4 Seniors: Staying connected in the age of COVID

4 Seniors
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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – To stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic, many are following public health official’s recommendations to stay home and practice social distancing whenever possible, but being socially distant doesn’t have to mean being socially disconnected.

So, what can older adults do to ease the distance during the pandemic?

One of the best safe solutions is video chat!

Studies have shown that older adults who use video chat technology such as Skype, Zoom or Facetime have significantly lower risks of depression than those who don’t.

Video chatting provides a deeper connection than a typical phone call does. You have the benefit of physically seeing how your loved one is doing, and there’s also the opportunity to share visually. Maybe show the quilt you’ve been working on or see the cute little faces of grandchildren.

And once the technology is set up, and you or your loved one are comfortable using it, it can open the door to a wide variety of other social opportunities such as regular video chats with old friends, or being able to participate in video lunch dates, online book clubs or Bible studies, all of which can help us stay connected.

Unfortunately, many older adults don’t participate in the technology world. According to the Pew Research Center, almost half of Americans 65 and older don’t own a smartphone, and 33 percent in the same age demographic still don’t use the Internet.

Many older adults find technology complicated or intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

To help bridge the digital divide and connect family members with their tech-shy loved ones are three different types of simplified devices that offer easy-to-use video chat, and much more.

GrandPad: This is a top option for older adult video chatting, and much more. The GrandPad is an 8-inch tablet specifically designed for people ages 75 and older. It comes with a stylus, a wireless charging cradle and 4G LTE built-in so it works anywhere within the T-Mobile network – home Wi-Fi is not required.

Ready to go right out of the box, GrandPad provides a simplified menu of big icons and large text for only essential features, providing clutter-free, one-touch access to make and receive video calls, send voice emails, view photos and videos, listen to music, check the weather, play games, browse the Internet and more.

A GrandPad tablet can be leased for $66 per month, or $588 per year at GrandPad.net. Or, you can buy one through Consumer Cellular at ConsumerCellular.com for $250 plus $40 monthly service fee.

Jitterbug Smart2: If you’re more interested in a smartphone to stay connected with family and friends, the Jitterbug Smart2 is ideal for older adults. Offered by GreatCall and powered by Verizon, this smartphone has a big, bright 5.5-inch touch screen, and a simple list-based menu (no confusing icons) with large letters and numbers that makes for easy navigation.

The Smart2 also provides easy access to video chatting through their pre-installed WhatsApp, and offers a 5Star Urgent Response service that lets you speak to a live agent around the clock for any problems big or small. These trained agents will confirm your location via GPS and get you the appropriate help you need.

Available online at GreatCall.com and Amazon.com or at Best Buy and Rite Aid stores for $150, GreatCall offers a variety of talk, text and data plans to fit your needs and budget, as well as the freedom to change them at any time.

Amazon’s Echo Show: With its built-in camera and screen, the voice-command Echo Show also provides a simple way to have face-to-face video chats, but you’ll need home Wi-Fi installed.

Echo Shows, which come in three screen sizes – 5-inch ($90), 8-inch ($130) and 10-inch ($230) – will let you make and receive video calls to those who have their own device, or who have the Alexa app installed on their smartphone or tablet.

Once you set up your contacts, to make a call you would simply say, for example, “Alexa, call my daughter.” And when you receive a call, you would ask Alexa to answer the call, or ignore it. There’s also a feature called “drop-in” that would let you receive video calls anytime without having to answer it.

Available at Amazon.com, the Echo Show also offers thousands of other features you would enjoy like voice-activated access to news, weather, your favorite music, and much more.

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