The Best Smartwatches for Seniors | SeniorLiving.org (2024)

If there was any doubt that seniors use smart gadgets, AARP’s latest senior tech survey put it to rest. In 2023, seniors estimated they’d spend $912 on tech purchases, compared to $394 in 2019. AARP’s survey also indicates that 28 percent of older adults currently use a wearable device like a smartwatch.1

Today’s small, lightweight smartwatches can double as health monitors and wearable alert systems. This means that older adults don’t have to rely on smartphones or larger, traditional medical alert systems in an emergency.

Our tech experts have found that smartwatches are great for keeping on-the-go older adults connected and protected. You may miss a message on your phone, but a beep on your wrist? Never! Many retirees even use wearables to keep on top of their fitness goals.

To bring you the best options out there, our team of tech experts tested out the industry’s leading smartwatches and narrowed down the list to our top picks.

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MGMove weather app updating

Our Methodology: How Our Experts Tested the Best Smartwatches for Seniors

Our tech team tested more than a dozen of the latest smartwatches and found the best seven for tech-savvy seniors and caregivers. Here’s a closer look at our testing process:

  1. We researched the best smartwatches on the market through hours of research and conversations with customer service representatives. We asked about features, response time averages, delivery times to expect, and warranties.
  2. We tested our top picks for a week, taking notes on all aspects of day-to-day use.
  3. We enlisted the help of older adults to test the products whenever possible. Together, we considered a wide range of criteria that matter to seniors like price, ease of use, and health monitoring.
  4. Lastly, we dialed our experience down into three key categories: price, battery life, and size and comfort. You’ll see each topic covered below.

Keep reading to learn about the best smartwatches for seniors and find the one that’s right for you!

Our Top Seven Smartwatches for Seniors

  • Medical Guardian MGMove - Best caregiver monitoring
  • Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch - Best for tech-averse seniors
  • HandsFree Health WellBe Medical Alert Watch - Best health monitoring
  • Alert1 On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert - Best emergency assistance for active seniors
  • Fitbit Versa 4 - Best all-around smartwatch for active seniors
  • Apple Watch Series 9 - Best smartwatch without a subscription plan
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch6 - Best smartwatch for style-conscious Android users
  • 1. Medical Guardian MGMove - Best caregiver monitoring

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    View Packages

    Call for best price: Call to Order: 855-919-4522

    What we like most

    • 24/7 response center on your wrist
    • Provides texts, notifications, and reminders
    • Built-in GPS

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    Medical Guardian MGMove

    Call for best price: Call to Order: 855-919-4522

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    SeniorLiving.org Rating 4.5

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
    excellent excellent excellent excellent excellent

    Please scroll to the right for more info.

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    Testing out the MGMove Watch

    Overview

    Medical Guardian’s MGMove is a well-rounded smartwatch designed specifically for older adults. It combines 24/7 protection, weather alerts, and health features like step counting. Caregiver monitoring tools are also available. They can be accessed through the MyGuardian web portal and mobile app.

    I love that caregivers can send texts to the watch, set reminders for their loved ones about important appointments, and view the wearer’s location data. I was able to set reminders for upcoming appointments through the mobile app and send messages to the watch when my grandma wore it. It made checking in and staying connected with her a breeze! Caregivers can also access the user’s call history and current activity, which is a huge plus.

    The MGMove is fairly similar to Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch (the next watch on our list). But, it doesn’t have the option to send texts or set reminders like the Medical Guardian watch does. If you’re looking for a medical alert watch with the latest features, MGMove is a great choice.

    Pro Tip:

    Pro Tip: Are you looking for a smartwatch with built-in medical alert features? Check out our guide to the best medical alert watches!

    During testing, I simply pressed the watch’s SOS button to connect with Medical Guardian’s emergency response center. An agent answered in about 10 seconds and asked what help was needed.

    As an added bonus, I found that the watch looks no different from any other “normal” smartwatch; it’s discreet for those who don’t want others to know they’re wearing a medical alert device. MGMove is an excellent option for seniors who want robust protection, and for loved ones looking for ample caregiving features.

    Pros About Medical Guardian MGMove

    • Robust caregiver features and portal
    • Medical alert features
    • 24/7 urgent response center
    • Texts and reminders
    • Easy to use
    • Discreet design
    • GPS tracking
    • Step tracking

    Cons About Medical Guardian MGMove

    • Less high-tech features than nonmedical smartwatches
    • Some features cost an additional monthly fee
    • Fall detection costs extra

    Price

    While the MGMove isn’t the most expensive smartwatch I’ve come across, it can get pricey if you want all of its best features. The watch has a one-time equipment fee of $199.95, along with a monthly subscription of $39.95. This subscription is what gives you 24/7 access to Medical Guardian’s monitoring center. Though this is typical for medical alert systems, MGMove is a bit pricey compared to similar systems.

