Medical alert systems offer a lifeline for people who live alone and wish to have a convenient link to the outside world in the event of an emergency. The most common type of medical alert system is a pendant that connects to a base station. These pendants are lightweight, easy to wear and can be activated with a push of a button to summon aid.
Some seniors, especially those who are more active or are relatively tech-savvy, want something more sophisticated than a simple pendant. Smart watch systems fill this space in the market. Many active seniors feel more comfortable wearing a smartwatch than a pendant because they feel watches are more fashionable and youthful.
Smart watch medical alert systems have more features than a simple help button too. Many have built-in calendars, weather forecasts, pedometers, two-way audio and other features that are common on a mainstream smart watch.
Here, we look at three of the best smartwatch medical alert systems for seniors. These watches are affordably priced, reliable and have the features seniors need for peace of mind.
Medical Alert Systems With Smartwatches
The MobileHelp Smart is a Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch repurposed as a medical alert system for seniors. It offers the same U.S.-based emergency response service as MobileHelp’s other devices and features two-way communication with excellent audio quality.
The watch isn’t a pure Samsung Gear device. The hardware is the same, but the operating system has been tweaked to turn it into an alert system. It does, however, retain many of the useful smartwatch apps, including health monitoring and fitness tracking. The watch has built-in GPS too, making it a good choice for on-the-go seniors.
The watch interface may be difficult for seniors with poor eyesight or low dexterity to use. However, for those who can still confidently navigate a mainstream smart device, this is a good compromise. It looks like a smart watch, retains most of the features and offers remote monitoring services. Some seniors may be put off by the price since the up-front cost is similar to that of a standard smart watch, and users still need to pay the standard MobileHelp monthly fee. For those who want high-performance hardware, however, this is one of the best medical alert systems on the market.
The GreatCall Lively Wearable is a good choice for those who want smart watch-style features on a budget. The device is a Bluetooth watch that can sync with most Android and iOS phones. Since the device supports Android 4.4 and iOS 8, even those with relatively old smartphones should be able to use this wearable.
The GreatCall Lively watch is waterproof and has a Bluetooth range of 150 feet. Unlike most other wearables, this watch doesn’t communicate with a proprietary base station. Rather, it turns a standard smartphone into a medical alert system with two-way communication over speakerphone. Users can also install the GreatCall Link and Lively Wearable apps on their phones, adding features such as real-time caregiver notifications and fitness tracking.
The watch has a non-rechargeable battery, keeping maintenance requirements to a minimum. The strap is removable, so users can swap between wearing the device as a watch or on a lanyard based on personal preference.
The GreatCall Lively is far less expensive than a full smart watch, costing $49.99 up-front, with an additional activation fee and a monthly subscription for the monitoring service. The device is less sophisticated than the one provided by MobileHelp but may appeal to seniors who are simply looking for a discreet watch as an alternative to a help pendant.
Medical Guardian offers a medical alert system with a smart watch in the form of the Freedom Guardian device. It features a large touch screen for ease of use and is equipped with GPS location tracking and its own SIM that connects to AT&T cellular networks for two-way communication.
The watch has many of the features of a standard Android or iOS smart watch, including text-to-speech messaging and a weather forecasting app. In addition, it can communicate with a companion mobile app to allow caregiver alerts and monitoring.
The Medical Guardian smartwatch is a good choice for tech-savvy seniors who want more features than provided by the GreatCall device but would struggle to use a device based on more mainstream hardware such as the MobileHelp Smart.
Medical Guardian charges an up-front fee of $179.95 for the Freedom Guardian, plus an ongoing subscription fee for the monitoring service. This makes it more expensive than GreatCall’s offering, although some may feel the extra features are worth the price.
Which Smartwatch Is Best for Seniors?
All three of the above smart watches include remote monitoring features, making them a good choice for those who are worried about being ill or injuring themselves in a fall.
Which watch to purchase comes down to personal preference. The simplicity of the GreatCall Lively, the balance of features and ease-of-use of the Freedom Guardian and the sophistication of MobileHelp’s offering each have their own appeal.
Before buying any of the above watches, read the terms and conditions carefully and check any restocking fees or cancellation costs to ensure the user isn’t left stuck with a watch they dislike or find too confusing to use. Most brands have return policies that allow users to test the product at home for a few days, which can be helpful if a senior isn’t sure if a smartwatch is the right type of alert device for them.