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Grandma’s getting a Fitbit – the trend that could save her life

3 minute read
Healthy grandma with a fitbit walking her dog

If you’ve ever tried – and failed – to set your grandparents up with a smartphone or digital TV remote, adding another piece of technology to their collection might leave you a feeling a little anxious.

However, fitness trackers aren’t just a tool for health-conscious hipsters, they’re also becoming a must-have accessory for ‘golden agers’ – and it’s being used for far more than tracking grandma’s steps.

Here's a closer look at how wearables can improve the quality of life for the elderly while giving family members greater peace of mind.

If you have older family members, it's important to keep them healthy and safe. The good news is, wearable tech is making life easier for seniors and caregivers by monitoring health conditions and events in real-time and by providing important information.

Credit: Samsung Business USA

Where are wearables heading?

From wristbands to adhesive patches, the world is set to see a massive influx of fitness trackers and wearables over the coming years, with shipments of medical wearables exploding to 97.6 million units by 2021 from 2.5 million units in 2016 – a 39-fold increase in just five years.

According to a survey in the Accenture Health Silver Surfers in Australia report, seniors expressed the following attitudes towards wearables as part of managing their health:

  • 73% think wearables help with understanding health conditions.
  • 63% think wearables help improve the overall quality of their health.
  • 57% believe technology is vital to managing their health.

And while the home-care industry is seen to be slow in adopting new technology, the tides may be turning as more health companies come to embrace the advantages of wearables.

Wearable tech is making life easier for seniors and caregivers by monitoring health conditions and events in real-time

A real-life example of wearables in action

Home healthcare provider integratedliving Australia is making technological inroads across Australia with their Memory Wellness program, which uses wellness tracker wristbands (much like Fitbits) for elderly clients who have been diagnosed with, or who are at risk of, dementia.

The wellness trackers are worn on the wrist like a watch and are designed to measure clients' heart rates, sleep, steps and calories burnt. The data gathered is used to develop individual brain health plans for participants and track improvements in participants’ wellbeing. For example, the information can help motivate clients to ‘keep going’ when they're exercising and show how walking around the supermarket or the house count towards their steps.

“Early intervention is key to preventing dementia and slowing the onset of symptoms. Memory Wellness helps our clients identify and address the risk factors that contribute to dementia. With this program, participants have improved their cognition over a range of domains, including memory, to a statistically significant degree,” says Catherine Daley, CEO of intergratedliving Australia.

Launched in 2015, the program is available for those over 65 years (or over 50 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders). There are currently about 400 participants taking part in the Memory Wellness program.

Wearables have great potential to improve the quality of life for the elderly, while simultaneously reducing the cost of care. With their size, affordability and range of sophisticated features and applications, the future of fitness trackers and medical wearables is looking bright indeed.

Trying to figure out what all those numbers on your fitness tracker mean? Check out our article We’re all cyborgs now: What your fitness trackers are really telling you.

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