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The Ultimate Showdown: Medical Alert Watches, Smartwatches, or Medical Bracelets?
The Ultimate Showdown: Medical Alert Watches, Smartwatches, or Medical Bracelets?
May 11, 2023 / Sarah Pritzker
The Ultimate Showdown: Medical Alert Watches, Smartwatches, or Medical Bracelets?
May 11, 2023 / Sarah Pritzker

Medical alert systems are essential devices that are designed to save lives in critical situations. These devices were once bulky and clinical, but today's medical alert systems are sleek, fashionable, and highly functional. Medical bracelets now come in stylish designs, with some even offering smartwatch features. With so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the perfect one. If you're in the market for a medical alert watch, we've got you covered.

Why You May or May Not Want a Smartwatch as Your Medical Alert Device

There are several smartwatch medical alert devices on the market, with MobileHelp, Medical Guardian, Apple Watch, and the Galaxy Watch Active2 by Samsung being the most prominent contenders to date. Here are a few reasons why you may or may not want to go with one of these options.


  • A more fashionable look removes the "patient" label, empowering active seniors to live life on their terms without feeling like they're in a hospital.
  • Medical alert systems that are less cumbersome are more likely to be worn by seniors, ensuring they have them when they need them most.
  • Smartwatches offer multiple functions in one device, reducing the need to compete for wrist space. They can track activity levels, monitor heart rate, send texts, make phone calls, and even act as a medical alert system in case of an emergency.


  • You can expect to pay considerably more for the higher-end, multi-functional smartwatch on-the-go solution than the more traditional ones.
  • Too much functionality isn’t always a good thing. Many seniors may feel overwhelmed by the number of options that the smartwatches can have. Technology is often confusing for the elderly, and the multi-functionality of these medical alert watches might be too much for them to handle.
  • Many smartwatches have a lot of features that seniors are not familiar with, if they don’t know how to use them correctly, not only could they be overwhelming but could get them into some small troubles.

In terms of smartwatch features, there is a wide range of options available, from basic time-telling to fully-featured smartwatch apps. However, it's important to note that a standard smartwatch cannot replace a medical alert device. Instead, we're referring to specialized smartwatches that are either designed with built-in medical alert capabilities or are specifically created as medical alert devices.

Why You May or May Not Want a Medical Alert Watch Instead

There are many who would argue that the smartwatch med alert devices are overkill. In fact, here are a few reasons why you would prefer the more traditional style medical alert watches or bracelets:


  • Simple design for ease of use: Many seniors are not familiar with advanced technology, and complex devices can be confusing. Basic medical alert watches are easy to use and let you forget about them.
  • -Built-in help button: Traditional medical alert devices have a help button built-in, allowing wearers to instantly connect to a monitoring center in case of an emergency. Smartwatches without this functionality are not worth considering.
  • GPS tracking: All medical alert watches today come with GPS tracking as a standard feature, allowing wearers to be located quickly and help to be sent immediately.


  • Some medical alert watches have a dated look and feel to them. Seniors who are looking for more independence and less attention drawn to their aging will not appreciate the outdated design of these watches.
  • Some medical alert watches are heavy or uncomfortable for seniors to wear all the time.

A Word on Medical ID Bracelets

Medical alert watches are designed to send help at a moment’s notice when an emergency arises. However, these devices should not replace medical ID bracelets. For example, diabetics or people with severe allergies that could lead to anaphylactic attacks should have medical alert bracelets that clearly display their medical conditions. In case of an emergency, the medical staff will quickly be able to identify the issue and know how to best care for you based on your condition.

On the other hand, a medical ID bracelet won’t help you if you’ve fallen or are in need of assistance. For that kind of situation, a medical alert watch that is attached to a help button and monitoring service is what you need.

What You Really Need From an On the Go Med Alert Device

At the end of the day, which med alert device is right for you will depend on your personality, style, and requirements. Some seniors have no problem wearing the generic, sterile help button-style devices (Grandpa your age is showing). If that’s the case, then functionality will factor in most prominently for these old folks.

But, many seniors of today are more tech-savvy, independent, and into fashion. For these elderly, you are going to need something more stylish if you expect them to keep their medical devices on. In that case, design and added features are going to play into the equation a lot more.

In general, for any seniors venturing out on their own, these are the most important features to look for in an on-the-go device, regardless of if you’re wearing a bracelet, wristband, necklace pendant, or smartwatch variety:

  • GPS
  • 24/7 monitoring services
  • Large, clear face and fonts
  • Comfortable, lightweight, and attractive
  • Easy-to-use functionality

Long battery life is also helpful because it means your loved ones won’t need to charge their help buttons frequently.

If you’re looking for more frills, then a smartwatch medical alert device may be more appropriate for you. With these med alerts, savvy seniors can enjoy additional features, including:

  • A weather app
  • Text messaging
  • Alarms and reminders
  • Step tracking
  • EKG monitoring
  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Phone calling
  • Sleep tracking

There are additional smartphone features that’ll vary depending on the brand you choose. For example, Apple Watch can give you full smartphone functionality, including the ability to download apps, video chat, and more.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, any type of medical alert system is useful. For active seniors looking for more independence and confidence, these devices can breathe new life into their otherwise restricted lifestyle. Regardless of which brand or device you choose, make sure yours comes equipped with built-in fall detection and an automatic help button, so your loved one can get the assistance they need immediately when they need it.

Our Top Medical Alert Systems Of Oct. 2021

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  • Customer portal for activity tracing and connecting with loved ones
  • Best-in-class and feature-rich smartwatch
  • Selection of on-the-go and at-home devices
  • Multiple ways to wear your device
  • Emergency trigger can be sensitive
  • No 24/7 customer service phone service
Medical Guardian offers 5 devices across its in-home or on-the-go monitoring systems. This means plenty of options to choose from, depending on your budget, desired level of discretion, and level of need. Medical Guardian offers many products designed to protect your loved ones, such as home and GPS devices, connected to 24-hour US centers ready to respond to any medical emergency. Medical Guardian has been awarded for its customer care and offers critical safety features such as power backup, voice activation in case of falls, and monthly testing of your chosen device.
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  • Duo plan for spouses, roommates
  • Affordable plans & free shipping, equipment
  • 24/7 MDLive real physician access
  • Two-way communication with built-in speaker
  • Requires a separate device for fall detection
  • No self-monitoring option
MobileHelp has earned its reputation as being amongst the most affordable medical alert systems in the country. Plans start at $19.95, making it reasonable for anyone to have emergency monitoring 24/7.
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  • Not tied into a contract
  • 24/7 monitoring
  • Free battery replacements
  • Mobile base unit available
  • Support from trained professionals
  • Need to upgrade for fall detection
  • Basic system requires landline phone connection
ADT Medical Alert offers peace of mind with devices that offer 24/7 monitoring. Base units are waterproof and allow for two-way voice communication with experts trained in senior-sensitivity. With a wristband or pendant included, plus the option of adding wall-mounted buttons and fall detection, you’ll have security around your home. With the On-The-Go plan, you’ll also be able to take your device with you when you go out, and GPS monitoring included with this plan means help will always find you.

By Sarah Pritzker
Sarah Pritzker is a professional writer who loves scouring the web looking for the coolest products and services at the best prices. Sarah writes for Sarah has lived and traveled all over the world, but has finally settled down with her family in the Middle East - and yes, she misses winter!
Cappsool Technologies does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or your local emergency number immediately.
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