A watch can offer a surprising number of benefits for seniors with dementia — and for their caregivers, as well. From health monitoring to communication and safety, the assistive features of watches can keep support close at hand and can help put minds at ease. While wearable medical alert and GPS tracking devices are not new, there can be stigmas associated with wearing them. Many modern watches, however, are sleek and pack many useful features into a discreet, stylish gadget.
For most people, dementia progresses slowly, often displaying varying symptoms in three stages — early, middle, and late — according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Many individuals opt to take advantage of various memory care options, but for some, the use of technology can help them remain at home longer. Read on to explore the different watches ideal for each stage of dementia, and how they can support caregivers while offering unique applications for seniors to remain connected, organized, and safe.
In this article:
In the early stages of dementia, the symptoms can be mild and may allow a person to continue to function independently. The person might be able to drive, go to work, and engage in regular social activities. While memory care is not usually necessary at this stage, certain organizational tasks could become challenging. In addition, an individual may begin to forget simple things — like something they just read, or the name of someone they just met — according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Thankfully, the functions of certain watches may help an individual overcome some of these barriers.
Consider the following features when searching for a watch for someone in the early stages of dementia:
These watches come standard with many of the above features and are ideal for supporting someone experiencing dementia’s early symptoms:
A great option for seniors who don’t want to carry a phone, the Apple Watch SE allows users to maintain contact with friends and family. With cellular capabilities, the Apple Watch SE can act as a smartphone, sending and receiving both texts and calls using cellular or Wi-Fi. The watch can monitor your heart and even send an alert if you are experiencing heart rhythm irregularities. The Apple Watch SE offers two sizes; a large, readable display with numerous face settings; and several organizational apps. The fall-detection feature can come in handy in an emergency, and the built-in GPS can help you find your way. Drawbacks include the 18-hour battery life, which means the watch has to be charged daily, and the high price might be tough to swallow.
Cost: The Apple Watch SE starts at $279, but with added features such as cellular capabilities, it can run up to $329.
For Android fans, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch4 is similar to the Apple Watch in that this solitary device can function as a smartphone. The Galaxy Watch4 can send and receive texts and calls with a cellular service plan, but it also works with Wi-Fi. The numerous fitness applications allow users to set and track goals, while the health monitoring features offer a comprehensive health overview. The watch’s built-in GPS provides detailed location information, and organizational apps can help you stay on top of appointments and important reminders. The sleek styling includes a variety of band options and face settings. However, at an estimated 14 hours, the somewhat short battery life could be considered a drawback.
Cost: Starting at $199.99, the Galaxy Watch4 offers upgraded bands that can bring the price up to $240.
Fitbit has always leaned primarily toward health and fitness monitoring. The Versa 3 is a sound device for counting steps and tracking heart rate, and the built-in GPS allows users to track walks or bike rides without a smartphone. In addition, it provides detailed location information. Seniors will appreciate the large display, which is easy to read, as well as the customizable clock faces. The Versa 3 by Fitbit can be used as a standalone watch. Unlike the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch4, you cannot send or receive texts and calls without your phone nearby.
Cost: The Fitbit Versa 3 retails for $179.95 on the Fitbit website.
This budget smartwatch has a number of useful features that are aimed at fitness and health monitoring. The Bip U Pro can monitor heart rate and provides alerts when heart rates dip or rise. The watch also takes blood oxygen level measurements and can offer data on sleep quality. Built-in GPS allows the user to track excursions and determine their location. Forgetting to remove the watch for dishwashing or showers is not a problem, as the Bip U Pro is water resistant up to 50 meters. The large display is easy to read, and there are four different face options to match your style or vision needs. The battery can last up to an impressive nine days between charges. While the Bip U Pro can connect to your smartphone via the Zepp application, it cannot send or receive texts or calls.
Cost: Coming in at less than $60, the feature-rich Amazfit Bip U Pro is a bargain.
A senior in the middle stages of dementia may require more support from a loved one, caregiver, or memory care professionals. They can begin to exhibit frustration and confusion and might become withdrawn. Seniors with middle-stage dementia may forget events and personal history. They may also develop an increased tendency to wander.
Consider the following features when searching for a watch for someone in the middle stages of dementia:
The Apple SE Watch, selected above for seniors with early-stage dementia, is also a great choice for those with middle-stage dementia because it has fall detection and an SOS button to call emergency services. The following watches could also benefit someone with middle-stage dementia, as well as help caregivers relieve stresses associated with providing care:
Designed for seniors, the Angel Watch offers a simplified approach to communication and safety. Caregivers and their loved ones can communicate via text, voice, and video calls using Wi-Fi and cellular service. The built-in GPS offers location tracking and the option to create out-of-bounds alerts for caregivers when a loved one leaves a specified area. The watch provides health monitoring of heart rate and body temperature and includes a pedometer. It can also be programmed to give medication reminders. Caregivers have full remote control of the watch through the Angel Watch application. To keep things simple, the watch itself does not have access to the internet or social media. Angel Watch does not offer fall detection. While it does have an SOS button, it has to be programmed to call emergency services, such as 911.
Cost: The Angel Watch Series R Assist is $189.99, and for the watch to be fully operational, cellular carrier services through AT&T or T-Mobile are required.
