National Caregivers Month Offer: First month free, free shipping and free activation. Click here.

Cell Phones vs. Medical Alert Systems: Which Is Better in an Emergency?

Which is better in an emergency, a cell phone or a medical alert system? We’ll look at the pros and cons of each. You are the final arbiter in our cell phones vs. medical alert systems face off, however, because the best device is the one you’re more likely to use.

Cell Phones

Many people use either a regular cell phone or a smartphone. You can dial 911 from a regular cell phone; some even have a dedicated button to summon help in an emergency.

If you own a smartphone, you have the additional benefit of being able to download a medical device app. Some apps are designed specifically for either iOS (iPhone) or Android operating systems, so you’ll need to check which one you have before you download.

Cell Phone Pros:

  • There’s a cell phone to suit almost every budget.
  • Older flip phones are inexpensive and can be used without a contact.
  • Everyone knows how to dial 911.
  • Emergency apps are available for smartphones.

Cell Phone Cons:

  • Not everyone is comfortable using a smartphone.
  • Smartphones and/or service plans can be expensive.
  • You might not have your phone with you during a medical emergency, or you might drop the phone and be unable to reach it.

Medical Alert Systems

Many seniors choose to use a medical alert system to stay safe in case of an emergency. There are many types of systems that can go from home to vacation, depending on which one you select.

Medical Alert System Pros:

  • There’s a medical alert system for every budget, from basic plans for your residence to all-inclusive plans that cover you at home and on the go.
  • Systems usually include a wearable pendant or bracelet with a button you can press to summon help.
  • They are usually waterproof, allowing you to wear them in the bath or shower.
  • The system connects you to a response center that can summon help and has a list of your preferred contacts.
  • Some systems use location technologies to help pinpoint your location.
  • Some systems can sense a fall and automatically contact the response center if you are unable to push the button.

Medical Alert System Cons:

  • Some people might be shy about wearing a medical alert pendant or bracelet.
  • Medical alert systems may be more expensive than a basic flip phone and plan.

Medical Alert Systems for Every Lifestyle

If you’re still unsure about cell phones vs. medical alert systems, here’s a comparison of Philips Lifeline medical alert devices for seniors:

  • HomeSafe: This standard service works in the home. It consists of a communication unit and a help button pendant that provides 24-7 access to the Response Center.
  • HomeSafe with AutoAlert: In addition to everything included in the standard service, HomeSafe with AutoAlert automatically contacts the Response Center if it detects a fall and you’re unable to press the button.1
  • GoSafe: This service adds the same protection for when you’re on the go3, with six location technologies to help the Response Center pinpoint your location. It can even locate you when you’re on vacation.

Whatever your lifestyle, you’ll feel safer, more secure, and more confident as you go about your daily activities knowing that help is always within reach.

See also


Are you caring for an aging parent or loved one? At times, it can be stressful, but you are not on your own! Try our expert advice for managing family issues, keeping mom independent and more. more

Healthcare Pros

Healthcare Pros

Whether you’re a nurse, case worker, doctor or another healthcare professional, you know aging patients have unique needs. Explore our resources for working with this growing population. more



We all get older, but how you do it is up to you. We have articles and tools to help you live independently and enjoy life the way you want to, as well as other important topics as you age. more