Which is Better: Bay Alarm Medical vs. GreatCall Lively?

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

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Both Bay Alarm Medical and GreatCall Lively have solid reputations with customers and good track records for customer service. There are, however, very specific differences between what each company offers.

Key Takeaways

  • Medical alert systems can save your life in any type of emergency 
  • It’s important to choose a medical alert system that connects you to an established call center and trained professionals 24/7, 365 days a year
  • Bay Alarm Medical and Lively provide multiple options customers can choose between 
  • Only Bay Alarm Medical makes medical alert systems for in-home use 

Bay Alarm Medical vs Lively: Comparison of Costs and Features

Costs and Features
Up front equipment fee
Lively Starts at $49.99
Bay Alarm Medical Starts at $79 for mobile systems, $0 for at-home systems
Monthly cost
Lively Start at $14.99
Bay Alarm Medical Start at $24.95
Activation fee
Lively $35
Bay Alarm Medical $0
Contract
Lively No
Bay Alarm Medical No
Add-on services cost
Lively Data plans start at $2.49 a month for some devices. Phones require a monthly emergency response package fee. ER packages range from $19.99 to $39.99 a month
Bay Alarm Medical Necklace charms: $25; wall buttons: $35; lockbox: $30; extra vial of life: $8; auto fall detection: $10 a month; extended warranty: $2.95 a month
Connection
Lively Verizon wireless broadband
Bay Alarm Medical Landline, cellular, GPS
Wall-mount buttons
Lively No
Bay Alarm Medical Yes
Two-way communication
Lively Yes
Bay Alarm Medical Yes
Battery life
Lively Approximately 80 hours for rechargeable devices based on usage; four months for the Lively Wearable2 watch
Bay Alarm Medical Approximately 72 hours for mobile units, 6-18 hours. for smartwatch. Wall button batteries last for five years
Water resistance
Lively Yes
Bay Alarm Medical Yes
Automatic fall detection
Lively On one device only for $39.99 a month
Bay Alarm Medical Yes
GPS locator
Lively Yes
Bay Alarm Medical Yes, for mobile systems
Call center hours
Lively 24/7
Bay Alarm Medical 24/7
Optional features
Lively Belt clip, lanyard, auto fall detection, emergency response service packages (for phones only)
Bay Alarm Medical Decorative necklace charms, extra buttons, no-charge monitoring for spouse

Bay Alarm Medical Overview

bay alarm medical logo

Bay Alarm Medical is a subsidiary of Bay Alarm, a security system manufacturer. This well-established company has been manufacturing security and medical alert devices for over 75 years.

Bay Alarm’s in-home systems are easy to install and use—simply plug in and play. Ease of use and low cost makes Bay Alarm a solid choice for anyone who wants an in-home system or mobile medical alert device. Bay Alarm also offers a bundled package option for people who want protection at home and outdoors, including while driving. 

Bay Alarm’s 24/7 call center is based in the United States and manned by trained emergency response operators who are available 365 days a year.

Bay Alarm’s In-Home Medical Alert System can be used with a landline or with Bay Alarm’s 4G LTE cellular service. The costs vary for each.

The system comes with a plug-in base unit that has 32-hour backup power. It also comes with one waterproof, wearable help button plus a pendant and wristband. If you have a live-in partner, you can purchase an additional help button and get monitoring for both of you at no additional monthly cost.

The system can go where you go. If you have a vacation home or spend long weekends away at a friend’s house or hotel, your plugin unit and help button will protect you anywhere in the U.S. Keep in mind that the help button only has a 1,000-foot range, so it won’t take the place of a mobile unit.

Costs:

  • Equipment: $0
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Monthly landline service: $24.95
  • Monthly cellular service: $29.95; $39.95 package includes four wireless wall buttons
  • Automatic fall detection: optional at $10 a month
  • 30-day risk-free trial included

Bay Alarm’s water-resistant GPS Mobile Help Button is small and lightweight. It is powered by 4G LTE cellular service and GPS and is not meant to be used as an indoor medical alert.

The Help Button includes caregiver tracking, so your personal contact list can be informed of your location in an emergency. It also includes access to an account manager app, so you can pay your bill and check your battery usage directly on your phone.

The button is available in black or white. It comes with a lanyard and pouch. You can also clip it onto a belt or purse. A charging dock and USB port are included. The button holds a charge for approximately 72 hours.

Costs:

  • Equipment fee: $79
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Monthly plan fee: $29.99 without auto fall detection; $39.95 with auto fall detection
  • 30-day risk-free trial included

Bay Alarm’s SOS Smartwatch doesn’t look like a medical alert. It’s a mobile device that’s worn on the wrist. It doesn’t include automatic fall detection or provide caregiver tracking. 