The SOS Smartwatch is a stylish, wearable medical alert system that offers an alternative to lanyard alert systems. In addition to alert services provided by Bay Alarm Medical, the SOS Smartwatch has straightforward features. The easy-to-read touch screen toggles between time, date, and a pedometer. A dedicated SOS button will connect the user to a 24-hour emergency dispatch center via two-way voice communication. Dispatchers are trained to assess the situation and can call emergency services or a family member for help. The built-in GPS helps dispatchers pinpoint a user’s location. While the SOS Smartwatch does not have fall detection, a caregiver tracking option is coming soon.
Cost: The SOS Smartwatch costs $159.95 and requires a $29.95 per month service fee through Bay Alarm Medical.
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
Medical Guardian’s MGMove is the medical emergency alert system company’s newest product. A stylish option for active seniors, the MGMove combines safety with applications for organization, health monitoring, and communicating with friends and family. You can set medication reminders or alerts for appointments. You could also check the weather before you head out on a walk, where you can track steps with the built-in pedometer. Caregivers or family can check on a loved one’s location history, and the SOS button puts the user in touch with trained dispatchers. The various applications add anywhere from an additional $3 to $7 per month.
Cost: The price of the MGMove watch is $199.95, with basic monthly service fees starting at $39.95 per month.
The Kanega Watch was designed to provide a durable, safe, and reliable medical alert system in a stylish, compact design. Many smartwatches rely on an internal battery that needs to be charged, much like your cellphone. The Kanega Watch, however, utilizes a removable battery that can be charged externally. This allows the user to easily swap a battery with a low charge for one that is fully charged. In addition, the Kanega Watch offers fall detection and connects to cellular service when not on Wi-Fi. Trained care specialists are available 24 hours a day to assist users if they fall or if they press the SOS button. The built-in GPS allows care specialists to dispatch emergency services to a user’s location, but it does not have a system for caregivers to track their loved ones. While rich in features, the price of the watch is a little steep when combining the base price and the monthly service fees.
Cost: There are two payment plans for the Kanega Watch. With an annual plan, you get the watch for $150 with a monthly service fee of $59.95. The quarterly plan is $249 for the watch, with a service fee of $69.95 per month.
In the late stages of dementia, symptoms become more severe. A senior at this stage is likely to require around-the-clock memory care. They may have difficulty communicating and may struggle with walking, sitting, and eating. They may also become unaware of their surroundings and recent experiences, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Choosing the right watch for an individual in the late stage of dementia may simply be a matter of finding what is most comfortable. For example, if a senior has worn a watch all their life, it may be comforting to have the watch on their wrist.
Consider the following watch features for someone with late-stage dementia:
The following watches are good options for someone in the late stages of dementia because they offer classic designs that are familiar, comfortable, and easy to read:
The Timex Easy Reader Collection has been around for over 40 years. It boasts simplicity in a variety of men’s and women’s styles that, like the name implies, are easy to read. Timex is not only a recognizable brand, but in their Easy Reader, they invoke a classic design. In addition to the different sizes and finishes, the Easy Reader offers several band materials, including leather, fabric, and metal. Expandable bands, hook-and-loop closures, and buckles round out the strap options.
Cost: The Timex Easy Reader ranges from $50-$90, depending on style and band options.
Originally designed for medical professionals, the Speidel Scrub Watch is rugged and water-resistant. The large numbers and high-contrast hands make these watches easy to read while offering a classic style with straightforward features. There are a variety of men’s and women’s sizes. It has several color options available. The day and date window on some models is available in both English and Spanish. Band options range from leather to silicone, and you can personalize the watch by having the stainless steel case engraved.
Cost: Depending on the model and features, the Speidel Scrub Watch is priced between $30 and $70.
For seniors who prefer a digital timekeeper, the Skmei LED Watch is about as straightforward as it gets. The Skmei is inexpensive and has a simple face that displays just the time and date. There are a variety of styles, colors, and band options for both men and women. To adjust the date and time, there is either a touch-screen option or a classic crown-adjuster knob. The Skmei LED might be the perfect watch for someone who appreciates simplicity and the feel of a watch on their wrist.
Cost: With certain styles starting at $18, the Skmei LED Watch tops out at $30.
For seniors with dementia, a watch may be a great alternative to carrying a cellphone. With the ability to provide GPS tracking options, they can also offer caregivers peace of mind. However, there are a few things to think about before considering a watch for a loved one with dementia, said Andrew Carle, faculty and lead instructor for the Program in Senior Living Administration at Georgetown University — and the person who coined the term nana-technology.
Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, technological breakthroughs have helped seniors with the disease to engage socially and live more safely. Technology also continues to provide caregivers with new tools to support their loved ones with dementia. While watch technology continues to advance, choosing a timepiece with the features that are best suited to you and your loved one’s unique needs is essential and can provide additional peace of mind.
Alzheimer’s Association. Stages of Alzheimer’s.
Carle, A. (2022, April 25). Email interview.
Shu, S., & Woo, B. KP. (2021, April 19). Use of technology and social media in dementia care: Current and future directions. World Journal of Psychiatry.
The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal, or financial advice or to create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.