Fitness Trackers and Health Wearables – Good Fit For Your Senior?

Does a senior you know and love use a fitness tracking device?

If not, do they want to try one or is someone urging them to adopt one to get valuable medical data?

Seniors are being spotted every day using one brand or another of wearable device. You can see them at the store, beauty salon or church sporting the devices.

Recently I spoke with a senior who just started wearing a fitness band as part of her doctor’s treatment plan. She told me how she was using it and learning about the app in a health class.

She wasn’t comfortable with the app or how to input or extract the information she knew it held. She described how her medical team was tracking her biometrics to help her improve her health and lifestyle.

What Fitness Trackers Can Track

Most fitness trackers will be able to monitor how active your senior is by counting their steps. Knowing this information will help decide if more activity is needed to meet recommended guidelines for movement.

They also can tell how well your senior is sleeping by tracking the amount of time they were sleeping, how many times they got up in the night or even the depth of sleep. Was their time in bed spent in restful sleep so that they can stay well and be active during the day?

Your senior can track what they are eating by inputting data. Entering what, how much and when will tell them if they met or exceeded their calorie goal for the day.

When your senior begins using a fitness tracker they will have to tell it how tall they are, how much they weigh, their age and gender, and some other personal data. This information is then used to establish goals for activity and calorie needs.

Some allow your senior to enter how much water they drink and if they met the target ounces by the end of the day.

There are personal body managers coming to market soon that will do more automatic calculations and won’t require so much data input. They are in development and need more time before they might be good for seniors.

What Seniors Can Do With the Data

One of the best aspects of getting your senior loved one to use a fitness wearable is the ability it provides to learn how well, or unwell, they are doing.

Some doctors are giving seniors a fitness wearable and tracking their results as part of the plan of care. It gives the doctor data and allows them to target interventions based on the data. Many are getting improved adherence to weight loss efforts, medication management and disease management.

What areas of their life could use improvement?

Once they begin making changes such as increasing activity, how well are they getting to their goals? Do they need more exercise, more water or better sleep?

What interventions are needed for them to achieve better results? Do they need a new mattress or a dance class?

Another great result of a fitness band is the motivation to be healthier. It makes the wearer competitive about doing better tomorrow or even better than someone else they know using one if they share results. This can become a game they enjoy that results in fitness!

Learning your senior’s health and fitness biometrics will allow you and them to continue to improve their lifestyle.

Most all fitness trackers have wireless apps that house the data dashboard. Your senior will need to have computer, tablet or smartphone access and be able to sync the device in order to obtain their biometric data. For some seniors, this could be a deal breaker without your help.

More Health Related Wearables

Many seniors aren’t looking for pedometers (step counter) but would prefer to have a heart rate monitor, blood pressure reading or blood sugar tester that they can wear to easily give them the health data they need.

This type of information would allow them to adjust medications, prevent hospitalizations and focus their treatment plans for improved health and disease management.

Those devices are also available.

There are all types of monitors in use today measuring a variety of medical data, including weight changes, cardiac activity, fall detection, medication reminders and oxygen levels.

The best part of some of these devices is that it can send this data right to the doctor so that the treatment plan can be updated in a timely way and hopefully prevent hospitalizations.

There are also wearables designed for seniors that will track them throughout the day. They will then alert caregivers when something is amiss or an established pattern is altered. It can tell when they aren’t doing something, like cooking dinner, as they normally do or if they are doing something repetitively.

One device works in concert with sensors in the home monitoring movement. This allows it to form patterns and then changes to the pattern become caregiver alerts.

Is It Pretty?

Seniors are concerned about the latest wave of wearables and many might be refusing them for fear of loss of privacy or even lack of security for their health data.

Many are also refusing to try them because they are not attractive. Devices need to have personality, color and above all be comfortable for our seniors to want to use them.

They also need to be able to get the data and make sense of it. They more than likely will need someone to guide them in translating the health data into an action plan. Family caregivers can help them do this in collaboration with their healthcare team.

The data is becoming more valuable to the safety and health of seniors and the peace of mind for caregivers. The devices are becoming more user friendly and functional as the technology is improved.

There will be many more senior-friendly wearables coming soon that can meet a need for your senior. We will keep you updated on what is coming and if it can help meet your senior’s needs.

These are another example of technology that will help our senior loved ones stay healthier, happier and safer living in the home of their choice.