Best Medical Alert Watches For 2022

Key Takeaways

  • Medical alert watches are popular with active older adults who can go about daily activities knowing they’re protected by a monitored medical alert.
  • Many medical smartwatches require the presence of a smartphone for cell connection and GPS tracking.
  • Automatic fall detection technology is included in some watches, meaning the device connects to emergency services even when the wearer is unable to activate the help button.
  • Many watch designs incorporate additional health supports, like heart rate monitors, step counters, and medication reminders.
  • Some medical watch apps allow users to select caregivers to be contacted in an emergency.
  • Voice-activated smartwatches can be accessed with a hands-free interface, making them well-suited to people with vision problems.
Written by
Updated onMay. 22, 2022

What Are the Best Medical Alert Watches?

MGMove Smartwatch from Medical Guardian is currently the newest medical alert watch available, and it quickly became our top pick as well. The MGMove has the perfect combination of basic and more advanced medical alert features to help protect you and enable you to stay connected with your loved ones—all from the comfort of your own wrist.

Contact Medical Guardian’s 24/7 monitor center by pushing the “SOS” icon on the touchscreen or the emergency button on the side of your device. You’re also able to test the emergency button yourself each month, eliminating the hassle of calling a live monitoring agent. Simply press the “TEST” icon on your watch’s touchscreen. 

Accurate location tracking is powered by 4G LTE technology, so your loved ones can know where you are at all times. If you contact the monitoring center during an emergency and aren’t sure where you are, your agent will be able to see your exact location and send emergency services directly to you. 

The interface has large, easy-to-use app icons, without being bulky. You can track your daily activity level with the step counter app and keep an eye on the forecast using the weather app. You can also review calories you’ve burned daily based on your steps and weight.

If you pay an additional $5 a month, you gain access to MGMove’s messaging and schedule reminder apps. You can also chat with your loved ones hands-free with the voice-to-text feature—simply speak your message into your watch, and it will send your verbal request as a text message. 

One downside of this smartwatch is its shorter battery life compared to some of the other smartwatches featured on this list. The MGMove’s battery lasts up to 24 hours, so you’ll need to charge it nightly. The good news is that there is no longer any need to strain your eyes to see if your smartwatch is fully charged, as the charging cradle has voice-assist technology with an audio cue that lets you know when your device is charged. This feature is especially excellent for users with poor vision.

For those seeking fall detection, keep in mind that this feature isn’t available with the MGMove.

As for costs, the MGMove has a one-time $199.95 equipment fee and a $39.95 monthly monitoring fee. 

Read our full Medical Guardian review

Best Simple Medical Alert Watch

Best Simple Medical Alert Watch

Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch

Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch is a device whittled down to just the basics, making it a good fit for users who might be intimidated by extra features. Its simple interface includes a step tracker and a watch with a digital or analog face. Other than that, the device is designed so that the user just has to simply swipe to alert the monitoring center of an emergency. While the help feature is easy to activate, this system does not have the capacity for fall detection and does not have a caregiver feature.

The SOS Smartwatch has a $179 one-time equipment fee, and monitoring is a $29.95 monthly fee.

Read our full Bay Alarm Medical review.

Best Affordable Medical Alert Watch

Best Affordable Medical Alert Watch

Lively Wearable2

The Lively Wearable2 device is interchangeable between a lanyard necklace and wristwatch. As a watch, the device is sleek and discreet. The watch must be paired with a smartphone to activate the alarm and connect with the company’s 24/7 response center.

By upgrading to the Preferred and Ultimate Health & Safety Packages, a user can also get urgent care advice or order prescriptions from a medical doctor or nurse. Fall detection technology is also available with the Ultimate package, so the device can sense a fall and connect you to an emergency team even if you’re unable to summon help yourself. The company suggests using this feature with the pendant option, as it’s more accurate around the neck than on the wrist.

On the practical side, the Lively Wearable2 is hardy. Its long-lasting battery can run up to four months, and it’s water-resistant for use in the shower or bathroom. The one-time equipment fee is just $49.99—far less expensive than the other watches on our list—while the monthly monitoring is between $24.99 and $39.99 per month, depending on the Lively Health and Safety Package you choose.

See our full GreatCall Lively review.

