The Inside Scoop on the Best Smartwatch for Seniors

Portrait of sporty senior woman with bottle of water checking her watch or fitness tracker indoors. Athletic mature lady staying hydrated during sports training, leading healthy lifestyle

Key Points

  • The best smartwatch for seniors is a computing device that packs touchscreen operation, apps, and health monitoring into a device you wear on your wrist.

  • Choose options like health tracking and emergency alerts when you have the best smartwatch for seniors.

  • Integrate your smartwatch with your smartphone, home security, or hearing aids.

  • Ensure that your smartwatch is compatible with your smartphone operating system.

If you’re already sporting a tiny computer on your wrist, you know how helpful it is to have the best smartwatch for seniors. On top of always knowing the correct time, you have features like alerts, messages, and fitness tracking in one wearable device.

Ready to take the leap and get a smartwatch for yourself? You have many options. However, no watch is perfect for everyone. The best smartwatch for seniors has the features you need at an affordable price.

Read on to learn why you need a smartwatch and how to choose the right one for you.

What Is a Smartwatch?

A smartwatch is a wearable computing device that resembles a wristwatch. It packs features like touchscreen operation, apps (short for applications), and health monitoring into a tiny package.

You can use a smartwatch without a smartphone, provided you connect it to a cellular network. Pair it with a compatible smartphone to get the most from your smartwatch.

When you pair your smartwatch with your smartphone, it becomes a remote communication device. Answer phone calls, view emails and messages, or check your calendar.

Smartwatches also have health-tracking features, emergency alerts, navigation, and more. 

Woman sleeps with smartwatch and phone

What Does a Smartwatch Do?

Whether intended for daily use or a specialized purpose, most smartwatches offer a set of basic functions. These functions are as simple as providing the time and date and extend to features that make your daily life easier and safer. 

These are some of the most useful and popular smartwatch functions:

  • Notifications: Notifications vary depending on your watch’s capabilities and your settings. They might include a mirror of your smartphone’s notifications, alerts to meet your fitness goals, medication reminders, or calendar events.

  • Apps: Many smartwatches include their own set of apps. An app is a simple software program designed for your device. The app might only run on your smartwatch or as an extension of an app on your smartphone.

  • Media controls: Most smartwatches paired with smartphones access your media for you. For example, if you're streaming music on your smartphone, adjust the volume or change tracks from your smartwatch. It's even possible to control some hearing aids from your smartwatch.

  • Phone connection: Remember the two-way radio watch made famous by fictional detective Dick Tracy? Everyday technology has caught up with this futuristic fantasy. You too can talk to people through your smartwatch!

  • Smart home controls: Pair your smartwatch with your automated home to control your security cameras, thermostat, and locks right from your wrist.

  • Fitness tracker: Smartwatches often include a heart rate monitor and a pedometer to track your activities. Set your fitness goals so your watch lets you know when you meet them.

  • GPS: The Global Positioning System (GPS) tells you where you're at. Most smartwatches include GPS for tracking your location and receiving location-specific alerts.

  • Fall Detection: Positional and movement sensors let your watch know if you've fallen or are unconscious. Watches with this feature automatically alert emergency services and notify your contact person.

What Are the Types of Smartwatches?

Smartwatches come in many variations, but they fall into two basic categories — general purpose and special purpose.

General Purpose Smartwatches

A general-purpose smartwatch is a good bet when you just need a smartwatch for your routine activities. It replaces a wristwatch and offers a full set of features by pairing it with your smartphone.

Smartwatches With Special Uses

Some smartwatch designs offer robust features for specific activities. What once required careful manual tracking and instrumentation is now as simple as a wrist-bound device.

Doctor and senior patient review a smartwatch

Hiking Watches

The great outdoors offers adventures for all ages!

Hiking watches support outdoor travel and recreation, like hiking, camping, or cross-country skiing. They offer extra battery life, GPS tracking and navigation, monitoring of basic vital signs, and weather forecasting. These adventure-friendly, durable devices withstand bumps, drops, dust, and water.

Triathlon and Marathon Watches

Maybe you have ambitious fitness goals for your retirement years.

When you push your body to the limit, you need to know exactly how it’s performing. These smartwatches tell you how far you’ve gone, how fast you're going, the intensity of your overall workout, and other key health information. They integrate with exercise equipment and upload data to share with your coach or training community. 

Diving Watches

Diving is an extreme sport, but there are no age limits.

If you're ready to challenge the depths of the sea, you must understand everything about your equipment and how well your body holds up. A diving watch offers depth, time-remaining, and temperature measurements and even pairs with diving equipment. Better yet, it stands up to the pressure of deep water.

Flying Watches

Do you dream of taking to the skies? Pilots have specialized data needs, and a smartwatch provides them. It offers features like a jet-lag advisor, GPS-powered moving map, NEXRAD weather reports, flight logging, and a barometric altimeter.

What Features Should You Consider When Choosing a Smartwatch?

If you're shopping for your first smartwatch, you've undoubtedly found the many choices overwhelming. Once you understand the features you want, shopping gets easier.

Consider the following smartwatch features when selecting a product.

Mature woman works her smartwatch

Display Size and Visibility

As you expect, a smartwatch screen is very small. It’s about an inch and a half square and packs a lot of information into that micro screen. Look for a watch with large touch icons and a big display. This makes it easier to see and easier to operate.

