Things To Consider When Buying Smartwatches for Seniors

Buying smartwatches for seniors
Photo credit: Samsung

Smartwatches for seniors can be a real added value. Provided you make the right choice when buying. Which functions do you need and what can you do without?

Read more Wearables Can Help the Elderly Manage Heart Disease and Early Detect Alzheimer’s

If you’re a senior and you are planning to buy a smartwatch, you will obviously get overwhelmed with the choices presented to you. Many such wearables offer little added value for people over 50. When choosing, you should therefore pay close attention to what the potential fitness tracker or smartwatch offers seniors.

Keeping an eye on health: the right sensors

The following sensors are important when buying a suitable watch for seniors:

  • Accelerometer & gyroscope: They are used to count your steps or activities quite accurately. An additional barometer can increase the precision and also perceives heights.
  • This feature is important for the elderly who have problems finding their way around.
  • Heart rate monitor (heart rate monitor, pulse oximeter, blood oxygen sensor): LEDs that shine through the skin in order to detect changes in the color of the blood using a photodiode. Used to measure the pulse, but also to determine the oxygen saturation in the blood and to recognize the stress level.
  • Heart rate sensor: Most smartwatches with heart rate measurement use the heart rate monitor, which can also analyze the heart rate. Those who like it more precise, need special wearables, for example with multi-wavelength PPG sensors.
  • (Optional) Fall sensor: Usually, the acceleration sensor and gyroscope help with automatic fall detection (in the event of an accident), which, for example, the Apple Watch has.

A smartwatch for seniors should at least have an accelerometer and heart rate monitor. An enormous number of functions, including, for example, the automatic recognition of current activities, calorie consumption, a drink reminder function, or the distances covered during walks or sports – all of these are calculated information based on the sensor data, reports Trendblog.

A smartwatch
ScanWatch automatically checks your heart rate at the appropriate time throughout the day. Using an exclusive algorithm developed with cardiologists, ScanWatch is able to notify you if your heart rate is low, high, or irregular. (Photo credit: Withings)

Smartwatches for seniors are NOT medical products

What you should absolutely be aware of: Although manufacturers suggest that you might buy a health product, very few fitness bracelets and smartwatches are really medical devices. However, many companies such as Garmin explain openly and transparently where inaccuracies could arise. The information from heart rate sensors is, therefore, more of a helpful orientation – but they are less suitable for diagnosing, treating, or curing diseases.

But there are one or two exceptions: The Withings ScanWatch, for example, even advertises with a “clinically validated” and medically precise oxygen saturation including an ECG. If you attach great importance to this, you are not spoiled for choice – there are hardly any suitable devices with a corresponding claim available.

More features to look for

In addition to the design and suitable sensors, there are also very pragmatic aspects that play a role in choosing the “right” smartwatch for seniors:

Big display

1.2 inches doesn’t sound like much, but for a smartwatch, that means a diameter of 30mm – which may no longer be tiny on the wrist. On the other hand, this is a good minimum size to be able to recognize something on the display.

Robust construction

When buying a watch, make sure that it is protected from water and/or dust. Many fitness trackers and smartwatches that are suitable for seniors already have a corresponding IP certification.

Long battery life

The GPS on the smartwatch eats up the battery. Even with an Apple Watch, you have to charge it every day. The same applies to the Galaxy Watch from Samsung. You may opt for fitness bracelets or specialized smartwatches such as the Withings ScanWatch mentioned above. The small, light trackers, in particular, last between 5 and 30 days, depending on the use, the functions, and of course the battery itself.

Read more The 5 Best Smartwatches And Fitness Trackers For Women In 2020

Dependency on the smartphone

Keep in mind that a smartwatch always requires a smartphone. Apart from the Apple Watch, which requires an iPhone, it doesn’t matter whether it is one with Android or one with iOS.

Smart Feature Phones with KaiOS, with which senior smartphones are often equipped, are left out. You cannot use them to set up and call up the statistics of the sensor data.

What should you consider when buying a smartwatch for seniors?

In short, here are the recommendation for seniors’ smartwatches:

  • Pay attention to the presence of sensors necessary for health and movement data
  • Robust, waterproof housing, and a weight of up to 40-50 grams are important
  • The display should be at least 1.2 inches for optimal readability
  • The smartwatch or tracker must be compatible with your smartphone
  • Do not go for the first product available, but rather check whether it is a manufacturer who also offers a warranty and support
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Sam Draper () is Online Editor at WT | Wearable Technologies specialized in the field of sports and fitness but also passionated about any new lifestyle gadget on the market. Sam can be contacted at press(at)wearable-technologies.com.