Best Medical Alert Watch For Active Lifestyles

Best Medical Alert Watch For Active Lifestyles

Apple Watch 7

Some high-tech individuals prefer the Apple Watch as a medical alert. The Apple Watch Series 7 includes fall detection technology, making it well-suited to those interested in a more active and independent lifestyle. If the watch senses a fall and the user does not respond within 60 seconds, the device calls 911 and gives the operator your location. (Note that the Apple Watch contacts 911 directly and is not a monitored medical alert system.)

If swimming laps or water aerobics is a regular part of your workout, the Apple Watch 7 has a waterproof mode. You can track your workout and stay protected at the poolside, in case of a slip. Along with health-focused features like a pedometer, health monitor, and standing and exercise trackers, the watch allows access to other phone features like apps, phone calls, and messaging.

The watch starts at $399, but costs $499 if you want to include GPS and cellular. While it’s pricier than most other watches, it operates using your existing cell service—so you don’t have to pay the additional fee you might with other monitoring services.

See our full Apple Watch Review.

Most Fashionable Medical Alert Watch

Most Fashionable Medical Alert Watch

BellPal AI Watch

This watch is unique among other medical alert devices in that it looks like a vintage analog watch. But the classic watch face conceals state-of-the-art fall detection and a high-tech alarm system. Customers get to choose between steel, mesh, or leather watch bands, as well as watch faces in a range of colors. All the options make the BellPal a favorite of fashion-conscious customers.

When the watch detects a fall or the SOS button is manually pushed, the device alerts both the members of your alarm network and the emergency response center. BellPal designers have pored over real case studies of falls by seniors to ensure that the watch’s fall technology accurately distinguishes falls from other types of movement.

They have also equipped the devices with a long-lasting battery, which runs for seven months, but customers will need to stay on top of their battery life; the company recommends customers go to a jeweler for replacement batteries. The BellPal AI needs to stay within range of your smartphone to operate, so this system is best for those in the habit of pocketing their phone before heading out.

The BellPal AI watch is $199.95 for the equipment and $24.95 per month for a subscription to their 24/7 monitoring center.

Best Voice-Operated Medical Alert Watch

Best Voice-Operated Medical Alert Watch

UnaliWear Kanega

The Kanega watch is equipped with automatic fall detection that alerts trained emergency operators even when you can’t. This watch is unique in that it’s voice-controlled, so you simply talk to your watch to ask for help or to speak to an emergency operator.

Even though the Kanega is serious about safety, the company enjoys a bit of humor. Case in point: Your watch is named Fred Astaire. As with Siri or Alexa, addressing your watch by name allows it to listen to you (for example: “Fred Astaire, call the operator!”). This opens a conversation using the watch’s two-way speaker.

The Kanega includes its own cell service and connects to Wi-Fi, making it a good choice for those who may not routinely remember a cellphone. Customers can choose between annual or quarterly payment plans. The annual plan is a $149 one-time fee for setup, with ongoing monitoring at $59.95 per month. The quarterly plan is a $249 fee for setup with monthly monitoring at $69.95 per month.

e our full Kanega Watch Review.

Medical Alert Watch
Medical Guardian MGMove
One-Time Equipment Fee$199.95
Monthly Monitoring Fee $39.95
BatteryUp to 24 hours
Trial Period/ WarrantyNo free trial period, but you can cancel your service at any time Protection plan available for $6.99 per month
Extra Features Step/activity tracker, voice-to-text messaging, weather app, daily reminders, location tracking
ConnectivityCellular
Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch
One-Time Equipment Fee$179
Monthly Monitoring Fee $29.95
Battery18-24 hours
Trial Period/ Warranty30 days. One-year limited warranty.
Extra Features Two-way speaker, step tracker.
Connectivity4G LTE
Lively Wearable2
One-Time Equipment Fee$49.99
Monthly Monitoring Fee $24.99-$39.99
BatteryUp to four months
Trial Period/ Warranty30 days. One-year limited warranty.
Extra Features Step tracker, Lively Link caregiver app, interchangeable between wrist and neck, Urgent Care.
ConnectivityOperates on your cellular carrier.
Apple Watch Series 7
One-Time Equipment Fee$399-$499
Monthly Monitoring Fee N/A (not monitored)
Battery18 hours
Trial Period/ WarrantyPurchase Apple Care for warranty.
Extra Features Blood oxygen sensor, fall detection, sleep and activity tracking
ConnectivityOperates on your cellular carrier.
BellPal AI Watch
One-Time Equipment Fee$199.95
Monthly Monitoring Fee $24.95
BatteryUp to seven months
Trial Period/ Warranty30 days. No warranty.
Extra Features Fall detection, range of band materials and colors, range of watch face colors and metals.
ConnectivityOperates on your cellular carrier.
UnaliWear Kanega
One-Time Equipment Fee$149-$249
Monthly Monitoring Fee $59.95-$69.95
BatteryMultiple rechargeable batteries to allow charging while others are in use.
Trial Period/ Warranty30 days. One-year limited warranty.
Extra Features Accent colors in black, gold, and rose gold. Voice-activated by initiating command “Fred Astaire.”
ConnectivityVerizon and Wi-Fi


