If you are a Boomer like me, you will remember the hit 60s TV show Get Smart where agent Maxwell Smart uses his shoe as a phone, or the James Bond movies (Sean Connery, Roger Moore era) where a pen or cigarette doubles as a mini rocket launcher. I always wished I could have a gadget as cool as these super agents.
Welcome to 2011 where the future tech of Agent Smart and James Bond has arrived bringing cool tech gadgets and peace of mind to family caregivers and your older loved ones this holiday season.
As you contemplate a last minute gift for your parent or grandparent –the National Retail Federation reports that 46.5 percent of shoppers still do not have their shopping done the week before the big day – consider a printer, a photo frame, a cell phone or PC that will keep your loved one connected with their grandkids, help them manage their health or keep them safer – all in a simple way. Most of these products can be ordered online and if you hurry can ship before Saturday:
Staying Connected Means Living Longer, Healthier, Happier
One thing we know about aging – the ability to stay connected to family, friends and community are factors in longevity – referenced in books like The Blue Zones and in centenarian studies from the International Longevity Center.
When it comes to technology, here are four products I love that keep older loved ones connected:
The Easy PC – Telikin is for those grandparents wanting to keep up with computers and grandkids– whether it is video chat, photo sharing, email communication or Internet cruising but in a simple, easy-to-use way. The Telikin device will do everything a PC will but with its touchscreen technology it is far easier for those who may have arthritis or trouble manipulating a traditional computer mouse.
It comes with the software pre-installed, on-screen icons that are easy to understand and your loved one will not need to navigate like a typical computer – everything is on the home screen at the touch of a fingertip and always on the left hand side of the screen no matter which program is chosen. There is a mouse and enlarged QWERTY button keyboard in the box if your loved one wants the typical computer experience.
Retail: $699 – $999 (depending on screen size)
Availability: Purchase online from Telikin.com, Frys.com or FirstStreet.com or at select Fry’s stores
For those seniors who do not want the hassle of an internet connection, or do not even want to go to a computer screen in order to connect, there is a complete computer-less solution:
The Digital Post Office In Your Home – Presto – this is the perfect solution if you want to ensure your loved one has email about important medication reminders or other health information and can receive or send digital photos without the hassle of a computer hook-up. It is a printing mailbox and mail service all-in one – everything is automatically printed so your loved one does not need to learn anything new.
Each Presto printer/service comes equipped with its own email address – your loved one receives easy-to-read, beautifully formatted emails via the printer’s telephone connection.
Retail: $99.99 (printing mailbox and 6 months of Presto service)
Availability: Online from Amazon.com, ActiveForever.com, Drugstore.com, Presto.com, etc. and through senior housing facilities such as Ecumen in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Idaho and North Dakota
Smile! Ceiva is a simple way for family and friends to share digital photos with older loved ones. Anyone can send a photo from their Facebook, smartphone or email to the Digital Photo Receiver and the service connects through the Internet OR the phone line. Images are automatically displayed in the frame – your loved one can decide to keep them all or choose favorites to constantly display in rotation. In addition to photos, Ceiva has different channels and recently announced its Foodista.com channel where recipes can be automatically delivered to the frame.
Retail: $99.95 – special holiday pricing for all frames (includes 1 year of photo delivery service)
$6.95 – $9.95 per month for the photo delivery service
Availability: Order online from Ceiva
Did you know that 62 percent of Americans over the age 74 have a cell phone and that number grows every year? Not only has the cellular industry kept us all connected but now the cell phone becomes a health coach and an emergency response team – all in the palm of your loved one’s hand.
Can You Hear Me Now? Jitterbug phone with Great Call service – this is a great example of a product that was designed to meet the needs of an older customer but really offers features we can all love – things like larger buttons, larger numbers on the screen, easy “on” and “off” buttons, a simulated dial tone ring, powerful speakers for clear sound – even when using the phone with a hearing aid. The phones are stylish in design (I love the red for the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign).
In addition to smart design, the Great Call service is something I wish all cell phones and smart phones would offer – no contracts, no cancellation fees and some features that were recently added: a 24/7 LiveNurse app, pre-scheduled medication reminders and the new 5Star Urgent Response for immediate 24/7 help in any unsafe situation.
Retail: $99 for the phone
Service plans start at $14.99 per month
5Star Emergency Response is $14.99 per month; LiveNurse is $4 per month;
Medication Reminder is $10 per month
Availability: Best Buy, Sears, Fry’s or you can call the toll-free number to order
Also worth mentioning is Readeo, a company that has an online inter-generational reading program called BookChat. For under $10 a month or less than $100 a year, grandparents can read to grandchildren via an online service that connects both parties.
Beyond typical videochat, this program allows grandparents to flip through the pages of the book in a picture-in-picture set-up while they can still see and hear their grandkids at the same time for a virtual bedtime story experience. Only one of the parties needs to subscribe to the service. Both parties do need an internet connection and a Webcam.
I give kudos to Readeo for adding a charitable element to its service – for every new Readeo subscription member, Readeo donates a book to First Book, a non-profit children’s literacy organization giving a free book to a child in need.
Bridging Generation Gaps with Technology
It is a myth that older Americans avoid new technology. The latest tech products are designed to make e-connectivity easier and are transforming our lives – bridging the distance both in miles and in how different generations communicate.
Enjoy the holidays by helping your older loved get and stay connected!