Activity trackers and people aged over 55 years

Digital Health Wearables workshop on 14 October 2016, pictures courtesy Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr. Duncan Banks

Digital Health Wearables workshop on 14 October 2016, pictures courtesy Professor Shailey Minocha and Dr. Duncan Banks

We organised the fourth workshop of the Sir Halley Stewart Trust funded Digital Health Wearables project at The Open University on 14 October 2016.

As discussed in our blog-post dated 9 October 2016, we are recording the experiences of 21 participants who are using activity trackers as a part of this project. The activity trackers are from Fitbit (e.g. Fitbit Alta, Fitbit HR), Microsoft (Band 1 and 2), and Misfit Shine. The workshop-discussions since June 2016 have uncovered a number of challenges people over 55 years experience with using the activity-trackers - from opening the packaging, accessing the instructions/manuals online, and to discovering the features of the device. 

We are investigating how the behaviours of our participants is changing – whether there is an increase in their activity such as walking or gardening, lifestyle changes, attitudes towards food/diet, and so on. How do they do how much of physical activity (and number of steps) is optimal for them (age; medical conditions, if any; etc.)? Does an increase in physical activity help towards the loneliness that people experience in later life? In addition, we have been eliciting their perceptions about sharing of the data with family, friends, carers and medical professionals. 

As discussed in this news item of our project, the wider implications of this project are in determining how digital health wearables can be used for self-monitoring and self-management of health by older people, and for remote-monitoring of specific conditions such as Parkinson's.