The self-health monitoring wearable device industry has shot through the roof in the last few years. The companies at the forefront of the technology have also been able to drive a wide adoption rate for fitness tracking.
Thanks to wearable health monitors, the common individual is now able to closely track a host of health and fitness parameters, including heart rate, burnt calories, oxygen levels in the blood, and workout parameters like steps taken and distance covered.
For the elderly, the convenience of self health monitor has improved a lot and devices have shrunken to become very portable, making it a lot easier for older aged people to track their health parameters on the go.
Since the elderly population is at heightened risk of cardiovascular health deterioration and other conditions, health tracking wearables have gained interest in this community and has become acknowledged by health professionals and insurance companies as an effective means of monitoring and preventing health issues.
In this article, we look at some of the best health monitoring wearable devices available, and discuss the benefits of wearing one. The table below provides a quick snapshot of the best health monitor watches for seniors. More discussions and details are down below.
The Early Innovators
Fitbit has long been a market leader in this personal health monitoring device industry. At some point, Apple stepped into the market with its polished products and large customer base, and today, Apple holds about 50 percent of the global wearable health monitoring device market, while Fitbit holds another 25 percent.
Recently, Apple has been cornering the premium market, while Fitbit has been losing market share with a lot of other notable technology companies joining the industry with competitive and cost-effective options.
In November 2019, Google bought out Fitbit, setting the stage for healthy competition between Apple and Google to stand out in this fast growing market. Companies like Xiaomi and Garmin bring up the cost-effective end of the fitness wearable market and are good choices if your requirements are more limited.
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What Can Health Monitor Watches Do?
In terms of software development for health monitoring watches, Apple has made efforts to stay ahead of the race by releasing increasingly polished technologies with every iteration of their watches, and new models have gradually become more accurate in measuring health and workout parameters.
In fact, in a latest release of its operating system, Apple has included a dedicated fitness and workout tracking mode for wheelchair users. Similarly, it has released their latest Apple Watch model (Series 5) with a dedicated feature for the elderly – a ‘fall detect’ technology – which is an effective feature in cases of distress and risk of accidents. If a fall detected is hard enough, the watch sounds an alarm, taps the user on the wrist as a waking up mechanism and displays an alert message on the screen.
The only drawback in case of an Apple product is that it does not support third-party developers as Fitbit does and you cannot change the look and feel of your health monitoring watch regularly.
Some models have started providing blood pressure monitoring technology as well, which is also a very useful feature for elderly folks with hypertension and allied health conditions.
The above features are over and above the customary features of tracking heart rate, monitoring your sleep patterns, counting the calories burnt during a workout as well as the customary pedometer or step counter.
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Recent Technological Upgrades in Health Monitoring Watches
From the rudimentary feature of the pedometer, used for counting the number of steps taken in a day, fitness trackers have come a long way in terms of technology and are now capable of measuring a plethora of your physiological and health factors with high degree of accuracy. The most recent features include:
- Fitness trackers have started incorporating a global positioning system (GPS) for enhanced accuracy in tracking of distances covered and speeds achieved.
- SpO2 sensor (Pulse Oximeter) for measuring oxygen levels in the blood. This is just a reading as of now and companies avoid suggestions of any medical condition or treatment based on this data, due to the absence of FDA approval.
- Electrocardiogram for monitoring cardiovascular health and changes in heart rates of users.
Both these health-tracking features are extremely relevant for the elderly, who are at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases and these technological improvements have allowed measuring heart rates and blood oxygen levels with a high degree of accuracy.
- NFC (Near Field Communication), which is used for contactless payments (immensely helpful for paying relatively smaller amounts in situations like that caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020).
In this article, we will review a few of the best-selling devices in the health monitoring watch space that can help you in making the right buying decision. All the devices below can measure heart rate, which we think is a critical feature to have for elderly users. (Note: Although Google has bought out Fitbit, the products are still sold under Fitbit’s brand name.)
