Seniors and Wearable Devices : a Necessary Combination

Seniors and Wearable Devices : a Necessary Combination

In a world where one in six U.S. consumers own and use wearable devices, there’s one group that’s not using them that should be: seniors.

This, according to a recent Stat News report on the potential uses for wearable tech among seniors, a group that’s perceived to be slow to adopt technology, but in reality has ever-growing rates of smartphone and tablet use.

The author of the piece is Paul Adams, a senior director of product management for Philips Home Monitoring, the company that makes the Philips Lifeline device, which is a wearable to alert caretakers and emergency responders to when a senior has fallen. Adams says the applications for wearables with the over-65 set goes far beyond fall alerts, however.

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As with individuals of all ages, Adams argues that wearables can help seniors monitor their own health, and become aware of changes. As part of this, it seems to us that many seniors could benefit from tracking their fitness — which can help spur the proactive healthy behavior of exercise.

Such devices can also help individuals communicate with their caretakers, and ease loved one’s worries. (Take this story from the podcast Reply All, about how one twin sister found peace of mind through remote monitoring of her twin’s diabetes. With the ability to watch the other sister’s vital signs, one found peace of mind.)

Or, along these lines, physicians can use the data to monitor patients’ health at home, or to better track recovery after surgery or illness.

But part of the issue with seniors and wearables, Adams continues — much like what others have suggested about wearables and women — is design. Designers need to be thinking about the products with the user’s’ end goals in mind.

Adams says:

“The needs of this population differ dramatically from those of millennials or middle-aged folks, especially in terms of hearing, vision, and mobility. Design greatly affects a user’s desire to interact with his or her device. A senior with a chronic condition such as arthritis, who may also have limited vision, is unlikely to enjoy and regularly use a small device that has a complicated interface and tiny, hard-to-touch buttons.”

In conclusion, once industry and users start collaborating to address needs, seniors can benefit.

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