Common Mistakes When Buying Medical Alert System for Seniors

Peter Stevens

Dec 05 2018 comments- 10

When it comes to researching and buying medical alerts for seniors, it’s probably your first time doing so. Without the right knowledge, you may be left vulnerable to making a purchasing mistake. Surely, you want to know that your investment is a wise one and that you’re getting the medical alert system you need.

In this article, we’ll cover some common mistakes and why you should be aware of them. Avoiding these honest errors when shopping for medical alerts for seniors is easier than you might think.

Six mistakes to avoid

According to the National Council on Aging, one adult in the US dies every 19 minutes from a fall. Therefore, choosing the right personal medical alert system protects both you and your loved ones. Before you buy your first medical alert system, make sure you’re aware of these common errors:

1. Not knowing the long-term costs

Almost every medical alert system requires a reoccurring subscription. This fee covers the 24/7 operating center that answers emergency calls when you press your device’s help button. Be aware that there are a variety of system features available with different pricing plans. For example, some companies’ devices only make calls to your family or 911 instead of a call center that can properly assess your situation. Some systems invest less in their operating system, with clients reporting long wait times to connect to a representative during an emergency.

If you choose a plan that isn’t right for you, there might be no going back. Some medical alert companies lock you into expensive, multi-year contracts, regardless of your level of satisfaction with them. Always make sure you know exactly what services are offered and how much it will cost you per year.

Another thing to keep in mind regarding costs is who pays for your medical alert system. Many people assume that their insurance company or Medicare B will pay for medical alerts for seniors. The reality is, insurance companies usually do not cover the initial purchase price or the monthly subscription. So, before choosing a system for you or your loved one, consider whether it fits in your budget. Then you can calculate the long-term costs of a system before you make a purchase.

Common Mistakes When Buying Medical Alert System for Seniors Making a plan

2. Choosing the wrong type of system

There are two main types of medical alert systems: home-based and mobile. As the names suggest, one is meant for permanent use in the home. The other is intended for use on-the-go. Some people end up buying both types of systems to maximize their coverage. But there are, in fact, many fall detection packages that include both at home and on-the-go system for a reduced cost. The main difference between the two is that one uses your home’s landline and the other uses mobile networks.

If you’re someone who’s quite independent and spends time out the home, consider a system with a mobile option. This type of system is also your best bet if you’re looking for medical alert systems with GPS. This type of system can also allow a caregiver or neighbor what your location is in case you’re concerned about getting lost. Both types of systems come with medical alert pendants. So whether you’re at the other end of the house or out at the market, help is available at the touch of a button.

3. Failing to consider brands with risk-free periods

Like with any major purchase, you want to make sure there’s a risk-free period in case you need to return the product. MobileHelp and LifeStation, for example, offer a money-back guarantee on all of their devices for fall alarms for the elderly. Most fall detection alert companies offer warranties with their devices. But this doesn’t mean you can get your money back just because you don’t like the system or devices.

In addition to risk-free periods, a handful of manufacturers offer free trials without any upfront costs. If you aren’t quite certain of what your needs are, you can choose a system that offers the most buyer protection.

Common Mistakes When Buying a Medical Alert System for Seniors Old man making a shopping list with a pen on paper

4. Overlooking the installation component

Most pendant alarms for elderly are self-explanatory when it comes to setup. But if you aren’t familiar with the technology, you may run into some problems. When it comes to personal alarms for the elderly, most companies don’t offer installation services, as cable and internet companies do. Instead, the medical alerts for seniors are turnkey and come equipped with all you need to set them up within a couple of minutes.

If you get a landline system, all you have to do is plug it into a phone jack like you would a phone. Similarly, you have to plug in a mobile system into an electrical outlet and connect it to the mobile network. Even though companies won’t install the systems for you, they may be able to provide support on the phone. It’s best to ask ahead of time to ensure you know what installation will entail.

5. Not getting an alert system suitable for your space

Consider the square footage of your home and the size of your property before getting a medical alert system. The average landline system generally has a range of 400 to 1,000 ft. from the base station. If your home is especially large, there may be dead spots in the house without coverage. It’s crucial to identify gaps in coverage before putting the medical alert system to use.

A cellular system, on the other hand, works anywhere there is mobile coverage. These systems are intended for short-term use outside of your home and operate on battery power. Cellular systems come with a base that plugs into an electrical outlet. Provided that you’re wearing a pendant, you can wander up to 600 ft. away from the base and still have coverage. But some homes also have coverage dead zones, so make sure you choose a system that is appropriate for your home’s size and systems.

Common Mistakes When Buying Medical Alert System for Seniors

6. Waiting until it’s too late

A common and potentially dangerous mistake is simply not buying a medical alert system. Medical alerts for seniors are like insurance policies. You don’t need to be living alone to get one for you and your loved one. It’s best to consider medical alert pendants or bracelets for you to have before a fall or other health emergency so that you are protected.

You may also be delaying a purchase due to reluctance to paying for a system. Or you may simply not be aware of what your options are. But there are lots of medical alerts for seniors reviews available online so you can compare your options.

Older adults are at risk for bigger health problems when emergencies happen in the home. To support your independence in your daily life, an alert system can help you become less reliant on others. Members of AARP can learn more information about why the non-profit endorse medical alert systems. While there are not specific AAPR medical alert systems, they do offer guidance that will help you decide the right product for you.


Before you take the leap and buy a product, always read medical alerts for seniors reviews. Choosing the right device the first time around will save you from headaches and even financial loss. Most importantly, choosing a solid system protects both your and your family’s health.

Since you’ll be relying on your medical alert system, it’s vital to choose a product you can trust. No matter what type of system you end up buying, make sure to avoid some of these common mistakes we’ve mentioned. Make sure you understand the costs and type of systems available. Consider the risk-free period, the installation process, and the space of your home. Most of all, get a medical alert system before it’s too late!

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Questions & Answers

Spencer McNeil

Can system be used Nationwide

Peter Stevens

It depends which medical alert you choose. Some have different coverage areas. For example, MobileHelp’s coverage is via AT&T, so it would work wherever AT&T works.

Jim Heibel

My wife is interested in getting a system for me.Im a cardiac /fall risk,with a pacemaker/defibulator installed in my chest.I am a fall risk,and have had a few episodes already. Luckily I was not alone when these episodes occurred. Um shipping for the most suitable option for our needs.


Hi Jim, you should ask your doctor or the pacemaker manufacturer for a recommendation for one that works with your specific pacemaker.

Jim Heibel

Seeking a system that works both at home,and away from home.Thus is my first time considering a device.


Hi Jim, Check out MobileHelp since they are highly recommended and offer both home & on the go options! There is a link in the article.

Crystal Ridenour

we are looking for a reliable medical alert system that works both home and away with GPS technology. It also would need to be supported by .or work in conjunction with a home security system. Do they make a system that works in areas where there is no cell phone signal available except thru an internet Wi-Fi signal that is generated from a land line connection such as what is provided thru CenturyLink?


Hi Crystal. Generally, the mobile medical alerts with GPS work with AT&T 4G coverage, which is considered the most reliable in the country. I recommend reaching out to MobileHelp directly to see if something can be done in your case. The link is located in the article above.


Do you need to have internet for a device that is for the home and also for a person that still does errands? I do not have a computer. Have a cellular thru Verizon and tablet..


No, you don’t need to have internet for a mobile medical alert system. It will come with its own cellular network connection (many use AT&T) and no additional cellular contract is needed for it — it’s included in the medical alert system contract.

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