Meet the Apple Watch: Your Personal Health Assistant

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Remember the days when watches just told the time? Now, they can practically run your world, and your health.

Case in point: the Apple Watch Series 4, a device to help you take charge of your health. The watch will track your heart rate, help you meditate for a more peaceful day, and even call for help if you take a fall. And yes, it also tells time.

And experts agree that it's a good option for seniors who need a little extra help keeping track of doctor's orders.

"The Apple Watch can be an effective tool to help seniors maintain good health in their golden years," says Ben Wanamaker, Aetna's head of consumer technology and services.


It's an intelligent guardian for your heart

Heart rate too high or too low? The watch will let you know. One of its most-talked-about features is the electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) function.

Once you open the ECG function (coming soon) and rest your finger on the Digital Crown for 30 seconds, the watch records your heart rate and shows if you have a normal "sinus" rhythm or atrial fibrillation (AFib), a more serious condition that may need your doctor's attention. And to help your doctor address the cause of any irregularity, all your data is stored in the Health app and can be easily shared.

The ECG function is not only FDA-approved, but the Apple Watch Series 4 is the first wearable with an approved ECG detection that's available over the counter. Just remember that it isn't a replacement for regular medical tests or health screenings. You should always consult your doctor.

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Get peace of mind with fall detection

One of the leading causes of injuries among older adults is falling. There are things you can do to prevent falls ― like exercises and activities to improve balance ― but falls do happen, and the more serious ones need immediate medical attention.

That's where the Apple Watch's fall detection feature comes in. It detects when you fall, and if you're immobile for longer than one minute, it will ask if you'd like to call 911. If you can't or don't answer, the watch will call for you. It sends your location, so emergency services know where to find and help you.

"The falls feature is a big deal for those at highest risk for fall-related injuries," says Wanamaker. "A big driver in outcomes for falls is how quickly someone is treated after the fall. The watch's fall-detection feature could potentially help people get the help they need a lot quicker."

Be proactive with your health

Today's fitness trackers and tech-savvy watches help with everyday activities, like setting reminders for fitness classes and tracking steps and calories burned, and offer in-app exercises that help you breathe easy when stress takes over.

While the Apple Watch's heart rate monitor and fall detection are certainly its top-billed features, Wanamaker says devices like the Apple Watch can help you play a more active role in your overall health. And that's not only great news for you, but for your loved ones and doctors, too.

"If you want to use technology to help you achieve your health goals, the Apple Watch could be a good tool in your journey," says Wanamaker.

Amy Capomaccio is a health care writer at Aetna with experience in senior wellness, Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial health care. When she's not practicing new mindfulness techniques, Amy is spending time outdoors and traveling. Amy hails from Wakefield, MA and has a degree in Advertising and Public Relations from the University of Tampa.

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