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Smartwatches for seniors

The
makers of smartwatches are now designing products for older adults. And they
just may have come up with an acceptable alternative to the standard “I’ve
fallen and I can’t get up” pendant. Perhaps you’ve tried to get your loved
one to wear a personal emergency response system (PERS) pendant—only to hear,
“No. I don’t like it.” Many older adults consider the pendants ugly
and stigmatizing.

The new
smartwatches offer advantages:

  • Unlike home-based
    emergency response systems, they work anywhere there is a cell signal.
  • They are easy and
    natural to wear.
  • GPS features enable
    using the watch as a locator device for persons with dementia.
  • They can do dual
    duty as fitness trackers, measuring heart rate, number of steps, etc.
  • They send and
    receive text messages. Some even handle phone calls.
  • Apps are available
    for things like setting a timer for pill reminders, or scheduling appointments.
    Soon even EKGs for heart monitoring.
  • They tell time!

On the
downside:

  • Will your loved one
    use all these features? Or will the apps just be confusing? The options are
    likely too much for those with memory problems.
  • How useful is the
    watch in an emergency? Screens are small and several steps may be required.
    Practice may be necessary ahead of time.
  • So far, the
    automatic fall detection apps still have a few bugs to work out.
  • Not all smartwatches
    offer a companion service for 24/7 connection to a trained professional who can
    triage the need for help.
  • Those with hearing
    loss may have difficulty hearing a respondent if the device isn’t held close to
    the ear.
  • While smartwatches
    are definitely more stylish, they are still big. They seem to appeal more to
    men than to women.
  • These devices need
    to be regularly charged.

Meeting resistance to a PERS device?
Many family members find their loved one simply won’t wear the device. A smartwatch may be the solution, but they aren’t for everyone. As the Metro DC experts in family caregiving, we at Debra Levy Eldercare Associates can help you determine the best ways to protect your relative in the case of a fall. Let’s start the conversation. Give us a call at 301-593-5285.