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Tackling Covid-19’s social isolation of seniors – one tech at a time

Saving seniors from Covid-19 requires worsening isolation. In an article in the NY Times, Paula Span’s title said it all: Just What Older People Didn’t Need: More Isolation. The article attempts a number of references to mitigation, including the use of GrandPad in two Pace programs. These are compelling, but the overall story is about the oldest on the wrong side of the Digital Divide, which is notable and particularly pitiful in settings like nursing homes, Note in the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 guidance about nursing homes, at the very end, authors acknowledge the risk of social isolation and make a few (lame) recommendations. These do not include, unfortunately, providing usable technologies to connect isolated seniors with families. What might they be to help with loneliness? Here are six that businesses and non-profits serving older adults should provide for each of their constituents. Please nominate another six -- especially consider those with dementia.

GrandPad. "GrandPad® is designed with seniors in mind – the innovative device comes with features for connecting with loved ones, without the complicated features of other tablets. The large buttons and intuitive interface make the GrandPad a simple tablet for seniors who are ready to start video chatting and sharing memories with family and friends around the world. Built-in Wi-Fi and private data sharing family network." Learn more at GrandPad.net.

Claris Companion. "We believe that everyone (especially older seniors) deserve to be connected with friends, family and caregivers online – even if they’re uncomfortable using technology. We designed the Claris Companion tablet for seniors living at home so their family can connect with them socially using email and text messages, photos, and videos, while caregivers can receive alerts and monitor compliance with medications, treatments, and important appointments.” Learn more at Claris Companion.

Ageless Innovation"JOY FOR ALL Companion Pets are designed to bring comfort, companionship, and fun to elder loved ones. Our interactive cats and pup are all about an ease-of-care and convenience that pairs with technology for the best possible experience. The pets can help calm anxiety and soothe those that are agitated, increase quality of life for those with dementia or who are socially isolated, and can improve behavior without the use of drugs." Learn more at Ageless Innovation.

GreatCall Jitterbug Smart2 and Link App. "The simple list-based navigation makes it easy to find what you need with large easy-to-read letters and numbers. GreatCall Link helps keep friends and family updated on your health and safety. After they download the free app -- and with your permission -- they will receive an alert on their smartphone if you call 5Star, let them know if the device is running low on battery, check your daily activities, and let them know your location." Learn more at GreatCall.

Echo Show. "Drop In is a feature that lets you instantly connect with an Echo device, including a contact's, as long as they have granted permission for you to do so. For instance, you can Drop In on any Echo device you own, or you can Drop In on a Echo device that your parents own. When you Drop In on an Echo device, the device's light ring will pulse green and then the device will bleep and bloop automatically connect. You will be able to hear anything within range of the device. Similarly, if you and your contact are using Echo devices with screens, you both will see anything within range of your devices." Learn more at Pocket-Lint. 

OneClick.chat. "Research funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has shaped the design of our products, making them easy for older adults to use. Our aim is to help reduce social isolation in this population and mitigate the associated negative health outcomes. Our Live Video Events platform is ideal to connect older adults and caregivers for training, support, and social engagement. We are currently working with organizations in the longevity market to implement our research in real-world settings." Learn more at OneClick.chat.

       NOTE: If you are reading this in an email, please click on the website itself ageinplacetech.com to see more articles, trend studies, press releases and more.


See You Link.

Connecting unconnected seniors and making aging at home easier. Giving caregivers and families a peace of mind.

Press release with video.

I wanted to nominate DOROT's longstanding teleconference program; University Without Walls, as a program for late tech adopters who are on the "other side of the digital divide".  DOROT's  teleconference program serves older adults who are often well into their 80's and 90's and for whom a landline telephone continues to be their preferred way of connecting.  During COVID 19 we are doubling the capacity of the teleconference program to meet the needs of seniors who can no longer enjoy opportunities to learn and engage with peers in the community, because of COVID 19 and social distancing.  Older adults from around the country are welcome, and participation is free.  


DOROT’s  University Without Walls offers connections from home and lifelong learning for older adults – just by picking up the phone. To register for programs and discussion groups on the arts, news, literature, wellness and more, facilitated by engaging experts, call (877) 819-9147 or email UWW@dorotusa.org.

he new Birdsong Tablet introduces aging seniors to technology in a confidence-building, easy-to-use way that eliminates their fear and frustration. The vast content selected especially for older adults keeps them engaged, entertained and connected to family, friends, and caregivers with the touch of a button.

And website.

"All iN2L solution packages come with the content, hardware, software, and training your team needs to deliver what’s important for elders, their families, staff, and the community. A subscription to iN2L provides regular content refreshes, unlimited technical support, and proactive maintenance, ensuring you always have the most up-to-date solution to create value in your community." Learn more at iN2L.

Connected Living’s app, available on iOS and Android platforms, functions as a communication hub for senior living residents and their families, allowing them to share information on a private social feed, along with their location and activities, as well as access a concierge. A portion of the app now will be dedicated to the latest senior-specific information and updates from sources such as the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and John Hopkins University, along with senior living industry associations Argentum and LeadingAge.  Learn more at McKnights.

"As COVID-19 becomes more prevalent in our lives, Happy is committed to supporting you with 24/7 access to our caring Support Givers. Together we can get through this challenging moment - let’s take time to connect and support each other. Happy not only offers older adults emotional support around-the-clock from the most caring people in the country, we also offer older adults meaningful, flexible work opportunities to support others. We're a co-venture partner of the American Heart Association and the official peer support partner of Mental Health America." Learn more at www.happythemovement.com

Risk Assessment and link to resources. 


I love your website. As you devote more time to tech that can help families
keep in touch with their isolated loved ones, I think one that may deserve
some attention, which was missing in your article "Tackling Covid-19’s
social isolation of seniors – one tech at a time", are digital voice
assistants (for lack of a universal term), like Amazon's Alexa and Google

Those are great devices that allow seniors with poor vision, limited mobility
or impaired dexterity to make calls with the simple command of their voice.
Thought they should be there. I know you've covered them often elsewhere, but
they shouldn't be forgotten, especially given their ease to set-up, ease to
set-up and low cost.

Best and stay safe,

Marc Felgar