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Panic Button Apps vs Panic Alarm Devices for Seniors: Which is Best?

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Elderly woman falling over

We explore the difference between panic button apps and panic alarm devices for seniors and weigh the pros and cons of each type of personal safety device.

Panic Button App vs Panic Alarm: What is The Difference?

Panic button app

A panic button app is a software application that can be installed on a smartphone or tablet. It allows the user to send an alert to pre-selected contacts or a monitoring service when they are in an emergency situation. The app usually requires an internet or cellular data connection to work.

Panic alarm device

On the other hand, a panic alarm device is a physical device that can be worn or carried by the user.

It typically has a dedicated button that can be pressed to activate an alarm signal. Many personal alarm devices come with additional features such as fall detection, GPS tracking, and two-way communication. While some personal alarm devices do require a network connection, others do not rely on an internet or cellular data connection, instead using a dedicated wireless signal to send an alert to a monitoring service or pre-selected contacts.

Pros and Cons of Panic Button Apps

Panic button apps are a popular option these days because they are easy to access and affordable. Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • Most smartphones already have the technology needed for a panic button app, making it a low-cost option.

  • The emergency alarm is sent through the app to family and friends, and some apps have GPS tracker for elderly to help locate you or your loved one in an emergency.

  • App features are typically customisable, allowing you to select emergency contacts and customise the message that is sent.

  • Panic button apps can also be discreet, as most smartphones can fit in a pocket or bag.


  • Dependence on smartphone signal may be an issue in areas with poor reception.

  • Panic alarm apps for seniors may be harder to access for seniors who are not familiar with technology or have mobility issues.

  • Battery life can be a concern, as you or your loved one may forget to charge the phone or have a low battery when an emergency arises.

Examples of Panic Button Apps Available in the market:

Red Panic Button: This app allows you to press a big red button to send an emergency message to your pre-selected contacts.

The app can also include a custom message and GPS tracker for elderly, and it does not require a subscription.

Life360: The Life360 app offers free location sharing, two days of location history, automatic car crash detection, and automated SOS messages. Users can upgrade to paid plans starting at $4.99 for more features, such as 24/7 roadside assistance, stolen phone coverage, and emergency dispatch to your location. By connecting with family members, Life360 helps monitor their safety and respond quickly to emergencies.

Pros and Cons of Panic Alarm Devices:

Panic alarm devices are wearable devices that are designed to provide an easy way to call for help in case of an emergency. Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • A senior safety alarm device is typically easier to use than panic button apps, as they only require the press of a button or a simple gesture.

  • These devices are typically waterproof, which can be helpful for seniors who need assistance in the shower or bath.

  • Medical alert systems have longer battery life than most smartphones. Some devices have a longer range than panic button apps, allowing you or your loved one to use them when you're outside the home.


  • Personal emergency response system (PERS) can be more expensive than panic button apps, with some costing between $100 - $500.

  • Some seniors may not want to wear the device, as it may feel intrusive or stigmatising. Some devices may not have GPS tracker for elderly, making it harder to locate you or your loved one in case of an emergency.

🚨We recommend reading this What to know before buying a personal alarm | CHOICE for information as to why, although they review Personal Alarms, CHOICE does recommend any specific Personal emergency response system.

Choosing the Right Option for You or Your Loved One

When it comes to choosing between panic button apps and personal alarm devices, it's important to consider the specific needs and preferences of you or your loved one. Here are some factors to consider:

Mobility and comfort level with technology

If you or your loved one has mobility issues or is not comfortable with technology, a personal alarm device might be a better option. These devices are typically easier to use and require less technical know-how.


If you or your loved one spends a lot of time outside the home, a personal alarm device with GPS tracking might be more appropriate. This can help ensure that you or your loved one can be located in case of an emergency.


Personal alarm devices can be more expensive than panic button apps, so it's important to consider the budget when making a decision. However, it's also important to remember that the cost of these devices may be worth the added peace of mind.

Medical needs

If you or your loved one has specific medical needs, such as a history of falls or medical conditions that require immediate attention, a personal emergency response system (PERS) might be the best option. These systems are designed to provide 24/7 monitoring and can automatically alert emergency services in case of a fall or other emergency.

Both panic button apps and personal alarm devices have their pros and cons, and the choice between the two ultimately comes down to the specific needs and preferences of you or your loved one.

By considering factors such as mobility, location, budget, and medical needs, you can make an informed decision and find the option that provides the best peace of mind for you and your loved one.

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The Adaptive Clothing Australia Team

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