For most of us, it is impossible to get through the day without our smart phones or tablets. These devices are a unique combination of handiness and versatility. Each new model seems to offer higher resolution display capabilities, better cameras and a longer battery life. Through the use of applications (apps) we can do anything from checking email, shopping, banking to planning and paying for a vacation.
Not surprisingly, a tablet – with a few customizations – is an ideal companion for the elderly. Of course, based on their needs, the feature set differs from the standard models. Most tablets for the elderly are built from ground up as specialized devices. That makes it possible to include capabilities that may not be available on an off-the-shelf model.
A necessary requirement of the smart device for the elderly is ease of use. So, it will usually have fewer menus, that are easy to navigate and become familiar with. The icons will be larger, clearly labelled and easy to press. Security is an important aspect, and the ability to install new software, or change settings of the device may be restricted to a caregiver. Family and friend groups may be pre-configured, so as to prevent spam and malicious contact.
Socializing and entertainment are important activities for the elderly. The social media platforms available today may be a bit daunting for them. Operations such as sending a message or sharing a photograph can be simplified and made available at the press of a button. Common activities such as reading the news or watching a movie can be done without having to be aware of the underlying subscription.
The versatility of a tablet makes it possible to incorporate health management features into it. This is useful as it eliminates the need to have multiple devices for different functions. Most tablets for the elderly will come with a built in activity tracker. This helps in making sure that the usual routine for the day has been followed, and there has not been any unusual activity. Anything out of the ordinary may cause an alarm to be sent to pre-determined phones. The activity data may be stored on a central server, and made available to a caregiver or family members.
Another important feature that will generally be present is a medication reminder. Once a caregiver has programmed the device with the necessary medicine schedule, the device can tell the user when and what medicine to take. A device that gives an audio as well as visual reminder is hard to miss.
Slightly more advanced models may have the ability to connect wirelessly to wearable health monitoring devices. Some health parameters such as pulse rate, heartbeat, glucose levels, blood pressure can be measured and the reading stored for use by the appropriate medical personnel. Even where such connectivity is not available, there can be reminders for measuring certain parameters using a separate device and entering the values into the tablet.
The GeriJoy tablet is a device designed for such a purpose. It has a added unique feature called the GeriJoy Companion – an animated figure that is capable of providing the elderly with an intelligent conversation. The Companion is actually controlled by a trained caregiver. The video and audio is streamed over the internet. As the caregiver has access to the background information of the user, conversation can be tailored to their needs. The trained caregiver can actually sense their mood and respond appropriately.
A properly designed tablet can be really useful, especially when the complexity of use has been removed. Its versatility lets multiple functions such as socialization, entertainment, healthcare and even companionship to be presented on a single handy device that is sure to become indispensable for the elderly.