Falls are a significant concern for seniors, often leading to serious injuries and a loss of independence. According to the World Health Organization, falls are the second leading cause of accidental injury and death worldwide among people aged 65 and older.
However, recent advancements in technology have brought forth a range of innovative devices that can help monitor and prevent falls, providing seniors and their loved ones with valuable peace of mind.
In this article, we will explore some of the best medical alert systems, including nine new devices that can monitor falls and enhance senior safety.
What is a Fall Detection Device?
A fall detection device is a specialized piece of technology designed to detect when a person, typically a senior with mobility issues, experiences a sudden fall or a significant change in their posture that might indicate a fall.
Why is Fall Detection Important?
Fall detection devices are particularly valuable for seniors who live alone or have a history of falls, as they provide an extra layer of safety and peace of mind. These devices can significantly reduce response time in the event of a fall, potentially minimizing the severity of injuries and improving overall outcomes for the user.
How Does Fall Detection Work?
Fall detection devices use various sensors and algorithms to monitor the wearer’s movements and can automatically initiate a call for help or send alerts to designated contacts or even to a monitoring center is a fall is detected.
Here Are Some Key Components and Features of Fall Detection Devices:
Fall detection devices are equipped with various sensors, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, and sometimes pressure sensors. These sensors continuously monitor the user’s movements and orientation.
The device’s software often includes a sophisticated algorithm that analyzes the data from the sensors to distinguish between normal movements and a fall. The algorithm looks for specific patterns or changes in motion that are indicative of a fall.
3. Automatic Alerts:
When the device detects a potential fall, it can automatically trigger an alert. This alert can take the form of a call to a monitoring center, a text message, an email, or a phone call to pre-configured emergency contact.
4. Two-Way Communication:
Many fall detection devices include two-way communication capabilities, allowing the user to speak directly with a monitoring center operator or their designated contact. This feature is crucial for assessing the user’s condition and providing prompt assistance.
5. GPS or Location Tracking:
Some devices also include GPS or location tracking, which helps emergency responders or caregivers locate the user quickly in case of a fall or emergency, especially when the user is outside the home.
Many fall detection devices are designed to be waterproof or water-resistant, allowing users to wear them while bathing or showering, where falls are also common.
7. Battery Life:
Battery life is an important consideration for fall detection devices, as users rely on them for round-the-clock protection. Long-lasting batteries or regular charging options are essential to ensure continuous functionality.
How Accurate is Fall Detection Technology?
The accuracy of fall detection technology can vary depending on the specific divide and its design. While fall detection technology has made significant advancements in recent years, it’s essential to understand that no system is perfect, and false alarms or missed falls can still occur.
Some Factors That Can Influence The Accuracy of Fall Detection Technology:
The accuracy of fall detection often depends on the quality of the device. Higher-quality devices typically incorporate advanced sensors and algorithms, leading to better accuracy. Cheaper or less advanced devices may be less reliable.
The type and quality of sensors used in the device play a crucial role in its accuracy. Devices equipped with accelerometers, gyroscopes, and pressure sensors tend to be more accurate in detecting falls and distinguishing them from other movements.
The effectiveness of the fall detection algorithm used in the device is vital. Advanced algorithms can better differentiate between falls and benign movements, reducing the likelihood of false alarms.
The accuracy of fall detection can be affected by the user’s behavior. If the user falls in a way that doesn’t trigger the device’s sensors or if they remove the device before a fall, the technology may not work as intended.
The environment in which the fall occurs can also impact accuracy. For example, falls on soft surfaces like carpets may not be detected as easily as falls on hard floors.
Some users may not consistently wear their fall detection devices, reducing their effectiveness. Users who forget to charge or replace device batteries can also experience lapses in protection.
False Positives and False Negatives
Fall detection technology must strike a balance between minimizing false alarms (false positives) and accurately detecting all falls (avoiding false negatives). Striking this balance can be challenging.
Fall Detection and False Alarms
It’s important to note that while fall detection technology has improved, it should not be solely relied upon for senior safety. These devices should be used in conjunction with other safety measures, including regular check-ins by family members or caregivers, home modifications to reduce fall risks, and medical assessments for underlying health issues that may contribute to falls.
Types of Fall Detection Devices
Fall detection devices come in various forms, each catering to different preferences, needs, and lifestyles. The main types of fall detection devices include:
- Pendants: These are typically worn around the neck as a necklace or on a wristband. They are discreet and easy to access, making them suitable for individuals who want a non-obtrusive option.