    You can add fall detection ($10 per month), texts and alerts ($5 per month), and real-time notifications for loved ones during an emergency ($2.99 per month). When you add that all up, MGMove has the most expensive monthly rates on our list. You can also add a protection plan for $6.99 per month. That’s a good option if you put a lot of wear and tear on your mobile devices like I do.

    » Learn About: Best medical alert systems in 2024

    If you already have a medical alert system, the MGMove may be an added expense that you really don’t need. Moreover, this watch costs roughly $40 more than the Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch and monthly rates are $5 higher. That said, the MGMove’s health, monitoring, and caregiving features may be worth the cost, depending on your needs. Plus, you can save a few bucks each month if you pay for your system annually rather than monthly — score! You can read our Medical Guardian pricing guide to learn more about getting the best deal with the company.

    Battery Life

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    Low-battery alerts on Medical Guardian's MGMove

    My grandma and I were happy with how easy and fast it was to charge the MGMove. Medical Guardian advertises up to 24 hours of battery life. We found this to be true while testing the watch. My grandma wore it for two days. She regularly used it to set reminders, view the time, check the weather, and test the emergency response features (she got a response in around 10 seconds). She only had to charge the MGMove once during this 48-hour period. The watch let her know when the battery was getting low by beeping and showing low-battery signals on the screen.

    Size and Comfort

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    MGMove's watch band has a metal pin and clasp

    My grandma wasn’t a big fan of the design of the watchband. The band’s metal pin was difficult to adjust. If you have arthritis or struggle to handle precise tasks with your fingers, you might find it frustrating to put the watchband on. My grandma needed my help to ensure the band was secured correctly. Once that was done, she found it light and comfortable to wear. With a little practice, she was able to take it off and put it on herself.

    » Learn More: Medical Guardian review

    You can order different strap lengths based on your needs and preferences, ranging from 5.25 inches to 7.75 inches. The watch screen has a 1.25-inch diameter, regardless of the strap length. This may be a little small for seniors with vision issues. Fortunately, my grandma had no problem reading the time or seeing the notifications pop up on the screen.

  • 2. Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch - Best for tech-averse seniors

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    View Packages

    Call for best price: Call to Order: 844-946-1712

    What we like most

    • No smartphone-pairing required
    • Sleek and stylish design
    • Built-in GPS and 24/7 monitoring

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    Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch

    Call for best price: Call to Order: 844-946-1712

    View Packages

    SeniorLiving.org Rating 4.0

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
    excellent excellent excellent above average above average

    Please scroll to the right for more info.

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    SOS Smartwatch

    Overview

    Not a big fan of high-tech devices? No problem! I found that the Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch is simple to use. It doesn’t require pairing with a smartphone, like some smartwatches do. It features large icons with clear images. I knew exactly what to press, whether I wanted to call for help or check the weather. If it’s time to invest in round-the-clock emergency medical monitoring and technology isn’t your thing, a Bay Alarm Medical package is worth considering.

    » Learn More: Best medical alert systems with fall detection

    Despite its slick styling, this watch isn’t just a fancy emergency button. When I put it to the test, I found a step tracker that monitors daily activity. I also found a GPS tracker that lets caregivers and emergency alert personnel monitor my location. Using the companion mobile app, I could see my daily step count and the device’s exact location when I wore it on a walk through town. This is excellent for loved ones who want to stay in the loop.

    Like the Fitbit Versa 4, the SOS Smartwatch doesn’t require smartphone pairing. That means you don’t need a phone to use it. Not all best-in-class medical alert systems for active seniors are phone-free, so that’s a big plus.

    Pros About Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch

    • Built-in GPS over 4G LTE
    • Instant emergency medical assistance 24/7
    • No smartphone pairing necessary
    • Can be bundled in with home alert system
    • Attractive, contemporary display
    • Water-resistant
    • Step tracking and daily step goals
    • Weather alerts

    Cons About Bay Alarm Medical SOS Smartwatch

    • Fall detection costs extra
    • Needs frequent recharging

    Price

    The cost for this smartwatch is one of its biggest selling points. At just $159, it’s less expensive than the Galaxy Watch6 and MGMove. The $34.95 subscription fee is also competitively priced. However, this price doesn’t include fall detection. The smartwatch with fall detection costs $44.95 per month. Fall detection is a $10 add-on, which is the industry standard.

    » Compare Your Options: Bay Alarm Medical vs. Medical Guardian

    The combination of a simple interface and 24/7 emergency assistance is a major bonus. But, the monthly subscription may put the SOS Smartwatch out of your price range. If you’re looking for a smartwatch without a monthly fee, consider an Apple Watch or the Galaxy Watch6. Still, if you’re accident-prone, you live alone, or you have a serious condition that puts you at risk for falls, you may find the peace of mind well worth the investment.

