2020 census data tells us that 76.4 million Baby Boomers are currently living in the U.S., with the youngest of them turning 65 by 2030. (That’s about 10,000 Americans a day who are turning 65.) It’s no secret that most seniors want to stay at home and remain independent for as long as possible. In fact, there is an entire multi $billion industry that has sprung up to help assist those seniors who prefer to “age in place” in the comfort of their own homes.
With the explosive growth of digital technology in the last couple of decades, we’ve progressed from simple home monitoring systems to wearable technology that performs multiple functions, including the real-time sharing of essential health data with healthcare professionals and caregivers. Rapid results can save lives when timing is critical. We’ve come a long way from the days when the best option was to hang a bulky call button from a lanyard around the neck.
Health Tracking Devices
Wearable tech is not just for the fitness buff wanting to keep track of their daily activity and calories burned. Health tracking devices, worn around the wrist, can now monitor all that plus your heart rate, the quality of your sleep, and yes, even tell you the time. These watches, first worn by athletes and weekend warriors, now come in a variety of styles and price ranges for practical everyday wear.
You may be surprised to find out that those ubiquitous fitness trackers were invented in 1965 by Dr. Yoshiro Hatano, a Japanese professor at the Kyushu University of Health and Welfare. While researching obesity, he discovered that by taking 10,000 steps a day, your body could maintain a healthy balance between calorie intake and activity. He called it Manpo-Kei, which literally translates to 10,000 steps meter. The Fitbit and other fitness trackers still use 10,000 steps as the daily activity goal for an adult.
Speaking of Fitbit, seniors will love the Fitbit Charge 4 and its easy-to-use features. Features like the 24/7 heart rate monitoring use advanced heart rate sensors and algorithms to monitor heart variability. It can also measure your breathing rate, oxygen saturation level, and rate the quality of your sleep. And, of course, it has all the fitness functions you’d expect, like counting daily steps and tracking pace, distance, or workout intensity. And, if your workouts aren’t on dry land, the device is water-resistant up to 50M.
If you’re more the athletic type, you might want to try the Garmin vivosmart 4, with its dedicated activity timers and goal alerts for walks, cycling, runs, strength training, yoga, swimming, and more. The vivosmart 4 also monitors heart rate, sleep quality, and oxygen saturation. Both watches cost about the same, are compatible with some apps, and give vibration alerts for incoming texts and calls from your Android phone.
Both are relatively easy to set up, so don’t be intimidated if you’re not the techy type. There are several online resources available to help you with the initial setup and troubleshooting. Many online companies, like udemy.com and skillshare.com, offer technology education, but they charge a monthly subscription fee for their classes. Or, check out the free Tech Hour on MyHealthangel.com to get the most out of your smart devices. Instruction is live, so you can get your questions answered by a tech expert.
If safety and simplicity are your priorities, check out the Freedom Guardian 2.0 watch from Medical Guardian. This discreet 24/7 monitoring system looks like a smartwatch, so no one needs to know you’re wearing a medical alert system. The Freedom Guardian has built-in GPS, heart rate monitoring, and easy-to-schedule medication alerts. Call for help with the push of a button, and a live operator will stay on the line with you until emergency personnel arrive.
Another device in the senior wearables category comes from Lively; the Wearable 2 can be worn on the wrist and offers a 24/7 monitoring service. Press the Urgent Response button, and an operator will assess the situation and dispatch help right away. You can also speak to a doctor or a nurse anytime about less urgent matters. Track your steps, get daily health tips, and
relax knowing that the Wearable 2 has fall detection. If you’re unable to call, an operator will call 911 for you.
Smartwatch for Older Adults
If you’ve got a larger budget, the Apple Watch 6 is worth a look. Take an ECG and provide critical data to your physician, measure your oxygen level, and get tips to improve the quality of your sleep. See your fitness stats at a glance and check your distance, pace, and elevation, all while you listen to your favorite music. Stay healthy, active, and connected with the Apple Watch Series 6 and look great, with a number of different metals and band styles to choose from.
Apple thought of everyone with this version; by adding fall detection, activity monitors, and expanding the crisp, always-on retina display. Add WiFi access, cellular options, and GPS, and you’ll start to hit your exercise goals by closing three activity rings.
Best Health Watch for the Elderly
We’ve come a long way since the world re-discovered the achievable and straightforward goal of Manpo-Kei or 10,000 steps a day. But, unfortunately, keeping active, healthy, and connected isn’t as simple as it sounds. Technology can often be baffling, with cryptic directions and a whole new lexicon of words and acronyms that seniors need to learn. And there’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours on hold waiting for technical support.
Sign up for My Health Angel’s popular live events to unravel the mystery behind the technology of computers, smartphones, and smartwatches. Learn to customize your devices, install compatible apps, and sync your wearable device with a computer or smartphone. You’ll find the technology hours mostly on Mondays but check the calendar to make sure. Then, ask questions live and learn pointers from a technology expert who understands just how confusing some of this can be.