- Smartwatches: Some smartwatches, like the Apple Watch Series, incorporate fall detection features. They offer the added benefit of additional health and communication features.
- Base Station Systems: These devices include a central unit placed in the home, usually connected to a landline or cellular network. The user wears a pendant or wristband with a button for fall detection. The base station communicates with a monitoring center or designated contacts in the event of a fall.
- Wall-Mounted Buttons: Some in-home systems have wall-mounted buttons placed in various locations throughout the house, allowing the user to press a button to call for help if they fall.
- Mobile Alert Systems: These are portable devices that users can carry with them, providing fall detection both inside and outside the home. They often include GPS tracking, allowing users to be located in real-time.
- Smartphone Apps: Some smartphone apps are designed for fall detection. These apps use the phone’s built-in sensors to monitor movements and can automatically send alerts if a fall is detected. They may also have the option to connect to a monitoring center or designated contacts.
- Motion Sensors: These sensors are placed throughout the home and monitor movement patterns. If an unusual lack of movement is detected (e.g., the user hasn’t moved for an extended period), it may trigger an alert.
- Floor Pressure Mats: These mats are placed on the floor, often near the bed or in high-risk areas. They detect changes in pressure, such as when someone steps on or off the mat, and can trigger an alert if someone falls.
- Video Cameras: Some home security cameras and smart home systems can be configured to recognize falls or unusual movements and send alerts to caregivers or family members. This approach relies on computer vision and artificial intelligence.
- Some voice-activated smart home assistants, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, can be programmed to recognize vocal distress signals and send alerts in case of a fall or emergency.
Advanced Health Monitoring Devices:
- Some advanced health monitoring devices, like certain fitness trackers or health wearables, include fall detection as part of their feature set. They often provide additional health and data insights.,
Medical Alert Systems:
- Medical alert systems, which include both in-home and mobile options, often offer fall detection as an add-on feature. These systems are designed to provide immediate access to a monitoring center in emergencies.
How We Chose The Best Fall Detection Devices
There are many important considerations when determining the best fall detection devices, and when putting this list together we paid attention to all of them.
Some of the factors to be considered are the type of device, accuracy and reliability, monitoring options, response time, two-way communication capabilities, battery life, ease of use, water resistance, cost and subscription feeds, compatibility options, customer support, trial period or return policy, privacy and data security, user reviews, and any additional features that could be valuable for the user, such as medication reminders, GPS tracking, or health monitoring capabilities.
The Top 9 Best Fall Detection Devices for Seniors in 2023
- Medical Guardian Home 2.0
- Apple Watch Series 7
- GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus
- LifeFone At-Home and On-the-Go
- ADT Medical Alert On-The-Go Mobile Device
- Bay Alarm Medical On-the-Go
- MobileHelp Solo 4G
- Lively Wearable2
- Life Alert
1. Medical Guardian Home 2.0
- CALL TO ACTIVATE: Please note that activation of service for our elderly alert device through a phone call is required prior to use. There are absolutely no hidden charges or contracts for our senior alarm systems. Our service is free to activate and you will only be charged a monthly fee starting at $37.95/month. It's the ultimate help for elderly people so that they can live their lives with confidence!
- VERSATILE ALERT SYSTEM: Our medical alarm for seniors includes a base device, button kit with an active button with optional lanyard and wristband options. Additional features and buttons can be added for an additional monthly fee, including fall detection and voice-activated wall buttons.
The Medical Guardian is an all-encompassing medical alert system designed to assist seniors in emergencies. While it primarily functions as a personal emergency response system, it also offers fall detection capabilities. The device uses advanced algorithms to detect falls and automatically sends an alert to a 24/7 monitoring center, ensuring immediate assistance when needed. The system includes a wearable pendant or wristband, and it’s waterproof, so seniors can wear it in the shower or while swimming.
- Offers nationwide 4G coverage through AT&T and has a range of 1,400 feet between transmitter buttons and the base device
- Includes a 32-hour backup battery in the event of a power loss, which will automatically recharge when power is restored
2. Apple Watch Series 7
- Stay connected to family and friends with calls, texts, and email, and stream music, podcasts, and audiobooks on the go, even when you don’t have your phone
- Always-on Retina display has nearly 20% more screen area than Series 6, making everything easier to see and use than ever before
The Apple Watch Series 7 comes with several health and safety features, including fall detection.
The watch uses a combination of sensors, including an accelerometer and gyroscope, to detect sudden falls. If the watch detects a fall, it will prompt the user to confirm if they’re okay. If there’s no response within a specified time, the watch will automatically call emergency services and send a message to your emergency contacts with your location.
