For seniors, the best fall detection devices are a way to feel safer while living at home alone during older age, but they are also useful for younger adults with certain medical conditions who live independently. In a nutshell, fall detection sensors can tell when you have fallen down, and are designed to immediately connect you to a 24/7 call center staffed by people who are trained to secure for you the assistance you need.
Also known as fall detection medical alerts, the best fall detection devices normally comprise a wearable element, such as a pendant or bracelet, and a base unit. These two elements speak to one another, but it is the wearable that senses the movement of you falling. Pendants are the more popular choice. Fall detection devices are suitable for use with the best medical alert systems for extra peace of mind, and most feature a ‘Help’ button on the base unit that you can press to speak to a member of the call center response team.
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While some types of fall detection come with a bracelet sporting a built-in fall sensor, these bracelets are different to the best medical bracelets, which are engraved or uploaded (via USB) with your medical health details for first responders to access. Apart from the odd few, nearly all of the best fall detection devices charge a monthly subscription fee, meaning there’s an ongoing cost to factor into your budget. Paying for an annual service, as opposed to monthly subscription costs, can lower the overall price.
While the fall detection base unit needs to remain plugged into a mains power outlet in your home, the wearable part (the sensor) can be worn outdoors. The best fall detection devices are suitable for use in the bath and shower too, as the bathroom is an area where falls regularly occur. This is one of the reasons why the best walk-in tubs are so popular among people looking for enhanced mobility and safety of movement at home. For greater ease using the stairs, you may also be interested in our guide to the best stairlifts, while getting around indoors and outside can be more enjoyable when using one of the best mobility scooters.
6 best fall detection devices available now
1. Medical Guardian Home Guardian: Best fall detection overall
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
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
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
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
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
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.