    Battery Life

    The SOS Smartwatch’s battery life is OK, but it’s definitely not as long as I would have hoped. After fully charging the device, I wore the watch with minimal usage for about 14 hours before the low-battery indicator came on. It still had one or two more hours of usage left, but Bay Alarm Medical advertises up to 18 hours of battery life.

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    Charging the SOS Smartwatch

    Needing to charge the battery more than once per day is a pretty big drawback, especially if this watch is your primary medical alert device. For this reason, I recommend it for seniors who don’t venture away from home (or a charging outlet) often. If battery life is a top priority for you, consider the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 or Fitbit Versa 4, which have 40-hour and six-day battery lives, respectively.

    » Related Reading: Bay Alarm Medical review

    Size and Comfort

    Like the MGMove, the SOS Smartwatch features a smallish 1.25-inch screen. The large, bright icons more than make up for the small size. I held down the emergency button for around five seconds to test it out. I was connected to an operator in 10 seconds. At first, holding the button down felt kind of awkward, since it was on the side of the watch instead of the top. Luckily, I got used to it quickly.

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    Sizing the SOS Smartwatch band

    Like the MGMove, I had to secure a metal pin in place when putting on the watch. That was a little tricky, especially when I was in a hurry. If you struggle with dexterity, you might find this watch a bit difficult to take on and off, but it does get easier with practice.

  • 3. HandsFree Health WellBe Medical Alert Watch - Best health monitoring

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    See Pricing

    What we like most

    • Medical reminders through speaker and app
    • Voice-activated search feature for medical questions
    • Built-in pedometer and heart monitor

    The Best Smartwatches for Seniors | SeniorLiving.org (20)

    HandsFree Health WellBe Medical Alert Watch

    See Pricing

    SeniorLiving.org Rating 4.0

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
    excellent above average above average excellent above average

    Please scroll to the right for more info.

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    Wellbe Medical Alert Watch

    Overview

    Imagine a smartwatch that reminds you not only to take your medication, but also when it’s time for a refill or you’re due for a doctor’s visit. The WellBe Medical Alert Watch from HandsFree Health is that smartwatch. It delivers critical medical reminders when paired with the WellBe Medical Alert Speaker ($189.99) or the free WellBe app.

    » Related Reading: Best voice-activated medical alert systems for seniors

    Similar to most of the watches on our list, the WellBe Medical Alert Watch has a 24/7 emergency help button, pedometer for step tracking, GPS, and heart rate monitor. As I discovered first hand, daily use is pretty easy once you register via the WellBe app. This watch is pretty standard unless you pair it with the WellBe Medical Alert Speaker.

    I was pleasantly surprised by the $119.95 price tag (more on that below), which makes it the perfect option for budget-conscious consumers who just want a simple watch.

    Pros About HandsFree Health WellBe Medical Alert Watch

    • Budget-friendly
    • Bundle with WellBe Medical Alert Speaker for medical reminders and voice-activated features
    • Pedometer
    • Heart rate monitor
    • Fast charging time
    • 24/7 emergency assistance
    • GPS tracking

    Cons About HandsFree Health WellBe Medical Alert Watch

    • Fall detection model costs more
    • No phone calls or messaging

    Price

    At $119.95, this watch is the most cost-effective choice on this list if you don’t include add-ons like fall detection. At $29.95, its monthly service is also more affordable than plans offered by Medical Guardian or Bay Alarm Medical. If you want a basic watch that keeps track of your health, the WellBe Watch is your most budget-friendly option.

    Pro Tip:

    Pro Tip: Want to learn more about what WellBe can offer? Check out our guide to the WellBe medical alert systems.

    Watches with fall detection are round in shape instead of rectangular. Fall detection adds $40 to the equipment cost, plus an extra $10 monthly fee. So, if you want fall detection, you’ll pay the same device fee as Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Smartwatch. Monthly rates with fall detection will be around $5 less.

    Battery Life

    The watch’s battery life is supposed to last up to 24 hours on one charge. I was pleasantly surprised that it held its charge all day long, even with heavy use. I frequently checked the pedometer and heart rate monitor, and I made several test calls to the emergency response center. During my calls, I was connected to an operator in around 25 seconds. That’s solid, but still around 15 seconds slower than the SOS Smartwatch’s response time.

    The WellBe Medical Alert Watch is a great choice for seniors who don’t want to charge their devices multiple times a day. Instead, I just plugged in the watch when I went to sleep, and it was ready to go the next day.

    Size and Comfort

    There are two different versions of the WellBe Watch. The standard version has a square screen with rounded edges. It looks similar to the Apple Watch Series 9. With a diameter of about 1.82 inches, the screen is a great fit for seniors with vision issues. The watch felt quite large when I put it on, since I have small wrists.

    The Round version with fall detection is much smaller, at just 0.96 inches in diameter. That’s more than 25 percent smaller than the SOS Smartwatch and MGMove. So it’s a good choice if you’re prone to falls, but not ideal if you struggle with smaller screens.

