Fall Alert! Wearable Safety Devices for the Elderly

Key Points

  • A wearable safety device for the elderly provides security and independence as you age.

  • Fall detection and medical alert features are popular among seniors.

  • The best wearable safety device for the elderly has an easy-to-read display and simple operation.

If you're a senior who lives alone, a fall or medical event can be devastating. A wearable safety device for the elderly is your first line of protection. It's nice to know that help is on the way when you need it.

A wearable safety device for the elderly comes in various styles and functions, so there is sure to be one that suits your needs. 

What Is a Wearable Safety Device?

A wearable safety device is an electronic device or system you wear as an accessory or attached to your clothing. The Apple Watch is probably the best-known example, but many other smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wearable sensors incorporate safety features.

These devices monitor the wearer and respond to emergencies like falls and medical events.

Wearable safety devices are a simple way to ensure your safety and well-being. They provide peace of mind for both you and your caregivers.

Senior wearing safety device

Why Do the Elderly Need a Wearable Safety Device?

Whether you live alone, with family, or in a group setting, falls and medical events can happen at any time. Receiving prompt assistance and medical care improves outcomes, reducing the potential for death and disability.


As you age, you face various challenges that impact your safety and independence. For example, you may be at a higher risk of falls due to balance issues or other health conditions.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for people over 65. About 30 percent of people over age 65 fall yearly, often resulting in serious injuries, decreased mobility, and loss of independence.

A wearable safety device detects when you fall, calls for emergency help, and notifies your chosen contact person. Wearable devices may soon even predict your risk of falling before it happens. 

Researchers hypothesized that they could predict a person's risk of falling using a wearable device. “Our prediction showed that we could very accurately tell the difference between people that were really stable and people that were unstable in some way,” says Dr. Bruce Schatz, head of the Department of Medical Information Science at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign.


You're more vulnerable to accidents or injuries if you live alone or have limited mobility. A wearable safety device is always with you so you're able to summon help even if you can’t access a phone or call button.

Medical Crises

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and stroke is the fifth leading cause. Ensuring people who experience a cardiovascular emergency — like stroke, heart attack, or cardiac arrest — get timely treatment can reduce their risk for long-term disability and death. 

Some wearable safety devices identify abnormalities in your vital signs and alert you and others that you're experiencing a medical crisis.

Memory Loss

Many older adults experience cognitive decline or memory loss, making navigating their surroundings challenging and remembering important information.

If you suffer from memory loss, a wearable safety device can enhance your quality of life with greater independence and safety. It provides memory prompts, calendar reminders, and GPS tracking in case you become lost.

Many people with dementia find that introducing and using technology as early as possible helps them get used to it and use it for longer.

Health and Fitness

If your wearable device provides health and fitness monitoring, it most likely tracks metrics like heart rate, sleep quality, and activity levels. These insights help you stay active and make healthy lifestyle choices. 

Some devices allow you to share your activities and vital signs with your trainer or workout partners so they can support your fitness goals.

Types of Wearable Safety Devices

Wearable safety devices come in various form factors, like wristbands, necklaces, and even shoe inserts. The form you choose depends on the functions you seek.

Wearable safety device on wrist

Choose the form that is the easiest for you to use:

  • Wristbands: Wristbands are the most common type of wearable safety device. They are easy to wear and don’t look like medical devices since people of all ages commonly utilize them. Wristbands often include fall detection, heart rate monitoring, and GPS tracking. If you have difficulty fastening the small clasp on your wrist, look for a magnetic wristband or choose another form.

  • Necklaces: Necklaces are another popular option. You can wear them discreetly under your clothing, and they often include emergency buttons or voice commands for easy access to help in an emergency. 

  • Shoe Inserts: Shoe inserts are a newer form factor for wearable safety devices. They provide GPS tracking, activity sensors, or navigation assistance when paired with a smartphone map. Some shoe inserts monitor your gait and detect falls before they occur. 

  • Clip-On: Clip-on devices attach to your clothing, bag, or purse, providing a convenient and easy-to-wear monitor for your safety and location. Make sure your clip-on device stays with you — it doesn’t do any good in a pocket at home.

How To Choose the Right Wearable Safety Device

Wearable safety devices for older adults have various features that enhance your safety and independence. Each device is a little different, so the right one for you depends on the services you need. Consider the features of each different product when choosing a wearable safety device.

Type of Device

Different types of wearable safety devices include smartwatches, fitness trackers, and personal emergency response systems. Consider which type of device best suits your needs and lifestyle.

Ease of Use

Look for a device with a user-friendly interface and simple controls. A device with large buttons, clear text, and straightforward navigation is easier to use.

Battery Life

Consider how often you need to charge the device and whether the battery life will suffice for your needs. Battery life ranges from 18 hours to seven days.

Fall Detection

Fall detection sensors automatically detect when the wearer has fallen and alert emergency services and designated contacts. It sends you a prompt first, allowing you to indicate that you don't need assistance.

