Smartphones and iPads have changed the way people share photos, talk to one another and pass the time with games and music. But what about seniors who have trouble reading these devices’ small text, navigating apps and understanding the evolving technology? How can they stay connected to loved ones when they find the tools frustrating and intimidating and, in many cases, have no one to assist them?
The answer is the grandPad, according to Comfort Keepers of Summerville, an independent and locally-owned in-home care company. This tablet, designed specifically for seniors, is meant to improve their quality of life and help combat loneliness and depression, said Teresa Nix, owner of Comfort Keepers of Summerville.
The grandPad has large, easy-to-click buttons, not apps. That means seniors don’t need to download anything that could expose them to viruses or lead them to release private information. The device automatically updates itself with information of interest to seniors, such as positive news, weather, games and music from their era.
The grandPad has a charging dock so it does not need cumbersome cords, and it operates on a cellular network instead of requiring internet access.
“From a smartphone, families can call in and see their loved one and talk to them through the grandPad,” Nix said.
Families also can play games and share photos with loved ones and interact with caregivers and physicians.
In addition, through the grandPad, Comfort Keepers can supervise its caregivers and answer client questions.
“This is only going to improve our quality of care,” Nix said.
Through a partnership with grandPad, the devices have been available through Comfort Keepers. Starting in November, Comfort Keepers of Summerville will incorporate the devices into its care for all clients with no extra fee. A special package will be available for those who need only minimum care or supervision, and gift certificates are available.
“When we sign a client up, they will receive a grandPad and some instruction,” Nix said. “We specialize in interactive caregiving, and this will be a part of that.”
Interactive caregiving is Comfort Keepers’ philosophy of incorporating their clients into the care they receive. For example, instead of just dusting the house, caregivers try to talk about special objects and photos they see in the home as they clean.
“A big part of interactive caregiving is trying to preserve these memories and special times, especially for patients with dementia,” Nix said.
Accordingly, the grandPad lets users hear music, play games and read fun facts from their favorite era.
“It just really helps to have something that’s stimulating and positive,” Nix said. “There are only positive buttons, so it’s not like an iPad where you can click on a news station.”
News can be frightening to some seniors, particularly those who are veterans and have PTSD or just bad memories, she said.
Nix said the grandPad might look at first like an iPad.
“But when we get it out and they see it, it’s so different, and this takes the intimidation factor away,” she said.