What Is AARP?
AARP, originally the American Association of Retired Persons, is an organization that represents members ages 50 and older. The nonprofit works to enhance the lives of seniors and promote their independence and health as they age in place—through access to products and services, and by lobbying for senior-centric policies. AARP also sells insurance and offers memberships, which discount some purchases, like medical alert systems.
Many seniors and caregivers are motivated to purchase a medical alert system in case they experience a fall, as more than one in four seniors fall each year
Does AARP Cover Medical Alert Systems?
Many seniors and caregivers are motivated to purchase a medical alert system in case they experience a fall, as more than one in four seniors fall each year. AARP does not partner with any one medical alert system, but it features occasional discounts on these devices through its ever-changing discount list—so it’s wise to check for updates. Currently, having an AARP membership gives you access to promotions with two leading medical alert companies: Lively and Philips Lifeline.
While AARP’s discounts are limited to just two brands, there are many reputable and budget-friendly medical alert devices on the market. We have included other high-quality, affordable brands for your comparison shopping. Lively and Philips Lifeline do have AARP discounts, but you may be able to save more, depending on the hardware and health plan you need. It’s most important that a personal emergency response system fits you or your loved one’s specific needs and lifestyle.
Max Mayblum, a Certified Senior Advisor, adds that “The device you select should be simple to operate, work in all parts of the home, and likely to actually be used by the loved one.” Mayblum reminds customers to choose a product that enhances their current lifestyle, because a medical alert is only effective when worn reliably.
AARP members can save 15 percent on their monthly subscription to Philips Lifeline. The company also waives the $50 activation fee for AARP members and offers member-exclusive free shipping. Users choose from both mobile and at-home options, the GoSafe2 and the HomeSafe.
AARP members can save 15 percent on their monthly subscription to Philips Lifeline
GoSafe 2, the company’s portable alert, is an all-in-one device that includes a push button, two-way speaker, and tracking technology; users don’t need to carry a smartphone or additional base unit, as with some on-the-go devices. Before the discount, the mobile system is $49.95 per month, which is on the high end compared to other companies’ monthly dues.
The Philips Lifeline in-home systems support independence for customers aging at home, especially those who are frequently alone. These systems operate as a standard pendant the user wears around the neck or wrist. AutoAlert is equipped with automatic fall detection, a technology that senses most falls and connects the wearer to the monitoring center, even when they can’t summon help on their own. Before the AARP discount, the HomeSafe Standard is $29.95 per month, while adding fall detection brings the cost to $44.95 per month. Note that Philips Lifeline’s fall detection costs significantly more than other leading medical alert brands, which typically charge $10 for the monthly service.
For AARP members who purchase the Lively Mobile Plus or Lively Wearable2 medical alerts, AARP offers a flat $60 discount on the Preferred and Ultimate levels of their Health and Safety Packages. While the Lively products themselves are not discounted via AARP, the Mobile Plus is potentially eligible for reimbursement through some flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, and health reimbursement accounts.
Lively Preferred Health And Safety Package
Originally $24.99 per month, this package includes Urgent Response, Urgent Care, and Lively Link. Urgent Response gives plan holders access to Lively’s 24/7 monitoring service. In an emergency, users activate the help button to summon help from the Urgent Response team, who assess the situation and send the assistance needed, whether that’s medical help, roadside assistance, or a locksmith. With Urgent Care, users can speak to a medical professional without an appointment or insurance. Urgent Care also allows Lively users to ask medical questions or get a prescription refilled by a board-certified doctor or RN. Finally, this package includes Lively Link, a smartphone app that loops in caregivers. Users select friends, family, and caregivers who should be alerted if the user activates Urgent Response.