    One thing I really liked about this smartwatch was the band. It’s made of thick, durable rubber with adjustable holes for sizing. The metal pin that clicks into these holes is much easier to press into place without applying lots of pressure. So, if you find yourself fed up with the traditional clasps of wristwatches, the WellBe Medical Alert Watch offers a welcome change.

  • 4. Alert1 On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert - Best emergency assistance for active seniors

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    See Pricing

    What we like most

    • Simple design
    • Step tracking
    • Affordable smartwatch

    The Best Smartwatches for Seniors | SeniorLiving.org (23)

    Alert1 On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert

    See Pricing

    SeniorLiving.org Rating 4.0

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
    excellent average above average average average

    Please scroll to the right for more info.

    The Best Smartwatches for Seniors | SeniorLiving.org (24)

    Alert1 On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert. Source: Alert1

    Overview

    If you’re budget conscious and don’t need health reminders, Alert1’s affordable, no-frills packages might make sense for you. Even at the budget price of $179, the Alert1 watch aids your fitness goals by tracking your steps. With seniors’ use of smart gadgets skyrocketing, older adults are spending more time in front of screens than ever before. A little extra help clocking your daily steps may be just what you need to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.

    Did You Know?

    Did You Know? Alert1’s emergency-response agents speak over 190 languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, French, and Russian!

    The Alert1 On-the-Go Wrist Watch doesn’t cover any new terrain. But it does give you emergency medical monitoring without any frills to drive up the monthly fee. It’s ready to use right out of the box, without complicated setup or app registration. Alert1 won’t know you as well as the Fitbit Versa 4, which has lots of advanced health features. Still, you’ll have the incentive to stay on top of your daily fitness — and spend less time glued to your devices — with Alert1’s built-in pedometer.

    » Stay Active As You Age: Workouts and exercises for seniors

    One drawback to this smartwatch is its lack of fall detection. While most medical alert watches didn’t offer fall detection a few years ago, most do now, including the SOS Smartwatch, MGMove, and WellBe Medical Alert Watch. If you’re at a higher risk of falls or want an added layer of protection, this is important to note.

    Pros About Alert1 On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert

    • Stylish, easy-to-read, shower-proof display
    • Certified, U.S.-based emergency-response agents
    • 24/7 assistance with GPS tracking
    • Pedometer to stay on top of fitness goals
    • Pacemaker-compatible
    • Competitive subscription plan

    Cons About Alert1 On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert

    • Activation fees if you pay month-to-month
    • No message or reminders
    • Fall detection not available
    • Needs to be charged frequently

    Price

    I found that the The On-the-Go Wrist Watch is a middle-of-the-road option when it comes to price. Monthly subscriptions start at $29.95 if you prepay for 10 months (or $38.95 if you choose month to month). All Alert1 devices have a one-time activation fee of $19.95. I’m not a big fan of activation fees, as the other watches on our list don’t have them, so this is something to note.

    With a subscription, you get 24/7 access to U.S.-based emergency-response agents. Similar to the other medical alert watches on our list, I held down the help button on the watch for five seconds. A countdown appeared on the screen, letting me know when the call would be placed. Then, after about 30 seconds, I was connected to an operator. The industry average for medical alert system response times is 15 to 45 seconds, so Alert1 falls in the middle of the pack.

    » Learn More: Alert1 review

    The watch costs $179 upfront. That’s $20 less than the MGMove, and over $200 less than Apple Watch Series 9. This watch’s features are pretty bare bones when compared to more affordable options on our list, like Bay Alarm’s SOS Smartwatch. Plus, you don’t have the option to add fall detection. All in all, Alert1’s watch is best for those who want the simplest watch possible and don’t care about fall detection.

    Battery Life

    The biggest letdown for me was battery life. Alert1 advertises battery life of up to 24 hours, but that only holds true if you use it to do the bare minimum. My grandma and I found that it didn’t last more than 16 hours without needing a recharge. If you use the watch throughout the day and plug it in when you go to bed, this shouldn’t be a problem. But if you have a hard time remembering to charge your devices regularly (like I do), it’s a drawback.

    Size and Comfort

    The Alert1 On-the-Go Wrist Watch features a round screen that’s 1.25 inches in diameter. Like the MGMove and SOS Smartwatch, it may not be easy for you to read if you have vision issues. The upside is that it helps keep the watch lightweight. My grandma wore the watch when she took her dog on a walk around the neighborhood. She said it felt light and didn’t get in the way. The watch has a band mechanism that’s similar to the MGMove, so it did take a little time to adjust the band.

  • 5. Fitbit Versa 4 - Best all-around smartwatch for active seniors

    What we like most

    • Sleep and blood oxygen monitoring
    • Extensive health and wellness features
    • Up to six days of battery life

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    Fitbit Versa 4

    SeniorLiving.org Rating 4.0

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
    above average above average above average excellent average

    Please scroll to the right for more info.

