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A Caregiver’s Guide To Wearable Technology For Older Adults

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Wearable technology can provide a range of support for your older loved one by increasing their safety and ability to be independent throughout their daily life. Different devices have different features, so it’s important to identify your loved one’s needs and what features will best assist them. 

Let’s explore the best wearable devices and how they can positively impact your loved one’s well-being and bring peace of mind to you as their caregiver.

Why Use a Wearable Tech Device? 

Wearable tech devices can monitor a variety of things depending on the device. If your loved one has any of the below, some type of device may be right for them. 

  • A risk of falls
  • A risk of wandering or becoming lost
  • Health conditions requiring vitals to be monitored
  • Need for motivation to increase activity


3 Wearable Tech Devices To Consider For Your Loved One 

Let’s review three wearable tech devices that can help improve your loved one’s quality of life.

1. Medical Alert Devices 

Falls can be detrimental to older adults and getting help right away is key. Because of this, one of the most common types of wearable technology that can be beneficial to seniors is fall detection devices. 

Simply put, fall detection devices recognize when a person has fallen and alert a call center to call either caregivers or emergency services.  Some devices detect the fall automatically, and others rely on the senior to press a button to call for assistance. 

There are a variety of devices on the market for this type of gadget and below are a couple of examples. These devices can be life-saving in the event of an emergency.

Life Alert:
Memorable from its TV commercials, Life Alert offers a necklace with an emergency alert button. 

Seniors can press the button in the event of a medical emergency. The devices work outside the home, and have a GPS component, in the event of wandering in a senior with dementia. LifeAlert has even been shown to reduce admissions into senior living communities.

LifeLine: 

LifeLine from Philip’s offers a wearable product that has an automatic fall detection device. Fall detection is an important feature for people living with memory loss who may forget to push the button or for people who become incapacitated at the time of their fall. 

 

2. Health Monitoring Devices

Smartwatches and activity trackers have the technology to monitor the wearer’s health and well-being. Depending on your loved one’s health, they may have health conditions that need to be closely monitored. 

Being able to quickly identify changes in vital signs can be lifesaving for older adults, for example, those with COPD. With the expansion of wearable tech, the healthcare industry is more widely utilizing these devices.

Apple Watch:

Apple watches are multi-purposeful. In addition to texting and phone calls, they can act as fall detection devices and heart rate monitors

Applications on the apple watch, such as ECG, can track heart rate and arrhythmia. Some models can even measure oxygen levels. 

Plus, there are so many other great things that can be done! The wearer doesn’t have to get up quickly to answer a ringing phone or can call for help if they aren’t close to a phone. Other smart home devices such as smart lamps and thermostats can be controlled with Apple Watches, as well.

Fitbit & Garmin Watches:

Popular brands of fitness trackers are Fitbit and Garmin activity trackers. Even those who may not consider themselves active can benefit from a Fitbit. 

Fitbit generally tracks sleep and heart rate. Depending on the model, they may offer more advanced features like GPS tracking.

Freedom Guardian Smartwatch:

The Freedom Guardian smartwatch is a user-friendly smartwatch designed specifically for older adults. It allows the wearer to call friends and family, track their activities, call for help if needed, and acts as a fall detection device.

Omron HeartGuide:

Omron’s Heart Guide is a wearable device that tracks blood pressure. The first of its kind, HeartGuide looks like a digital watch but can take life-saving data. 

MobileHelp Smart Watch:

A smartwatch designed just for seniors, MobileHelp monitors heart rate, detects falls, and allows the user to track their diet.

This data can be beneficial to healthcare providers in treating your loved one. Being able to show patterns in health information gives insight into your loved one’s day-to-day wellness. 

Compatible apps on mobile phones store the metrics so caregivers don’t have to worry about documenting them in a journal.

 

3. Location Tracking Devices 

For individuals living with dementia, location tracking devices can keep seniors safe. If they become lost, they will be easier to locate as families can track locations in real time. 

For some, this means continuing to do favorite physical activities like walking and biking, while giving caregivers peace of mind.  Many of the devices above have GPS features, but below are some wearable devices for those individuals who may not wear a digital watch or fall detection necklace. 

SmartSole: 

SmartSole slides discreetly into your loved one’s shoe and sends alerts to the partnered smartphone. 

AngelSense: 

AngelSense is a small device that can easily be placed in a pocket, wallet, or purse to track your loved one’s location. 

This device also allows you as the caregiver, to receive notifications if your loved one passes pre-set boundaries - such as around the yard or neighborhood. The compatible app allows multiple family members to be alerted of the wearer’s location.

 

What Should I Consider When Purchasing a Wearable Device for My Loved One? 

The devices above are just a few of many different devices that can be used to keep your loved one safe. 

When choosing a device, it’s important to consider what features are most important for your loved one. Some things to think about include:

  • Battery Life: Does the device need to be charged? If so, is your loved one capable of charging it? If not, is there a caregiver available who could assist? 

  • Compatible Distance: If it’s a fall detection device or GPS tracker, does the device have to be in a certain radius to work correctly? 

  • Consider Cost: Does the device have a one-time cost, or is there a subscription fee? 

Will your loved one wear the device? Of course, this varies depending on the individual but it’s important to keep in mind that the devices are only effective if your loved one remembers to have them on. 

For many individuals, wearable technology promotes independence and overall quality of life. Consider choosing a wearable device for your loved one to keep them safe when they are on their own.

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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