, smoke detection, and the mobile app.
Like any consumer, we always love a better deal, so we wouldn’t mind an even lower monthly price. Still, as it is you get a lot for your money, and LifeFone outperforms competitors on enough fronts to make the moderately higher fees worth it.
How We Reviewed LifeFone Medical Alert
To review LifeFone Medical Alert, we combed through the LifeFone website, watched every video, and read every FAQ to better understand the ins and outs. We read what LifeFone customers had to say about using the service, and we checked its Better Business Bureau profile for red flags. Read our full methodology to better understand how we rate and review products.
Kasey is a trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a freelance writer with expertise in emergency preparedness and security. As the mother of four kids, including two teens, Kasey knows the safety concerns parents face as they raise tech-savvy kids in a connected world, and she loves to research the latest security options for her own family and for SafeWise readers. Learn more