The Apple Watch Series 3: A Breakthrough for People at Risk of Wandering & Falls

I believe the slogan "Freedom Calls" for the new Apple Watch may be most true for people living with dementia and their caregivers. It has eliminated the size and stigma barriers for using connected watches to help people at risk of wandering or getting lost.

The compact Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular lets you leave the phone behind and still be connected to the mobile network. You can:

  • Call 911, family or friends if you need help away from home.

  • Be called or be found if lost.

  • Automatically alert family or caregivers to location changes (leaving or arriving).

It’s not the first cellular SmartWatch, nor the first connected watch, but it is the first to pack cellular connectivity into a normal size watch!

Apple has broken the size barrier and set the bar for style, functionality and usability. Its just a question of time before the competition catches up to offer more choices and drive more improvements.

Man or woman. Young athlete or aging adult. Everyone is free to pick the watch style and band to fit their lifestyle and their needs. No bulk. No Stigma.

The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier and LG Watch Sport offer a cellular SmartWatch but they are limited to one style and one size: sporty and large, weighing in at two to three times the Series 3.

The Series 3 shown in this photo, inherits the full range of Apple Watch styles: aluminum, stainless steel and ceramic casings with options for waterproof, leather or metal bands. Convenient watch band options include the buckle-free Milanese style that’s easy to get on and off.

Other Unique Features: Shower Approved and Siri's Allowed to Talk

Shower Use. Showers are the most common place for bad falls. The Apple Watch Series 2 and 3 are the only shower-approved connected watches I’ve found with essential features for aging with independence: voice commands, voice calling, text messaging, sound and vibration alerts, and WiFi.

Siri Talks. The powerful new processor lets Siri speak to you like she does on the iPhone and iPad. With most other SmartWatches, including the Apple Watch Series 1 & 2, the digital assistants do not speak. Now there's no need to worry about reading that small screen. Siri will verbally confirm your request or speak the answer when you ask her to place a call, set reminders or answer a question.

Note: Many SmartWatches have voice over capability - reading out loud what is on the screen. This is not the same as generating speech by the digital assistant.

Is an iPhone 6 or higher required to connect your cellular AppleWatch Series 3 to the mobile network?

Yes, its required in Canada.

No, it not required in the United States where standalone plans are offered.

For example, AT&T offers standalone options that start at $50us per month with the purchase of a watch for $388us or $70us per month for service with a 20 month installment payment plan for the watch ($50 service + $20 installment payment). The watch gets its own phone number and you manage it online through an iCloud account. This compares with a subscription option to add the watch to an existing voice, text and data plan for an additional $10 per month. Under the add-on plan, the SmartPhone and Watch share the same telephone number.

A FEW WORDS OF CAUTION (Nothing is perfect!)

A SmartWatch is Not for Everyone

People in the advanced stages of Alzheimers or other forms of dementia prefer the familiar and tend to reject the unfamiliar. They’re unlikely to accept a new device like this. However, research shows that people in the early stages are more receptive and likely to embrace the technology, particularly when it can be personalized. Choice in something as simple as band color has been shown to make a difference in receptivity.

Uncertain Usage Impact on Battery Life and Data Consumption

Location sharing is a feature known to drain battery power. We need to see how the watch battery performs with Location Sharing turned on and how Location Finding and Alerting apps impact battery and data usage. Once known, we can choose an approach to optimize safety while minimizing the risk of draining the battery or driving up data charges. I review these apps in the next Blog post on wandering.

Is the Apple Watch Series 3 right for you or someone you care about?

Learn more in the related blog posts below or...

Go to the Collections for Guide to SmartWatches or Safety Tactics for Wandering on the HUB. Inside the Guide you will find:

  • Product examples and cost comparisons,

  • A shopping checklist,

  • A budget planner, and

  • More tips and detail on what you need to make it work.

Wishing you all the best,