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#1 – Apple Watch Series 5
As the most recent health monitor watch to be released by Apple, the product runs on the latest Apple OS 6 software.
While the Apple Series 3 was available in 38 mm & 40 mm screen sizes, the Apple Watch series 5 is available in 2 sizes of 40 mm & 44 mm, larger than previous versions by utilizing the bevel margins better.
The watch also has an upgrade in terms of processing power, running on a dual core S5 processor (faster than the previously existing S3 processor). Faster processing speeds mean your concurrent apps can run faster without noticeable lag.
- Accurately measures the distance traveled through built-in GPS tracking
- Extremely accurate cardiovascular health monitor and fitness statistics
- Fall detection technology – very useful feature for the elderly
- Built-in compass never lets you feel disoriented
- Integrates Apple Pay which runs on NFC technology and lets you make contactless payments at enabled stores
- Great processing power, can concurrently handle multiple features with ease
- Given most senior folks have fixed and moderate income, this watch may not be a suitable candidate for them – like most of Apple’s product line, it is the most expensive product in the market.
- Only compatible with iPhones
- May look a bit larger on small wrists
Here we have a video showcasing the Apple Watch Series 5 Smartwatch and its highlight features:
#2 – Fitbit Inspire HR
The Fitbit Inspire HR is a sleek heath and fitness tracker watch which lets you track health indicators for 15 different modes of exercising. It let’s you monitor your heart beat throughout the day with summarized heart rate zone information.
This is water-resistant up to 50 meters, though it is not advisable to wear it and go below-heated water or in a sauna room.
- Sleep tracker with comprehensive analysis of different stages of sleep – light, rapid eye movement phase (REM) & non-REM
- You can track your heart rate across a wide variety of workouts – resting heart rate, walking, light work out as well as running – and see your heart rate zones
- When synced with your phone, you can receive alerts for calls, texts, and calendar events
- Low charging time (about 2 hours from 10 percent to 100 percent charge)
- Battery life is shorter than comparable products, given the product does not have a color display
- No in-built GPS for accurate tracking of distance traveled. However, you can connect the device with your phone GPS to track distance and speeds
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#3 – Lintelek Fitness Tracker
This is a cost-effective health tracking watch that lets you monitor your heart rate, sleeping patterns and calories burnt during the day. This product is great for people who would want a tracking device within a tight budget.
There are fourteen modes of exercise, across which you can track your fitness parameters.
- The fitness band has a special feature for elderly people which is called ‘sedentary’ state reminder, and encourages you to be active after a period of lull in activity
- Comes with 10 band colors
- Battery lasts for 5 – 10 days, depending on your usage pattern
- Cost-effective solution to tracking heart health
- Accuracy in monitoring of health parameters (heart rate and sleep tracking) can be an issue in some cases
- Screen may be too small for seniors to understand readings, you need to install an app to be able to read the numbers on a larger screen
- No feature to track blood oxygen levels
#4 – Fitbit Versa 2 Health and Fitness Smart Watch
Running on the Fitbit operating system 3.0, this fitness tracking device is one of the most advanced from Fitbit’s (now Google’s) stable of products. The watch has a touchscreen and you can swipe on the screen to access the different fitness tracking options.
The Versa 2 has a lot of third-party options which you can use to regularly change the look and feel of your watch, much like a desktop or phone theme.
- Continuous and very accurate heart rate monitoring
- Provides sleep pattern tracking across the different phases of sleep
- Colour touchscreen can look more aesthetically pleasing
- Scratch-proof Gorilla Glass allows you to use the device a bit more freely and not worry about scratches on your new buy
- Water-resistant up to 50 meters
- Wider screen provides more room to display more fitness statistics; helpful for the elderly to be able to read larger numbers on the screen
- The watch has its own music storage and does not require you to carry your smartphone if you would want to go out for a walk
- Can be integrated with Amazon Alexa
- Battery life may be shorter compared to other Fitbit devices. This is mainly due the colour touchscreen. This will allso depend on your usage pattern.
