Introduction to smartwatches for the elderly
Phone technology has evolved significantly, with something available for everyone. However, these devices have traditionally been targeted at a young tech-savvy audience looking for the next trend. More so than an older generation of users who would also benefit, both on a practical and entertainment level. We feel like there are smartwatches for everyone, including the elderly.
That perspective is shifting, with technology companies realising that there are smartwatches for the elderly. Understandably the needs of these users differ from their younger counterparts. But there are many opportunities to make a difference for the group. Research undertaken by Ofcom confirms older people are embracing technology. For example, smartphone use among the over-75s has been rising steadily in recent years. Specifically, it’s risen from 8% in 2015 and 15% in 2016 to 18% in 2017.
Confidence in using a smartphone is likely to encourage older people to try out a smartwatch or activity tracker. So, they’re no longer just for athletes or the fashion-conscious.
The smartwatch is becoming increasingly popular and can offer the wearer multiple benefits and flexibility. But, for the older person a smartwatch can seem daunting. Especially considering the small screen, fiddly buttons and what canbe a complicated set up process when pairing with a phone. We’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the smartwatch market.
What to look for in Smartwatches for the Elderly
It appears that smartwatches available in the market today for older people can be classified into one of two types; a smartwatch focusing on health monitoring and location tracking or a smartwatch that does those things and much more i.e. with built in apps and cellular functionality. How do you know which smartwatch is right for you?
There are a few key elements to consider when choosing a wearable:
- If you have a smartphone ensure the smartwatch is compatible with your handset’s operating system. For example, an Apple Watch will only work with an iPhone.
- If the health aspects excite you, ensure your model has GPS and a heart rate sensor.
- Battery life is important. With many devices that need charging it can be difficult easy to forget so a quality battery life is vital. This feature is important if the smartwatch is being used for safety when away from the home.
- Try out the band and clasp to check that you can use it. It’s worth looking for a watch where you can switch bands as you like.
- Explore what apps are available to use with the smartwatch
- Is the preference for a button or a touch screen interface?
Are smartwatches for the elderly advisable?
A smartwatch for an older person is a good idea for several reasons. A smartwatch can afford peace of mind as the device can double up as a panic button. Pendant alarms are available for the same purpose but a Smartwatch is easier to remember to put on. More recent smartwatches like the Apple Watch Series 6 have fall detection. This is a sensor that alerts the emergency contact if no movement is detected over a minute.
Health monitoring is a popular feature of smartwatches. Also, it’s an area continuously being improved. For older fitness fans, smartwatches offer interactive, easy-to-use features to track progress and general health.
Like a smartphone, a smartwatch can be programmed with reminders for important events and appointments. Things like medication prompts or doctors’ appointments. For people with dementia, a smartwatch is a useful memory aid. For example what day and year it is.
Smartwatches for the elderly
Apple Watch series 3, 6 and SE
A popular smartwatch for any age is the Apple Watch. Although costly, they have plenty of features for the older person.
The Series 3 offers accurate heart and sleep tracking, fitness tracking and emergency SOS calls. Finally, it’s the best of the three for your budget.
- Retina display
For older people with hearing complications, the Apple Watch Series 3 and 6 notify you if ambient noise is too loud. Thanks to WatchOS, there is a wide range of Health apps available for the Apple Watch. These include support to monitor water intake, a food diary and a meditation program.
With the Series 6, the ECG for monitoring heart health is supported by the American Heart Association.
The Apple Watch has both a touch and button interface (digital crown and side button on the side). And both the Series 6 and SE versions have an ‘always on display’ feature, giving quick access to key information.
The Apple Watch offers two screen sizes. Also, you can choose to have the GPS or GPS+cellular version. The the latter negates the need to have an iPhone closeby.
- GPS Only
- Always-On Retina display
- 30% larger screen
The SafeLink smartwatch could be mistaken for a digital watch, but in fact it is a clever wearable GPS tracker. The device is for older people with dementia. It will alert up to three smartphone emergency contacts when unusual behaviour is detected.
