In recent years, the demand for wearable personal technology devices (such as activity trackers, heart monitors and smart watches) has increased exponentially. Some manufacturers have even introduced smart jewelry, such as the Oura health tracking ring, and smart clothing such as Siren Socks (which detect developing foot ulcers). Recent social distancing may have been responsible for some of the recent surge in sales of wearable devices, as people sought new ways to communicate and connect. A recent study by the Pew Research Center indicates that 1 in 5 US adults currently own some type of smartwatch or fitness tracker. As technology continues to evolve, the adoption of “wearables” is expected to grow in all age segments. Read on to learn about some of the benefits wearable technology offers for older adults and some suggestions pertaining to specific devices.
The Benefits of Wearables
Recent interest in tracking personal health metrics, such as blood pressure, heart rate, calories burned and even number or hours and quality of sleep, has helped fuel the recent surge in wearable technology. A recent technology adoption report by AARP indicates that 20% of US adults aged 70+ own at least one wearable. This is not surprising, given the number of benefits offered by the increasingly sophisticated and predictive technology of these devices. Fitbit and the Apple Watch are probably two of the most well known wearables, but there are a multitude of wearable devices in the marketplace – from many manufacturers. Wearables are available at different price points and in a variety of styles and colors. Many devices are worn on the wrist, but some may be worn on the ear, hand or as part of clothing.
Wearables can provide seniors with a sense of independence and autonomy with regard to monitoring and maintaining health. For example, some devices provide reminders to take medication, prompt the user to get up and move at certain intervals or identify potential health issues, such as a pulse rate that is too high or too low. The data collected by wearable devices can be very helpful for healthcare providers, enabling them to gain a more complete picture of a patient’s health. Some wearables provide the additional benefit of having two-way communication. This feature can enable the wearer to easily call for assistance in the case of an emergency, such as a slip and fall.
Wearable Devices for Seniors
Wearable devices can create a customizable experience for the user. Here are just a few models that are popular with seniors due to their specific features, easy to read display and ease of use:
- Galaxy Watch Active 2 – This smartwatch has the look of a traditional watch with some heavy-duty functionality. It tracks heart rate, stress level and activity levels and also has an SOS message feature that enables the user to call for assistance in the event of an emergency. When activated, the SOS message forwards the user’s location and medical information to first responders.
- Apple Watch – This popular smartwatch is on the pricier side, but offers robust features. It offers fall detection and emergency contact capabilities, an ECG app that works like an electrocardiogram and can provide critical heart health data to medical doctors. The Apple Watch also tracks activity levels and sleep and offers reminders to stand as well as to “breath” for stress reduction. It automatically stores health data, which can be helpful for seeing trends and patterns.
- Buddy by LiveFreely – This personal device is marketed as a “personal health assistant” that actively monitors the user’s vital signs and looks for trends that could signal a health-related issue. In the event of an emergency, the user can send a safety alert to loved ones or first responders with just the tap of a finger. It also offers fall detection capabilities and medication reminders.
- MobileHelp Smart by Samsung – This smartwatch offers many of the same features as some of the devices listed above, but with a very easy-to-use interface. It also has a built-in microphone and speaker, which provides the user with the means to communicate directly with first responders in the event of a medical emergency.
- Freedom Guardian – This wearable medical alert device offers handy daily task and medication reminders and advanced location tracking ability. It is designed with large icons and a high-resolution screen for those with declining or limited vision.
Lighthouse Senior Living offers custom living solutions adapted to match each resident with the most suitable level of care. In our “right sized” communities, residents enjoy a wide variety of wellness options and a rich calendar of social activities. Contact us today to schedule a virtual tour or in-person tour of our communities, located in Columbia-Ellicott City and Essex-Middle River.