- In addition to fall detection, this watch allows you to stay connected to family and friends with calls, texts, and email, and stream music, podcasts, and audiobooks on the go, even without your phone
- Take an ECG anytime, anywhere – Get high and low heart rate, and irregular heart rhythm notifications – Measure your blood oxygen with a powerful sensor and app
3. GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus
- Lively Plans: Plans as low as 24.99/month. Plus, no long-term contracts or cancellation fees. Once your medical alert arrives, call Lively to activate
- Easy to use: Lightweight, all-in-one wearable device is easy to use with no equipment to install. On the most reliable 4G LTE network, it works at home or across the country
The GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus is a simple and affordable option for seniors who want fall detection without the complexity of a smartphone or smartwatch.
This mobile device includes a built-in fall detection system that can automatically call for help in the event of a fall. It’s designed to be easy to use and offers one-touch access to a 24/7 emergency response team.
The device also has GPS tracking, making it easier to locate the user in case of an emergency.
- Nurse On-Call: Speak with a nurse or doctor from the comfort of your own home with no appointment or co-pay necessary
- Extremely well priced at under $50 for the device
4. LifeFone At-Home and On-the-Go
The LifeFone At-Home and On-the-Go system offers versatile fall detection solutions for seniors. It includes both an in-home base station and a mobile alert device for on-the-go protection.
The wearable pendant with fall detection technology can sense falls and automatically connect the user to a monitoring center. It also includes a two-way voice communication feature, allowing seniors to speak directly with a trained operator.
- Works with your telephone landline
- The base unit has a highly sensitive microphone, and the base unit’s volume can be adjusted to make it as loud as necessary, ideal for anyone who may be hard of hearing.
5. ADT Medical Alert On-The-Go Mobile Device
- Peace of Mind for an Active Lifestyle - The ADT Medical Alert On-The-Go is designed with elderly assistance in mind, offering a medical alert bracelet or necklace to provide security and comfort for seniors.
- Personal Safety Alarm – This life alert necklace features an embedded personal safety alarm that can be easily activated with one single button push, sending an immediate call for help when necessary.
The On-the-Go Mobile Device allows individuals, and their families to help feel safe and secure knowing ADT will be there in case of any emergency inside or away from the home. Backed by the AT&T LTE network, this device provides nationwide coverage to assist in keeping you or your loved one safe.
This device also comes with 24/7 U.S.-based monitoring with sensitivity-trained agents who are backed by 147 years of ADT providing alarm monitoring services. By pressing the help button on your device or accessory, you will be connected to a live U.S. Based agent who is trained to handle every situation with attentiveness, professionalism, and most importantly care.
- Includes GPS tracking capabilities & emergency communication with caregivers
- Exclusive discounts available for existing ADT security customers
6. Bay Alarm Medical On-the-Go
- Activation Required: Upon receiving your Bay Alarm Medical order, call us to activate the device. Activation is free.
- Required: Monthly subscription for 24/7 Emergency Monitoring, USA-based dispatch centers, Live operators, Add Automatic Fall Detection during Activation
The Bay Alarm Medical On-the-Go is a portable medical alert system that includes fall detection capabilities. The wearable device is lightweight and waterproof, making it suitable for daily wear.
In the event of a fall, the device will automatically connect to the Bay Alarm Medical monitoring center, ensuring prompt assistance. The device also features a long-lasting battery, reducing the need for frequent charging.
- Weighing less than 2oz, this is a compact medical alert device that can be worn around your neck on a lanyard or on the included belt clip
- The mobile device has a battery life of up to 6 days
7. MobileHelp Solo 4G
- TWO WAY COMMUNICATION - With a clear built-in speaker, the MobileHelp On-The-Go system allows you to speak to our 24/7 highly qualified emergency operators. This medical alert system for seniors works using one of the largest cellular networks in the nation (please ensure there is AT&T coverage in your area before purchase). AT&T service is included with your purchase and you do not need a landline.
- WEAR IT YOUR WAY - Worn as a medical alert necklace or inside your pocket or purse, this alert button offers multiple ways to keep you protected. You can wear the primary mobile device or wear the smaller neck pendant which activates the device. This alert button for seniors and older adults has a lightweight design for comfortable everyday use. You can also wear this water-resistant medical alert in the shower. Both the mobile device and the necklace alert are water resistant.
With a clear built-in speaker, the MobileHelp On-The-Go system allows you to speak to qualified emergency operators 24/7. This medical alert system for seniors works using two-way communication with AT&T, one of the largest networks in the country.