- No GPS tracking
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#5 – Garmin Forerunner 35
This is a top end Garmin activity tracker with GPS and wrist-based heart rate monitoring technology and with different fitness tracking modes. This device can seamlessly connect to your phone (compatible models) and show notifications on the go.
- GPS enabled; lets you accurately measure distance and speed
- Steps tracking, heart rate tracking and comprehensive health and fitness statistics
- Good option for lightly built wrists
- Can track change in elevation; good way to tell whether you have been wheeling uphill or downhill.
- Good option if you are a casual fitness enthusiast
- Good battery life
- Option to upload data on Garmin Connect and interact on fitness community
- No music storage of its own.
- Monochrome black and white display
- Not compatible with some smart phones. Please check your phone compatibility before buying.
#6 – Letsfit Smart Watch, Fitness Tracker with Heart Rate Monitor
This product comes with all the standard features of a , a pedometer from tracking steps, sleep quality monitor and workout monitor. The device can be integrated and synced with your smartphone through an app and can be used to get notifications for messages and calls.
- Available in six colors
- Large screen allows elderly people to read numbers easily from the watch
- Compatible with both android and apple iOS and can be synced with most smartphones
- Budget friendly option for the elderly
- Good battery life of 5-10 days on a single full charge, depending on your usage
- 1-year warranty on product
- The product has not incorporated GPS and SpO2 and cannot monitor your blood oxygen levels.
- Accuracy of parameters reported can be an issue at times
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#7 – HalfSun Fitness Tracker and Health Monitor Watch
The HalfSun Health Monitor watch is a generously priced device that can track heart rate, monitor your blood pressure, monitor your sleep patterns, count the calories burnt during a workout, and serve as a pedometer or step counter.
The watch can be connected with your smartphone via Bluetooth to track your health on the phone app and also to sync call and SMS notifications on your watch.
- A blood pressure monitor is an effective measure of the health of the elderly and can be very useful for users with blood pressure-related conditions
- Reminds you to be active when you have been living a sedentary lifestyle
- Incoming call and SMS notifications when synced with your phone
- Compatible with most android and iPhones
- High Definition attractive color display
- Low battery charging time of 1 hour
- Good value for the price
- After using for some months, battery performance dips and lasts for about 2 – 4 days, which is lower compared to similar products in its category
- The watch connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and must be within Bluetooth range for you to be able to see all fitness parameters
- No built-in GPS
#8 – Willful Smart Watch for Fitness Tracking
This is a basic health monitor watch and requires downloading the ‘VeryFitPro’ app on your smartphone. Your smartphone will have to have an android version above 4.4 or iPhone OS version above 8.0. The device can track your heart health and sleep patterns across your deep sleep, light sleep, and waking hours.
- Compatible with a range of Android and iPhone models and connects with your phone via Bluetooth
- Once connected to your phone, you can receive notification for calls, SMS, calendar notifications, and social networking services like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram
- Long battery life and works for 7 – 10 days on full charge; Gets fully charged in 2 hours
- Heart rate monitor and sleep trackers are particularly useful for the elderly to track health parameters
- Good value for money
- No built-in GPS; Distance and speed can be tracked by connecting to a smartphone
- Watch has to be within Bluetooth range to allow tracking through app
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#9 – Apple Watch Series 3
This was the first Apple Watch model to come with LTE technology, which is a 4G wireless communication standard and lets your watch have its own cellular connection. This enables it to operate independently of your phone. Note however, that you still have to have an iPhone to finally get this device integrated with – its just that you do not need to carry your phone everywhere.
The watch has the emergency SOS feature dedicated to elderly and women users. The watch comes in 2 screen sizes of 38 mm and 42 mm.
- Much more affordable than the Series 5 with no significant compromise for features affecting the elderly
- GPS enabled. Compass enabled for help with direction
- Retina display provides great color screen experience
- Completely integrated with your iPhone to let you do most of your activities without taking your phone out
- Just the right side of the screen for many (especially the 38 mm model), with enough space for a consolidated fitness view.
