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Best fall detection 2021: The top fall detection devices and systems

Best fall detection 2021: The top fall detection devices and systems
(Image credit: Getty)

The best fall detection devices help give seniors more independence and to feel safer at home when living alone, but they also provide extra peace of mind for younger adults who may require assistance due to certain medical conditions. As the name suggests, fall detection sensors will detect when you have fallen and will immediately alert trained staff at a 24/7 call center who can then assist you by sending the help you need. 

The best fall detection devices – also known as fall detection medical alerts – feature a ‘wearable’ element in the form of a pendant or bracelet. This pairs with a base unit. If the wearable senses a fall, it will ‘speak’ to the base unit and a call will be made to the call center. It’s worth bearing in mind that fall detection bracelets work in a different way to the best medical bracelets, which are designed to give your medical details to first responders in the event of a medical emergency.

Pendants are better at sensing the movement and are also easier to wear, which is something to keep in mind when choosing a fall detection sensor kit.

Many of the best fall detection devices can also be paired with a medical alert system, and nearly all of them have a button on the base unit via which you can contact the call center response team. You will have to pay an extra monthly subscription fee for these types of fall detection devices, although some may have the option to pay annually to slightly lower the overall price. 

While the base for your fall detection device needs to be plugged into a mains power outlet indoors, the wearable can be worn when you’re out and about. The best fall detection devices can be used in the bath and shower too, where a fall is more likely to occur. Other ways to stay safe when in the bathroom is with a walk-in tub, and for other areas of the home, the best stairlifts offer peace of mind too. Meanwhile, being outdoors is often made easier with the best mobility scooters.

6 best fall detection devices available now

1. Medical Guardian Home Guardian: Best fall detection overall

Best fall detection devices: Medical Guardian Home Guardian

(Image credit: Medical Guardian)

Medical Guardian Home Guardian

A reliable fall detection medical alert system that's easy to use

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: Power outage protection, no landline needed | Type: At home, pendant | Monthly fees with fall detection: $44.95

Reasons to Buy

No landline required
Time and temperature display

Reasons to Avoid

At home use only

Consistently rated as the top medical alert company, Medical Guardian is a safe pair of hands when it comes to guaranteeing peace of mind for you and your loved ones. The Medical Guardian Home Guardian fall detection medical alert is the company’s best-value system and offers a non-intrusive way to help you remain independent at home. 

There are no landline requirements, with Medical Guardian instead using the AT&T cellular network to wirelessly connect to a 24-hour monitoring center staffed by trained professionals. Communication is simple and occurs via the base station, while the the wearable emergency button functions within 600ft of the base unit to provide more coverage at home/

The fall alert pendant comes at an extra cost to the Medical Guardian Home Guardian fall detection medical alert system. The pendant is designed to distinguish everyday movements from a fall, so should you be unable to press for help, the monitoring center will still be contacted. The pendant is suitable for shower or bath use, and has a smart, contemporary design with a durable cord to keep it in place.


2. GreatCall Lively Wearable 2: Best fall detection watch for seniors

Best fall detection devices: GreatCall Lively Wearable 2

(Image credit: GreatCall)

GreatCall Lively Wearable 2 Fall Detection Watch

The best fall detection watch if you want activity tracking too

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: Works with Urgent Response, step tracker, four months of battery life | Type: At home and outdoors, wrist device | Monthly fee with fall detection: $39.99 (Ultimate Package)

Reasons to Buy

Built-in activity tracking
Monitors your daily steps
Pairs easily with the app

Reasons to Avoid

Needs a smartphone

The GreatCall Lively Wearable 2 Fall Detection Watch is ideal for when you’re out and about. It works with Urgent Response and, when selected with GreatCall’s Ultimate service plan, guarantees direct access to the efficient emergency center for fast and secure help should you fall.

In order for the GreatCall Lively Wearable 2 Fall Detection Watch to work, the fall detection watch needs to be paired with an app on your smartphone. This is easy to do with just one press, but you will need an up-to-date smartphone that is Android 7.0/iPhone iOS 11 or later. 