The On-the-Go system gives you 24 hours of uninterrupted protection after a 3-hour charge. Plus it has a built-in warning light to let you know when your mobile medical alert device pendant needs to be charged. It comes with a charger, a comfortable lanyard, and a smaller neck pendant that can be used to call for help when your device is charging or if you prefer to keep the mobile device in your purse or pocket.
- MobileHelp Connect (a free connected app) allows users and their authorized caregivers to actively participate in the subscriber’s health and well-being, monitoring health-related trends like activity, weight, and other vitals
- This app also allows loved ones to check in on the user’s well-being (and GPS location) without being intrusive
8. Lively Wearable2
The Lively Wearable2 is a discreet and stylish wearable device designed to enhance senior safety. It offers fall detection capabilities and a wide range of additional features such as medication reminders and GPS tracking.
The device is lightweight and can be worn as a necklace, wristband, or clipped to clothing. It connects to the Lively mobile app, allowing family members to stay updated on their loved one’s well-being.
- The device includes a step tracker that measures your daily step count to monitor any health and fitness goals
- With the connected Link app, family members will receive an alert on their smartphones in the event of an emergency
9. Life Alert
Last but not least, Life Alert has been a trusted name in medical alert systems for many years. They are a well-known and reputable company that provides personal emergency response systems, including fall detection for seniors and individuals with medical concerns.
Their in-home and mobile systems include automatic fall detection technology as a standard fall detection feature. Life Alert operates its own 24/7 monitoring center staffed by trained operators.
Life Alert users typically wear a waterproof fall detection pendant or wristband with a button that they can press in case of an emergency or fall. The pendant or wristband includes a two-way communication feature, allowing users to speak directly with the monitoring center operators.
While Life Alert isn’t available through Amazon, this link will take you to their website where you can explore the various protection and alert systems they offer.
- Life Alert systems come equipped with backup power sources, ensuring that they remain operational even during power outages.
- In addition to fall detection, Life Alert may offer additional services such as medication reminders or smoke and carbon monoxide detection, depending on the chosen plan.
How to Choose the Best Medical Alert System with Fall Detection
Remember that the best fall detection device may vary from person to person, depending on individual circumstances and preferences. Take the time to thoroughly research and evaluate your options to make an informed decision that promotes safety and peace of mind for the user and their caregivers.
With that said, when considering a fall detection device, it’s advisable to research and choose a reputable brand with a proven track record for accuracy and customer satisfaction. Additionally, users and their caregivers should be aware of the device’s limitations and regularly test its functionality to ensure it is working correctly. Regular maintenance and following the manufacturer’s guidelines can help maximize the accuracy and reliability of fall detection technology.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Much Does a Medical Alert System With Fall Detection Cost, on average?
The cost of a medical alert system with fall detection varies depending on the brand, features, and service plan. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $50 per month for monitoring services, in addition to the initial cost of the device, which can range from $100 to $300 or more. It’s essential to research different providers and their pricing plans to find one that fits your budget and needs.
At what age does the average person need to start wearing a fall detection device?
The need to start wearing a fall detection device varies from person to person and depends on individual health, mobility, and risk factors. Generally, seniors and individuals with increased fall risks may consider using a fall detection device as they enter their senior years, typically around age 65 and older. However, the decision should be based on individual circumstances and the advice of healthcare professionals.
Who Should Use a Medical Alert System With Fall Detection?
A medical alert system with fall detection is ideal for seniors and individuals with mobility issues who are at risk of falling and may require immediate assistance in case of an accident or medical emergency. It offers peace of mind to both users and their caregivers by providing rapid access to help when needed.
It’s important to choose a fall detection device that aligns with the user’s lifestyle and preferences. Additionally, the choice may depend on the user’s specific needs, such as whether they require 24/7 monitoring or only need protection at certain times of the day. Caregivers and family members should carefully evaluate the available options and consult with healthcare professionals to determine the most suitable fall detection device for their loved one’s safety and well-being.
Leona Small, Author
Leona Small is a freelance writer and former caregiver. She has experience working with people who have Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias and has also worked in hospice. Her passions include writing about healthy aging, finding resources to help older adults and caregivers, and traveling.
Jon Fernandez, Editor
Jon is a writer, clinical author, and expert on topics related to health technology, aging, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and skincare. He earned a Graduate Certificate in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Florida College of Pharmacy along with post graduate studies at the University of Colorado Healthcare Administration program.