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How Wearables Can Improve Your Clients' Retirements

September 26, 2019 
Laurie Orlov

They Can Help Keep Clients Motivated to Exercise and Could Save Their Lives

Laurie Orlov
Laurie is a tech industry veteran, writer, speaker, and founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch. She conducts market research, follows trends, and writes reports about technologies and services that enable boomers and seniors to remain longer in their home of choice.

It’s rare, but I sometimes forget to put on my fitness band before leaving the house to exercise. Discovering its absence is a shock. I am irritated with myself because I know that my steps won’t be counted, my heart rate won’t be tracked, and the duration of my exercise won’t be recorded. No data will be synchronized with my smartphone health app to congratulate me at the end of the day. And no acknowledgement of my good deed will be reflected in the food/calorie app I use. The truth? I love the motivation and feedback from wearing this device.


What We’ll Cover:

  • Wearables can help clients stay healthy
  • Wearables can help with emergencies
  • What’s next for wearables


First, How Wearables Can Help Clients Stay Healthy

Today’s wearables encourage healthy habits because they can:

  • Measure their heart rate. Most wearables are programmed with the target heart rate ranges for particular age groups and can detect if clients are reaching their target heart rate during exercise. For an average 65-year-old, the target heart rate is 78-132, or 85% of its capacity.1 For those starting out, the lower end of the range is better.

  • Track their exercise. If clients are walking, running, swimming, or doing other exercises, wearable devices can track their activity. Whether they’re exercising to lose weight or stay fit, the combination of motion and heart rate can be measured against their goals and recommended fitness goals. Their goals can be entered into a smartphone app, such as Apple Health or Samsung Health, and the coaching feature will buzz and congratulate them when their goals are achieved.


Second, Wearables Can Help With Emergencies

  • Get help if your clients fall. Fall detection has been a feature of wearable Personal Emergency Response Pendants (or Medical Alerts) for the past decade, but it’s a relatively new feature of wrist-worn wearables such as watches. From a safety standpoint, it may turn out to be one of the most useful features as clients age, especially if they live alone. These devices have a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope which are designed to be activated if someone falls. Some devices can even place a call to emergency services if a fall is detected.

  • Help clients navigate to where they're going. We've grown increasingly dependent on GPS for mapping and directions, sometimes trusting it over common sense. And GPS is also available in newer wearables, such as Samsung’s or Apple’s. The GPS features even work if clients don’t have their smartphone with them.

    A GPS-enabled wearable can even be a lifesaver. If a client gets lost, they can use their wearable to easily connect with family members, caregivers, or emergency responders. The wearable can send their current location to emergency responders.

  • Provide an Electrocardiogram (ECG). Checking for heart arrhythmia is an even newer feature of wearables, and is included in the Apple Watch Series 4 and it’s in a future Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. For clients who are worried about abnormal heart rhythms, or AFib, which mostly affects those age 65+, the device could be useful.

    The ECG app on the Apple Watch Series 4 can record a client’s heartbeat and rhythm using its electrical heart sensor, and then check the recording for atrial fibrillation (AFib). The ECG measurement and any noted symptoms will be saved in the Health app on an iPhone. Clients can also share a PDF of this information with their doctor. By looking at an ECG, a doctor can gain insights about their heart rhythm and look for irregularities.


Third, What’s Next for Wearables

Although there have been some periods of pessimism about the staying power of wearables, most now agree that they’re here to stay. Some think that baby boomers will drive market growth in 2019, with 8 million of those aged 55+ owning a smartwatch by the end of the year. One reason for a surge in adoption has been a drop in prices—some are now under $200. Future benefits will likely come from developments in:

  • Hearables. These are recent innovations are more discreet than hearing aids and fit in or around the ear. Each of their functions, such as in-ear amplification, translation, fitness, predictive analytics are available now, synchronizing activity data with a smartphone.

  • Smart clothing. Smart clothes use advanced textiles with interwoven circuitry, while others implement sensors and additional hardware to give it its smart functionality. Smart socks can tell which part of your feet are receiving the most pressure during exercise. Under Armour’s sleepware absorbs body heat while releasing infrared light to improve sleep.

  • Smart glasses are computer supported eyewear that make things more visible than naked eyes can see. These Smart Glasses have the ability to play both audio and video files as well as support other services such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Some smart glasses are be used to help the legally blind actually see what’s around them by making things bigger, brighter and bolder.


Remember These Things About Wearables

First, wearables encourage tracking of movement and wellbeing. Second, they can help clients get help if they need it. Third, new wearable innovations are being created for aging adults, including eyewear, hearing devices, and smart clothing.


A Parting Thought From My Device

As I write this with my wearable still on my wrist, I noted today’s steps from walking in a pool and checked my peak heart rate. Pretty good, I say to myself, that is, for the time that I put into it. My heart works, and I have plenty of energy. Could I do more? Of course. Maybe tomorrow.


Next Steps:

  1. Download or order the client piece below
  2. Suggest that clients research wearables. Numerous online sites pop up in searches, including some for aging adults. The could also go to the many stores that feature them, including Apple Stores, but also Best Buy or even Macy’s, where I found mine.
  3. If you own a wearable, share how you’re using it


1Know Your Target Heart Rates for Exercise, Losing Weight and Health, American
Heart Association, 2015. Most recent data available.

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Hartford Funds may or may not be invested in the companies referenced herein; however, no particular endorsement of any product or service is being made.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author, who is not affiliated with Hartford Funds. The information contained herein should not be construed as investment advice or a recommendation of any product or service nor should it be relied upon to, replace the advice of an investor’s own professional legal, tax and financial advisors.