Like the smartphone boom, smartwatches have become popular for people of all ages. Recent studies show that many adults over the age of 55 are embracing smart technology in their homes and personal lives. Those who consider these devices as mere trends should take another look, as there are a lot of great benefits to wearing a smartwatch.
Just like the smartphone combines the qualities of a computer and a cellular phone, a smartwatch combines the qualities of a computer and a watch. While some smartwatches include minimal additional features, such as a step counter and a heart rate monitor, other models allow you to access the internet from your wrist. Seniors who want to consolidate their different devices used for heart rate, fall detection, and medical alerts (plus gain some cool new features) should consider the ease of a smartwatch.
Top Smartwatches for Seniors in 2021
- Freedom Guardian – Best Overall Smartwatch
- Fitbit Versa 3 – Best Wellness Features
- SOS Smartwatch – Advanced Professional Monitoring
- Lively Wearable2 – Easiest To Use
- Apple Watch 6 – Most Advanced Features
Smartwatch Features for Seniors
Here are some key smartwatch features that older adults should look out for:
- Fall detection: With automatic fall detection, a smartwatch can sense when the wearer has suffered a fall and signal for help. This is accomplished by calling either 911, a professional response center, or a preassigned contact.
- Voice commands: Similar to a smart home device, a voice assistant feature is one of the newest technologies to make it on your wrist. The ability to speak to your device to trigger features can make an efficient device even better.
- Heart rate monitoring: Many smartwatches include a heart rate monitor — these work by using LED lights embedded in the watch to sense blood flow.
- Help button: A smartwatch with a built-in SOS or medical alert button is a discreet and fashion-forward way to invest in your personal safety. While some devices will connect you to a 911 dispatcher via their SOS button, other, more senior-oriented devices will connect you to a live agent via their own service.
- GPS capabilities: Having a GPS-enabled smartwatch can aid prompt response to an emergency alert. By keeping track of your location, you can also easily account for physical activities such as running.
- Step counter: Step counters (or pedometers) are a pretty common feature in smartwatches and are a great way to keep track of your daily activity. It’s been shown that seniors can greatly benefit from taking 7,000 to 10,000 steps per day.
- Water-resistant: Most smartwatches come with some level of water-resistance. The majority of these devices can withstand a normal shower without negative effects, while some even allow you to submerge your device (for swimming or bathing) completely.
EXPERT TIP: Though a smartwatch with a heart rate monitor may help you track your heart health on the go, those with medical issues affecting the heart shouldn’t rely solely on these types of devices. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the best way to monitor your heart health.
The Best Smartwatches for Seniors
|Freedom Guardian||Fitbit Versa 3||SOS Smartwatch||Lively Wearable2||Apple Watch 6|
|Monthly Costs||$44.95||(Optional) $9.99||$24.94||$24.99-$39.99||(Optional) $9.99|
|Dedicated Help Button||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Fall Detection||No||No||No||Yes (Optional)||Yes|
|Heart Rate Monitor||No||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Battery Life||48 Hours||48 Hours||24 Hours||4 months||18 hours|
|Water- Resistance||Showerproof/Submersible (IPX7)||Showerproof/Submersible (IPX8)||Showerproof (IP67)||Showerproof (IPX5)||Showerproof (IP67)|
|Warranty||1 Year||1 Year||Limited with optional upgrades||1 Year||1 Year|
*The Apple Watch 6 has various third-party medical alert apps in the app store.
The Freedom Guardian 2.0 is specially designed for older adults while taking on a tech-savvy, modern appearance. The device comes in white or black and features a large square
touch screen with easy to see icons. More than just a smartwatch, the Freedom Guardian’s primary function is that of a medical alert system.
This advanced system uses location tracking and an emergency button that connects you to local dispatchers. The Freedom Guardian also includes common smartwatch features like on-screen SMS messaging, calendar, reminders, and more. If you’re on the go, you can even use the voice feature to reply to messages verbally.