Lively Ultimate Health And Safety Package
This top-tier Lively package has all the benefits of the Preferred plan—Urgent Response, Urgent Care, and Lively Link—along with the Personal Operator feature. This service improves on the telephone operators of yesteryear. Users summon the operator on their device to ask for assistance, including getting driving directions, accessing phone numbers, and even scheduling rides via Lyft. This premium service costs $34.99 per month. Again, AARP members receive a $60 flat discount for a year of this service.
Lively Mobile Plus
The lightweight Mobile Plus is an on-the-go medical alert that users can wear as a clip-on or necklace on Lively’s fall detection lanyard. When worn around the neck, the device features more accurate fall detection than when worn as a clip-on. When activated, fall detection alerts the Urgent Response operator to check in with the wearer. Whether or not the user is able to respond, the Lively team can send the wearer’s location to first responders.
The Lively Mobile Plus has a simple single-button design. When users push the SOS button, they’re connected with a Lively response team operator trained to evaluate the situation. Durable materials make this device sweat-proof for use while exercising and splash-resistant for showers and bathing. The Mobile Plus has a $49.99 equipment fee.
The Wearable2 is the more discreet Lively device, which users wear as either a pendant around the neck or as a smartwatch. When worn like a necklace, the device is able to sense a wearer falling using automatic fall detection. Around the wrist, the Wearable2 has the sleek look of a high-tech smartwatch, but with a more intuitive interface for seniors. It pairs with a user’s smartphone to support GPS tracking and communicate with the Urgent Response and Urgent Care teams.
Lively customers don’t need to charge their pendant every night, as with some senior alert systems, because the Wearable2 has a four-month battery life. In addition to emergency services, the Lively Wearable2 also supports positive health outcomes with a step tracker and daily health tips. There are no equipment fee promotions for AARP members, so they’ll have to pay the full price for this device: $49.99.
Other Budget-friendly AARP-approved Emergency Alert Brands for Seniors
While only Philips Lifeline and Lively have active AARP discounts, a range of affordable medical alert devices offer comparable prices to the discounted brands. We’ve included these companies to help you comparison shop for your medical alert system.
Range of affordable medical alert devices offer comparable prices to the discounted brands
Medical Guardian is one of the leading medical alert brands, whose line includes three on-the-go devices and two at-home systems. The variety represents a range of lifestyle needs. Its Mini Guardian is a mobile, lightweight, all-in-one device preferred by active users. The Classic Guardian is a mainstay of the at-home category, where the device connects by landline and boasts one of the largest ranges in the market: 1,300 feet from the base.
Medical Guardian monthly subscriptions start at $29.95 and top out at $49.95. It’s easy to shop this brand below the price point of Philips Lifeline products, even after the AARP discount of 15 percent off the monitoring fee.
MobileHelp offers multiple mobile and at-home systems, along with a line of hybrid models. These Duo devices are a good fit for those looking for protection while alone at the house, but who also want peace of mind while out and about on errands. The devices work with a base unit at home, but transition to on-the-go use through GPS-tracking technology and cell coverage.
While there is no relevant AARP discount, MobileHelp does offer promotions like free shipping, no equipment fees, and a free lockbox. The systems range in cost between $19.95 and $54.95 per month. Budget shoppers can also save by bundling payments quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
Medical Alert is a leading medical alert brand with a simple model. The company offers just one mobile device and one home device, and gives both the option of added fall detection. Customers who decide on the Home System wear a pendant around their neck or wrist, and must stay within an 800-foot range of the base unit. The system can operate on a cellular network or using a landline, which is a good fit for those in rural areas without strong cell coverage. The Mobile System runs on an AT&T cellular network. Like the Home System, this pendant is durable, water-resistant, and interchangeable between the wrist and neck.
The Home System’s monthly monitoring fee is $22.95 for landlines and $32.95 for cellular. The Mobile System costs $42.95 per month. Fall detection is an additional $10 per month. Users can save between $55 and $75 per year by paying their monitoring fees upfront annually—a comparable discount to AARP’s promotion of $60 off Lively’s monitoring fees.
