In most industrialized countries, a demographic transition is ongoing and leads to significant growth of the elderly population. Seniors are more prone to diseases that can put pressure on the country’s healthcare system. A way to reduce these costs is to improve their autonomy and to keep elders as independent as possible.
With the fast rate of technology improvements, there is no doubt that there is already or will be soon a product available in the market to help achieve this goal. A great example is a smartwatch.
Smartwatches have shown great potential for improving the quality of life of seniors. Even though they are not specifically designed for this demographic, many features are beneficial and useful for the elderly. Smartwatches are not just for the young and active anymore.
Older adults have now started to appreciate smartwatches’ benefits to help them live healthier and happier lives. In a survey conducted by AARP in 2015, 45 percent of the participating adults ranging from 50 years old and above noticed that their motivation to live a healthier life increased after six weeks of using a smartwatch. Sixty-seven percent of them felt that the technology was globally beneficial.
Everybody wants to be independent while aging. With the help of a smartwatch, the elderly are given the possibility to track their movement, heart rate or contact emergency services and notify their loved ones automatically in case of a fall or accident. Wearable tech can provide their family or caretakers peace of mind as well. If this has not convinced you of how important having a smartwatch for your elderly relatives or yourself is, here are more reasons to ponder.
In a nutshell, a smartwatch is a watch including technological advancements built to ease your life. More than just giving time, they offer multiple health and safety features. Smartwatches are often touchscreens wherein you can download applications if you want to, just like smartphones do.
There are certain features on a smartwatch a senior may or may not know. Knowing this is extremely important to utilize and make the most of them. Here are some useful features a smartwatch boasts for elderly use:
The latest smartwatches available in the market monitor some of the wearer’s vital signs. Some of them have a built-in heart rate monitor and an accelerometer that can detect the lack of motion and remind the wearers to move regularly. This is a great way for seniors to stay mobile. It is also possible to track blood pressure, stress levels, blood sugar levels, and weight by wirelessly connecting other devices to the smartwatch.
Alert Button or Emergency Calls
It is not unusual for seniors to have a wearable panic button that is usually a bracelet or a necklace. When the button is pressed, it triggers an emergency alert call to a dedicated service center. However, some seniors dislike the thought of wearing these panic buttons, or they forget to do so. For elders who don’t like the look of these buttons, a fashionable, sleek, and attractive smartwatch can be a great alternative.
If an elder often forgets to wear the buttons, the seniors do not have to remove their watch when showering since most of them are water-resistant. When the senior is wearing the watch, they can trigger an emergency call manually. Even better, some of these devices will detect falls automatically and will trigger an alert to the appropriate family member, caregiver, or emergency support centers.
Standalone smartwatches, including a dedicated SIM card, will also offer the possibility to make calls away from home. Furthermore, the GPS functionality can send the wearer’s location to the caregiver or service center.
GPS Tracker and Navigation
Almost all smartwatches available in the market offer turn-by-turn navigation where one can set a designated destination then the watch will provide instruction on how to get there. This feature is similar to in-car navigation. It can be useful for seniors who have lost orientational capabilities.
Geofencing is an interesting feature as well. As soon as an elderly is detected to have left a pre-defined safe zone’ (like where he/she lives), the watch will automatically warn the wearer and help them navigate back home if needed. If the wearer cannot return home within a specific time frame, an alert is sent to the caregiver or a family member.
Contacting Family Members
A smartwatch for seniors is a convenient way to contact family or close relatives as easily and fast as possible. As long as the senior knows how to operate the smartwatch’s essential functions, they should not encounter any issue when trying to reach or contact family members.
Staying Fit and Healthy
A smartwatch is originally famous for being a personal trainer wherever you go. Staying fit and healthy is essential for all walks of life. May you be a young active gym lover or a health-conscious senior, wearing a smartwatch tells you how many steps you have taken every day and advises you of how many more you should take. This is especially critical for elders to ensure that their bodies stay as fit as possible.
The watch can also inform of how many calories have been burnt while doing daily activities. It can help the elderly stay motivated and inspired them to stay fit. A smartwatch is also a sleep tracking device. When the watch is paired with an app, it can track the night’s movements and analyze the sleep cycles.
There are systems available to detect falls and automatically trigger an emergency call ranging from infrared cameras to pressure-sensitive floors. However, these systems are either not reliable, expensive, or hard to install in existing buildings. There are also fall detectors worn on the body, either in the form of a waist belt or a bracelet.
Smartwatches are used to detect falls and dismiss false alarms. The watch can inform the wearer that a fall has been detected and gives them one minute to dismiss it. In case of lack of response, the watch will trigger a medical alert and call emergency services.
Wearable technology is constantly evolving, and new features dedicated to the elderly will continue to be implemented in the newer smartwatch’s iteration.
Best Smartwatches for Seniors
For all of the reasons listed above, a smartwatch is a useful device for elders. Here are some trusted smartwatch models that are all great options if you consider purchasing this technology for your elderly loved ones.
A popular smartwatch, if not the most well-known, is the Apple Watch. Although they are on the more expensive side, they offer plenty of features suitable for the older person. Features include an FDA-cleared electrocardiogram that can detect rhythms abnormalities or Atrial Fibrillation. With a bigger screen (44mm), the Apple Watch Series 6 offers easily accessible information to the elderly.
Fall detection and the Emergency SOS features can provide peace of mind. The watch will inform the emergency services about the location of the wearer. Only its 18 hours battery life may be on the low side for this premium watch, combining style and smartness.
Apple Watch Series 6 (GPS)
Price when reviewed: $379.00
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
When looking for performance and a more watch-like form factor, the Samsung Galaxy Watch is worth considering. It effectively monitors the heart rate and includes several built-in sensors such as an accelerometer and a gyroscope. An SOS app is also available to contact family or friends in case of emergency.
It even includes a ‘My BP Lab’ to check blood pressure using the Plethysmography method. A PDF report of the health data recorded can be sent to the health care provider.
Galaxy Watch 3 by Samsung
Price when reviewed: $329.00
Specifically designed for older people, with large icons and a side button, this smartwatch is a great technology piece. It includes GPS and a wifi-enabled tracking system. The plus model even provides text-to-speech messaging and can set up alerts and reminders to help the elderly manage their day-to-day tasks and avoid forgetting to take their medications or miss their appointments.
This watch features day-to-day support for elders, loved ones, and caregivers. They act as a walkie-talkie to communicate 24/7 with the emergency services. However, remember that this model is only compatible with AT&T service.
Freedom by Guardian
From $44.95 per month
Maintaining independence is extremely important, especially as we age. With advanced and modern technology, staying independent when aging is now possible. These smartwatches are only the beginning of helping your loved ones live their golden years to the fullest.