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Lorenzo F

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 13, 2014
79
23
Oakland, CA
My family plans to buy an Apple Watch 5 for our 88 year old mother. Because she is prone to falls these days but is a strong defender of her independence, she will be using the watch primarily for fall detection and to make phone calls to ask family members for help. However, she currently has an iPhone 5 so needs to upgrade to something more recent since the AW5 requires an iPhone 6s or more recent.

Does anyone have suggestions on which iPhone to get? She will hardly use the iPhone for anything, so we are thinking to get a used iPhone SE. But we want to ensure we don't have to get another iPhone in a couple of years because it won't support the latest iOS updates.
 

Lorenzo F

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 13, 2014
79
23
Oakland, CA
Thanks all for your guidance and advice! Particularly liked the chart that @waw74 pointed out. That'll be helpful for this decision and others.
 

staggerlee41

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2017
1,072
1,057
Pittsburgh, PA
Sounds like your decision is made but I tend to agree. An iPhone 8 would be my choice if going with the standard size phone. 8+ is much easier on the aging eyes if she will be using the phone at all.

Another consideration for you is the watch itself. There are lots of great deals to be had on the Series 4 Apple watches at Best Buy and Amazon and you'll get the fall detection with S4.

I am also considering an Apple Watch for my mother, she's not falling yet but values her independence to a point of being stubborn at times. I'm debating getting an LTE model or going with GPS only because she has a tendency to sometimes walk out of the house without her phone.
 

zerozoneice

macrumors 6502
Jun 26, 2013
391
123
better get some cheap 360 monitoring webcam(s) in there, with duplex voice channels, like the Xiaomi Home Security 1080. Lots can go wrong at 88+, not just falling.

as far as phone goes, get the 6S, same internals as SE but larger screen and can make use of magnified interface.
 

Lorenzo F

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 13, 2014
79
23
Oakland, CA
@staggerlee41: actually we haven't yet made a decision. Everyone here has made some good points; while our mother will likely use the phone only to make phone calls and the very occasional text message, it's possible that she will use the phone more if she finds the AW useful. But we think it's highly unlikely given the fact that her fingers are increasingly arthritic and she already has small hands. This makes it difficult to even hold a phone. So while a bigger phone like the Pluses would be good for her eyesight, they would be harder to hold.

But we really want to hedge our bets in terms of operating system updates support because we value security. Here is the chart that @waw74 pointed out:

1573322119682.png


I've highlit the models that everyone has pointed out. I'm wondering if the 7 Plus makes the most sense because it has 3 GB of memory. I've read on other threads that Apple might take RAM in addition to the processor type when deciding whether to continue to support an iPhone for software updates. Any thoughts on this?

Also, @staggerlee41, you mentioned the AW4. Thanks for the suggestion! We thought about that because it is cheaper and deals abound, but the always on feature is going to be helpful for our mother. I have had an AW since 2016 and don't like having to flick my wrist, and I definitely can see how it will be hard for our senior mother.

As for LTE vs. GPS, we also thought about that because sometimes she misplaces her phone or leaves the house without her phone. Our mothers must be long-lost sisters! However, we are on a budget so may need to settle for GPS.
 

iamasmith

macrumors 6502a
Apr 10, 2015
838
416
Cheshire, UK
I've heard of folks wanting to do this before but really, for the uninitiated, is an Apple Watch the best way to go? Does she always remember to charge the iPhone? Will it be the same with the watch?.. Aren't you better with a local push button support system and maybe some home cameras for you to keep an eye out?
 

44267547

Cancelled
Jul 12, 2016
37,642
42,491
With the slight difference to consider a Plus. While it is larger and heavier, it’s much easier to read.

Someone at the age of 88, would probably have difficulty holding a phone _that_ large and manipulating it. Sure, it’s easy to read a display, but you can also enlarge the text on a smaller iPhone if need be for easier reading, and you have the advantage of having a device that would be much more manageable in the hand, especially for a geriatric.
 

Clix Pix

macrumors Core
Exactly!!! I had the 6s Plus and the 7 Plus and when the iPhone X came along with a larger screen but smaller footprint, making it more comfortable to hold in my hands, I jumped on it and haven't looked back. Along with the iPhone X, the iPhone XS and the iPhone 11 Pro are much more suited to my small hands and yet even with aging eyes I can read text on there quite nicely. Being able to handle and hold a phone is really important, particularly if one uses the phone a fair amount to talk on as well as to look at and/or read something.
 

matrix07

macrumors G3
Jun 24, 2010
8,226
4,891
I would say 8 is an ideal. I couldn’t see Apple support 7+ and not 8 despite the RAM.

