A lot of things that people take for granted in their hay days turn into prickly issues as age catches up with them; case in point using a wrist watch.
I know most of us 40 something and younger folks will chant in unison, “If they can’t use a watch, let them use a cell phone.”
Smacks of Marie Antoinette, in its apathy doesn’t it? I agree that the majority of us are not deliberately being flippant about the issue and are just trying to offer a realistic and logical solution.
Let me tell why and how that does not work by narrating an incident from my own life.
For lost time is never found again – Benjamin Franklin!
My mother who is always very diligent about taking her meds on time, would inevitably forget to reach for her pills when she was out of the house.
At first I blamed it on forgetfulness. But after a few hesitant explanations, it occurred to me that she was too embarrassed to admit that her eyes and fingers were making it hard for her to use her favorite watch. Since she could not see the time in her watch, she would end up missing her dose.
Now, I understand how and why most of us, who are still decades away from vision problems, may not completely understand, let alone empathize, with her problem.
But, the fact is that for older adults even the trivial issue of not being able to tell time because they can no longer clearly read the numerals on the dial or the see hands, screams one loud and ominous message – LOSS OF INDEPENDENCE!
Fortunately, watch-makers seem to have taken notice of this quandary and have now started catering to older adults with their senior friendly watches. If you haven’t already bought one for your elderly parents, they sure would make a fabulous gift this Christmas.
Having said that, I am sure you will need some help along the way when it comes to choosing the right product.
So, here is an in-depth guide on how to buy the perfect senior-friendly watch for the older adults in your life. As always, let us start with the basics…
Senior Friendly Watches: What Exactly Are They?
Fashionably late was frowned upon and punctuality was considered a virtue when many of the seniors of today were young working professionals. This means that a stylish and well-made watch was an integral part of their life and their ensemble.
Senior friendly watches aim to recreate the classic pieces with simplicity as their core aspect. Plus, the design features are specifically meant to make up for the physical deficits that people pick up with each passing year.
Make no mistake, these watches do come in a range of avatars, such as:
1. The charming analog watch:
These are for older adults who covet the beauty of the classics, yet appreciate the addition of features that make life simpler for them.
Designed to only offer one or two features, these watches do not require the frequent winding that their older counterparts needed. But, you will need to replace the battery every couple of months.Usually, these analog watches have a metal body and strap, in gold or bronze finish. However, you can find versions that have leather straps that reduce the overall weight of the piece.
More on the features to look for in senior friendly analog watches in the next section.
2. The modern and friendly digital watch:
The plastic build of these watches does not appeal to all seniors. But those, who are willing to trade the old world charm for new world simplicity and practicality, will enjoy the light-weight freedom that these digital time pieces offer.
With digital products, the watch faces are typically bigger than those of analog watches and they are built to accommodate several basic features that you may not get even in senior-friendly analog watches.
3. The smart watch for smart seniors:
The name says it all for this range of products. These smart watches are for tech savvy seniors who want their time pieces to do more than just tell them about the date and the hour of the day.
Although the interface is designed with senior-convenience in mind, these senior friendly watches are every bit as feature-rich as regular products in the category.
Often, they feature the ability to make calls, GPS tracking, access to music, phone call alerts and more.
4. The fitness keeper watch:
Most high-end smart watches have fitness tracking features. But for seniors, who like to keep things simple yet functional, a pedometer watch would be just right.
As you may have guessed, at its most basic, this watch will count the steps taken by the user. But it can have scores of other fitness related features as well, such as calorie consumption, heart rate monitoring and others.
5. The safety first watch:
Yes, smart watches do boast of their own safety features but these watches are dedicated to tracking and preventing senior risk factors.
For instance, apart from telling time, these watches are designed to have a fall monitor, emergency medical alert, weather update, geo-tracking, medicine alert and more.
Easy To Read Watch For Seniors: How To Buy An Analog Watch For The Elderly?
In terms of preference, I’d say analog watches sure do score over most others, when it comes to seniors. Call it a matter of being used to something or doing things a certain way.
The good news is that it is now possible to find a lot of senior-friendly features in analog watches. So, if you are in the market for one, this is what you should be looking for:
1. The face says it all:
The larger the dial, the clearer and bolder will be the display, which simply means that it will be more visible. Ideally, square and round shape dials are better suited for older adults as compared to rectangles and other shapes.
These non-standard shapes often have angular glasses on top, which can be problematic for someone with vision issues.
