Wearables for Geriatric Patients

Reimagine wearables that enable arthritic adults or patients with neurodegeneration such as Parkinson's to be independent, to monitor mobility-related activity and to report on health functions.

Problem: Wearables today are not designed for older adults that have conditions that impede their dexterity such as those with arthritic or neuromuscular defective conditions.


Study participants found that today’s fitness trackers were difficult to calibrate, frequently lost data, and were not built with seniors having chronic conditions in mind. Many said that due to the way aging skin changes, and physical limitations wearables today are uncomfortable. When it comes to wearable devices, seniors have different concerns and needs than other age groups. And that's what's keeping them away from the devices so far.

Opportunity: Redesign wearables to address usability issues regarding mobility-related activities tracking for arthritic patients or Parkinson patients

Considerations for mobility-related activity wearables:

  1. Consider using materials that is comfortable to the aging skin and dexterity of older adults with arthritic or parkinson
  2. Create a wearable that fits seamlessly with older adults style and comfort
  3. Create a device that measures intensity and detect all types of mobility-related activities such as
    1. activities in the water
    2. activities that increase energy expenditure without a proportional increase in bodily acceleration (eg. walking uphill)
    3. activities involving upper body movement (eg. washing windows)
  4. Collect meaningful data to the user in order to support their behavior over long period of time
  5. Create ambient feedback, a form of subtle and unobtrusive feedback, for the user to take action on the data

In summing up the seniors' experiences, AARP researchers said wearable devices that can track both activity and vital signs hold promise for the senior market if they can be made informative, simple, accessible, invisible, instantaneous, targeted and meaningfully engaging. So how can wearables be designed to appeal to the 50-plus crowd? The AARP report offers a few suggestions:

  1. Provide easy to use, detailed instructions
  2. Explain how the device collects data
  3. Ensure that synching is easy and robust
  4. Make it comfortable
  5. Make the notifications timely and targeted to the senior audience
  6. Include an easy-to-read display that offers instant access to information
  7. Offer integration with additional health sensors that would appeal to seniors


Article on the benefits of wearables for older adults

Challenges with Current Wearable Technology