Is The Apple Watch Series 4, 5, 6 or 7 With Fall Detection Right For You?

Health and Safety

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Apple Watch Series 4

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As technology advances, seniors have access to more and more options when it comes to monitoring their health, safety, and wellbeing. The latest tech news was first introduced with the Apple Watch Series 4 and continues with the Series 5, Series 6, and now the Series 7 which was released in October 2021. Much like the iPhone, the Apple Watch keeps evolving over time, providing better information technology features to users.  To understand how this wrist watch can help seniors, you have to understand the latest technology they have built into the watch. That technology is an accelerometer and gyroscope that measures up to 32 g-forces. fall detection algorithm can determine if your loved one has suffered from a fall and will call for help automatically. The more information you have at hand, the more you can understand the fall detection technology. Read on for a complete breakdown! 

FALL DETECTION TECHNOLOGY

Many people ask, “how does fall detection work?” The accelerometer and gyroscope is the technology responsible for automatic fall detection in medical alert device pendants. These sensors detect your everyday activity and can sense a falling motion.  It is also built into many other devices you may own such as your smartphone.  An accelerometer measures the change in your velocity or speed divided by time. Think about when you change the position of your smartphone and the orientation of your screen changes with it. That is the accelerometer technology at work! According to LiveScience, a gyroscope is a device that uses the Earth’s gravity to help determine orientation. Both of these applications working together can work effectively to detect falls in seniors.

Although this technology has been built into smartphones for a while, the difference is the new Apple Watch claims to have created custom algorithms to more accurately sense when a fall has taken place. One of the criticisms of automatic fall detection in the past has been that it is not always accurate in detecting falls with one recent study showing it detected 12 out of 15 actual falls.

With this new Apple Watch feature, if it senses the user has been immobilized, it will give you an option to choose if you are ok or if you want to call emergency services. If there is no activity for more than 60 seconds, it will automatically call for help from emergency services and send your emergency contacts your location. Getting help fast in these emergency situations is often times key for potentially saving someone’s life.

While fall detection has been in Apple Watches since the Series 4, there have been significant improvements for each new iteration. Apple continued to improve its fall detection technology for the Series 7. It enhanced the algorithm and optimized the technology to become more accurate. The Series 7 still features the alert on the watch if it recognizes a hard fall, giving users the opportunity to call emergency services right from the watch. However, now the watch can also notice if the user falls while working out, meaning a hike, bike, or even Zumba class can now be safer thanks to Series 7 fall detection technology.

WHY FALL DETECTION IMPORTANT?

According to the CDC, over 800,000 seniors are hospitalized due to an injury from a fall. Seniors who fall can easily break a hip and that may lead to other complications. Falls are also the leading cause of death from injury among adults 65 and older. With the integration of this technology in devices such as an automatic fall detection pendant, fall detection watch or the new Apple Watch, falls can be treated quickly and hopefully more efficiently to help prevent some of those death by injury falls. In fact, a man in Spokane, Washington credits the Apple Watch for saving his father who fell off his bicycle and was left unconscious. The Apple Watch detected his fall and called his emergency contacts as well as emergency services who were able to find the man and take him for treatment.

WHAT ELSE CAN THE LATEST APPLE WATCH DO?

Another great feature of the Apple Watch Series 4, 5, 6, and 7 is a heart sensor app that can take an EKG in real time. This is the first direct to consumer device with that heart monitoring ability. It also monitors the heart for any irregularities. The biometric data the watch is collecting is stored within the device and can be sent directly to your health care provider. The new Series 7 is also senior friendly as the display is significantly larger and the speaker is 50 percent louder than previous models, making sounds and notifications easier to hear and buttons less difficult to press. This makes typing easier for those living with fine motor challenges as well as seeing the screen for those with low vision. 

Beyond the EKG features, the Series 7 can also take on-demand blood oxygen levels and detect any irregular heart rhythm. This data can be used to give the user peace of mind or to document the readings to share with a physician. Similar to the Series 6, the Series 7 also offers programs that can help with sleep and consistent routine, measure exercise or fitness goals, and communicate with family members who are on the same plan.