Bay Alarm Medical’s mobile devices include a lightweight GPS Help Button and the SOS Smartwatch. Both systems have their advantages. The GPS button allows users to leave home with the full coverage of automatic fall detection, while the smartwatch hides medical alert features in a discreet accessory. Customers can purchase the GPS Help Button for $99 and the SOS Smartwatch for $179, with monitoring coverage between $29.95 and $39.95 per month.
Bay Alarm Medical’s In-the-Home System is a personal help button that users wear around the neck or the wrist. This system is travel-ready for visiting friends or family, as it works wherever the user plugs it in. Like MobileHelp, Bay Alarm Medical also offers a hybrid of the mobile and at-home systems, with bundle packages for users who want protection at home and away. The In-the-Home system starts at $19.95, and the Bundle package begins at $39.95—both less expensive than the AARP-discounted systems.
GetSafe stands out on this list as the only hands-free device. GetSafe customers are protected by voice-activated wall buttons. By saying “Call 911” twice, users activate the help feature and are put in contact with the monitoring center. GetSafe also provides a wearable pendant for those who want added protection. The emergency buttons also include a pull cord that initiates contact. GetSafe features multiple ways of accessing help as a safeguard.
GetSafe’s monthly service fee is $24.95, a fairly low monthly price. But you’ll need to take hardware into consideration. Your one-time equipment fee increases with the amount of hardware you need to equip your home, starting at $99 to outfit one bedroom and going up to $229 for four to five bedrooms.
Lifefone has a range of on-the-go and at-home devices, as well as packages that transition between home and mobile modes. The home device is impressive for its range from the base unit. One of the largest on the market, it allows you to take your pendant up to 1,400 feet from the base—say to the garage or garden—and still be protected.
The VIP (Voice in Pendant) is Lifefone’s all-in-one device, which users can wear as a clip-on or pendant around the neck. This system has a 30-day battery life, is water-resistant, and can be covered by Verizon or AT&T 4G LTE—so you can be covered by whichever service is strongest in your area.
Monthly Lifefone payments start at $29.95 for the basic landline option, going up to $49.95 for their latest mobile model: the VIP X. While AARP does not offer any Lifefone discounts, the company does reduce fees for those who pay annually rather than monthly for monitoring. It also offers customers who pay the year upfront free shipping, activation, and a lockbox so that an EMT or caregiver can easily enter a loved one’s home, if needed.
- For seniors and loved ones concerned about falling, a fall-detection device can be key to keeping an independent and active lifestyle.
- AARP does not cover any medical alert systems completely, but it does offer discounts on some devices and monitoring services on a rotating basis.
- Currently, AARP offers 15 percent off Philips Lifeline monthly service, a waiver of its $50 activation fee, and free shipping.
- AARP has a second active promotion: $60 off two select Lively Health and Safety packages.
- When shopping for a medical alert system, it’s important to consider how equipment, monthly monitoring, additional health plans, and optional features like fall detection will increase pricing.
- For those comparison shopping alert plans, monitored medical alerts average between $19.99 and $39.99. This is comparable to the Lively and Philips Lifeline systems post-discount.
- Other than budget, you’ll want to consider battery life, wearability, range, and portability when deciding on the right medical alert for your loved one.
Why You Can Trust Our Expert Review
Our experts independently research and recommend products we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. We’ve spent collectively more than 1,700 hours conducting in-depth research on medical alert systems. To make our picks, here’s what we did:
- Engaged in ongoing independent research
- Consulted with geriatricians and adult caregivers
- Mystery shopped the brands
- Surveyed medical alert system users
- Tested various medical alert systems
- Interviewed experts in the field
- Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports
How We Wrote This Article
To find out whether AARP covers the cost of medical alert systems, we researched:
- Medical alert system costs
- How AARP helps to cover the cost of medical devices
- Warranties, contracts, and hidden fees of common medical alert systems
- Medical alert system deals