Ideally your phone should be within range of the Wearable 2 Fall Detection Watch, but if this is not the case, then there is no need to worry as the team at Urgent Response will still be able to locate you and send direct assistance immediately. 

The fall detection sensor works when this waterproof fall detection watch is worn around your neck rather than your wrist. If you're looking to be discreet, pop it underneath your clothes, where it will have better contact with your skin anyway.

Even better, the GreatCall Lively Wearable 2 Fall Detection Watch doubles as a basic fitness tracker by counting your daily steps, encouraging you to get a little more active each day.


3. MobileHelp Classic: Best fall detection on a budget

Best fall detection devices: MobileHelp Classic

(Image credit: MobileHelp)

MobileHelp Classic Fall Detection

An affordable fall detection medical alert system with oversized buttons

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: Non-landline, waterproof, 1,400ft range | Type: At home, pendant | Monthly fees with fall detection: $29.95

Reasons to Buy

Easy to use
Oversize buttons for visually impaired

Reasons to Avoid

Design might not suit everybody

This affordable no-frills medical alert system is on hand for emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The basic package comes with a waterproof personal help button, ideal for the bathroom, but best of all no landline is necessary – just press the button to contact the U.S.-based emergency operators. The cost starts at $19.95 per month, and fall detection is an extra $10 a month.

The automatic fall detection comes courtesy of MobileHelp’s Fall Button, which also has the same features as the standard help button, allowing the wearer to send an alert.

The Fall Button works within a 1,400ft range of the base station placed in the home, as well as within a 600ft range of MobileHelp’s on-the-go devices for protection away from home. The MobileHelp Classic comes with a risk-free 30-day trial period.


4. Medical Alert At Home: Best fall detection device for ease of use

Best fall detection devices: Medical Alert At Home

(Image credit: MedicalAlert)

Medical Alert At Home Fall Detection

A straightforward fall detection device for use at home or outdoors

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: Waterproof, lightweight | Type: Pendant | Monthly fees with fall detection: From $32.95

Reasons to Buy

Works with a pendant device
Built-in two-way speaker
App-control for your carer

Reasons to Avoid

More expensive for cellular option

For a standard $10 extra per month, Medical Alert’s fall detection can be bundled with Medical Alert’s easy-to-use At Home system. It’s easy enough to set up – simply plug in the base, connect the phone cord and you’re all set. You can also opt for a cellular connection.

As ever, the fall detection pendant can be activated manually, putting the wearer in direct contact with the emergency response operator. Or should a fall occur, it will activate the call for you automatically.

The pendant is easy to use with the At Home system and its simple integrated two-way speaker. Other options include the On The Go system, which works with the AT&T cellular network and includes a GPS locator so you can access help wherever you are. 

If you are unable to push the button, rest assured the emergency response operators will stay with you until emergency help arrives. There is also an easy-to-use Medical Alert app, enabling your loved ones to see the status of your device and provide extra back-up should you need it.


5. Medical Guardian Active Guardian: Best fall detection device for outdoor use

Best fall detection devices: MedicalAlert Active Guardian

(Image credit: MedicalAlert)

Medical Guardian Active Guardian Fall Detection

Enjoy back-up outdoors with this smart fall detection sensor

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: Waterproof, GPS, single button operation | Type: At home and outdoors, pendant | Monthly fees with fall detection: $49.95

Reasons to Buy

Only one device needed
Excellent battery life

Reasons to Avoid

Quite bulky

Medical Guardian proves its worth once more with the Active Guardian, which has all the same great benefits of the indoor Home Guardian, but with the added bonus of outdoor range too.

The fall detection necklace not only adds another level of protection to your medical alert device, but offers more reassurance for your loved ones too. The all-in-one pendant can automatically detect when a fall has occurred and trigger the call for help no matter how badly the fall has affected the wearer.

It's lightweight and easy to wear with an adjustable lanyard. Battery life is excellent with up to five days, and there is also a low-battery indicator. This ultra-portable device includes GPS location and accurate fall technology as well as WiFi. Fall detection comes at a standard $10 per month extra on top of the monthly fee.


