Medical alert systems can provide peace of mind if you are worried about someone who lives alone. But what if the user won't wear the bulky pendant or wristband required for summoning help? At CES 2016, the giant electronics show, MobileHelp showed off some new offerings that aim to change all that.  

"This is not the same pendant that your grandmother wore years ago," says Chris Otto, MobileHelp's senior vice president of business and product development. "Our customers have told us that they're more likely to wear something that looks more like jewelry and less like a medical device."

MobileHelp's medical alert necklaces clip to a choice of two pendants that link the user to two-way voice communication with a cell center. But now the pendant can hang from a necklace laced with pretty silver and white or black beads. The beaded lanyard is an optional $20 upgrade.

White medical alert necklace and black medical alert necklace
MobileHelp's classic white neck pendant and the new Bluetooth help button that turns red when activated.

A Mobile System

MobileHelp's monthly service ($35) uses a cellular base station. Because of that it might not work as well as a land line system indoors, where cellular connections tend to be weaker. So if you don’t have good wireless coverage in your home, it may not be for you.

Users get a white neck pendant along with a wristband and a small mobile device that works when you're away from home. At CES 2016 the company unveiled a Bluetooth help button (above right) that works via an app for your smartphone ($15 monthly fee, smartphone not included). The lightweight button can be carried on a keychain, belt, wristband, or clipped to a lanyard and worn around the neck. Available now for Android devices, it's expected to be ready later this year for the iPhone.

Both devices link users to emergency call centers around the clock so that they can get help quickly if needed. The systems can also be useful in non-emergency situations where the user doesn’t need an ambulance but does need someone to come to his or her aid. The call center will alert a preselected relative or friend who can come over and assist.

For those who won't wear any medical alert necklace, no matter how good-looking it is, MobileHelp now offers a wall-mounted medical alert button with an LED light that can come to the rescue. The battery-powered button can be attached to any flat surface, including a tabletop.

The experts Consumer Reports consulted recommend mounting one near the floor, just in case a person falls and they really can't get up.