@iamasmith for Fall Detection, Apple Watch works better than any independent system and will work perfectly in area where there is good emergency service. A watch that doesn’t use much (no apps, simple face) will last 3-4 days easily.
 

Lorenzo F

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 13, 2014
79
23
Oakland, CA
better get some cheap 360 monitoring webcam(s) in there, with duplex voice channels, like the Xiaomi Home Security 1080. Lots can go wrong at 88+, not just falling.

as far as phone goes, get the 6S, same internals as SE but larger screen and can make use of magnified interface.

Good point. We're currently running a couple of webcams inside the house. But we also have a few outside the house and if we add more to all the rooms, hallways, and spaces that our mother could possibly fall, we start to have a problem with sufficient Internet bandwidth. Our area doesn't support fiber or other high bandwidth technologies.
 

Lorenzo F

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 13, 2014
79
23
Oakland, CA
I've heard of folks wanting to do this before but really, for the uninitiated, is an Apple Watch the best way to go? Does she always remember to charge the iPhone? Will it be the same with the watch?.. Aren't you better with a local push button support system and maybe some home cameras for you to keep an eye out?

Yes, this truly will be an experiment. We've already tried one of the local push button support systems, Life Alert and another system. They have a range of systems to use. Because we are on a budget, we tried one of the systems at the lower end. It has a base station that you put in one place in the house. Then the person wears the button around their neck. When they need help, they press the button. However, all communication happens through the base station; both the speaker and microphone are at the base station. So, if the person is in the bathroom in their master bedroom, they could potentially be behind 2 closed doors, not to mention a long hallway. The base station needs to be placed in a central location so that if the person falls, they will be able to communicate from any spot in the house. Clearly, this is difficult with this system.

Life Alert and the other companies have higher spec'd systems. For example, they have a "watch" that you wear on your wrist like AW that allows you to communicate directly through it. But it has a high activation fee (don't quote me, but I remember $100-150). In addition, all of these systems require a monthly monitoring fee. The system with the base station costs $27 a month. Safety is obviously paramount for our mother and we would do anything for her, but we are on a very serious budget because of all the other items being added to the budget--we are looking for a home health aide, for example.

AW is worth trying at this point because it has no recurring monthly fee, and Apple, undoubtedly, will continue to support it. Other pluses include the fact that, even if she leaves her iPhone in the kitchen and is in her bedroom, which is pretty far away and out of Bluetooth range, AW will still be able to make phone calls as long as it is on WiFi and Wi-Fi calling is turned on. Also, AW is on the wrist. Can you imagine if you had to wear a call box around your neck 24-7? Our mother complained about that from a practical standpoint. It kept getting in the way. In fact, one time, she was in the kitchen and leaned into the counter. Without knowing it, she pressed the alarm button and the fire department came. She was unaware that either of those events occurred because she didn't have her hearing aids in. AW has the advantage of haptic feedback and a screen that shows you what's going on.

We are hopeful and excited that our 88-year-old mother can learn to use the AW. It will obviously act on its own if she has a bad fall and can't summon help herself, but otherwise she just needs to hold down the side button to call Emergency Services or tap the screen and say "Hey Siri. Call so-and-so." And @iamasmith, you're right, it's possible she won't always remember to charge the watch. We're concerned about that. But the workaround is that because she is on Family Sharing via iCloud, we can monitor the battery charge of both her iPhone and, soon, AW.

If you made it this far in my post, hopefully you found this informative! Putting all this detail here so that others who care for people prone to falls can learn from our experience. I'll keep you all updated on how things go.
 

digitalexplr

macrumors 65816
Dec 13, 2016
1,335
876
Central Missouri
Yes, this truly will be an experiment. We've already tried one of the local push button support systems, Life Alert and another system. They have a range of systems to use. Because we are on a budget, we tried one of the systems at the lower end. It has a base station that you put in one place in the house. Then the person wears the button around their neck. When they need help, they press the button. However, all communication happens through the base station; both the speaker and microphone are at the base station. So, if the person is in the bathroom in their master bedroom, they could potentially be behind 2 closed doors, not to mention a long hallway. The base station needs to be placed in a central location so that if the person falls, they will be able to communicate from any spot in the house. Clearly, this is difficult with this system.