Special features include a step tracker and crystal-clear touch screen. The SOS Smartwatch connects you to Bay Alarm’s Emergency Response Center directly, without syncing to a smartphone. 

Costs:

  • Equipment fee: $159
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Monthly plan fee: $29.99 
  • 30-day risk-free trial included

If you need protection at home and outdoors, getting a bundled package with In-Home and On-the-Go protection is your best choice. 

You can bundle the In-Home Medical Alert System with either the GPS Help Button or the SOS Watch. 

Costs:

In-Home plus GPS Button 

  • Equipment fee: $79
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Bundle monthly plan fees: Start at $39.99 per month
  • GPS monthly plan fees: 
  • 30-day risk-free trial included

In-Home plus SOS SmartWatch

  • Equipment fee: $159
  • Activation fee: $0
  • Bundle monthly plan fees: Start at $39.99 per month
  • Auto fall detection button: $10 month
  • 30-day risk-free trial included

Lively Overview

lively logo

Lively, formerly known as GreatCall Lively Mobile, is owned by Best Buy Health. Lively manufactures two phones that provide access to an urgent response center. They also manufacture two wearable mobile medical alert devices. The phones cannot be programmed for automatic fall detection, but this option is available with the medical alert devices. 

Lively’s Jitterbug phones come in smartphone and flip phone options. These phones may appeal to people who want fast access to emergency support but don’t want a dedicated device. They’re also a good choice for anyone who is technology shy. If you don’t have much use for email or the internet in general, the Jitterbug2 will be an effortless choice for you. In addition to the features that a standard flip phone has, this model has Amazon Alexa as well as one-touch dialing and an easy-to-use list screen. Since the Jitterbug Smart3 has internet access, it includes more technological bells and whistles but is still easy to operate. The simple, list-based menu makes navigation a snap. Since the phones and medical alerts are designed for outdoor use, Lively’s offerings are suited to active people who aren’t housebound. 

Lively’s Jitterbug phones are often touted as a budget-friendly option. However, emergency response services require a monthly fee that can become steep once it’s added to the monthly phone plan. Some devices also require you to purchase a monthly data plan. If you need unlimited data plus want the highest level of emergency health and medical services available through Lively, you may wind up paying around $85 a month for your phone, in addition to upfront activation and equipment charges. 

To turn your phone or device into an emergency medical alert system your monthly plan options are:

  • Basic: Access to emergency response only.
  • Preferred: Access to medical professionals as well as emergency response.
  • Ultimate: This includes access to emergency and medical response plus the Lively Link app, which includes caregiver tools. Phone users get rideshare access through Lively Ride and Lyft, plus it features a personal operator who can help you with nonessential calls. Medical alert device users get auto fall detection.

Unlike most medical alert systems, you can buy some Lively devices in brick-and-mortar stores such as Walgreens,] as well as on Amazon. You’ll still need to activate your device directly through Lively.

Lively’s urgent response center operates 24/7, 365 days a year. Each agent is certified by the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch

If you have an Apple Watch, you can access Lively’s urgent response center through your watch instead of a Lively device. You’ll need to download the Lively app to your phone to activate this service, which costs $29.99 a month. 

Lively does not offer an at-home based medical alert system. Their phones and mobile medical alert devices don’t require proximity to a home base. Each device has GPS and is connected via the cellular Verizon network. 

If you love the slim design and feel of a flip phone, you may enjoy the Jitterbug Flip2. It has a large screen, big buttons, and a powerful speaker. The Urgent Response Center button is on the keypad for easy access and outreach.

In addition to emergency response access, it has the features you need from a phone such as a camera, flashlight, magnifier, and speed dial. You can make voice activated calls with Amazon Alexa.

Costs:

  • Equipment fee (cost of phone): $99.99 (wall charger and car charger are included)
  • Activation fee: $35 
  • Monthly plan fee: Value Talk ‘n Text is $14.99, plus 10 cents per text; Unlimited Talk ‘n Text is $19.99
  • Monthly Lively Health and Safety Package: Basic Package (urgent response only) $19.99; Preferred Package (urgent response, plus urgent care and lively link) $24.99; Ultimate Package (urgent response, urgent care, lively link, and personal operator) $34.99 

This easy-to-use smartphone provides internet access as well as calling, video chatting, texting, and access to Lively’s Urgent Response Center. It features voice typing and a high-quality camera.

The Lively Urgent Response Button is positioned right on the bottom of your screen for fast, easy access. Like the Jitterbug2, you’ll need to purchase a health and services plan separately to turn your phone into an emergency services device. 

