What Caregivers Should Look for in a Medical Alert System

A daughter and her aged father use a laptop computer together.

For many senior caregivers, making sure their loved ones can access help when they need it is a top concern. Falls are a leading cause of emergency room visits among people over the age of 65, and every year, one in four older adults falls. Without prompt emergency help, even a minor fall can have significant consequences.

One way to ensure seniors remain safe, wherever they live, is to use a medical alert that calls family and emergency services. But with so many different device options on the market, how do you choose the right one? A medical alert system must align with your loved one’s lifestyle, needs, and budget while ensuring their health, safety, and well-being.

What to Look for in a Medical Alert System 

When you think “medical alert,” you probably think of a device worn around someone’s neck that calls EMS when they touch a button. While these traditional systems are still in use — and effective — today’s medical alert or personal emergency response systems (PERS) offer much more than a connection to 911.

If you are shopping for a medical alert for a loved one, look for devices with the following features.

In-Home vs. Mobile Emergency Response

Medical alert systems were designed as in-home devices. The wearable device, typically a pendant or wristband, is wirelessly connected to the base unit, a two-way speaker to communicate with a monitoring center that alerts emergency personnel. Of course, one limitation of this setup is that it cannot contact help when the user is away from home. 

Son and mother smile and laugh while looking at a smart phone.

Mobile units help eliminate this problem by using wireless cellular communication. For seniors on the go, a PERS with mobile capabilities ensures that they can get help wherever they happen to be. Along with GPS location capabilities, a medical alert that calls family and emergency services provides an extra layer of protection. 

Fall Detection

Falls are a significant concern for older adults and their caregivers. A medical alert system that calls family can send help, but only when the user can request it. A PERS that includes a wearable device with fall detection (which is typically offered at an extra charge) ensures that your loved one can get help whenever a hard fall is detected, and they don’t respond to a follow-up call. 

Virtual Assistant Capabilities 

With today’s technology, a medical alert system can be much more than a way to call for help. A smartwatch with emergency calling can also serve as a heart rate monitor, pedometer, and more. A smart speaker that operates via voice commands can provide information and entertainment and reminders about medication, appointments, and more. These features make a PERS more than an emergency call service — they become a virtual assistant that helps maintain health and well-being.


If a medical alert system is uncomfortable, cumbersome, or not easy to use, it’s less likely to provide the peace of mind you need. Many older adults are reluctant to wear medical alerts out of concerns of looking elderly or frail, for example, making a discreet pendant or smartwatch style a more attractive option.

User Friendliness

Getting help when it’s needed most shouldn’t be difficult. Set up and use needs to be simple, and the device needs to fit the user’s lifestyle. Devices should have long battery life, reliable cellular connections, and simple, intuitive controls. 

Older man wears a smart watch while jogging in the park.

Wearable devices should be durable and water-resistant (after all, many falls occur in the bath). In short, a PERS needs to be user-friendly and straightforward, even when it offers advanced protection.   

Protecting Your Loved Ones with WellBe®

When you’re shopping for a medical alert that calls family, WellBe®‘s family of devices checks all the boxes. From the voice-activated Smart Speaker to the SmartWatch, there is a device to meet your needs. 

A woman checks her smart watch for information.

First, if there is an emergency, the system can notify you in several ways:

  • Your loved one can call you directly using voice commands — no need to dial or subscribe to medical monitoring. 
  • You can subscribe to medical monitoring, which will automatically notify you if your loved one calls an ambulance using the WellBe Smart Speaker or Smartwatch.
  • You can receive alerts to other concerns, like missed medication doses, via the companion HandsFree Health application.

The WellBe family of personal emergency response systems can provide peace of mind for caregivers and their loved ones, ensuring that help will be on the way immediately any time it’s needed. 

In addition to medical alert service, WellBe offers:

  • Reminders for medications, appointments, and more (Speaker and Smartwatch only)
  • Access to entertainment, including audiobooks, music, news, weather, and more using voice commands (Speaker only)
  • Answers to questions about health insurance and health concerns (Speaker only)
  • Nationwide 4G wireless connectivity 
  • Optional fall detection and medical monitoring services (for a fee
  • An intuitive companion app that keeps the whole family on the same page

Above all, WellBe offers peace of mind for caregivers and their loved ones, wherever they happen to be. 

Get Our Free Caregiving Guide 

To help you care for your aging parents, HandsFree Health has compiled a comprehensive guide, “Caring for Aging Parents 101.” In this complimentary guide, you’ll learn the five areas of care for older adults, along with advice and practical tips that can help make life easier for everyone. Download your copy today, and learn more about helpful caregiving devices and resources. 

Share this post