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    Starting a workout on the Fitbit Versa 4

    Overview

    Fitbits ushered in the mobile health monitoring revolution. They make it easy to see how much exercise we’re actually getting. Fitbits still focus on fitness, but you can now use them as smartwatches, too. As long as I had my smartphone nearby, I could receive and send text messages, take phone calls, and listen to music on Spotify during a run. Or, if I just wanted to track a workout, I didn’t need my phone handy.

    One of my favorite things about the Versa 4 is the built-in Amazon Alexa voice assistant. I could send texts, make calls, set alarms, and check the weather, all with the sound of my voice. This is excellent for those who hate to text or have mobility issues.

    » Learn More: Best smartphones for seniors

    The Fitbit Versa 4 is the second Fitbit with built-in GPS. That means you don’t need your phone to track your fitness stats away from home. I love the watch’s advanced health monitoring; I could track my steps, calories, heart rate, sleep, and blood-oxygen levels. I have an arrhythmia, and the watch even alerted me when I had irregular heart rhythms. This is excellent for catching abnormal readings. You won’t see these advanced features on most medical alert watches, including the SOS Smartwatch or MGMove.

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    Checking heart rate information on the Fitbit Versa 4

    The Versa 4 also gave me a daily “Readiness” score to help me decide if I needed a workout or a nap. I loved this feature because it gave me an excuse to take it easy! If you have trouble catching quality Zs, the Versa 4 also monitors your sleep so you can pinpoint and correct unhealthy patterns.

    » Learn More: 2024 Fitbit review

    The water-resistant Versa 4 can hold its own against the Apple Watch Series 9, thanks to its long battery life and its slightly larger hi-res display that’s gentle on older eyes. If staying healthy and active are your main concerns, the Versa 4 is a top choice.

    Pros About Fitbit Versa 4

    • Built-in GPS
    • Sleep and blood-oxygen monitoring
    • Dozens of workout routines
    • Bigger, crisper display
    • Battery lasts up to six days
    • Built-in Amazon Alexa
    • Answers phone calls and text messages
    • Advanced health and fitness tracking

    Cons About Fitbit Versa 4

    • No emergency alert features
    • Advanced features require a subscription

    Price

    At $149.95, the Fitbit Versa 4 is a pretty good bargain. It doesn’t have the emergency alert features of the Apple Watch Series 9 or MGMove. It does, however, offer some of the same health monitoring features as the Alert1 On-the-Go Wrist Watch — without a monthly subscription.

    You’ll need to pay for Fitbit premium to get personalized workout recommendations, the daily “Readiness” score, and sleep analysis. New Fitbit devices come with up to six months of Fitbit Premium for free, and it’s only $9.99 per month after that. Those are the cheapest monthly rates on our list!

    Battery Life

    The battery life on the Fitbit Versa 4 is outstanding. According to the company, it lasts up to six days. We tested it for a week and only had to charge it on the last day. My grandma loved that she could wear it while she slept without putting it on the charger every night. In our eyes, this gives the Fitbit Versa 4 a huge advantage over watches like the Apple Watch Series 9 and Galaxy Watch6. Both have shorter battery lives.

    Size and Comfort

    Fitbits have always been made to be small, lightweight, and comfortable. The Fitbit Versa 4 is no exception. My grandma liked that she barely felt it on her wrist; it wasn’t cumbersome, even when she was washing her hands or getting ready for bed.

    One drawback to note: My skin had a reaction to the original watch band that almost felt like a rug burn. I ordered a new band in a different material; it was easy to switch out the bands and my skin didn’t react to the new one.

    Compared to earlier versions, the Versa 4 has a very large screen with a 1.58-inch diameter. This may make it easier to read for many seniors. My grandma and I also preferred the rubber stop band to the metal pin of the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 and MGMove. We found that it was easier to open and close.

  • 6. Apple Watch Series 9 - Best smartwatch without a subscription plan

    What we like most

    • Built-in fall detection
    • Advanced features
    • Talk and text capabilities

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    Apple Watch Series 9

    SeniorLiving.org Rating N/A

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
    above average excellent above average excellent average

    Please scroll to the right for more info.

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    My mom using her Apple Watch

    Overview

    The Apple Watch Series 9 can generate an electrocardiogram (ECG). That may be a nonnegotiable health feature for seniors with heart arrhythmia or heart disease. Few other smartwatches have this potentially lifesaving feature. Similar to the Fitbit Versa 4, you can share the health data collected from your watch with your family or health care provider.

    I also really liked that I could use this watch to find my phone. My mom and I even played a little game to test it out, where we each “misplaced” the phone and let the other use the Apple Watch to find it! As soon as either of us got close to the phone, we heard audible feedback to help us zero in on it. If you have an iPhone and frequently misplace it, this could be a very useful feature. However, it won’t help you find your glasses or the TV remote!

