Review of LifeStation Medical Alert Monitoring

 

LifeStation is an established leader in the medical alert systems industry. A key strength of the LifeStation system is that it operates its own monitoring center in-house in the US.  The center adheres to both UL Listed and CSAA Five Diamond standards.

Over the years, LifeStation has received many positive customer reviews. For its high service standards, reasonable cost and flexible terms, this system rates as my top rated choice among the best of medical alert systems available.

But LifeStation is not the only medical alert system on the market; is this system right for you?

In this review, I will cover all the details of LifeStation, how it works, what it costs, and the pros and cons of the system.

 

Background

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LifeStation is an established and respected company in the medical alerts industry. The company is based in New Jersey and founded in 1977 (38 years ago). Their system is available nationwide in the US.

LifeStation specializes solely in standard home medical alert systems as it’s main product, and does not offer related services such as medical dispensing or carbon monoxide alerts to customers. The company has been very successful with this focus, delivering a high quality experience for users over many years.

In recent years, LifeStation has expanded it’s product line to include medical alert systems that did not require a home phone, an auto fall detection alert pendant and a mobile alert with GPS system.

The LifeStation Medical Alarm System is sold directly to elderly end users or customers buying it for their parents. It is also distributed through partnerships with healthcare providers, hospitals and local government agencies.

 

Pros

  • In-house Call Monitoring Center – Operating its own monitoring center offers assurance to users that the company has the ability to closely manage call quality, especially when these are emergency calls that can have serious consequences. The call center adheres to both UL certification and meet CSAA Five Diamond standards, which are tough industry standards.

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  • No Long Term Contracts – There are no long term contracts to use the LifeStation service. Users like this because they are not locked into paying for ongoing service when they do not need it anymore.
  • Caregiver Alerts – Every LifeStation system comes with the Caregiver Alerts feature, whereby the user’s children, loved ones or caregivers will receive email alerts for important events such as when emergency calls are made, if the base console unit is not connected to power, when users test their systems etc. This allows caregivers to stay informed on how things are going and offer assistance when needed.

Cons

  • No Carbon Monoxide, Smoke/Fire Alert Options – The option of being able to connect medical alert monitoring directly to the carbon monoxide or smoke and fire alarms is not available. With this feature, the call monitoring center specialists are immediately notified of the CO or fire alarms setting off even if the user does not press the help button.

 

How It Works

  • The LifeStation System provides seniors fast one-click access to emergency monitoring staff in case of any emergencies.
  • When a medical emergency occurs, the elderly user clicks on the help button that is either worn as a necklace or a bracelet. This places an emergency call to LifeStation’s call monitoring center.
  • Based on my research of users’ experience, the speakerphone on the base console unit will announce “Emergency!” and report the alarm to the monitoring center. A LifeStation Care Specialist will connect and help the user.
  • The Care Specialist will engage in a two-way conversation with the user through a powerful speakerphone built into the base console of the system.
  • Based on the situation, appropriate help such as the elderly user’s emergency contacts or emergency medical services will be summoned to attend to the user. The Care Specialist is trained to stay on the line with the user until help arrives.

 

Cost

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The cost of the LifeStation medical alert system is $29.95 a month. This price is lowered to $27.95 if the user pays on a quarterly basis, or $25.95 a month if the user pays on an annual basis. Their pricing compares well with other best rated systems, especially with the quarterly and annual discounts.

 

Contract

 

There are no long term contracts with the system.

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Customers can cancel at anytime with no termination fees. Customers will need to send their equipment back and provide 30 days’ notice in order to cancel.

LifeStation does not provide refunds on prepaid amounts. If you are unsure or want to test out the service before committing to a longer period, consider starting with the monthly plan.

 

Equipment Overview

The LifeStation medical alert system equipment consists of two main parts: a base console unit that includes an high power speakerphone, and a lightweight waterproof help button. This base unit is where communications between the user and the LifeStation Care Specialist will take place.

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Base Console Unit

The base console unit is UL Listed, a respected safety standard for appliances. Not all home medical alarm system base units are UL certified, so it speaks well of LifeStation’s commitment to quality.

 

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Automated Testing

The console is automatically tested each week to ensure that it is functioning properly and ready to work in case of emergencies.

That said, LifeStation also advises users to make monthly test calls on their own. This ensures that the entire system is working as expected.

It also helps the user become familiar and comfortable with the emergency alert and response process. Users can take the chance to verify and update any new information.

 

Help Button Pendant

An alert call is triggered when the senior user presses the help or SOS button. The button can be worn either as a necklace pendant or as a bracelet around the wrist. When an order is made, the user can indicate whether they want to wear it as a necklace pendant or a wristband. This button is waterproof, so it can be worn in both the shower and bath.

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An additional help button, as a second button or for the spouse, can be ordered for $3.99 a month. There are no additional monthly fees for the monitoring services.

The help buttons have a battery life of up to 4 years, which means that there is little worry of the batteries running out and going through the hassle of replacements.

 

Accessories & Repairs

Useful accessories to the system include a key lockbox and wall mount buttons. These are available for a few extra dollars a month.  LifeStation is responsible for replacing and repairing faulty equipment. This includes replacements for batteries as well.

 

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Auto Fall Detection Pendant

Although it is not explicitly listed on their website, users can upgrade to an auto fall detection pendant for their system. This is a pendant that can detect if the senior has fallen and then place an alarm call automatically.