Price: $99 for the watch; $44.95 monthly for service
- Weather forecast
- Text-to-speech messaging
- Companion phone app
- Emergency assistance button
- No fall detection
- No step counter or heart monitor
As its name implies, the Fitbit brand focuses on devices that promote physical fitness and personal health. The Fitbit Versa 3, one of their latest smartwatch models, touts a contemporary feel with its attractive color combinations, silicone wristband, and large touch-screen watch face.
For older adults interested in “getting in their steps” and keeping an eye on their physical stats, the Fitbit Versa 3 is a great tool in promoting overall fitness. Ultra water-resistant, with heart rate, oxygen, and body temperature monitoring, the Versa 3 can easily help you check in with yourself when you’re on the go. Though the Fitbit offers many useful features, such as complete activity tracking and music integration, it doesn’t offer much in terms of emergency monitoring.
Price: $229.95 + (optional) Fitbit Premium service at $9.99/month
FYI: There are unassociated apps and software that can add medical alert capabilities to your Fitbit and other devices. If you’re committed to an alert-less device but worried about safety, you can download companion software via Better Alerts for an on-screen SOS button.
- 24/7 heart rate tracking
- Sleep monitoring + Smart Wake
- Voice assistant
- Medical ID tags available
- No fall detection
- No innate emergency button or monitoring
With its round watch face, the SOS Smartwatch blends classic and modern appeal while also combining the qualities of a smartwatch and a medical alert system. Powered by a 4G LTE SIM card, the SOS Smartwatch provides quick and clear connections in emergency situations – when it matters most. The SOS also stands out since it doesn’t require a smartphone to operate. Though additional features are limited, Bay Alarm Medical’s advanced monitoring system with two-way voice communication makes the SOS a strong option for seniors.
Price: $179 + $24.94/month
- Simplified interface
- No smartphone necessary
- SOS button with two-way communication
- No fall detection
- No heart rate monitor
The most low-key model on our list, the Lively Wearable2 is a sleek black device with a smartwatch’s appearance and the straightforward functionality of a medical alert device. With one press on your wrist, this device will connect you to an urgent response agent via smartphone connection. Your live agent can also help you with non-emergency needs, such as connecting you to a family member or roadside assistance.
The companion smartphone app allows you to sync your device and gather information (such as daily steps taken). The Lively Wearable2 also offers fall detection as an add-on feature. Lively, the maker of the Lively Wearable2 (as well as Lively phones), provides a discount for AARP members.
Price: $49.99 + $24.99-$39.99/month
- 24/7 emergency assistance
- Fall detection
- Unique UrgentCare ability
- No touch screen
- No apps or extras
Perhaps the most recognizable model on our list, the Apple Watch 6 offers a surplus of apps and features. Their higher price point can be justified with a quick browse through device components such as a state-of-the-art ECG app that can spot irregular heart rhythm or the Always-On Retina display that allows easy vision. With integrated music streaming, messaging, and calling, this smartwatch is like carrying your smartphone on your wrist.
Unlike many smartwatches targeted at the larger market, the Apple Watch 6 includes an SOS button and an on-screen medical ID. Apple’s location software will connect you with a local dispatch (even if you’re traveling in another country). This watch also detects hard falls and will prompt you with the option for emergency SOS. With over 20,000 additional apps to download, you can use your Apple smartwatch to identify stars in the night sky, play trivia, or identify songs you hear on the radio.
Price: $399 – $1,499
- Thousands of optional apps
- Blood oxygen-level monitor (ECG)
- Advanced fitness tracker
- Siri voice assistant
- SOS Button
- Customizable (color choices and wristband styles)
- High price point
- Requires an iPhone to use
- Complex interface (as compared to others)
Many seniors want security in the form of a medical alert system but aren’t interested in the typical pendant devices. Others may want the option but are also interested in keeping up with physical fitness. Though smartwatches may seem like a passing trend, new technology, and a competitive market mean that companies are developing devices with older adults in mind. There are multiple options for those on a fixed income or with particular health issues, as well as those looking to expand their interests.