What Is a Medical Alert Watch?

A medical alert smartwatch is a more modern approach to classic medical alert devices. Typically, a user activates a help button on a pendant or medical bracelet to summon assistance from an emergency response center in case of a medical emergency. A medical alert watch has the same functionality but is concealed in a wristwatch.

With a smartwatch alternative, users can go about their daily activities knowing that the device on their wrist can do more than just tell time. Some watches have simple interfaces for the no-frills user, while others have more capabilities like heart rate monitoring or appointment reminders. Generally, the watch is more interactive than a simple medical alert bracelet. But the best medical alert system for you will be the one that matches your lifestyle. The right smartwatch for elderly people can allow the wearer to live independently and age in place.

How Do Medical Alert Watches Work?

There are many factors that can increase one’s likelihood of falling, including blood pressure changes, vision problems, and muscle weakness or foot problems. In case of a fall or other medical emergency, the watch user signals for help by manually pressing a button or through automatic fall detection (technology that is sometimes included in certain watches). Depending on the model, the watch connects the user to either 911 or the company’s emergency monitoring center, where an operator can evaluate the situation and send for emergency assistance or caregiver attention.

What Is the Difference Between Medical Alert Watches and Mobile Systems?

Some active individuals prefer to wear on-the-go medical alert device systems, often designed as a clip-on or pendant. The best medical alert systems operate on cellular connections and use GPS technology to track users as they go about their day. A medical alert watch acts similarly in that it uses GPS to follow the user’s movements so the response team knows exactly where to send help. A watch is a less conspicuous style of medical device, as it gives the appearance of a high-tech smartwatch.

Austin Dowse, MD, who has spent over 17 years in the field of neuroscience researching the impacts of aging, explained that “mobile alert systems provide more freedom and independence than medical alert watches, which must operate within a short distance of a phone line or home phone jack.” Medical watches, on the other hand, sever the tie to a base device or landline: “This makes the mobile alert systems ideal for those who want to leave their homes frequently but still have safety features available if they encounter trouble.”

The biggest difference between a medical alert watch and a mobile system is the watch’s wearability and features. A smartwatch can be more comfortable than a clip-on or lanyard pendant. Some incorporate fitness tracking and other health-related features, and others integrate automatic fall detection technology. Often, alert watches rely on the presence of a nearby phone to access WiFi and GPS, so these are best suited to customers who won’t forget to keep a smartphone close.

Bluetooth medical alert systems with fall detection are popular among those who fear falling and not being physically able to activate their emergency SOS button. While most major medical alert companies can pair fall detection with their mobile systems, not all medical alert watches have this technology.

Do I Need a Medical Alert Watch?

Medical alert watches are a great fit for active seniors or people with medical risks who want to continue to live independently. The CDC describes an increased risk of falling among those who experience lower body weakness, walking and balance challenges, low vision, and even those who take certain medications like sedatives or antidepressants.

Consult with your medical professional to discuss the best medical alert system to meet your needs⁠—whether that’s a fall detection watch, a watch with caregiver tracking, or one that includes 24/7 monitoring.

Where Can I Buy Medical Alert Watches?

All of the medical alert watches that made our list—with the exception of the Apple Watch—only sell directly to consumers from their websites. Customers cannot purchase a medical device through a third-party seller as these companies partner with 24/7 emergency response centers, which requires a monthly subscription to those monitoring services. Keep in mind that Apple Watch connects you with 911, not a company emergency response center.

