Lively 2021 Review

From medical alert devices to mobile phones for older adults, we dig into Lively’s prices, products, and policies in this review.
Senior wearables and phones
lively logo
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8
  • Pros
    Comfortable wearables
  • Pros
    Virtual doctor visits and fall detection available
  • Pros
    Monitoring starts at $19.99/mo.

Info current as of 09/23/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Katie McEntire
Staff Writer, Safety & Security
Read More
Published on September 23, 2021

Lively (formerly known as Greatcall) is famous for the Jitterbug phone designed for older adults, but the company also makes medical alert devices. The Lively Mobile Plus and Lively Wearable 2 are both cellular alert buttons that can call for help from anywhere with a Verizon cellular signal (no Verizon subscription required).

Each of these wearables for seniors is small and comfortable, so they won’t get in the way of your golf swing, Sunday gardening, or quality time with the grandkids. You aren’t tied to a landline either, so you’re free to move about your home (and travel).

Lively offers some cool extra features like virtual doctor’s visits, a caregiver app to keep your loved ones updated, and automatic fall detection that contacts help if you lose your footing. The Lively Wearable 2 also doubles as a step counter to keep you active and motivated.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Affordable monitoring
Pro Bullet Comfortable wearable medical alert
Pro Bullet No landline required
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet No refunds after 30 days
Con Bullet Must live in an area with Verizon service
Con Bullet Shorter battery life

Lively pricing

Lively’s medical alert devices, the Lively Mobile Plus and the Lively Wearable 2, use the same monitoring plans. Taxes, equipment fees, and activation fees apply separately to these prices (so these are not final). Both devices come with the option for Urgent Care visits, the Lively Link app, and fall detection.

Monthly cost
Activation fee
Professional monitoring
Virtual doctor visits
Caregiver app
Fall detection
Basic $35.00
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Preferred $35.00
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon No  LightNo
Ultimate $35.00
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes

Info current as of 09/23/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

The Lively Mobile Plus and Lively Wearable 2 medical alert devices have the same monitoring plans. Both devices cost $49.99 plus activation fees and taxes. The prices listed above give you access to 5Star monitoring, the caregiver app, virtual doctor visits, fall detection, or all of them at once. Plus, AARP members are eligible for discounts with Lively.

Unfortunately, these aren’t à la carte options like other medical alert systems offer. So if you want fall detection, for example, you have to go with the Ultimate plan for $39.99 per month. Companies like Bay Alarm Medical allow you to add fall detection for an extra $10 without requiring other extras.

That said, the extra features that come with Lively’s top-tier plans are nothing to sneeze at. Lively’s standout feature is the Urgent Care virtual doctor visits, something we haven’t seen from any other medical alert provider. Urgent Care puts you in touch with medical professionals when you have questions or need advice from a nurse or physician. But while access to this feature starts at $29.99 per month, it may come with additional fees.

Bell
No refunds after 30 days

Lively doesn’t require contracts, but you may not get a full refund if you decide the system isn’t for you. The company only allows 30 days for returns. And if you do decide to return it, the device must be in “like new” condition. We dug into the details and found that you can receive most of your money back (excluding taxes and activation fees), but you’ll be subject to a $10 restocking fee.

Tech and equipment 

Lively has two medical alert devices, each with the same monitoring plan. You can also get a famous Jitterbug phone from Lively. Each device is designed with older adults in mind—with a comfortable wearable fit, loud two-way talk, and contact with real human operators trained to help in emergencies.

Overall, Lively is best for active older adults who leave the house frequently, travel domestically, and live alone. While pricing isn’t the lowest we’ve found, it’s still under $40 per month for features like fall detection, Urgent Care, and the Lively Link app.

Compare Lively medical alert devices

Equipment price
Included features
Optional add-ons
Wearable attachments
Lively Mobile Plus GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus medical alert- 5Star professional monitoring - Urgent Care calls

- Fall detection

- Belt clip

- Lanyard

Lively Wearable 2greatcall alert watch- 5Star professional monitoring

- Activity tracker

- Urgent Care calls

- Fall detection

- Wristband

- Lanyard

Info current as of 09/23/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Lively Mobile Plus

The Lively Mobile Plus device is about the size of a business card. You can wear it on a lanyard and belt clip or carry it with you in a purse or bag. It’s small enough to take with you while you run errands, visit loved ones, or relax at home.

The Lively Mobile Plus has a single button that connects you to a 5Star monitoring professional when you find yourself in a jam like a lockout or a serious emergency like chest pains. Just press the button when you need assistance and a real person with emergency training will help you out.

For such a tiny device, the Lively Mobile Plus has a powerful two-way speaker, so you’ll be able to hear the folks on the other side loud and clear. If you need assistance from first responders, they’ll stay on the line with you until help arrives.

