How the Apple Watch Can Help Keep Seniors Safe

With built-in emergency features and outside apps

Apple Watch has built-in features that can help elderly or vulnerable family members contact emergency services and loved ones. Third-party apps can offer even more assistance. Here's what you need to know about Apple Watch emergency features for seniors.

Apple watch on elderly woman's wrist
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Apple Watch Emergency SOS Feature

The Apple Watch Emergency SOS feature can be a literal life-saver for your loved ones, helping them call for emergency services and alert their emergency contacts with the touch of a button.

To use Emergency SOS:

  1. Press and hold the Apple Watch side button until you see the Emergency SOS slider.

  2. Keep holding the side button until an alert sounds and a countdown begins.

  3. When the countdown ends, the Apple Watch automatically calls emergency services.

    Apple Watch calling Emergency Services

    If you launched Emergency SOS by mistake, release the side button and tap Cancel. If a call accidentally started, tap End Call.

  4. After the Apple Watch calls emergency services, it will send your designated emergency contacts a text with your location. If your location changes, your contacts will get an update.

    If the Apple Watch doesn't have cellular, its paired iPhone must be nearby for the Emergency SOS feature to work.

How to Set up Emergency Contacts

Here's how to designate your emergency contacts so that the Emergency SOS feature will alert the right people.

  1. On your iPhone, open the Health app, and tap the profile icon.

  2. Tap Medical ID and then tap Edit.

  3. Scroll down and tap Add Emergency Contact.

    Add emergency contacts to your Health app
  4. Tap a contact, then designate your relationship. Repeat this process to add all your emergency contacts.

    Tap a contact, then designate your relationship. Tap Done. Repeat this process to add all your emergency contacts.

Apple Watch Fall Detection

Using the Apple Watch Series 4 or later's built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, the device can detect when a user has taken a bad fall. The watch will tap the user on the wrist, display an alert message, and sound an alarm. If the user is OK, they can tap I'm OK or close the alert on their Apple Watch.

If the watch receives no input and detects that the wearer has been immobile for a minute, it will call emergency services automatically after a 30-second countdown and a series of louder alerts. When the call connects, the Apple Watch will play a message explaining that the user has fallen and provide the user's current location. When that call ends, the Apple Watch will then send a message to the user's emergency contacts list.

ElderCheck Now

ElderCare Now app for iPhone

ElderCheck Now is a free third-party app that acts as an excellent companion to the Apple Watch health-monitoring features. The app is available to download for Apple Watch and iPhone and serves as a tool for loved ones and caregivers to check in on seniors or vulnerable people.

After a caregiver and senior have both installed ElderCare Now, a caregiver can issue a check-in request. The elder can respond by tapping I'm OK on their Apple Watch or iPhone and deliver their location and heart rate information.

Schedule and automate check-ins, adjust the app to your preferences, and integrate HealthKit data.

ElderCare Now app on an Apple Watch

Medication Reminder Apps

If your loved one needs help tracking their medication intake, free medication-reminder apps for the Apple Watch can help them stay on track.

Mango Health includes medication reminders, reminders about habits, such as drinking water, drug-interaction warnings, refill reminders, and much more.

Mango Health medication reminder app for Apple Watch
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