The smartphone era has brought new technology to all facets of daily life, and medical alert systems are no exception. From medical emergency apps to full-service medical alert apps tied to a monthly monitoring service, seniors and their loved ones have many options to ensure their peace of mind in the event of an emergency. If you're considering a medical alert device, these smart phone apps are some of the best on the market.
Medical ID (Free): Emergency
This free app is a no-frills medical alert program that puts all your medical information at your fingertips – and at the fingertips of first responders in an emergency situation. The simple template lets you create a medical profile listing your allergies, medications, conditions and any other health information that may help medical personnel evaluate and treat you in an emergency. The information is accessible even from the phone's lock screen.
There is also an In Case of Emergency contact section that enables you to send health alerts and emergency text messages to friends or family members with just one click. You can also make emergency calls to your contacts from the phone's lock screen; the autocomplete function for emergency contacts means you just need to enter a few letters to make a call.
Originally developed by firefighters, this inexpensive app offers a layer of security for seniors. For just $1.99, this software provides all the medical history and ID features of the Medical ID app and adds a motion sensor and alert system. The ManDown app can be programmed to look for motion at certain intervals, from once a day to every two hours. If no movement has occurred in the designated interval, as in the event of a fall, for example, the phone makes an alarm noise prompting the phone's owner to move the phone and "check in." If there is no response within a predetermined interval, the phone sends emergency alert texts to contact numbers and notifies 911.
The phone also offers the security of an SOS button that can be activated from the lock screen. Once the SOS button is pushed, texts or calls are made to emergency contacts as well as 911. There is also a personal safety GPS tracker that broadcasts the phone's location to emergency contacts and personnel once the SOS or emergency alert is activated.
This app is similar to ManDown and is available for both Android and iOS for less than $3. Developed by law enforcement officers, the app combines personal tracking, emergency alerts and incident reporting into one convenient package. Once the program is activated, it sends emergency text messages or emails with a map of your current location to all of the emergency contacts programmed into the phone. It also allows 911 emergency calls from the lock screen.
Tracker Assist allows you to take notes and pictures documenting an incident, such as an auto accident, as well. Its GPS tracking is especially useful for seniors who get lost or have an auto breakdown and need assistance. A simple push of a button sends an SOS message to designated contacts with a map and directions to your current location.
If you want the reassurance that comes from having access to trained response professionals, the Lifeline app and monitoring service offers an additional level of protection. In addition to a health profile and medical history, the Lifeline app offers one-touch 24/7 access to Philips' trained responders. They will ask questions about your situation, help you determine the assistance you need and make the appropriate phone calls on your behalf. The app also offers GPS tracking so emergency responders can find you quickly.
This level of protection does come with a monthly fee. Unlike the one-time purchase apps, the Lifeline app requires a monthly service charge of $13.95, but there is no long-term contract. You pay on a month-to-month basis for Lifeline protection.
At $14.99, 5 Star Service is one of the more expensive apps for seniors – but it delivers in terms of easy-to-use features and peace of mind. The live emergency responders, certified by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch, are well trained to help you assess your situation and secure the assistance you need. They can also connect you with a registered nurse who can discuss your symptoms and make recommendations about any necessary services. They'll make all the required calls and contacts on your behalf.
The 5 Star Service uses the nation's largest wireless network, so you're always connected. It also offers the unique "Shake for Help" feature so you can get the help you need without entering a lot of commands or pushing several buttons. There are no cancellation fees with 5 Star, and service is on a month-to-month basis.
Today's smart phones contain the keys to independence and personal security for seniors who live alone or have chronic health conditions. Whether you're looking for something as simple as a digital medical alert bracelet or as comprehensive as personal 24/7 urgent care emergency assistance, today's alert apps offer seniors and their families the tools they need to promote independent living.