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Helping Seniors Connect with Friends and Family Using Live Video

This article was published on July 27, 2021

Amid the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, people are being urged to hunker down and stay at home. Whether it's working remotely or avoiding crowded places like bars and restaurants, social distancing is our new reality. This is especially true for the elderly. The latest data from the CDC suggests that older people are twice as likely to suffer serious illness from the novel coronavirus. But minimizing physical contact with the outside world does not mean seniors have to stop interacting with their friends and family.

For many, picking up the phone is still the easy and familiar way to talk to a loved one. But with extended isolation on the horizon, it's more important than ever for seniors to see their loved ones. 

As we all know, the widespread adoption of tablets and smartphones has made it easier than ever to stay connected to family and friends, no matter where in the world they may be. Live video is the next best thing to being in the same room with loved ones, enabling a deeper connection than a phone call alone can provide.

However, the senior community has been slow to adopt live video as a communications tool. Not having grown up with the wide range of digital devices we use today, the complexity can be intimidating and overwhelming. Tiny controls and screens can be tricky for those with vision or mobility issues, and what should be an enjoyable experience can deteriorate into one that leaves seniors feeling frustrated and isolated.

One company has thought long and hard about this challenge for some time now. Recognizing from personal experience the problems associated with seniors and technology, the team at GrandPad set out to create an inclusive device that would put the specific needs of seniors front and center. The result is a tablet that empowers them to stay in touch with family, friends, and caregivers at the touch of a button.

With just a few taps on an intuitive, easy-to-use interface, seniors can join a video chat with their loved ones, which in these times can be invaluable. This inclusive technology means seniors never have to miss out on an important family event and can speak face to face with family and friends wherever they are in the world. And because the system is completely secure, they can be confident that only trusted contacts will be able to make and receive calls within a circle of trust.

With its fully customizable video API platform, Vonage  enabled the GrandPad team to design the tablet interface exactly as they wanted, making it extremely simple for their customers to use the product. With no logins or usernames required and no separate video application needed, video calling is built right into the product.

“Looking around, it was the best open platform that had SDKs for all platforms we care about – Android, iOS, web.They also offer a lot of really interesting features, like group calling, signaling and screen sharing. We love that [Vonage] is constantly working on new features and enhancements behind the scenes.” – Ryan, GrandPad development team

The Vonage Video API also runs seamlessly on 4G networks – crucial for the GrandPad, as it runs on a mobile network so seniors don’t need a Wi-Fi connection. The reliable video makes the experience enjoyable and helps users avoid having to troubleshoot.

The range of web, Android and iOS SDKs for the Vonage Video API proved essential in providing a companion app that friends and family members could use around the world.

The Vonage Video API’s archiving capabilities also allow GrandPad to offer a ‘Capture the Memory’ feature, which lets participants in a video chat record their calls and save them for later review – capturing precious memories for the future and helping many not feel so lonely and isolated

The Impact

A GrandPad user recently made his first video call to his daughter in Colorado. According to the 98-year-old, his daughter lives “in the middle of nowhere” on top of a mountain and he wasn’t even sure the call would go through. At the touch of a button, he was able to not only see his daughter but the beautiful mountains in the background. He was thrilled and his entire family agreed they needed to take advantage of the GrandPad to help them all stay connected.

“When you’re alone, you’re not alone. You just go push a few buttons and everybody is there.”  Joan, GrandPad member

With such an easy to use interface, simple video calling on the GrandPad helps reduce social isolation and counter the limitations of social distancing. . GrandPads are found in the homes of many people suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, including a user in California who rarely sees her daughter in person because she lives in Hawaii. The simplicity of the GrandPad, with its finite number of options, makes video chats easier, enabling mother and daughter to stay better connected.

To learn more about how Vonage customers are using its interactive video API platform to enable live video, please visit our Customer Success page.

Written by Vonage Staff

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