- Connected to Apple Music – gives you access to a lot more music choices
- Can only be integrated with iPhones. Compatibility issue with other brands of phones
- Battery life may be lower than similar products from other companies; may require more frequent charging.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How accurate is my health monitor watch?
The answer to this question may vary significantly depending on the manufacturer, model, year of production, and price point of the smartwatch.
In a 2017 Stanford University study, it was found that the latest Apple Watches were the most accurate in measuring heart rate, with a 2% margin of error, relative to popular smartwatches by other brands like FitBit, PulseOn, and Samsung. Comparisons of other health tracking features may differ, and differences between different brands may be less significant.
Other health tracking features may still be lacking in their ability to track health parameters accurately. A 2018 Sports Medicine meta-analysis uncovered that fitness tracking devices are not very accurate at measuring energy expenditure, especially during less intense physical activities like house chores.
It seems that the general consensus is that the health monitoring capabilities of smartwatches generally still need more improvement in their ability to track and measure accurately, meaning that they can be useful for indicating and suggesting health status and physical condition, but may not be ready to be used by health professionals for the purpose of diagnosis.
Q. Can I share data from my health monitor watch with my healthcare provider?
Companies like Apple have started to enable built-in capability in their watches to allow users to share the data collected on their smartwatch with other people, and this includes healthcare providers.
A new feature being released in 2021, Apple watches now enable users to share the data on their watch’s Health app directly with doctors. What this shared data includes is still be developed, but it may include information like lab test results, vaccination information, blood glucose levels, sleep data, and more. Learn more about this Apple feature here.
This ability to share health information from a wearable monitoring device can prove to be incredibly useful in the future, as patient health can be monitored regularly and easily and healthcare providers can have convenient access to potentially very helpful information to improve the quality of provided healthcare.
However, it is important to note that not all data collected using smartwatches is approved health care administrations to be the most accurate. Health monitoring technologies of smartwatches are still in development and are constantly improving, so we may be able to see their wider and perhaps even recommended adoption in the near future.
Q. How can health monitor watches improve in the future?
Health monitoring smartwatches, like the rest of the personal electronics space, is developing at an ever-increasing pace, with new innovations and refinements made every year. This especially applies to the top manufacturers of smartwatches like Apple and Google (Fitbit), which have their own research and development branch that works to further learn what features the public and the healthcare space desires and apply these learnings to device improvements.
Hinging off the previous question, smartwatches will likely soon reach a point when their health monitoring capabilities become accurate and reliable enough that they will be approved by health care administrative bodies to be an accurate tool for health care professionals to use for diagnostics and treatment decisions. The ability to regularly monitor patient health may prove to be able to improve the quality of healthcare tremendously in the coming decades.
Parting Words – Watches That Do Far More Than Tell Time
Watches have come a long way over the last decade. What was once a strap on the wrist that only told time and perhaps could be used as a timer or pedometer can now do so much more.
A health tracking watch is a welcome technology for the elderly, who once had to lug around an unwieldy medical alert device if they needed to monitor their health parameters. Using these archaic devices was a challenging activity in itself, and could not have provided the expansive and dynamic ability to monitor and assess that the smartwatches of the present day can.
In this article, we looked at some of the best health monitoring smartwatches on the market. In our opinion, the Apple Watch Series 5 is one of the best smartwatches in its category, with exceptionally clean build quality, refined monitoring apps and sensors, and the comfort of Apple’s ecosystem and customer support.
Our next favorite choice would be the Fitbit Inspire HR, which comes with its own extensive health and fitness monitoring capabilities from Apple’s biggest competing brand in the smartwatch space.
The Lintelek Fitness Tracker is a good value-for-money option with a good set of health monitoring features at a cost-effective price.
With a lot of money going into research in this area, more accuracy in measuring health parameters and an increase in the number of measurable parameters will make the health tracking watches an effective support system for the elderly.