Because it isn’t possible to try these watches on in person, many companies offer risk-free trials to allow customers to test out their devices before committing.

Are Medical Alert Watches Waterproof?

Most medical alert watches are water-resistant, as the bathtub and shower are high-risk areas for falls. Some rare devices, like the Apple Watch 7, are functionally waterproof so you can continue to use the watch while you get your laps in at the pool or spend time at the beach with family.

What Should I Look for When Shopping for a Medical Alert Watch?

Fall Detection

Fall detection can offer peace of mind to individuals who want to age in place or those at increased risk of having a medical emergency. If you live alone or in a home with rugs or stairs, or you have fallen before, you may be a good candidate for fall detection.

But fall detection is not always automatic in medical alert devices. If fall detection is a must-have for you or your loved one, read the fine print to be sure it’s an included feature in your watch. 

For example, neither Bay Alarm Medical nor Medical Guardian believe fall detection is reliable technology for use in a wristwatch. As a result, they don’t offer it in their devices. On the other hand, BellPal has done intensive research on designing accurate and responsive automatic fall detection. Kanega automatically includes fall detection with every watch they produce.

Response Time

Response time is key to getting help in an emergency. The industry standard is about 30 seconds, but some companies boast a 10-second response time. This refers to the time that passes between initiating the help button and getting a response from an emergency operator. With some medical alert watches, you can also have your listed caregivers alerted as well as the monitoring center.

Voice Activation

For users who want to activate their watch without having to find the right button, or for those with visual impairment, a voice-activated watch may be the most appropriate fit. Some customers prefer to access watch features, like weather apps or even the help button, with a verbal command. In an emergency, you don’t have to fiddle with manual buttons or a confusing technical interface.

Battery Life

Medical alert watches run the gamut of battery types and life. The Lively Wearble2 battery runs for up to four months. Other watches require more vigilance, lasting for 24 to 48 hours before needing a recharge. The MGMove has a 24-hour battery life, so we recommend charging it while sleeping.

The Kanega smartwatch can be worn overnight, as it comes with two sets of batteries—customers use one battery for 24 to 48 hours while the other charges. 

The BellPal battery runs for four to seven months, at which point they recommend replacement by a professional.

Style

For many, the appeal of medical alert watches is the aesthetics. When compared to other medical alert pendants or clip-ons, watches do not appear to be a medical device. The BellPal watch is the only device on our list that does not have a digital interface; it instead uses a classic watch face with the option of steel, leather, or mesh bands.

Some users will gravitate to a more modern look, like the MGMove or Lively Wearable2. As mentioned previously, you can even use the Apple Watch as a medical alert system, and enjoy all the interchangeable wristband colors, styles, and textures. These watches also have large touch screens for users to easily see and access watch features.

Durability

Water-resistance is key to lengthening your watch’s lifespan. Make sure the watch you choose is water-resistant, as you shouldn’t have to take off your watch while in slippery areas like the shower. A medical watch is only useful if it’s also able to go where you need it, so all the watches we’ve included in our list are splash-resistant.

Most medical alert watches use scratch-resistant glass to protect the screen as well as materials that protect the integrity of the technology in the watch.

Warranty

When making an investment in a complex piece of medical equipment, it’s wise to consider the warranty before purchase. Most of the watches we reviewed have a one- to two-year warranty. However, customers have to pay extra for Apple Care to protect the Apple Watch, and Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch and Medical Guardian’s MGMove warranties are an added monthly cost.

Comfort

A medical watch is designed to be worn all day, every day, and during a range of activities, from exercising to gardening. Consider what makes a watch most wearable for you: style, texture, or weight? You may find that you’re more comfortable using soft but durable silicone bands, or a more classic leather or metal wristband that has the feel of a conventional watch. Medical watches are generally lightweight and discreet.

Pros and Cons of Medical Alert Watches

Pros
  • They are discreet and cosmetically appealing, especially compared to other wearable devices.

  • Users do not need to ensure that they’re within range of a medical alert base unit.

  • Watches often have additional health features, like heart monitors, medication reminders, and step counters.