    » Further reading: Best iPhones for seniors

    The Series 9 also has fall detection and a one-tap SOS button that connects with local emergency personnel. My mom could turn these features off or on in the settings, which she liked. If you don’t want to use the screen a lot, the latest Apple watch lets you tap your thumb and index finger to answer calls, open notifications, start or pause music, and much more.

    I used Apple’s Health apps directly on the watch without an iPhone. Similar to the Fitbit Versa 4, they include a sleep-quality tracker, a blood-oxygen sensor, fitness options, and a Mindfulness app to log how you’re feeling each day. My mom has been an Apple Watch user for years, and she’s a big fan of all these advanced features.

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    Checking out the Apple Watch SOS feature

    Pros About Apple Watch Series 9

    • Exquisite design with retina display
    • Blood oxygen sensor, sleep tracker, and ECG
    • Medical ID integration
    • Built-in fall detection
    • Voice calling and messaging
    • Fitness, sleep, and mindfulness tracker
    • Comfy, claspless band in nine sizes
    • No monthly fees for health apps

    Cons About Apple Watch Series 9

    • Pricier than any other model on our list
    • Only 18 hours of battery life
    • A handful of apps to set up

    Price

    The Apple Watch Series 9 costs $399 or $699 depending on the model you choose. The only real difference between the two is the casing. The cheaper option has an aluminum casing, while the more expensive watch is made of titanium. You can also choose between different sizes that change the price. Opting for the slightly larger watch will cost you an additional $30. We think the less expensive version is strong enough, even for seniors who put a lot of wear and tear on their devices.

    The benefit of the Apple Watch Series 9 is that you don’t have to pay a monthly subscription to enjoy the health monitoring. This means you could get pretty much everything the Fitbit Versa 4 offers, without the $9.99 monthly fee.

    However, the Apple Watch Series 9 is $250 to $550 more expensive than the Versa 4. It may be hard for some seniors to justify the upfront cost, but the Series 9 does have very robust features. I made phone calls, sent texts, listened to music, and worked out with the watch.

    One caveat: If you want to make calls, send texts, or connect to the internet without your phone, you’ll need to add a cellular plan from your phone carrier. These plans usually cost around $10 depending on the carrier, so it’s still fairly affordable compared to medical alert monthly rates.

    Battery Life

    The Apple Watch Series 9 battery life is decent, especially considering how powerful it is. It features fast processing speeds for a smartwatch and has many useful features like GPS tracking and health monitoring.

    The battery lasts up to 18 hours with regular use or up to 36 hours in low-power mode. Low-power mode essentially turns off any connection to your iPhone or Wi-Fi. That means no texts, incoming calls, or internet searches. But, if you just want to use your watch to tell the time and monitor your health, low-power mode is a good way to extend the battery life when you can’t get to the charger.

    My mom typically charges her watch overnight when she goes to bed so it’s fully charged for her daily walk each morning. The drawback to this is that she doesn’t get to use the watch’s sleep monitoring features. She sleeps pretty well, so this wasn’t a major concern for her.

    Size and Comfort

    The Apple Watch has two different sizes to choose from: 41 mm and 45 mm. The screen size of the 45 mm version is 1.7 inches in diameter, while the screen size of the 41 mm version is about 1.5 inches. Either way, you can get a sizable screen that’s easy to read. The screen’s brightness levels are nearly twice as strong as the previous iteration of the Apple Watch. While either size is an improvement on smaller smartwatches like the Alert1 or SOS Smartwatch, I would recommend spending the extra $30 to get the larger screen if you have vision loss.

    The screen is also designed to work well in bright sunlight or lowlight environments. My mom noticed this when using her watch in the living room and on her walks.

    » Learn About: Smartphone apps and resources for people with vision loss or impairment

    The Series 9 has intertwined bands that clasp with an easy-to-use metal nub. This band is an improvement over earlier versions. My mom found it very easy to take on and off, though she did notice that it felt a bit heavier on her wrist than other watches. This was partly because we tested the 45 mm version, which weighs 38.8 grams, compared to the 41 mm version, which only weighs 32 grams.

  • 7. Samsung Galaxy Watch6 - Best smartwatch for style-conscious Android users

    What we like most

    • Make calls and send texts
    • Tracks steps, heart rate, sleep, and stress levels
    • Durable design

    The Best Smartwatches for Seniors | SeniorLiving.org (34)

    Samsung Galaxy Watch6

    SeniorLiving.org Rating 4.0

    Ease of use Equipment Service & Response Features & Tech Pricing
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    Samsung Galaxy Watch6. Source: Samsung

    Overview

    If you’re an Android fan, the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 plays a good second fiddle to the Apple Watch Series 9. Starting at $239.99, the cheaper Galaxy Watch6 can’t go head-to-head with the Series 9’s more advanced internal processing speeds, but it does have ECG monitoring, and it can track steps, heart rate, sleep, and stress levels.