This device uses Verizon’s 4G LTE network to connect to the monitoring center and share your location with emergency responders (and your loved ones). You don’t need to be a Verizon customer to use it, but you do need to live in an area with Verizon coverage (which is most places, fortunately).

Lively Wearable 2 

The Lively Wearable 2 is a single-button wristband that looks like a typical watch. But unlike a typical watch, the Wearable 2 doesn’t have a clock face. Instead, it uses Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone and turn it into your own personal medical alert device.

When you need help, press the button on your wrist (or around your neck if you choose the lanyard) to connect to the 5Star monitoring center. The device will use your smartphone to call for help through speakerphone. And like the Lively Mobile Plus, it comes with features like fall detection, Urgent Care virtual doctor visits, and an app for your family.

The Wearable 2 also has a step counter for active (and trying-to-be-active) older adults. You can also get daily health tips to improve your diet and activity level.

There’s a lot we like about the Wearable 2, but replacing a medical alert system with your phone isn’t a foolproof solution. We all know how easy it is to leave the house without your cell phone, and you probably don’t shower with your phone either. But if you always have your phone nearby, the Lively Wearable 2 is a good option.

Jitterbug cell phones

Lively’s Jitterbug phone debuted in 2006 as one of the first of its kind—a cell phone designed with seniors in mind. Both the Jitterbug Smart 2 and the Jitterbug flip give you the freedom to call and message your loved ones without all the distractions and extras smartphones have.

Both phones come with large-text screens and buttons, making them easier to see and message friends and family. These phones are armed with powerful speakers and sensitive microphones that make it easier to hear the conversation. They also have a 5Star button that allows you to call the monitoring center for help just like a medical alert system.

We don’t recommend completely replacing a dedicated alert system with a standard flip phone or smartphone. But both versions of the Jitterbug are solid choices for older adults who want a no-fuss phone.

Smart features and compatibility 

The Lively Mobile Plus and Lively Wearable 2 both keep things simple, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have extras to enjoy. Both use Verizon’s 4G LTE network to stay connected, which means you can call for help just about anywhere even if you aren’t a Verizon customer. So whether you’re in the backyard or visiting family in another state, you’re covered.

The Lively Wearable 2 connects to your smartphone to function. Without a screen or additional buttons, it won’t do much good without a compatible phone. Be sure you have the Android 7 or iOS 11 operating system on your phone before diving in.

Lively Link caregiver app

The companion app Lively Link is a big plus for caregivers looking for a system for their loved ones. Even if your parents or grandparents are open to using a medical alert device, making sure they keep it charged and stay in touch can be a different story.

Lively Link lets you pinpoint their location and check on their device’s battery. It also sends you alerts whenever they press their 5Star help button. Their information stays private, but it’s a helpful tool for keeping tabs on older adults who may wander or forget to charge their alert button.

The only drawback is you’ll have to subscribe to a Preferred plan to get access to the app, which means paying $29.99 per month instead of $24.99.

Urgent Care virtual doctor visits 

You probably don’t have time to visit a doctor every time your arthritis acts up or a medical question comes to mind. Instead of sitting in a waiting room and dealing with expensive copays, Lively connects you to medical professionals with the Urgent Care app.

This feature (available with the Preferred plan) connects you to real doctors and nurses for quick check-ins and medical questions you may have in mind. It isn’t designed to replace regular doctor’s visits, but you’ll get the answers you need fast. It costs a little extra each month, but costs come included with your monthly monitoring fee.

Thumbs Up
Check with your insurance

Many health insurance plans include virtual visits in their personal care plans. Check with your insurance provider to see if this service is already available to you.

Automatic fall detection

If you’ve been injured from a fall before, you know how scary it can be. For folks over 65, falls can be especially devastating. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in five falls results in serious injury, with more than 300,000 people hospitalized for hip fractures every year.1

Falls can be especially dangerous if they knock you unconscious. That’s why a feature like automatic fall detection is so important in a medical alert device. While it’s an extra paid feature, it allows the device to sense changes in speed and pressure during a fall. When it senses activity, it will automatically call the 5Star center, getting you help as soon as possible.

This feature costs a bit more from Lively than other medical alert systems (which usually charge an extra $10 per month), but it’s worth considering if you have conditions like osteoporosis, mobility issues, vision problems, or foot pain.

Lively customer service 

Whether you have questions or find yourself in a serious situation, the customer service pros need to be able to listen carefully and respond quickly. Lively uses monitoring centers from 5Star Urgent Response, a monitoring center with certification from the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED).

