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5 Best Fitness Trackers To Help Older Adults & Caregivers

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Ever wish there was a way to get insight into how much physical activity your older loved one was getting?
Do you ever wonder where they are when they don’t answer the phone? 

Perhaps you wish you could monitor how they sleep and their vital signs without stepping foot into a doctor’s office. Thanks to advancements in technology, you can now get insight into your loved one’s health with the help of a fitness tracker. 

Oftentimes fitness trackers are used to help log accurate health information, but the healthcare industry has been able to utilize the devices to support caregivers through their ability to accurately monitor important data about the individual in real time. 

These wearable devices are watches that are compatible with a mobile app. Their functionality can vary depending on the brand and model of the device. Some are simple devices that merely track steps and others are much more complex and allow vital signs to be monitored and family to be called. 

It can be difficult to determine which device is best for your loved one. Much of the decision is based on the complexity of the device and what you’re hoping to use it for. These wearable devices also have a range in prices - anywhere from $40 to over $500.

Benefits of Your Loved One Wearing A Fitness Tracker

Fitness trackers have a range of features that can support your loved one and give peace of mind to you as the caregiver. Some ways that a fitness tracker can help you include: 

GPS Tracking

If your loved one has a memory impairment and is at risk for wandering, a GPS tracker helps you locate them quickly in the event of an emergency.

Keep in mind however that GPS tracking walks a fine line between privacy and safety. It’s important to weigh the potential risk of your loved one wandering with their privacy.  

Sleep Monitoring 

Sleep is very telling about an individual’s well-being. Being able to see how your loved one is sleeping can give insight into their health and mood. They can show if the individual was awake during the night as well as how much time is spent in REM or light sleep.

REM sleep can give insight into cognitive status as well. For example, Lewy Body Dementia disturbs REM sleep. 

Vital Sign Tracking

Some devices track vital signs. Depending on the device, they may track blood pressure, blood oxygen, heart rate, or temperature.  Depending on your loved one’s health conditions, it may be important to regularly monitor vital signs. 

Providers can use this information to better understand the impact of your loved one’s condition on their daily life. This especially took off during the COVID-19 pandemic when telehealth became more widely available.

Activity Tracking

Again if your loved one has memory impairment, they may struggle to tell you how they spent their day. The step count feature will give you insight into how active they are. 

Reminders 

Many devices allow you to set reminders. Reminders can be used for events like doctor’s appointments or medications. 

 

With all of these features, the wearer can experience an increase in independence, quality of life, and overall wellness. They will be supported in doing activities they have always done, while also being encouraged to try new activities or have necessary support right from their watch.


5 Fitness Trackers To Explore For Your Older Loved One

Let’s take a look at some of the most common fitness trackers that caregivers can use to lighten their load. 

1. Fitbit 

Fitbit watches were one of the starting gadgets of the wearable technology trends. Fitbit smartwatches fall within the middle of the price spectrum. They range anywhere from $75 to $250.  There are many models available. 

The Versa 3 is a great option for someone with some tech background. It has features including sleep monitoring, a GPS tracker, and heart rate tracking in addition to counting steps.

2. Angel Watches

The Angel Watch is specially designed for people living with disabilities, such as dementia. It is easy to use but still has many great features. The Angel Watch includes traits such as:

    • Voice calling
    • Vital Signs including temperature, blood oxygen, blood pressure, and heart rate
    • GPS tracking in real time
    • Medication Reminders through notifications
    • SOS Button

The AngelWatch falls in the middle of the price ranges for fitness trackers but does require a monthly phone service attached to the device. There is a one-time fee of $189.99, as well as a monthly subscription of $39.99. Given all that this device can do, it may just be worth the monthly cost. 

 

3. Wyze Watch 

The Wyze Watch is designed to be user-friendly and comes with a reasonable price tag on the low end of the price range and only $29.99. 

It has features including sleep monitoring and activity tracking, as well as being waterproof and having a lengthy battery life. 

4. Garmin Watch

The next fitness tracker worth exploring is the Garmin Watch. Garmin Watches are excellent for those who are very active.

There are several models, some of which come in stylish designs that do not look like a smartwatch, but rather fashionable watches. 

Garmin watches not only include health monitoring but even have exercise programs that can be viewed on the device. Garmin watches tend to be towards the higher end of the price range and can be more complicated to navigate. They have a price range of $150 to well over $500. 

 

5. Apple Watch

Last is the Apple Watch. The smartest of the smartwatches, an Apple Watch has hundreds of features - many of which can benefit a caregiver and their older loved one. 

Due to its vast selection of features, it can be more difficult to set up and utilize and does have a higher price tag than most other devices- they are typically priced at $400. 

However, some of the Apple Watch’s features include: 

    • Heart rate tracking through an ECG app
    • Step & activity tracking
    • Reminders for appointments and medications through artificial intelligence like Siri
    • Fall detection
    • GPS tracking
    • Music playing and connectivity to headsets

How To Choose A Fitness Tracker For Your Loved One

After researching the available devices, it still can be difficult to pick which device would work best for your loved one. 

When shopping for a wearable device for your loved one it’s important to take the following into consideration:

  • Battery life: How hard is it to charge? 
  • Style: Would your loved one prefer a fashionable watch or a more sporty, tech-driven style? 
  • Cost: Does the device have a monthly subscription cost, or is it a one-time fee? 
  • Compatible App: Is the accompanying app suitable for your mobile device? 
  • Features: What features will best address your loved one’s care needs? Do they have heart problems? Sleeping trouble? Risk of wandering? 
  • Connectivity: How does the device work? Does it need Wifi? How about Bluetooth?

How About Considering Other Forms Of Wearable Tech?

While watches are the most common and accessible type of wearable tech, there are other options on the market. Some of these include smart clothing, smart rings, smart glasses (Google Glass), and even smart socks. 

Smart socks have the ability to monitor the temperature of the foot and use these metrics to reduce the chance of amputation in a diabetic patient. Hearables are an advanced form of wearable tech to assist with hearing among many other features.

The wearables market continues to advance in making smart wearable tech that will improve and assist the healthcare industry in supporting patients.

Ready To Get A Fitness Tracker For Your Loved One?

Being a caregiver is challenging. It’s important to take advantage of tools that can give you peace of mind and support your loved one.

Fitness trackers are just one way to better understand your loved one’s well-being. 

Laurel McLaughlin

Laurel McLaughlin has over a decade worth of experience in various sectors of the elder care field- home care, senior living, and non-profits. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is a certified dementia practitioner.

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