    Like the Apple Watch Series 9, the Galaxy Watch6 is equipped with 4G LTE so you can stay connected with texting and voice calling. The Galaxy Watch6 technically pairs with iPhones (while the Apple Watch only pairs with iPhones). In my experience, it works better with Android smartphones.

    Pro Tip:

    Pro Tip: Are you ready to upgrade your phone? Check out our guide to the best Android phones for seniors!

    The Galaxy Watch6 offers MIL-STD-810G protection, perfect for accident-prone seniors. Translated into English, that means it’s extremely durable. Since I’m the queen of dropping and scuffing up my devices, that’s music to my ears! It’s both water- and dust-resistant, and it’s easy to replace the band as needed.

    The Samsung Galaxy Watch6 is a solid solution for independent older adults who can still handle emergencies by themselves and want a stylish, intelligent wearable. It doesn’t have as much power under the hood as Apple’s Series 9, but you’ll find fewer apps to juggle and a couple of unique extras. These include the new BIA sensor, which provides readings on body fat, skeletal muscle, body water, and BMI. The Galaxy Watch6 also has fall detection and an SOS button for added peace of mind.

    Pros About Samsung Galaxy Watch6

    • Fall detection with emergency contact text alert
    • Suite of health- and fitness-monitoring features
    • Military-grade durability
    • ECG monitoring
    • Built-in fall detection
    • Up to 40 hours of battery life
    • Voice calling and messaging
    • No subscription required for special health features

    Cons About Samsung Galaxy Watch6

    • Traditional metal clasp may be difficult to use for some seniors
    • Only available in two sizes
    • Battery doesn’t last as long as previous versions

    Price

    The Galaxy Watch6 is more affordable than the Apple Watch Series 9, even though they offer similar health features and no monthly subscriptions. The 40 mm version costs $239.99, while the 44 mm version costs $269.99. You can also opt for the “Classic” version that’s larger and more durable, starting at $329.99.

    If you’re willing to pay more for an advanced smartwatch, I believe the Galaxy Watch6 offers better value than the Apple Watch Series 9. That’s especially true if you want to choose between using it with an iPhone or Android phone. On the other hand, if you’re an iPhone-lover and you’re used to navigating Apple devices, an Apple Watch might suit you better.

    Battery Life

    With the exception of the Fitbit Versa 4, the Samsung Galaxy Watch6 outperforms every other smartwatch on this list with its 40-hour battery life. It felt like an eternity before I actually had to charge it. In reality, it was around the 32-hour mark that the battery needed to be recharged. The only downside is that the Watch6 is far more powerful than previous versions of Galaxy smartwatches, which reduces its potential battery life. Some previous versions had batteries that could last up to 58 hours on one charge. That said, the Galaxy Watch6 still has an excellent battery. I charged it to 100 percent in under an hour.

    Size and Comfort

    My grandma and I really liked the design and style of the Galaxy Watch6. We tested the 44 mm version, which has a screen size of 1.5 inches (compared to 1.3 inches on the 40 mm version). My grandma found it easy to wear and use without squinting at the screen. The watch has a traditional watch clasp that was pretty easy for us to adjust. My grandma liked the option to have fabric bands, which isn’t something you see with most smartwatches. Once my grandma figured out the right size and practiced a few times, she didn’t have much difficulty putting it on.

How We Chose the Best Smartwatches for Seniors

Smartwatches offer exciting new ways for seniors to stay fit, connected, and access medical assistance. Every smartwatch on our list had to meet the following criteria:

  • Health and fitness features: Not all older people need an SOS button on their watches and phones, but health is a major priority for most older adults. All of the smartwatches on our list had to offer access to emergency medical services or health monitoring, and had to include fitness-tracking features.
  • Value: When choosing a quality smartphone, if we go cheap and end up with a lemon, then we learn our lesson and move on. When it’s our health on the line, we can’t afford to pick lemons. We selected smartwatches that deliver premium health features and reputable emergency services at reasonable prices, but we didn’t choose any models just because they’re cheap.
  • Ease of use: Just like smartphones, high-tech smartwatches can be confusing for those who aren’t tech-savvy. Some smartwatches work with apps you have to download and set up — so expect a learning curve. That said, we chose equipment that was easy to set up and unlikely to cause headaches down the line.

Senior Saving Tip:

Senior Saving Tip: For the latest seniors-only deals on tech, entertainment, dining, travel, and leisure, check out our up-to-the-minute senior discounts and savings guide.

A Guide to Choosing the Best Smartwatch for Your Needs

The last thing you want is to get stuck with a smartwatch that doesn’t do what you need it to, especially if you’re committing to a monthly plan. Before you sign on the dotted line, keep these three factors in mind.