Life Alert and the other companies have higher spec'd systems. For example, they have a "watch" that you wear on your wrist like AW that allows you to communicate directly through it. But it has a high activation fee (don't quote me, but I remember $100-150). In addition, all of these systems require a monthly monitoring fee. The system with the base station costs $27 a month. Safety is obviously paramount for our mother and we would do anything for her, but we are on a very serious budget because of all the other items being added to the budget--we are looking for a home health aide, for example.

AW is worth trying at this point because it has no recurring monthly fee, and Apple, undoubtedly, will continue to support it. Other pluses include the fact that, even if she leaves her iPhone in the kitchen and is in her bedroom, which is pretty far away and out of Bluetooth range, AW will still be able to make phone calls as long as it is on WiFi and Wi-Fi calling is turned on. Also, AW is on the wrist. Can you imagine if you had to wear a call box around your neck 24-7? Our mother complained about that from a practical standpoint. It kept getting in the way. In fact, one time, she was in the kitchen and leaned into the counter. Without knowing it, she pressed the alarm button and the fire department came. She was unaware that either of those events occurred because she didn't have her hearing aids in. AW has the advantage of haptic feedback and a screen that shows you what's going on.

We are hopeful and excited that our 88-year-old mother can learn to use the AW. It will obviously act on its own if she has a bad fall and can't summon help herself, but otherwise she just needs to hold down the side button to call Emergency Services or tap the screen and say "Hey Siri. Call so-and-so." And @iamasmith, you're right, it's possible she won't always remember to charge the watch. We're concerned about that. But the workaround is that because she is on Family Sharing via iCloud, we can monitor the battery charge of both her iPhone and, soon, AW.

If you made it this far in my post, hopefully you found this informative! Putting all this detail here so that others who care for people prone to falls can learn from our experience. I'll keep you all updated on how things go.
This past March my wife went outside during the afternoon and left iPhone inside. She fell and was not sure she would be able to get up and no neighbors were around for her to yell for help. She did finally get up and got back inside and called to till me what had happened.

I had been looking various alert options for a while. She was happy with any of them. That evening I ordered her an AW4 LTE version so if something similar happened and she was out of wifi range she could still get help.

She loves her watch and only takes off to shower and recharge. She uses it for everything it is designed for including making and receiving phone calls and messages when she doesn't have her phone in her pocket.

In the long term the watch, even with LTE, is a better investment IMHO. BTW, my wife is 77.
 

staggerlee41

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2017
1,072
1,057
Pittsburgh, PA
I have a neighbor with Life Alert and while it's helpful he's had to use his phone to call me several times because he doesn't wear the life alert around his neck. Honestly, I think Apple Watch is a fantastic alternative and I'm hopeful you can get your mother to wear it to give your family peace of mind.

My father just passed away and now my mother is alone. Although she's very mobile and still able to do an awful lot for a 77 year old, my sister and I are going to get her an Apple Watch for Christmas to give us peace of mind in the event she does fall. She probably won't use 1/2 of what it can do but again, it will give us peace of mind. She's a retired RN so maybe some of the heart monitoring and health capabilities will interest her, uses her iPhone and iPad daily and yes remembers to charge them all.

Another suggestion if you don't already have it would be to install a doorbell camera. I purchased one for my father this past Father's Day because the latter months of his life were spent in a hospital bed and wheelchair. He absolutely LOVED it because he could see who's coming and going. It's a nice security feature and it's also helpful because you can answer the door from anywhere without having to actually go to the door.

Enough about me, I hope you guys make the right decisions and get your mom wearing the Watch :)
 

Lorenzo F

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 13, 2014
79
23
Oakland, CA
Thanks, @digitalexplr and @staggerlee41, for sharing your experiences about your wife and mother (who both happen to be 77 years old!)., as well as that of your neighbor who doesn't wear his Life Alert. Both of you and I are of that first generation who are more interested in trying out more advanced tech approaches to this fall issue. I sincerely feel that Apple is onto something big here with disrupting the fall alert detection industry, and it would be nice if Apple would continue to expand on this and make watchOS more senior-friendly.

If anyone else has experiences with using an AW with people prone to falls, particularly seniors, please share.
 
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