Landline and Wi-Fi PERS: Are there Personal Emergency Response Systems that work without cellphone service?

Primary tabs

Are there Personal Emergency Response Systems that work without cellphone service?

Question

Is there a Lifeline-type product that works without cell phone service? For example, just off wifi.

Our answer

Personal Emergency Response Systems, or PERS for short, can help seniors easily access help when they need it most and can provide peace of mind for family and caregivers. There are so many different options available it can take some time to find the right match for your loved one.  If you are unsure about which type of system would be a good fit, you might like to start by reading this article from the AARP, How to Choose a Medical Alert System.

Most of these systems use either one of, or a combination of, landline, cellular network, or Wi-Fi. The most attractive feature of cellular systems is that they work outside of the home, which can be a more suitable option for those with an active lifestyle. Systems that don’t use cellular networks are limited to a specific range. Since you mentioned that you are looking for one that works without cell phone service, let’s take look at the other two.

There are plenty of landline options that include other features – like fall detection. Some of these systems rely on a monitored call center to respond when the button is pressed (or a fall is detected). Generally, landline products with a call centre service will charge a monthly fee. Other landline products are initial set up to call a specific phone number, often a caregiver or set of phone numbers. When deciding which is right for you, consider who would be responsible for responding if the button was pressed and how prepared they are to handle that call.

  • LivingWell Companion Home by TELUS is a wearable, 24/7 personal emergency response system that can connect you to a trained operator with the press of a button or through an optional fall detection feature. There are no term contracts or upfront fees. This product is a home based system for use inside the home and it is available with Fall Detection. Prices range from $25 to $35 a month. Services can be ordered by phone 1-888-505-8008 or online at telus.com/livingwell.
  • Classic Home by LifeAssure is a home based system that works off of an existing landline and connect to a monitored call centre. The device and service cost about $30 a month, with an optional add-on of $14 a month for Fall Detection. There are no fees for installation, activation, or cancellation. The price below are based on a monthly billing cycle, there are savings when billing annually. Once a service begins LifeAssure guarantees that price will not change for as long as the service continues. These products can be ordered online or over the phone by calling 1-800-354-5706.
  • Medical Alert System for Seniors by 321 Alert (available from amazon.ca) is a landline based emergency response system without monthly fees. When the button is pressed the system will call up to three pre-programmed number until it is answered. Then it will play a personalized, pre-recorded message before beginning the two-way voice call through the pendant. This product is available for about $150 (Cdn).
  • Medical Alert System by Assistive Technology Services is a landline-based emergency response system without monthly fees. When the button is pressed or the device detects a fall it will automatically call up to three pre-programmed numbers. The system continues to dial the numbers until it is answered then the two-way voice call comes through the pendant. This device costs about $340 (U.S.).

Wi-Fi based systems typically are not associated with monthly fees, but a weakness is that the system is only as reliable as the Wi-Fi. It’s important to be aware of that if Wi-Fi is unreliable or if there are often power outages.

  • Panic Button by ResQ (available from amazon.ca) is a small portable button that pairs with a smart device. When the button is pressed the system can send a text message, an automated phone call, or a notification to up to six emergency contacts. For the button to work it needs to be within range of a smart device with the ResQ Button app that has internet access, such as a Wi-Fi connection. This product costs about $35 (Cdn) or $25 (U.S.) plus a shipping fee from their website
  • Wi-Fi Smart Alert System by Assistive Technology Services is package of devices designed to offer a comprehensive medical alert system using only Wi-Fi. When the button is pressed it can notify multiple people through a smartphone app. A smartphone is required for the initial set-up and for receiving alerts. The package also includes a smart socket that plays a local alarm inside the home when the button is pressed. The whole package with shipping costs about 210$ (U.S.), but you can also choose to purchase just the Wi-Fi help button which is about $100 (U.S.) including shipping. It is also available on amazon.ca  for about $170 (Cdn).
  • CALLME Button by MySpool (available from amazon.ca) is simple button that when pressed sends personalized text messages and/or emails to specified phone numbers and email addresses. The main drawback with this product is that the device is not wearable or easily portable. This device uses the home Wi-Fi system and is also available from amazon.ca. This product costs about $95 (Cdn) from Amazon or about $40 (U.S.) plus shipping from MySpool.

Finally, there are very few products that don't require a cell phone service but do use cellphone towers to transmit emegrency calls. These devices do not require a subscription to a cellphone service. When making an emergency 9-1-1 call you do not need a cellphone plan, instead all cellphone towers are available to use when making an emergency call. Meaning, this device will only call 9-1-1 when the button is pressed, and it can send the call wherever it is in range of a cellphone tower. SkyAngel911 makes two of these products: SkyAngel911FD which is keychain-style and  SkyAngel911Wrist whish is watch-style. Both products are available from Assistive Technology Services and cost about $185 (U.S.) including shipping to Canada.

If you still can’t find what you're looking for, please ask us a question.