While it is an excellent idea, in practice, the technology is still developing. Note that automatic fall alerts cannot detect each and every legitimate fall, and they will also activate false alarms that can be an added hassle.

 

Caregiver Alerts

A distinguishing and helpful feature of the LifeStation personal emergency response system is the Caregiver Alerts feature.

LifeStation’s Caregiver Alerts system will send email alerts to people on the user’s contact list in case of emergencies. Contacts can include children, concerned relatives or friends and caregivers who live locally or far away.

It is a way for the user’s loved ones to keep tabs on any health emergencies that affect the user. Email alerts are sent to important contacts when emergency alerts are issued by the users.

Important contacts will also receive alerts when the automated tests on the console show that may be a problems with the unit. These notifications allow caregivers a chance to know what is going on. They can check in with the user to make sure that everything is well.

 

Phone Line Options – Landline, VoIP, No Phone Line Needed

LifeStation indicates that their system is meant for use with traditional phone lines. However, it is likely to work with VoIP (voice over internet) and cable phone lines as well.

Though medical alert companies often discourage the use of VoIP and other digital phone lines, it is a fact that more and more users are switching to VoIP and alternative technologies, and no longer have a regular land line. The LifeStation system works with major VoIP and cable phone lines, with a few notable exceptions like Magic Jack.

For readers with a VoIP or non-traditional phone connections, we recommend that they speak with a representative when placing your order to make sure that the system will work fine.

For users without a land line or VoIP, LifeStation’s “no land line needed” medical alert system device will connect users to their UL certified monitoring center via a cell phone network. This special wireless phone connection comes with the system, so no personal cell phone line is needed. When an emergency alert is activated, the base unit will dial out to the monitoring center directly using its built-in wireless phone connection.

There is a reasonable upgrade fee (under $10/month), but it saves the hassle of adding a home phone line if the user does not have one already installed. Interested readers can contact LifeStation for more information.

 

Installation

Installation for the LifeStation is a simple 5 minute process. Almost everyone can do it with ease. It’s a mainly about establishing a phone connection to the base unit and plugging the unit into a power outlet. The steps are simple, and if need be, users can call in to ask for additional guidance.

 

Range

The LifeStation help button has a wireless range of up to 500 feet from the base unit. This is sufficient coverage for most homes, and may extend to peripheral areas like patios and driveways. The range also compares well with the standard offerings of other top tier company systems.

The quality of connections will vary according to the construction materials and layout of the home. Once a user gets started with the system, it is advisable to test it out by making test calls from various parts of the home, especially around areas where the senior frequent. This helps to determine that good signals can still be established in all areas of the home.

Keep in mind that this is the range for LifeStation’s home medical alert system, and emergency responders will be directed to the user’s home address; for anyone looking for emergency monitoring assistance when the senior user is out of home for a walk or grocery shopping, the mobile GPS medical alert or mobile 911 emergency button would be more helpful products. Both are offered by LifeStation as well.

 

Monitoring Center

LifeStation runs its own in-house call monitoring center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at all times. The quality of LifeStation’s in-house call center management and operations is one reason why customers pick LifeStation over other companies.

Managing its own call center in-house allows it to monitor service levels more closely. According to LifeStation’s site, supervisors are able to monitor how emergency calls are handled more directly compared to competitors who outsource their call centers to another company. It also speaks well of LifeStation commitment as a top player in the industry, because setting up and running it’s own call center takes a serious investment in resources.

Not only that, LifeStation’s call center has passed strict industry standards. Their call center is both UL Listed and Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA Five Diamond) certified. Meeting these quality standards provides added assurance to customers who want to make sure that they themselves or their parents whom they purchased the system for are well taken care of in case of emergencies.

LifeStation’s monitoring representatives are called LifeStation Care Specialists. They must undergo a 6-week training program and pass a review process. The LifeStation Care Specialist is trained to stay on the line with the customer until help comes.

 

Backup Battery

The base console unit has backup battery power that lasts for up to 32 hours. This allows the system to continue working even in the midst of a power failure.

 

Mobile Alert System With GPS

Aside for its home medical alert console units, LifeStation also offers a mobile alert with GPS system for seniors who spend a good amount of time out of their homes. This system provides seniors with a constant connection to LifeStation’s monitoring center, even when they are out and about.

 

Mobile Emergency Button

Instead of a full-blown GPS mobile medical alert system, the mobile emergency button is a small button that calls 911 directly.

Seniors who are more comfortable with the idea of a reliable home medical alert system that is always plugged in to a power source may want to consider getting the mobile 911 emergency button as a supplement. It can be kept in the senior’s purse or glove compartment of the car.

 

Complaints

LifeStation’s BBB file revealed 37 complaints in the last 3 years (as of Sept 2015). On these 37 BBB complaints, 12 were resolved to the satisfaction of customers, while 25 were addressed by the company, but there was no indication as to the satisfaction level of the consumer. Reading case details, the company does seem to want to amicably resolve customer complaints and dissatisfaction.

Overall, the company has attained an A+ BBB rating. As one of the bigger medical alert systems companies, this level of complaints is not overly worrisome. Elsewhere in other customer reviews, most customers are pleased with their choice.

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If you have a loved one who is a fall risk, or are worried about a potential medical emergency, a medical monitoring system such as LifeStation could be a big help.  LifeStation is very affordable, and there is no long term contract, so you may want to try it out for a few months to see if it fits your needs.  

Please share your thoughts or experience with medical alert systems in the comment section below.

For further reading, here is more detailed information on the benefits of LifeStation.

 

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