One positive outcome from the COVID-19 pandemic was how quickly seniors were able to adopt digital technologies they otherwise may not have before tried. One area that saw incredible growth was virtual calls for seniors (aka video chats or video meetings) to stay connected to family and friends. In fact, according to the 2021 AARP Tech Trends Report, among people 50+, use of virtual calls for seniors went from about 50% in 2019 to 70% in 2020. Today it’s never been easier for seniors to take advantage of this technology with a variety of devices and apps, some even designed just for seniors.
One of the options designed with seniors in mind is the GrandPad®. It is like an iPad or tablet but with “senior-friendly” elements like a soft smart case, a charging cradle that eliminates those troublesome cables (but a cord for traveling is included), and comes preloaded with essential apps, and the buyer’s preferences and contacts, all ready to go! With the GrandPad® subscription, approved family members can assist with updates and add new contacts via a companion app or web portal through a private family network. For seniors who are new to such devices, there are also online GrandPad® demonstration webinars.
Another easy way to get virtual calls for seniors is with the CallGenie a device which turns their TV into a large screen display of everyone on the call. CallGenie uses the Skype messaging app exclusively and doesn’t even require that the TV is on (it will turn it on if needed) only that the senior sit back and say “Hello!” There are no monthly fees involved, it’s easy to install, and virtual calls for seniors can come from an allowed user’s smartphone, iPad or computer using Skype’s privacy features.
Also easy to use is ViewClix, a tablet-like frame that comes in 10.10-inch or 15.6-inch models and uses its own app. ViewClix is not only great for virtual calls for seniors but when not on a call, shows pictures that are uploaded, allows families to send sticky notes such as reminders or updates, and can be remotely managed by family which may alleviate user stress on the senior. There is no account needed so no login or passwords to remember.
Facebook Portal is another virtual call option. Facebook Portal is a stand-alone device (like a tablet) that uses Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to make calls. Included are a Smart Camera that automatically pans and zooms to keep up with the action, a feature that blocks background noise, and encryption of all video calls.
Making virtual calls for seniors doesn’t require a dedicated device. Smart phones, iPads, tablets, and computers can also be used with a variety of apps.
Probably the best-known app, thanks to the pandemic, is Zoom. Originally designed for meetings, Zoom took off like a wildfire among people of all ages thanks to ease of use and accessibility. All that is required is one person to set up the call and invite others to join in. Each person will receive the call-in information and can link or call in from wherever they are on whatever device they prefer.
Before ZOOM, there was Skype, which is great for meetings but also for virtual calls for seniors. Free features include hosting calls anywhere on Earth, and users can replace the backgrounds so they can be at the beach rather than in their living room.
Facebook Messenger is especially great for use on android and iPhones, but also works on computers, tablets, and iPads. Facebook Messenger can be used to make virtual calls for seniors and to send texts and pictures as well.
For seniors who use the Apple platform, FaceTime is a popular app that is easy to set up and use. Facetime also allows users to share their screen during a call to see photos or a web page and use SharePlay to enjoy movies, listen to music, or even exercise together!
At Sonrisa Senior Living staying connected is an essential part of staying healthy in body, mind, and spirit. We welcome visits from family and friends in person and virtual and will always go the extra mile to help make connecting possible.
Learn more about how seniors are living longer and healthier lives – download our free Guide to Aging Well.