Seniors Bulletin / The Bulletin / Medical Alert Systems / An Eye On Medical Alert Watches

An Eye On Medical Alert Watches


  Winnie Thomas

Research reveals that around 88% of adults are alone when they experience a fall-related accident and 4 of 5 seniors need help to get up after a fall. Around 1 in 3 seniors say that they have remained on the floor for at least an hour after falling waiting for help. Elders who have a fall are at an increased risk of developing complications that need hospitalization or surgery as compared to seniors who get prompt help and treatment.

Today, several seniors depend on medical alert systems because it can be quite difficult for caregivers, family or friends to monitor elders 24×7. These medical alert systems offer round-the-clock monitoring, offering peace of mind to both senior adults and also their caregivers. Nowadays, while medical alert systems include various devices, right from in-home devices to personal emergency response systems (PERS) like pendants, bracelets, etc., many seniors feel rather self-conscious about wearing a medical alert system button.

What is a Medical Alert Watch?

Fortunately, today, there are smartwatches with in-built medical alert systems that help to address such issues. Medical alert watches are gaining popularity because they fit on the wrists of seniors comfortably and they are small and discreet compared to a bulky pocket device or a heavy pendant. These watches have various functions apart from just medical alerts. They are cool and comfortable and don’t shout “medical alert device” and seniors love the convenience these devices offer.

Medical alert watches connect with the emergency call center by making use of the wireless networks, making these devices perfect for any person requiring a mobile emergency medical alert device that works both at home, as well as outside. Medical alert watches have an in-built GPS that allows emergency operators to see the location of the senior and send help when required. Generally, medical alert watches have 2-way communication capabilities that allow users to communicate with the operators.

This allows seniors to remain active and do all the activities they love such as walking, gardening, hiking, biking, etc. without being in the way like a neck pendant. In fact, a medical alert watch gives elders the confidence to engage in various activities with the complete peace of mind and confidence that if there is an emergency, help is just a press of a button away, while being discreet, stylish and cool.

Who Can Use a Medical Alert Watch?

Medical alert watches are perfect for those who want the security and safety that comes along with using a PERS button and who may not like the idea of wearing a regular HELP button. A medical alert watch looks and feels just like a regular smartwatch and can be worn in any type of situation. Medical alert watches come with additional features like GPS location tracking. Some watches even have other functions like health monitoring, heart rate monitoring and messaging apps. Another huge plus of medical alert watches is that they connect to the available nationwide mobile networks and offer their users coverage in any place which has mobile phone service. Medical alert watches have very small screens and so they may not be a great option for people with poor vision. They may not be suitable for people who may find it difficult to navigate the in-built interface or who do not want a device that requires to be recharged once every 24 hours or so.

Benefits of a Medical Alert Watch​

There are many benefits to using a medical alert watch. Often many seniors do not like wearing a medical alert device because they are bulky, unsightly and they may feel stigmatized and self-conscious wearing a medical alert device. Studies reveal that only 20% of people owning medical alert devices actually wear them regularly. And, medical alert systems are useless if seniors do not make use of them.

On the other hand, medical alert watches are sleek and multifunctional and apart from looking cool, they also act as a medical alert system. This may encourage seniors to wear the medical alert watch more frequently compared to a standalone medical alert device. This also makes both seniors, as well as their families, feel like they are getting more value for their money.

Medical alert smartwatches may have plenty of features that make them attractive to seniors. They may have a fitness tracker that could help to encourage elders to cultivate better exercise habits. Smartwatches have several other benefits such as they may be able to monitor a range of health-related parameters such as heart rate, EKG, etc.

They may have loads of apps to please the “tech-savvy” and not to mention the entire idea of being the “tempting, must-have gadget.” And, the most important function of the medical alert watch is that it can help you tell the time. A medical alert smartwatch bundles several products into a single product and eliminates the need to carry multiple devices.

What Do Medical Alert Watches Offer?

As we already know, medical alert systems help to increase safety and independence for seniors and help to foster peace of mind for their caregivers and family. And, there are various types of medical alert systems available on the market like home-based units, pendants, etc. While these may be appropriate for some elders depending on their activity levels, lifestyle and needs, others may find home-based units not very useful when they are outdoors and wearing pendants and other medical alert devices embarrassing. However medical alert smartwatches can be worn freely and discreetly and offer loads of other functions such as:
  • Showing the time
  • Providing weather forecasts
  • Reminding you to take your medications
  • Translating text to voice messages for easy communications with your loved ones
  • Using various systems such as GPS, cell phone towers and Wi-Fi to locate the user in the case of an emergency
  • Calling cabs (e.g. Lyft, Uber) for easy mobility

Features of Medical Alert Watches​

Before you go out and pick a medical alert watch, it is very important to know what are the features and functions available. In this section, we have discussed some of the most important features of a medical alert watch.

