Helping Elderly Family & Friends with Online Communication
Over the last few years, I’ve written a few times about senior citizens and technology. There is no better time than right now to figure out how you can connect with those whom you love or care about (and not just seniors!) since there are a lot of lonely and isolated people during this pandemic time.
I’d expect that you certainly don’t want your parents, grandparents, elderly family members, or other seniors — who, without question, are our most vulnerable during this pandemic and will be the last to go out or connect with others in person — to be even lonelier or more isolated than ever before!
Many people have commented on those posts of mine, but even more have used my contact form to reach out to me directly and asked questions, provided solutions they had or knew about, or reinforced my belief that online communication with others can really help.
HMM…MAYBE I COULD HELP HER?
This past week a woman sent me a long message which started off with this:
Hi Steve, I found your blog after realizing I will probably need to purchase something for my father (and mother who has dementia) to do video calls. Like you talked about in your blog it has to be as easy as turning on a device, make sure wifi is connected, and just clicking 1 button (only) to call me. The device can’t be small because Dad has vision and hearing problems. No extra apps, etc.
She also mentioned these requirements:
- My dilemma is that I myself am disabled, and cannot easily go to a store to buy a device, set it up, pack it up and then ship it to him.
- I also don’t want to spend over, let’s say $300-350.
- Also, the device can’t be fidgety like a small tablet.
- Anyway, if you have any other ideas that could fall in or below my price range, I’d love to hear. Esp if it’s geared toward disabled/seniors (e.g. big buttons/keypad/screen). It literally has to be visually and aurally very usable, clear, and with no quirky gadgets.
I thought it might be helpful for you to read most of my response to her since the solution I recommended to her might help you too.
PLEASE NOTE: I know there are a lot of other tablets, devices, and cheaper solutions, so no need to pick apart my suggestion below. Make your own suggestions in the comments.
One other consideration is this: Unless you’ve done what I’ve done in the past — set up laptops, computer towers, tablets, IP-and-mobile phones and other devices for seniors, all while coaching them on their use — then please understand that I’m hypersensitive to the need for something that just works, is easy to set up and easy for seniors to use. That is what I’ve suggested below with my recommendation.
Enabling Seniors To Leverage Technology & Stay Home, Will Be *Very* Big Business
In November of 2013, I wrote a post called New Connected Device for Seniors at Home that received thousands of unique views in its first month. That post was one that continued on a topic regarding technology for seniors that started with one of my most popular posts ever with tens of thousands of views, Elderly Need Super-Simple, Phone-like Skype.
I was certainly interested in this topic…but why were so many others?
My interest began as my father, Bill Borsch, was aging-in-place and in his last few years (he passed away in March of 2013). I was filled with anxiety knowing so much about available technology, but feeling like I couldn’t quite leverage what was currently available.
Knowing that we were right on the cusp of tech that would transform his world was both exciting and anxiety-producing since I really wanted to help him out. Sadly, it turns out that 2011-2013 was still too early for me to deliver any sort of transformative technology in Dad’s home. I’d purchased him a very early SmartThings kit (from their Kickstarter project) but even that was too early at the time.
Today we have a lot of great technology for (or able to be leveraged) that seniors can use, but the entire “connected aging” space is changing almost by the week. There are so many things going on in the space right now like personal security and medical alert stuff, wearables including the Apple Watch, connected in-home automation sensors and devices, and so much more, that it is really hard to stay on top of what’s going on.