2. Color me cool:
A big dial won’t make a huge splash if there is no color contrast between the watch face and the numerals and hands. One option is to get backlit analog watches that help those with vision issues and provide uniform illumination to the dial even in low-light conditions.
But if you want something that is simple yet works like a charm, a light dial, preferably white and non-shiny with dark numerals and hands will be just right for you.
Of course, it is also possible to find light on dark contrast, where the dial is usually in black or a very dark blue and the numerals are in a lighter shade.
But personally, I feel it is easier to see dark things placed on a lighter background than vice versa.
3. The numbers are important:
Once again, simplicity is your friend here.
You want the numbers to be roman numerals and in a dark color, preferably in black or blue. They should be placed at just the right spacing, so that each numeral can be easily discerned.
Unless you are buying for an older adult who has cognitive issues, the “4-number” watches (numerals at each quadrant) should pose no problem at all for your senior parent/loved one.
4. What can the hands not do:
Even if the hands are dark, if they are too thin, it can be hard for somebody with failing vision to see them well enough to know the minutes-past/to the hour.
So, look for thick hands; thicker than those on normal watches. As discussed, they have to be in a dark color.
5. How far should you go with the features:
Ask yourself what exactly would an older adult want out of his/her watch? I bet you will get the answer, “To know the time”.
Well, stick to this because everything else would simply be space cluttering on the dial and too confusing for seniors. So, the mini, inbuilt compass and depth gauge are certainly not needed.
However, you can look for additional features that can make life simpler for older adults like a built-in alarm, extra big adjustment knobs or press-to-adjust buttons that can be used easily by arthritic fingers.
Another helpful feature is that of a talking clock. Yes, there are analog watches out there that can literally tell what time it is.
6. Comfort matters most:
As far as the wrist band goes, make sure that you pick a watch with an adjustable band/strap.
Metal bands can prove to be too heavy for some seniors while leather/plastic bands with adjustable holes can be hard to use when your eyesight isn’t what it once used to be.
Ideally, you should go for Velcro straps or expandable bands, which are easy to use and very light weight.
7. Fuss free is always good:
Finally, pick a watch that is easy to maintain. For instance, an atomic watch needs no winding or adjustments. Similarly, opt for a time piece that only needs a battery change every 6 months or more.
Easy To Use Pedometer Watch For Elderly
Although most seniors prefer easy-to-use watches with a limited number of features, a pedometer watch still finds favor with the majority of older adults.
Regular physical activity plays a crucial and irreplaceable role in preventing the onset of age-related ailments and in actually slowing down the aging process.
And, here is a device that can tell seniors if they have managed to clock in enough workout minutes to make a difference. In other words, a pedometer watch not only helps to monitor and adjust the level of physical activity but also proves to be a motivator.
After all, achieving a fitness goal gives an immediate dopamine shot to the brain, which means you feel good and want to come back to the activity that led to the release of dopamine.
Now although a pedometer watch makes it easy for seniors to keep up with their daily exercise regimen, buying one is hardly a simple task. What, with the number of options available out there, even the most tech savvy buyers are bound to be baffled.
So, here is a look at some of the senior-friendly features that you should look for in an easy to use pedometer watch for the elderly.
1. The display again:
Like for analog watches, the size of the display should be one of the first design features to focus on when buying a pedometer watch. Unfortunately, with fitness trackers, thin rectangular displays are all the rage.
So, you will have to spend some time to find a product that has a big display screen, which will accommodate the vision problems of an older adult.
2. Easy to use:
This is actually a user-specific requirement. If you are buying for a senior who is not tech savvy, it would be pointless to have anything more than a pedometer.
Bluetooth and the ability to collect a lot of fitness and health related data and store it on the smart phone may all be futile and a bit too much for such older adults to handle.
3. Ticker tracker:
A heart rate monitor is definitely a useful feature if an older adult is comfortable with technology. It can help to keep the workout in a safe cardiac range by telling seniors when they are going overboard and when it’s time for a break.
4. Distance tracker:
Counting just the number of steps taken won’t help much because seniors don’t always have to follow the 10,000 steps/day rule.
In fact, for many seniors, this would not be safe. This is where a distance tracker puts things in perspective because it actually turns pedometer data into sensible and relatable piece of information.
5. Calorie tracker:
This is another useful feature, particularly for seniors who need to shed a few pounds and even for those who are trying to keep their weight constant. Like the distance tracker, the calorie meter translates the data from the pedometer into useful information.