GPS Tracking

GPS tracking locates the wearer if they become lost or disoriented. This provides peace of mind if you have dementia, but it's also helpful for anyone who wants to monitor the wearer's location and ensure their safety.

Heart Rate and Oxygen Monitoring

Sensors track your heart rate and oxygen levels and notify others if you experience distress. Researchers are even exploring ways wearable devices can detect early signs of illness.

Man with watch

Reminders and Alerts

Medication reminders, calendar alerts, and message notifications keep you on track and connected. They even remind you to get up and move throughout the day with a gentle vibration that no one notices but you.

Emergency Button or Voice Commands

Emergency buttons allow you to call for help in an emergency. Choose which family members or caregivers receive notice when you activate your emergency button. Many devices also respond to voice commands if you can’t operate it yourself.

Waterproof and Durable

You'll wear this device 24/7, so it has to stand up to any abuse you dish out. Look for a product that is waterproof and durable.

Compatibility With Other Devices

If you want to use your device with a smartphone, ensure that your chosen model is compatible. Plus, consider how easily you can sync and manage it.


Consider the purchase cost of the device as well as any ongoing subscription fees. You might want a cellular plan for your smartwatch to use it without your smartphone, or your device may require a paid monitoring plan.

Wearable Devices for Elderly Care Communities

Senior communities also use devices such as wristbands or necklaces with emergency buttons or voice commands, allowing residents to quickly call for help. GPS tracking monitors residents' locations to ensure they do not wander off or become lost. Fall detection quickly alerts staff members if a resident falls and requires assistance. 

Residential communities provide wearable safety devices that integrate with their security and nursing services so that your call for help reaches an on-site staff member. 

Choosing the Best Smartwatch for Safety

Consider your priorities if you feel overwhelmed by all the wearable safety devices. Do you want the ease of use or full-featured emergency alerts?

The following are the best smartwatches on the market, depending on your priorities or situation.

Easiest Smartwatch for Seniors

It's challenging to learn how to use new technology. Several smartwatches are designed specifically for seniors and are known for their ease of use.

Consider the following top options.

Apple Watch SE

Apple Watch SE features a large screen with clear text, icons, and easy-to-navigate menus. The watch also includes a fall detection feature and an emergency SOS button for added safety.

Apple Watch

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 has a simple, user-friendly interface. The rotating touch bezel is easy to navigate, and built-in fitness tracking gets you closer to your health goals.

Withings Steel HR Sport

Withings Steel HR Sport offers a classic watch-style appearance. It has fitness tracking, heart rate monitoring, and smartphone notifications.

Fitbit Versa 3

Fitbit Versa 3 includes a simplified interface with easy-to-read text and icons. It offers fitness tracking and built-in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control.

Fitbit wearable device

The Best Smartwatch for Memory Loss

Memory loss can make it challenging for seniors to use technology, but many smartwatches are easy to use and help individuals with memory loss stay organized and on track. 

The following models stand out for their simple operation and memory-friendly functions.

Apple Watch Series 6

One of the best smartwatches for memory loss is the Apple Watch Series 6, which includes features such as reminders, alarms, and timers that help seniors stay on schedule and remember important tasks. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 features a user-friendly interface. The watch face is customizable, displaying reminders and important information. 

Timex Ironman Classic 30 Watch

The Timex Ironman Classic 30 Watch offers basic features such as alarms and timers for seniors who want a more straightforward watch design. The large display has easy-to-read numbers. 

Smartwatches With Fall Detection

Fall detection is essential for many seniors and their caregivers, providing an added layer of safety and peace of mind.

The following recommendations all have fall detection software.

Apple Watch Series 8 

Apple Watch Series 8 includes a fall detection feature that detects when the wearer has fallen and automatically initiates a call to emergency services. The feature also sends a message to the wearer's emergency contacts.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 includes a fall detection feature that alerts designated contacts. It offers advanced sleep coaching, body composition analysis, and improved sensor accuracy.

Google Pixel Watch

Google Pixel Watch has a beautiful circular, domed design running the Wear OS by Google operating system. With Emergency SOS, your watch alerts trusted contacts or 911 with the push of a button.

Google Pixel Watch

Medical Guardian Mini Guardian – 4G Medical Alert System

Medical Guardian Mini Guardian – 4G Medical Alert System is a small, wearable smart button that connects to a 24/7 emergency monitor. The device has an optional built-in fall detection feature that places a call on your behalf when activated. 

Enjoy Safety and Independence With a Wearable Safety Device 

Many seniors place a high value on living independently as they age. A wearable safety device provides extra assurance while you go about your active lifestyle.

Some devices provide fall detection, medical alerts, and everyday uses like fitness tracking and message alerts. If you want something simple, choose a dedicated, one-button product that makes it easy to call for help.

Whatever your needs, there is a wearable safety device that works for you.

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