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Can Wearable Technology Improve Your Health?

Senior using a wearable technology smartwatch

If you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or stop smoking or drink less, you know how hard it can be to change your habits and reach your goal. One technique shown to help people achieve their goals is to break a long-term goal into small incremental changes, and measure along the way. Another helpful technique is to share your goal — ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable or join a group that shares your goal.

Wearable technology, such as Fitbits and smartwatches, can make setting, tracking, sharing and reaching your goals easier. But fitness trackers are just one example of a growing number of wearables designed to make life safer and healthier. With smart shoes, smart tattoos, and even smart underwear that monitors everything from sleep quality to driver fatigue, the options for wearables may surprise you.

What is wearable technology?

Most older adults are aware of fitness trackers like the Fitbit or Apple Watch. They allow you to track your steps, distance and calories burned; monitor your heart rate; set daily goals for exercise and sleep; schedule reminders; earn badges; and challenge friends with similar devices. All the information can be sent to your smartphone so you can track it over time.

Medical wearables, such as fall alert devices, have been around for years. Other examples include heart rate monitors you can wear on your wrist, and blood sugar monitors that notify diabetics when it’s time for insulin.

Safety wearables are sometimes disguised as jewelry so they can be used discreetly. Most are operated by a button that sends an alert to others, sounds a loud alarm, or both.

Authentication wearables can unlock your home, get you into concerts, and buy things at the store without having to go through the checkout process. Think of the plastic bracelets that Disney uses to access rides and enter hotel rooms. The same technology was used to enforce COVID-19 protocols inside the NBA Bubble during the 2019-20 season.

Smart tattoos are temporary tattoos being developed to carry and transfer information to devices such as smartphones and scanners. They could speed up hospital admissions and security clearances. Other applications include monitoring vital signs and showing the wearer’s current mood.

What are the benefits of wearable technology for seniors?

As mentioned in our introduction, being able to measure and track your progress makes it more likely you’ll continue practicing healthy habits that bring you closer to your goals. Sharing your progress, especially with a group of like-minded adults, adds extra motivation and support. There’s nothing like a friendly challenge (or small wager) to keep you on track.

Wearable tech makes tracking and sharing your progress easy — which, in turn, promotes a healthier lifestyle that may prevent conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Being able to share health data with your doctor also makes medical evaluations more accurate by providing a more complete picture of your health. It may even raise a red flag and help you avoid a medical emergency. Simply receiving a reminder to take your medication can reduce the risk of hospitalization.

What’s next: From haptic shoes to smart underwear.

For the legally blind, there’s a wearable that can take the place of guide dogs and canes. Haptic shoes are fitted with GPS technology to help navigate movement. Once the destination has been set on your smartphone, the shoe vibrates to indicate which direction to go. It also detects obstacles in your way, such as stairs and manholes.

As for smart underwear, there are smart bras that monitor for cardiovascular issues. There’s e-underwear that measures heart rate, stress level, sleep quality, activity, temperature and more. You can even buy pajamas that track sleep conditions and detect falling.

Helping seniors take control of their health.

Wearable technology and the data it provides is already being used to save lives, prevent falls and help seniors take control of their health. At Opus Communities, we’re all about helping seniors become better stewards of their health. Flourish, our wellness program, takes a holistic approach to health that includes not only physical exercise, but spiritual, social and intellectual programs. To learn more about our health and wellness programs, get in touch.