Costs:

  • Equipment fee (cost of phone): $149.99 (wall charger and car charger are included)
  • Activation fee: $35
  • Monthly plan fee: Value Talk ‘n Text is $14.99, plus 10 cents per text; Unlimited Talk ‘n Text is $19.99
  • Monthly data plan fee: Ranges from $2.49 for 100 MB to $30 for unlimited data 
  • Monthly Lively Health and Safety Package: Basic Package (urgent response only) $19.99; Preferred Package (urgent response plus urgent care and lively link) $24.99; Ultimate Package (urgent response, urgent care, lively link, and personal operator) $34.99 

The rechargeable Lively Mobile+ is a small, wearable device you can pop into a lanyard or wristband. It’s discreet and lightweight. It has enhanced GPS accuracy, so agents can locate you quickly to get you the help you need.

It’s waterproof, so you can wear it while bathing. The long-lasting battery gives you around 80 hours of standby time.

Costs:

  • Equipment fee (cost of device): $49.99 
  • Activation fee: $35Monthly Lively Health and Safety Package: Basic Package (urgent response only) $19.99; Preferred Package (urgent response plus urgent care and lively link) $24.99; Ultimate Package (urgent response, urgent care, lively link, and auto fall detection) $34.99

The Lively Wearable2 is a discreet medical alert device you can wear around your neck or on your wrist. To use it, you must download the Lively app to your smartphone. Pressing a button on your device connects your phone to emergency response. When worn around your neck, your device will call on its own if you have a fall and can’t press the button.

This device is water-resistant, not waterproof. It includes a step tracker and daily wellness tips. The long-lasting battery will give you around four months of power.

Costs:

  • Equipment fee (cost of device): $49.99
  • Activation fee: $35
  • Monthly Lively Health and Safety Package: Basic Package (urgent response only) $19.99; Preferred Package (urgent response, plus urgent care and lively link) $24.99; Ultimate Package (urgent response, urgent care, lively link, and auto fall detection) $34.99.

Similarities and Differences Between Lively and Bay Alarm Medical

With some overlap, Bay Alarm Medical and Lively appeal to different lifestyles. Lively only manufactures mobile options. Bay Alarm manufactures mobile and in-home options.

Since Bay Alarm packages include wall buttons, help buttons, and a base station, they have more system options for people who may be at risk for falls due to medical conditions.

Lively mobile medical alert devices and Jitterbug phones are designed for older adults, teens, and kids who spend time apart from their caregivers. They’re a really good choice for people who might find themselves in an emergency situation, including medical emergencies, fights, or stranger danger. Users of their Ultimate package benefit from concierge-type services and support on the go, as well as a soothing voice in a stressful situation.

Bay Alarm Medical doesn’t produce phones or offer concierge services like rideshare accessibility, but they have a solid reputation in security and medical alert systems. Bay Alarm’s mobile options, at-home packages, and bundled packages are great choices for people who need the assurance of having 24/7 emergency support anywhere and everywhere.

Bay Alarm Medical may be the more economical of the two, particularly if you choose Lively’s most expensive options. However, Lively’s least expensive plans are more budget friendly. Both companies offer discounts to AARP members.

What are Customers Saying About Both Brands?

Both Lively and Bay Alarm Medical get significantly more positive reviews from customers than negative ones. Features cited for each include high quality customer service and quick response times from the emergency call centers.

While some customers complain about the multiple fee layers, Lively Jitterbug phones get mostly high marks from users. Older adults who were leery about using a smartphone make up a large segment of Lively’s fan base for these devices. Mobile alert devices get good reviews for customer service, quick response times, and ease of use.

Bay Alarm gets good reviews for reliability, customer service, and fast response times in emergencies. Users like how easy the systems are to set up and operate. Many users especially like the discreet look of the SOS SmartWatch.

Summary

Lively and Bay Alarm Medical are established medical alert system providers. Bay Alarm Medical produces in-home and mobile packages. GreatCall Lively produces mobile packages, flip phones, and smartphones that can be fitted with emergency response access. 

Both companies get mostly high marks from their customer bases. Each has affordable and more expensive options. 

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Our experts research and recommend products that can help give you a better quality of life. Using our high standards and rigorous testing methodology, we’ve spent more than 4,000 hours, collectively, researching the best hearing aids to help you find the device that’s best for you. Throughout our research process, we did the following:

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FAQs

Yes. Bay Alarm Medical is a well-established, decades old medical alert system manufacturer. They have an excellent reputation for quality and service.

Pricing is accurate as of May 11, 2022.

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WRITTEN BY

Corey Whelan is a writer, health care professional, and Brooklyn, New York native. She is a reproductive health advocate who has helped countless patients through the trials and triumphs of infertility and adoption over the past 25 years. Corey's passion is sharing her knowledge of health and wellness through her writing, and no topic is off limits. She's mom to two grown children and two rescue dogs who captured her heart.

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Corey Whelan, "Which is Better: Bay Alarm Medical vs. GreatCall Lively?," last modified: Apr 11, 2023, https://aginginplace.org/medical-alert-systems/bay-alarm-medical-vs-greatcall/.