Ease of Use

Many seniors find it difficult to master new technologies. Look for a smartwatch that's user-friendly and has a clear interface. If it’s not easy to use, it might end up just sitting in a drawer.

Battery Life

If you're used to the battery on your phone lasting for days of light use, keep in mind that you need to charge a smartwatch daily. Look for a smartwatch with a battery life of at least 18 hours so it has power throughout the day, then charge it while you sleep.

Compatibility With Your Phone

Many smartwatches work with a corresponding type of smartphone.

Here's some of the most common operating systems to look for in a smartwatch:

  • iOS: Designed and sold by Apple, this smartwatch uses the proprietary iOS operating system and is compatible with Apple smartphones.

  • Pixel: Designed and sold by Google, this smartwatch is compatible with Android smartphones from various manufacturers. 

  • Wear: Various manufacturers design and sell this smartwatch, which is compatible with Android smartphones.

  • Tizen: Tizen is a proprietary system designed by Samsung for Galaxy smartwatches and is compatible with Samsung smartphones.

  • Fitbit: Designed by Fitbit for its smartwatches, the Fitbit operating system is compatible with Apple and Android smartphones.

  • Garmin: Garmin specializes in athletic and outdoor smartwatches, and its proprietary operating system is compatible with Apple and Android smartphones.

Senior man checks his smartwatch

Health and Fitness Features

Smartwatches deliver health tracking features, like heart rate, steps, and calories burned, in an easily accessible format. Some provide information about your sleep patterns and movement habits. Set your fitness goals so your smartphone alerts you when you've met them or when you need to move more.

Emergency Features

Emergency features like a fall sensor are at the top of the list for many seniors who choose a smartwatch.

If you fall while wearing the watch and it doesn’t detect movement, it sends you a series of escalating notifications as sounds or vibrations. If you don’t respond to the notifications, the watch assumes you're injured and alerts emergency services and your chosen contact person.


Prices vary widely for smartwatches. A simple fitness watch from a lesser-known brand might cost less than $50, while a top-of-the-line specialized watch could run over $1000. Once you determine the important features, look for an affordable watch that offers what you need.

The Best Smartwatch for Seniors

The best smartwatch for you is the one that has the features you need. Consider whether your needs are fitness tracking and health goals, or if your top priority is emergency service like fall detection and medical alert.

These are some of the best smartwatches in certain categories:

Best Fall Detection 

The UnaliWear Kanega Watch is a top choice for fall detection because it’s one of the only smartwatches that connects with a U.S. monitoring center in an emergency.

Sixty percent of seniors say fall detection is the most important feature of a medical alert device. The fall detection technology in the Kanega Watch learns what movements are normal for you, decreasing false fall reports.

Richard Hirsch, chief marketing officer of UnaliWear, explained that “Kanega’s technology is connected to the cloud and continuously learns what is and isn’t a fall. When the watch asks 'Is this a fall?', the user either confirms or denies and the technology remembers that.”

The Kanega Watch also stands out because you never have to take it off to recharge it. The watch comes with four rechargeable lithium-ion batteries — two connected to the watch and two that stay in the charger until needed. 

One of the biggest drawbacks of the Kanega watch is that it doesn’t pair with an app on a smartphone, which limits its functionality. However, if your priority is fall detection and you’re happy with only a few functions like time and date, the Kanega Watch is an excellent option.

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Best Fitness Tracker 

Fitbit has established itself as a leader in fitness trackers for good reason. Their smartwatches are sleek, simple to operate, and pair with an easy-to-use app on your Apple or Android smartphone.

The Fitbit Charge 5 Fitness Tracker tracks a full day of activity plus sleep, and the battery lasts around seven days on one charge. See your real-time pace and distance without your phone using built-in GPS, then see a map of your workout route in the Fitbit app. View how your heart rate changes along your route in your workout intensity map.

Track your heart health with high and low heart rate notifications. Plus, a compatible electrocardiogram (ECG) app assesses your heart for atrial fibrillation — a heart rhythm irregularity. An EDA sensor detects tiny changes in your skin's sweat level and gives you a daily stress management score. 

With the Health Metrics dashboard, view your heart rate variability, skin temperature variation, and blood oxygen saturation.

With the Fitbit Premium subscription plan, enjoy extra features like tracking and storing your stats to share with your healthcare provider.

Fitbit Charge 5

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Best Medical Alert 

Medical alert watches combine the benefits of a smartwatch and a medical alert system in one small, easy-to-wear device. A medical alert system makes a big difference in an emergency if you live alone or have a chronic disease.

Smartwatches with a medical alert feature are a good alternative to at-home and mobile medical alert systems. Your smartwatch provides fall detection, connects you with emergency services when you push the help button, and notifies your chosen contact in an emergency. 

43 percent of medical alert users prefer wearing a watch to any other type of device, such as a necklace or bracelet. 

The Apple Watch Series 8 offers features to monitor your health and help in an emergency. It monitors your heart rate and rhythm and alerts you if anything seems unusual. It also allows you to check your blood oxygen levels and take an ECG.

Apple Watch Series 8

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Choose the Best Smartwatch for You

Whether adventures await you or you want to keep tabs on your steps at the mall, a smartwatch is a smart device to help you reach your goals and stay healthy.

Extra safety features like fall detection and heart sensors make the smartwatch an all-in-one solution you'll appreciate for years.

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