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 Roanoke and Lynchburg experts in family caregiving, we at Gentle Shepherd Hospice can help you determine the best ways to protect your relative in the case of a fall. Give us a call at 1-800-789-0586 (toll-free).