A smartphone is not necessary to view the tracking status as a web module is also available.
With large icons and a side button for navigation, this watch is great for older people. The device has GPS and wi-fi-enabled tracking. Finally, the plus model has text-to-speech messaging and the capacity to set up alerts and reminders. The medical alert system is paid for on a subscription basis.
Omate Wherecom S3
The Android operating system is partnered with Omate’s OUI senior skin resulting in a smartwatch that is easy to use. The display is responsive and the overall look and feel of the watch is attractive.
Designed specifically for older people the Omate Wherecom has a physical red SOS button on the side which can alert family and friends to the older person’s location. With an impressive 3 day battery life, the device also has a message hub, a pedometer, a dialler and uses 3G cellular connectivity.
G2i Emergency Watch
From a Swiss company, this device offers a more traditional look for a smartwatch so ideal for older people who don’t want to bring attention to themselves or who favour that particular style.
Precise location tracking comes with high-quality GPS module and like other models also has an SOS button.
The watch manufacturer claims that battery life can last for up to a week. The emergency watch is water-resistant and does not need a separate phone app to function.
If you decide to go with the Tycho smartwatch, you will be getting a device that works very much like a mobile phone. It caters for concerned family and friends with SOS call function and electronic fence alarms, and has a built in camera.
Wearers can auto answer calls without swiping and older people will appreciate the large screen and bold icons. GPS module also has a historical route tracker which backdates up to 3 months.
Unaliwear Kanega Watch
This device has fall detection features and like its counterparts also offers GPS tracking and call emergency assistance. Unlike some of the other smartwatches featured, the Kanega does not need to be paired with a smartwatch to work.
It is completely voice controlled, negating the need to fiddle with touch or buttons and also has a medication alerts schedule that is easy to set up. The watch is waterproof and can also be linked up to hearing aids.
Samsung Galaxy Watch
If it is speed and style you’re looking for in a smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy has it all. Like its competitor, Apple, this watch will monitor heart rate and has a number of built-in sensors, including an accelerometer and gyroscope. Older people can download the SOS app allowing them to quickly contact family or friends in an emergency situation.
If you have blood pressure concerns or just want to keep an eye on your stats, the ‘My BP Lab’ is your go-to feature.
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A Smartwatch from a smartphone giant such as Samsung can mean that there is a lot going on with this device, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good option for older people, especially if is someone used to technology.
- Pairs with your phone and other Android devices. The Galaxy Active Watch is also compatible with...
- Storage: 4GB, RAM: 750MB, GPS Enabled, Maximum Usage Time: 90 hours, Touch Screen, IP68 Wter & Dust...
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Fitbit has released its most holistic offering yet. The Fitbit Sense comes with robust health, fitness and stress monitoring and management features that sets it apart from any other Fitbit models. It features heart rate monitoring, sleep scores, ECG and EDA. Additionally, there’ built-in GPS, too.
Some say it rivals the likes of the smartwatch favourite, the Apple Watch.
- EDA Scan app detects electrodermal activity which may indicate your body's response to stress and a...
- Assess your heart for atrial fibrillation –a heart rhythm irregularity- and easily share results...
- An on-wrist skin temperature sensor tracks yours each night so you can see how it varies. You can...
Final thoughts on smartwatches for the elderly
It is clear that the smartwatch market for the elderly is growing with the primary focus being safety. However there is no reason to suggest why older people can’t also make good use of smartwatches that are not marketed to their age group.
Cost will be a factor for many older people when choosing a smartwatch; the cost can be offset by investing in a device that has cellular functionality so that there is no need for a separate smartphone.
Last Updated on November 25, 2020
Emma is an experienced Virtual Assistant and is our Copy and Visual Editor and Social Media Manager. When not working, Emma enjoys life with her little girl, partner and Jack Russell Terrier in the lovely countryside of the South West UK.