Modern Tech Offers Tools to Fight Holiday Isolation
Explore new technologies to combat the debilitating effects of loneliness
(Editor’s note: This content is sponsored by Consumer Cellular.)
As people age, they start to outlive spouses and friends and become more homebound as their bodies slow down. Feelings of loneliness — and the health consequences that come with them — become more common.
According to the U.S Department of Health and Humans Services’ Administration on Community Living, about 29% of people age 65 or older live alone. Studies have shown that isolation is associated with higher rates of chronic disease, depression, dementia and death. Research published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science determined that isolation can be as bad for health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
The detrimental feelings associated with isolation become even more pronounced around the holidays, given the emphasis on celebrating with friends and families.
"This can be the most difficult time for an old person who is alone," notes Dallas Jamison, a spokeswoman with the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. “There are a lot of people out there facing this.”
The Gift of Staying Connected
Interaction with others is crucial to maintaining positive emotional health, which is why a growing number of technologies and tools aim to combat social isolation, engage those over 65 and ease the burden on caregivers.
According to a 2016 AARP study, more than 80% of caregivers thought they would have difficulty convincing a loved one to adopt a new device or gadget. Yet data now shows that once older adults are comfortable with new technology, they become avid users. Pew Research finds that roughly three-quarters of internet users ages 65 and up say they go online daily.
The holiday season presents an opportunity to introduce these technologies as a very special gift for a loved one. A unique option is GrandPad, from Consumer Cellular, a tablet which combines many important communication features with simple design created specifically for older users. A 2018 reviewer noted in PC Magazine that GrandPad is “designed for technophobes to be able to connect with their families. It's very interesting, and I haven't seen anything like it in years. “
A Focus on Ease of Use
GrandPad’s homescreen features a simplified set of apps that use large, clearly labeled icons.
Using intuitive touchscreen navigation, users can send messages, make video calls, browse the internet, share photos, stream music, play games and even check on news and weather with the tap of a button.
Perhaps most importantly, the device operates using a secure, private network that a family administrator can manage for added security. Using either a website or smartphone companion app, the administrator creates a “Family Circle” of approved contacts. This ensures that only those who are authorized can contact the user, protecting them from robocalls or online scammers. Family members can interact with the GrandPad user right from their own smartphone for added convenience.
Consumer Cellular has also continued to expand the services available through the device, recently adding a rideshare app called “CC Go” that allows users to arrange rides using Lyft. The user or family administrator creates an account to allow rides to be charged to a credit or debit card so the service can be used for doctors’ appointments or shopping trips without having to carry extra cash to pay the driver.
Home-based tools are a great way to deliver peace of mind to caregivers and family members who want to help aging parents or grandparents stay safe in their homes, and to combat the debilitating effects of loneliness and isolation.
From simple wearable devices to high-tech monitoring systems, the list of equipment designed to help older adults stay independent is extensive and growing. Interactive technology like GrandPad offers a wholly modern way to encourage interaction and engagement, and keep the whole family connected.
Consumer Cellular is a top-rated wireless carrier providing no-contract cellphones and service plans primarily to the 50+ demographic.