In addition to the new Apple Watch features, the watch can be used as a smartphone, and as a way to send messages to friends and family.  There are many conveniences of an Apple Watch including being able to use the handy Apple Pay feature, which allows for a quick tap of the watch to pay for goods and services as well as being a fitness tracking device, making it the perfect Apple Watch for seniors. You can also download apps and games that are of interest to you, and in addition you are able to set up a Medical ID on your watch. Apple Watch, just like the iPhone, comes with the Siri option which allows for hands free calls and texts.  See Apple Watch & Fitbit Bring New Era of Health Monitoring Devices for more things you can monitor!

APPLE WATCH COST VS. MEDICAL ALERT MONITORING

These new Apple Watch features could give medical alert companies a run for their money. The cost of the latest Apple Watch Series 7 starts at $399 for the for the 41mm aluminum version. The 45mm version costs $429 while the stainless steel versions start at just under $700..  A typical medical alert monitoring system can range anywhere from $19.99 a month for a basic system to $89.99 a month for top of the line medical alert monitoring services that includes monitoring falls. Keep in mind, you are paying for professional monitoring services with a traditional medical alert company. The Apple Watch will simply call 911 emergency services to respond to your medical alert emergency. It does not include monthly monitoring services.

APPLE WATCH SERIES 4 VS. SERIES 5 

There is not much new with the Apple Watch Series 5 if you are considering an upgrade from the Series 4. The Series 5 continues to have the same break-through technology as the Series 4 with regards to fall detection and EKG heart rate monitoring. The Series 5 watch does have a new feature built into the back of the watch and has electrodes built in the digital crown. When you touch it, it will generate a waveform and can indicate if you have signs of an irregular heartbeat such as atrial fibrillation.

Another main feature that is new is the always-on Retina display. The Series 5’s display is always on without you having to physically turn it on. It dims when you are not looking at it to save on battery life. There is also a lot more storage with the Series 5 (32GB) compared to the Series 4 (16GB).

One of the other brand-new features is the Noise app, available with watchOS6 and later, which can indicate when noise levels have risen to an unsafe level. The good news is that this is available with the Series 4 watch and later.

If you have the cellular version of the Series 5, you can use the international emergency calling feature. If you have an emergency when traveling abroad, simply press and hold the side button to be connected to emergency services.

Lastly, the Series 5 comes with a brand-new Compass app that even works if you don’t have a Wi-Fi or a cellular connection. The app will show your direction, elevation, incline, latitude and longitude. Unfortunately, this feature is not available with the Apple Watch Series 4.

APPLE WATCH SERIES 5 VS. SERIES 6

Apple began dipping its toe into health and wellness monitoring in the Apple Watch Series 4. The Series 5 launch kept the electrical heart sensor and optical heart sensor while improving the irregular heart rhythm notification system. The Series 5 also improved upon fall detection technology and emergency alerts. However, the improvements that came when the Series 6 launched were very impressive.

The Series 6 features the third-generation optical heart sensor which only improves readings for the user. It also allows for the ECG function and blood oxygen readings, which the Series 5 does not. The fall detection algorithm is also more advanced and optimized in the Series 6 than in the Series 5. In general, the Series 6 is a much more innovative piece of technology than the Series 5 when it comes to health monitoring and fall detection.

APPLE WATCH SERIES 6 VS. SERIES 7

While the Series 6 and Series 7 came out just one year apart from one another, there are some serious improvements that accompany the newer model. First, the display is much larger on the Series 7 than the Series 6. This is a big improvement and makes texting, tapping, and reading the display much easier for Series 7 users. For older adults specifically, this change in the display size can accommodate low vision challenges as well as fine motor obstacles that were apparent while using the Series 6.

Both the Series 6 and 7 are water resistant and durable, though the Series 7 does boast dustproof and crack-resistance making it more durable during daily use.

Similarly, both the Series 6 and 7 offer health monitoring applications ranging from ECG and blood oxygen levels to notifying the user if there are any irregular heart rhythms.

The Apple Watch, as long as it is Series 4 or newer, offers a real alternative to medical alert devices. Consider which ones might be best for your current needs and budget.