In 2012, after my grandmother fell one too many times despite in-home care, our family made the decision to move her into an assisted-living community. We believed she no longer had the physical capability to live safely at home. Her life(and ours) was instantly upended.
Over time, aspects of being a care partner became second nature – particularly for my father who lived just a short drive from my grandmother’s new home. But, when it comes to caregiving, even if you think you’ve figured things out, new obstacles and challenges always pop-up. And as we’re all wildly aware of at this point, calling the past 18-months of caregiving amidst a global pandemic an obstacle is an understatement.
With care communities in full lockdown, we turned to Google to find the latest and greatest tech products that would make communication easier. We quickly learned that FaceTime wasn’t an option for us – my grandmother was using a GreatCall flip phone and any deviation from that would have been too much. Even when her care partners coordinated Facetime calls for us on their phones, the calls were unsuccessful and created a stressful environment for my grandmother. She struggled to focus on the screen and the few calls we had all ended quickly with frustration on her end. And for us, not only did we contribute to her frustration in these instances, but we weren’t able to learn much about her condition or how we could best help.
We kept searching (and, this search inspired us eventually launch www.JoeAndBella.com to make discovering the right caregiving equipment, clothing and tech far easier for older adults and their care partners.) Eventually we found GrandCare – a smart tablet specifically built for seniors. So now, I wanted to highlight four of our absolute favorite tech discoveries over the past year:
We have very personal experience with this product. GrandCare became a lifeline to my grandmother for us during the pandemic. Although we knew she was well cared for, not being there for her physically was difficult for us. GrandCare literally gave us eyes into her room and everyday life. We could check on her when she was waking up and going to sleep. We could speak with her and her caregivers. GrandCare gave us the peace of mind that she was only a click away. And when we weren’t using it to check in on her, the screen displayed family pictures and messages for my grandmother, which we’d continually update, just like an interactive photo frame!
GrandCare is an all-in-one, touch-based screen that connects older adults with their family and friends while providing a fun, engaging, and entertaining experience.
No computer experience is required! An older adult can easily make a video call just by touching a name on the screen. Want to play a game? Just touch the games button. Want to check the weather? Touch the weather button. Want to make a video call to your son in Pasadena? Just touch his name. It’s that simple.
Joy For All is designed to bring comfort, companionship, and fun to older loved ones, families, care partners, or those who could use some extra company. Many adults with dementia and other neurocognitive disorders find great emotional comfort when engaged in “doll therapy.” Companion Pets are a similar solution.With a lifelike golden coat, the Golden Pup looks, moves, and sounds like a real puppy. The pup can open and close its eyes, move its head to look at you, wag its tail, and open and close its mouth. The pup has a synthetic, realistic coat designed to mimic that of real puppies.
Thanks to built-in sensors and speakers, the pup can recreate some of the most delightful moments of owning a puppy, including becoming a best friend. The ease of care and convenience, paired with state-of-the-art technology, makes for the best possible interactive experience for older adults living in senior communities or aging at home.
Winner of the 2020 Today’s Caregiver Friendly Awards, WalkWise is a smart device that helps your loved one remain safe and independent. Here’s what’s really cool: Users can monitor activity to know whether they’re loved one is using their walker. They’ll also receive an alert if the walker is inactive or tips over. WalkWise attaches discreetly to most walkers and is always on. So, this product gives both of you more independence and peace of mind!
If you or your loved one has a hard time hearing and still love your landline phone, ClearSounds is a great solution. It is single-line landline phone for people who are looking for an easy-to-use, easy-to-hear telephone. By default, ClearSounds provides up to 15 decibels of amplification. Users can boost the volume of the person on the other end up to 30dB.
And, ClearSounds’ buttons are extra-extra-large – making dialing a far easier and less frustrating task.
About the Author
Jimmy is also Co-Founder of Joe & Bella, a shopping site that provides older adults and their caregivers with the full array of products they need. He has a deep personal and professional connection to this audience, including residents of care communities, their families, and caregivers. For more information, please visit: http://www.JoeAndBella.com
Jimmy Zollo also cofounded Collaborata, a Chicago-based startup serving the insights and marketing-research space. Collaborata enables clients to share the costs and the findings of ambitious, expert-led insights projects and has worked with some of the most innovative brands in the world like AARP, Nike, P&G, Unilever, Ford, Reebok and many more.