Medical Alerts and Reminders

The first question you need to ask yourself is: Do I need the option to contact emergency medical assistance? If so, make sure your smartwatch has an SOS button that connects to certified medical personnel 24/7. Some seniors also benefit from an app that reminds them when to refill prescriptions or take their medications.

Health Monitoring

Most active older adults will want some form of fitness tracking, such as a step counter or pedometer. We also recommend blood-oxygen sensors and ECG functionality for seniors who live with conditions such as adult asthma, an irregular heartbeat, or congenital heart disease.

Daily Use

You need to decide how hands-on you want to get with your smartwatch. If you want a watch you can leave on your wrist and forget about, keep an eye out for models with long battery lives that don’t require smartphone pairing. A stroll on your favorite nature trail will be a lot better if you don’t have to lug your phone around to keep track of your steps or monitor your heart rate!

You should also consider how easy a watch is to take off and put on. Sounds basic, but sometimes we spend so much time fixating on the tech that we forget it’s just a watch. How many sizes does it come in? Is the material hypoallergenic? Does it come with a clasp?

Why Seniors Should Consider Wearing a Smartwatch

Smartwatches are a relatively new addition to the world of mobile devices and wearables. They’ve increased in popularity as companies add newer and more practical features. These watches can be particularly useful for older adults who need a mobile emergency alert device or an easier way to stay in touch with friends and family.

If you already like to wear a watch, upgrading to a smartwatch could make your life even easier. Rather than pulling out your smartphone every time you get a text, you could simply look down at your wrist (depending on the brand and model you choose). Many smartwatches also come with fall detection, emergency alert buttons, and health monitoring features. This means that a smartwatch could actually reduce risk in your life, giving you and your loved ones greater peace of mind.

How Does Fall Detection Work on a Smartwatch?

Falling down is no joke. It happens to a lot more people than you’d expect. Nearly 1 in 4 Americans 65 years and older fall every year, according to the National Council on Aging.2 Sensors worn around the neck were more accurate at weeding out false falls from the real falls in the past. However, smartwatch fall detection has gotten more sophisticated thanks to pioneering technological advances made by companies such as Apple and Samsung.

Did You Know?

Did You Know? For smartwatch users 55 and over, Apple automatically toggles-on fall detection.3

Apple changed the fall detection game with a study. They collected over 2,500 days’ worth of data from real-world falls involving 2,500 study participants at movement disorder clinics and assisted living facilities. The result was an accurate picture of how falling looks to your smartwatch’s motion sensors. As soon as an Apple Watch detects a fall, it automatically pulls up a voice-activated emergency contact button. If you don’t respond, your watch will call 911 for you.

Smartwatch Sleep Tracking: Benefits for Seniors

Getting eight hours of beauty rest — once the easiest thing in the world to do — gets more difficult with age. A busy bladder may disrupt your sleep or you may suffer from sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome. How can you tell? You often can’t. That’s where smartwatch sleep trackers, which measure sleep duration and quality, can offer some relief. The idea is pretty simple: Identifying our sleep patterns — or dangers, in the case of apnea — may help us self-correct. Nice in theory, but does it work?

The experts at the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center say sleep trackers don’t really measure sleep. They measure lack of sleep, or inactivity. In that sense, sleep trackers estimate only how much sleep you’re actually getting. For anything more than that, you’d need to do a proper sleep study.4

On the positive side, sleep trackers can help you spot trends. If a nap at 2 o’clock leaves you feeling like Superman, your sleep tracker will give you hard evidence. On the other hand, if you get up every night at 2 a.m. (and 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.) after you drink an espresso with dinner, you’ll be able to connect the dots. Ditto for exercise routines and even ambient conditions in your room, depending on how much data your sleep app collects.

Frequently Asked Questions About Smartwatches for Seniors

  • Do I have to pay a monthly fee to use my smartwatch?

    No, you don’t need to pay a monthly fee to use most smartwatches. Some medical smartwatches offer monthly subscriptions for extra emergency medical assistance.

  • What does a smartwatch SOS button do?

    who will talk you through your situation. And, if needed, they’ll stay on the line with you until help arrives. If you need EMS on the spot, they’ll dispatch help and get in touch with your emergency contacts.

  • Should my smartwatch have fall detection?

    Not necessarily. Apple Watches and Galaxy Watches now come with sophisticated fall detection, but some medical professionals believe fall detection is more accurate when devices are worn around the neck.

  • Can I make phone calls with my senior smartwatch?

    If you have an Apple or Samsung smartwatch, you can make calls. Some models on this list, including the Fitbit Versa 4, allow you to connect via a nearby paired smartphone.

  • Do I need an in-home emergency button if I have a smartwatch?

    It depends on your health. If you live alone and have a preexisting medical condition or you’ve used EMS during an emergency before, consider buttons placed around the house. This will also give you time to recharge your medical smartwatch, since they typically have shorter battery lives.

The Best Smartwatches for Seniors | SeniorLiving.org (2024)
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