6. LifeFone Voice-In-Necklace: Best fall detection necklace

Best fall detection devices: LifeFone 2

(Image credit: LifeFone)

LifeFone Voice-In-Necklace

A no-nonsense fall detection necklace in one handy package

SPECIFICATIONS

Features: Vibration feedback, GPS, available in black or white | Type: At home and outdoors, pendant | Monthly fees with fall detection: $48.95

Reasons to Buy

Two-way communication
Fall detection is just $5 extra pm

Reasons to Avoid

Sensitive to false alarms
The pendant is quite bulky

The LifeFone Voice-In-Necklace is a straightforward two-way voice pendant that uses GPS to keep you safe and secure at home, anywhere in America where there is Verizon or AT&T cellular service. 

Simply press the button to alert one of LifeFone’s Care Agent’s any time day or night, or rest assured the fall detection will activate should the wearer be unable to press the button themselves. No landline or mobile is needed, and the device can be easily charged via a plug-in charging cradle. We'd like to point out that we have seen some user reviews mention that the LifeFone Voice-In-Necklace is sensitive to false alarms, which can be frustrating for the wearer.

There is no other equipment required for this LifeFone device to function. It also comes in black or white, and includes vibration feedback to help hearing or visually impaired users. It can also be worn with a belt clip.

Note that the optional fall detection device comes at just $5 extra per month, but is slightly larger than the company’s standard medical alert device. It also has a reduced battery life of five days compared to the device without fall detection.

Best fall detection FAQ

How do the best fall detection devices work?

The best fall detection sensors work by using an accelerometer and a gyroscope to measure the sudden G-Force shifts experienced when a person falls. When a fall is detected, the fall detection device automatically activates a call for help from your medical alert system. It’s effective for situations where you may not be conscious or too injured to press the help button yourself.

As long as you are wearing a paired medical alert device, you can get help when you need it, allowing you to stay living at home for longer with greater independence. 

The best fall detection usually falls into two categories: an in-home fall detection medical alert system, and a mobile (wearable) option. The former is a pendant and base-unit system that only works in the home, while the latter goes wherever you go. In both cases, the purpose is the same: you press a button and it calls an emergency call center so that you can receive help if you have fallen. However, in almost every case, the fall detection sensor is an optional add-on.

How much do the best fall detection devices cost?

Some fall detection sensors cannot be purchased as an individual product and are add-on options to a medical alert system. On average, a fall detection pendant costs between $5 and $15 extra per month on top of the subscription for your medical alert system. This extra price also applies to mobile systems with fall detection.

Are fall detection systems worth the cost?

At typically $10 per month for a fall detection add-on, you're looking at an additional expense of $120 per year on top of your medical alert system costs. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the technology is not 100% foolproof. If the fall detection device is too sensitive it will cause false alerts, or an under-sensitive device might not pick up on a fall at all.

The best advice is to make a purchase based on the quality of the medical alert system and the service, only adding fall detection to the system if the extra reassurance is needed. Remember one in three seniors over 65 experiences a fall and this risk increases with age, with one in five falls requiring hospitalization. So an extra $10 a month might be the peace of mind you and your loved ones need.

For many, the peace of mind is invaluable, especially when you consider the following statistics from the CDC:

  • One in three seniors over 65 experiences a fall and this risk increases with age 
  • One in five falls result in a serious injury requiring hospitalization
  • A senior is treated for a fall in an emergency room every 11 seconds
  • The most common injuries are traumatic brain injuries and fractured hips
  • Falls are the primary reason most seniors lose their independence and become inactive
  • Falls are the leading cause of death in Americans over 65
  • Fall detection sensors aren't perfect, but the technology is still relatively new and it's getting better

For more health content, read our guides to the best hearing aids and the best eyeglasses online if you're experiencing sight or hearing difficulties. If your ongoing health condition requires regular temperature checks, also take a look at our guide to the best digital thermometers.

Davina is a freelance writer and sub-editor with more than 20 years' experience across all subjects from film to craft. In her spare time, she loves reading, practicing yoga and writing fiction.