In fact, some high-end devices can even be used to capture calorie intake and calories burnt, so they essentially act as weight trackers as well.
6. Sleep tracker:
This feature measures not just the hours spent snoozing but also the sleep quality. It works by using the heart rate to track arousal from sleep.
Many seniors are not aware of the sleep issues they suffer from and these can have serious health ramifications. So, this is a must-have feature in a high-end fitness tracker.
7. Sturdy build:
Because a pedometer is meant to be worn while working out, you need to buy a product with good build quality that can withstand a few knocks and bumps.
Also, look for a waterproof design as opposed to a water resistant product that can only withstand a few splashes at the most.
8. Good battery life:
Finally, get a product that is power-efficient. Ideally, choose a watch that offers at least 3 days of usage for each full-charge.
Simple Digital Watch For The Elderly
After discussing all the possible senior-friendly watch options available, I am sure you are wondering why we are talking about digital watches, when most seniors don’t particularly like them. Well, that’s because a digital watch becomes a necessity when you are buying for a senior with significant cognitive decline.
I remember my first watch was a tiny, white digital time piece, which was given to me at the grand old age of 5 years. Why did I get an inexpensive and flimsy digital watch? Simple, I was still learning my 5 times table, which meant that it would take me a few minutes to calculate what the minute hand was telling me.
Older adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s have a similar problem. And this problem is both embarrassing and demoralizing. So, make life simple and stick to a digital watch for them. Some of the features that you should look for in a simple digital watch for seniors include:
All you need is the time shown in big numerals; even the date and the day of the week are optional and should be avoided if a senior suffers from discernible cognitive issues.
The fewer the better should be the mantra to follow here. Go with a time-piece that has no more than one or two buttons.
The molded plastic wrist bands, which are common place in most digital watches, can be hard to use for seniors. Instead, opt for a watch with an adjustable, expandable, bracelet-like wrist band that can simply be slipped on.
Vocal time telling:
This is definitely a must-have feature for adults who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Look for voice activated time telling.
Some digital watches have the medicine alert feature, which can be set to different times of the day and works as an effective reminder for seniors to take their meds on time.
Day and date:
If the day and the date are included in the display, make sure that the day reads as a three alphabet acronym or is spelled completely.
A Few Things To Remember When Buying A Senior Friendly Watch!
Regardless of the kind of watch that you intend to purchase, a few things to consider before you fish out your wallet/credit card are:
The build quality:
Yes, you can find plenty of flimsy products for a few dollars but these rarely last for more than a few weeks. So, instead of spending on a new purchase every 2 months or so, buy a good product that is designed to handle senior usage.
High quality comes for a high price and if you want to protect your investment, it is crucial to buy from a reputable and authorized dealership that issues a proper bill and backs its products with after-sales service.
Do your own homework:
It does not matter where and who you buy from, the fact is that sellers always put their commission over the interests of the buyers. So, don’t rely exclusively on what the dealer tells you. Instead, research the products that have drawn your interest before you walk into the store.
Ask and you shall get to know:
This is the cardinal rule of buying something for someone else and although we all know it, the rule often gets ignored. Get the person who will eventually wear the watch involved in the buying process. After all, it is all about their comfort and you do really want them to wear that new watch.
But, what if things go awry:
This is one thing that you always need to consider when making even a moderately expensive purchase. Call me a miser if you will, but if I am going to spend more than $100 on a product, I want to know what happens if it conks out on me. What I am trying to say here is that even good quality can develop a glitch. So, buy a product that is backed by a robust warranty/guarantee and choose a manufacturer that has authorized service centers in your city/town.
Discounts only go so far:
I bet you have heard this one before- you get what you pay for! But, never is it truer than in the case of watches. A good manufacturer will offer some discount but if the product seems too good for a price, may be it is!
Check for the extras:
This does not have to be a purchasing perquisite, but a few extras never hurt anybody. So, find out if the makers of the product are offering value added services, such as an exchange/upgrade after some years or insurance against damage/theft, etc.
And with we have come to the end of this article. There is only one more point that I would like to make here. The ability to read a watch may seem like a trivial aspect of life for us.
But for an elderly person, it translates into the ability to take their medicines and eat their food on time and the capacity to be punctual about meetings and doctor’s appointments.
In other words, something as inconsequential as a senior friendly watch can allow older adults to hold on to their independence and run their lives smoothly. So, if you are looking for a perfect gift for your elderly parents, an easy to read watch for seniors would be beyond perfect.