  • Many watches have long battery lives or rechargeable batteries.

  • Some watches, like the Apple Watch, also allow messaging.

  • They are discreet and cosmetically appealing, especially compared to other wearable devices. Users do not need to ensure that they’re within range of a medical alert base unit. Watches often have additional health features, like heart monitors, medication reminders, and step counters. Many watches have long battery lives or rechargeable batteries. Some watches, like the Apple Watch, also allow messaging. Voice-activated devices make watches accessible to those with vision or dexterity issues.

Cons
  • Smartwatches often include one-time equipment fees, while most traditional pendants and clip-on medical alert devices do not.

  • Some companies, like Lively and Bay Alarm Medical, claim that pendants are more reliable than wristwatches for fall detection.

  • While users don’t have to stay within range of a base, many watches do require a nearby smartphone for cell connection.

  • When using Apple Watch for a medical alert, the device connects to 911, not to a monitoring center.

Maintenance and Care

Cleaning

Use a non-abrasive, lint-free cloth to clean your digital smartwatch. Avoid using harsh products that contain bleach or hydrogen peroxide and avoid getting moisture into the watch’s openings.

Storing

Store your smartwatch like you would any piece of expensive technology. Avoid areas of extreme temperatures as well as high-traffic areas of the home. For long-term storage, consider turning off the device and placing it back in the original packaging.

Charging

Medical alert watches have batteries with varying lifespans and recharging systems, depending on the model you choose. Some batteries need to be recharged nightly, making it impossible to wear the device while sleeping. The MGMove has a 24-hour battery life, so we recommend charging it while sleeping.

The Kanega smartwatch can be worn overnight, as it comes with two sets of batteries; customers use one battery for 24 to 48 hours while the other charges. 

The BellPal battery runs for four to seven months, at which point they recommend replacement by a professional. The Lively Wearable2 is another option that runs for months at a time and comes with a replacement battery.\

Returns

Most medical alert companies offer a risk-free trial of their products for 30 days. Inquire with a prospective watch company about the terms of their trials, as well as if the company charges equipment fees for lost or damaged devices.

Is a Medical Alert Watch Right for You?

If you’re an active older adult who is often out and about, you may want to invest in a medical alert watch. They don’t need to be used within range of a base unit, so you can wear them anywhere. Aesthetically, many of them are designed to look and feel like a smartwatch, so you may feel more comfortable wearing one. These devices often also have added perks, like step counters and heart rate monitors.

Why You Can Trust Our Expert Review

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 geriatric physicians
  • Consulted with geriatricians and adult caregivers
  • Mystery shopped the brands
  • Surveyed medical alert system users
  • Tested various medical alert systems
  • Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports

Bottom Line

Medical alert watches are a more modern alternative to classic medical alert buttons and pendants. The best medical alert watches are suited for people who want peace of mind as they continue living an active lifestyle: you can spend an afternoon in the garden, playing golf, or walking in the park knowing that help is basically in the palm of your hand.

The medical alert watch is an alarm that doubles as a smartwatch with other health and communication functions. Our top pick is the MGMove Smartwatch due to its user-friendly features, like talk-to-text, and its simple, stylish interface, which accommodates both tech-savvy and non-tech users. 

Active customers might try the Apple Watch, which allows users to track activities and monitor their heart rate. The BellPal AI is a great fit for the style-minded customer or for users who are averse to wearing a medical device—only the buyer will know that this vintage-inspired watch is equipped with fall detection and an alarm that sends a signal to your cell phone. Finally, the Kanega is a great smartwatch for seniors who are not in the habit of carrying their phone on their person, as this watch runs on its own cell signal.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best medical alert watches are, at the very least, splash-resistant. Because the bathroom is considered a high-risk area for slipping, you’ll want to find a watch that you can wear while you bathe.

Other Medical Alert Guides And Medical Alert Systems That We Have Reviewed

Learn More About Medical Alert Systems

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY

Jenny is an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner in NYC with a passion for working with aging adults and their family members. Prior to her clinical training at Vanderbilt School of Nursing, she worked in business and medical research at Harvard Business School and Massachusetts General Hospital. As a Caregiving Coach at Givers, Jenny helps family members manage the financial, emotional, and educational stresses of caring for their loved ones who are aging in place.