While we have no complaints about Lively’s monitoring skills, its return policy may leave customers unsatisfied. We recommend reading the fine print before purchasing. Lively doesn’t require a contract, so there’s no cancellation fee, but returns must be completed within 30-days of purchase and may include a $10 restocking fee or more depending on the condition of your device upon return.

How Lively stacks up

For our Livelyreview, we compared this company to the top medical alert systems. We noticed a few significant differences between Lively and our top picks. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Lively isn’t an at-home medical alert system. This system is the only one of the bunch without an at-home landline or cellular system. All the medical alert devices from Lively are GPS wearables designed without a base station. They work the same but give wearers more freedom to leave the house. 
  • Each system has fall detection, but Lively charges more. Systems like Bay Alarm Medical treat fall detection as a standalone add-on feature. It tacks on an extra $10 per month to your bill but doesn’t come with extras you may not want. The best medical alert system for fall detection includes it with the package, so there’s no debating whether you want the feature or not. 

Compare other medical alert systems

Brand
Lowest monthly price
In-home range
Backup battery
Landline option available
Multiple wearable options
Learn more
Read review
Best overall
Bay Alarm Medical
1000 ft.32 hours
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best value
GetSafe medical alert systemGetSafe
1300 ft.32 hours
Icon No  LightNo
Icon No  LightNo
Best for fall detection
Philips HomeSafe StandardPhilips LifeLine
400 ft.Not available
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best for customization
Medical Guardian Classic Guardian systemMedical Guardian
1300 ft.32 hours
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Best for active lifestyles
MobileHelp
1400 ft.24 hours
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes

Info current as of 9/23/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Things to consider before you buy any medical alert system

Buying a medical alert system can feel like a huge decision. Thankfully, most systems don’t require contracts or charge for canceling. So if you decide the product you purchased isn’t for you, pressure is low. But if you weigh the right factors, you can get it right the first time without the hassle of returns and refunds. Consider the following:

  • How often do you leave the house? How far do you go? 
  • Are you comfortable with your phone? 
  • Are you comfortable wearing something 24/7?
  • If you’re a caregiver, how open to tracking is your loved one? 
  • If you’re buying for yourself, are you willing to let your loved ones keep an eye on you (they care about you, after all)? 

Learn more about how to choose a medical alert system or talk to your parents about a medical alert system before you tackle the next big decision.

Final word

The Lively Mobile Plus is a simple device with two-way audio that connects directly to 5Star monitoring pros. Whether you got a flat or slipped in the bathroom, it’s a compact device that will get you help quickly with the press of a button. It’s not as small as other wearable devices, but with so many ways to wear it, it’s easy to get comfortable with.

The Lively Wearable 2 uses Bluetooth to turn your smartphone into a medical alert device. The wristwatch design is slick and fashionable, so it won’t cramp your style. Who said safety couldn’t be chic?

If you’re comfortable with using your smartphone often or keep it nearby, Lively Wearable 2 is a good choice. But for older adults who forget their phone at home (who doesn’t?), they may find themselves without a way to call for help.

Lively FAQ 

Lively devices (Lively Wearables and Jitterbug phones) all use Verizon’s network. You don’t need to be a Verizon customer—you just need to live in an area with coverage. This may mean you could lose service if you travel or live in a rural area.

While this phone is designed for seniors (larger print displays and louder speakers), the Jitterbug flip is a simple phone without internet that’s perfect for kids.

Unfortunately not. The Lively Wearable 2 uses a Bluetooth connection to work with your phone. So if you’re out of range, you won’t be able to connect to the monitoring center.

Lively’s Urgent Care app comes included with Lively Mobile Plus Preferred and Ultimate packages. It only tacks on an extra $4 per month to your bill, and it gives you access to board-certified doctors and nurses.

According to a GreatCall/Lively press release, the 9100 Lively Mobile Plus alert device had an issue with the adhesive on the emergency buttons. The company has since recalled the device and offered incentives to make up for the issue to existing customers. The issue has been resolved since then, but if you’re still uncomfortable with purchasing a recalled product, we encourage you to explore your options.

How we reviewed Lively

We started our research at the source, digging through Lively’s website to find details on equipment, pricing, and extra features. Then we searched through reliable customer review websites like Trustpilot to hear from older adults and their loved ones who have first-hand experience with Lively or the former brand GreatCall.

We found some mixed reviews over the Jitterbug phone, but the testimonials we found on the Lively wearables were glowing.

Once we could see the big picture, we compared Lively to popular medical alert systems we’ve reviewed before—think Bay Alarm Medical, GetSafe, and Philips Lifeline. This illuminated where Lively stands among competitors. Learn more about what goes into reviews like this one on our methodology page.

Related articles on SafeWise


Sources

  1. Centers for Disease Control, “Important Facts about Falls,” February 10, 2017. Accessed September 23, 2021. 
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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