Round-the-Clock Emergency Response

Medical emergencies can happen at any time at all without any warning. So, it is extremely important to have access to emergency responders at the press of a button. A round-the-clock emergency response is a necessity and not a luxury. So, you must look out for a 24×7 emergency response feature on the medical alert watch and you should not consider the device if it does not have this function.

Two-Way Voice Communication

At the time of an emergency, communication is of utmost importance. Having a medical alert watch with a 2-way communication feature can make all the difference in the event of a crisis. 2-way communication helps to connect you with the emergency personnel directly, allowing you to talk, as well as listen through your watch. The emergency responders can get all the information and take the best course of action to help you.

Cellular Monitoring

Choosing a medical alert watch that offers cellular monitoring offers real-time coverage, even while you’re on the move. Whether you’re driving, going to the grocery store or even traveling to another state, cellular monitoring tracks you at all times, keeping you safe and secure. Medical alert watches equipped with this technology make use of cellular towers to locate your position so that you can go around anywhere with the complete peace of mind that help is at hand. Seniors who are active and are always on the go are sure to love this feature.

Fall Detection

Most medical alert watches offer the fall detection feature as an upgrade and it is definitely worth the extra cost. When the medical alert watch detects a fall, an automatic alert is sent by the device to the monitoring center, where the emergency personnel takes immediate action by contacting the emergency responders or caregiver depending on the situation.

Nationwide Coverage

With medical alert watches, you can get the best combination of form and function. The nationwide coverage allows you to travel anywhere within the US. The nationwide coverage feature comes along with most of the mobile medical alert watches and as long as you choose cellular coverage, you can roam freely as you want.

GPS Location Monitoring

Another powerful feature that comes inbuilt into many medical alert watches is GPS tracking. This is an excellent and handy function for seniors who are quite active. And, whether you are making a trip to your neighborhood grocery store, hiking trails or visiting the community center, the GPS will track your medical alert watch and keep you safe and secure wherever you go. In the event of an emergency, your exact location can be identified by the monitoring center and sent to the emergency responders or caregiver.

Mobile Monitoring

Medical emergencies and accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. So, when you select a medical alert watch, you should ensure that it has a mobile monitoring feature, especially if you are very active and go out of your home very frequently. The alert systems are powered by cellular or WiFi signal and are quite reliable. Mobile monitoring can give you excellent on-the-go protection.

Easy Setup

Pick a medical alert watch that offers easy setup, which allows you to simply plug-and-play and you’re ready to go in a few minutes. Today, there are several medical alert watches on the market that makes it extremely easy for a senior to just buy, activate and start using.

Extended Battery Life

The medical alert watch you buy should have an extended battery life that can hold a charge for several days. This feature lets you use the watch for days and even weeks without the need to charge it.

Using an Apple Watch as a Medical Alert Watch

Apple is renowned for some of the best technology on the market and its products are extremely popular. The Apple Watch Series 4 is no exception and has loads of features that make it an excellent device for everyday use. While the Apple Watch is not really designed as a medical alert watch, it can be used as one. The watch is equipped with the emergency SOS Alert function that lets seniors connect with emergency responders, caregivers and family members easily in the event of any emergency.

The emergency SOS Alert sends your location to the emergency responders and when pressed, your medical ID badge is also displayed on the screen. The Apple Watch allows senior adults to monitor their health proactively by using various tools like fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring, etc.

The Apple Watch is equipped with an ECG App that can produce an ECG that is very similar to the single-lead electrocardiogram that is available in the emergency room of a hospital. This can be of great help to emergency responders in the event of a medical emergency and offers peace of mind to seniors, as well as their caregivers and their family.

Apart from having health and fitness features, the Apple Watch allows you to keep in touch with your family and friends. You can take a call on your Apple Watch when you’re outdoors and don’t have your phone with you. The watch allows you to take calls, text and also listen to your voicemail and it has plenty of other useful features such as calendar, maps, calculator, Apple Pay, etc.

The Apple Watch is among the best smartwatches that are not only stylish but extremely versatile too. The Apple Watch Series 4 is an excellent watch for active seniors who own an Apple smartphone and works very well as a medical alert watch too. The Apple Watch offers a range of health tools and also an ECG app, which makes it an excellent buy for elders.

The only drawback of the Apple Watch is that since it works with Apple iOS phones, it is not a great buy for those who do not have an Apple smartphone. Also, if you don’t lead a very active lifestyle, then it is better to opt for another medical alert watch because the Apple Watch is quite pricey and has lots of features, functions and tools that you may not really use.

Summary

In conclusion, today, the market for wearable medical emergency devices is growing rapidly and medical alert watches are becoming the new “hot favorite” for seniors looking for a smart medical alert device that is discreet, yet stylish to wear and offers complete peace of mind that help is close at hand at the press of a button.
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