How Technology Designed for Seniors Can Stave Off Social Isolation

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One of life’s greatest blessings as we grow older is the gift of time. For many, this means more opportunities to travel, stay physically active, pursue creative passions, learn new skills and find new hobbies. Above all, we’re given the chance to get closer to loved ones and reconnect with family and friends around the world everyday.

In fact, social connection isn’t just good for our health; it’s necessary. A recent study titled “Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review”, which aggregated 148 studies of over 300,000 participants, found that social isolation is more damaging to overall health than smoking, alcoholism and obesity. On a positive note, the study found that there is a 50% increased likelihood of survival for adults with strong social relationships as they age.

Loneliness vs. Social Isolation

There is a common misconception that loneliness and social isolation are the same thing. They are related, but two different problems, as identified by the National Institute on Aging.

  • Loneliness is the distressing feeling of being alone or separated
  • Social Isolation is the lack of social contacts and having few people to interact with regularly
  • You can be surrounded by other people and still feel lonely, or separated from your group
  • You can live alone and not feel socially isolated if you have regular interactions with close contacts, whether virtual or in person

The NIA reports that older adults are at higher risk for both loneliness and social isolation than younger adults, due to obstacles that come along with aging, such as loss of hearing, troubled vision, memory loss, and trouble getting around.

Creating Social Connections with Technology

While social isolation is a risk factor for seniors, it’s one that now has several solutions. In addition to discussing your emotions and social state with a doctor, older adults can turn to things like exercise, getting a pet, attending book clubs, volunteering and more to improve their mental health in times of isolation. At the top of most experts’ lists is the use of technology to communicate with friends and family.

While some developing technologies can be overcomplicated, difficult to use and frustrating for older adults, there is one company that has created a product specifically designed by seniors, for seniors. GrandPad is an easy-to-use tablet that is safe and secure, and ready to use out-of-the-box without even needing to press an “on” button.

Key GrandPad Communication Features
  • Safe & Secure private family network means only approved loved ones can connect to the GrandPad. This means no scammers or spammers
  • Video Chatting, emailing & voice messaging are all easy to use, just by tapping a single button
  • Real-Time Text allows companions to type messages in real time during video calls, so seniors with impaired hearing can read important details on screen
  • Easy sharing of photos and videos to stay in the loop with all of the latest family activities

Decreasing social isolation is an important cause to GrandPad, because it was a personal hurdle that CEO and Co-Founder Scott Lien had to navigate with his own family.

“It was a personal passion that my son and I had,” Lien said. “We were living in California, and my mom, mother-in-law, and our extended families were all living in Iowa. What we found is we were increasingly disconnected from them as smartphones became really predominant. The younger family members were all using smartphones to communicate with each other and share photos, but grandma was left out of that conversation.”

CEO Scott Lien’s mother-in-law and mother reconnected with their family with the use of their GrandPads

“So, we started asking ‘Why was that?’ Why did my mom who was 80 at the time, why was she struggling with technology? We came on this ‘Aha’ moment, that standard technology, smartphones, tablets, computers were mostly designed by 30-year-olds, for 30-year-olds. So, we said, ‘What if we designed something explicitly for this awesome age group of super-seniors?’ And that’s how we got started.”

A Renewed Brotherly Bond

While other products can be cumbersome and discourage older adults from using technology, Scott Lien and the GrandPad team have heard firsthand how their product has changed families lives for the better one video call at-a-time.

“We met one gentleman who was 90. He lived in Los Angeles and his 95-year-old brother lived in New York,” Lien explained. “They had resigned to the fact that due to some of their physical impairments, they were no longer going to be able to travel and see each other. So, they talked every day on the phone, but they couldn’t see each other. And they didn’t have anyone to help them with the technology. The technology was too frustrating. So, they talked every day, but they really wanted to see each other.”

“Years had gone by and they both got Grandpads. On their first video call when they could finally see each other, there were lots of tears because it had been years and years since they’d seen each other. And now, every day they were able to communicate in this rich way on video. It’s the next best thing to being there. It reignites that spark. Then, they’re able to connect with their kids and grandkids too.”

As stories like this continue to pile in, GrandPad has established itself as a leader in technology specifically designed for older adults. The product is tested by “Grand Advisors”, seniors who ensure the product is easy to use right out-of-the-box and includes the features that older adults want to use. To learn more about how you can get reconnected with your loved ones with a tablet of your own, go to GrandPad.net

This article was created in partnership with our friends at GrandPad

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