Videophone Overcomes Disabilities, Reunites 3 Generations
Tony is an older adult living in the United Kingdom. Because he is partially sighted and has a memory impairment, Tony had little opportunity to see his family — particularly his overseas sons and grandchildren. The Konnekt Videophone keeps them connected visually, helps prevent loneliness and enables Tony’s sons to check on his condition.
We interviewed Tony’s son Ben:
Almost blind, partially paralyzed, severe memory loss
Struck with a cerebral virus the year that his son Ben was born, Tony was left partially paralyzed and with an almost non-existent short-term memory. Tony uses a tape recorder to help him remember things. In addition, he is registered in the UK as blind or only partially sighted.
Tony chooses to stay in his own home, where he lives alone. Remaining in his home is very important because of his poor memory. Placing him somewhere else would be extremely stressful and would likely take away his remaining independence: It would completely change the daily routines that he is able to remember.
Paid carers visit Tony every afternoon to prepare dinner and help out. During winter, someone visits around noon to ensure that Tony has a hot lunch. Ben says that his father’s UK disability allowance helps cover the cost of the evening carer visits but not the lunchtime visits.
Social interaction is incredibly important for older adults, as shown by this University of Exeter Medical School study.
Tony doesn’t have much opportunity to connect with his family because most of his children and grandchildren live overseas in Australia and Thailand. A video-calling solution was desperately needed to allow the family to stay connected, keep in touch and check in on Tony. Unfortunately, using an app, remembering a procedure or finding instructions were practically impossible for Tony.
Tried a tablet first
About 8-10 years ago, Tony’s family gave him a computer that was connected through to the television and set up with PC-Anywhere software. This allowed Ben to control the computer remotely. It should have been straightforward but there were frequent problems… problems with the operating system and software updates, settings, the Internet, selection of the television input, and of course human error. Being remote made it difficult to troubleshoot, despite having the remote-control software installed on Tony’s PC.
Next, Tony was given an iPad tablet, which was easier for him to use. However, due to his very poor vision, Tony could only use it while someone else was there to help because Ben couldn’t turn it on remotely, the screen was too small (Tony could only make out the rough shape of faces) and Tony couldn’t use the tiny buttons.
Ben says that the Konnekt Videophone solved all of these problems: It’s BIG, it’s always on, and even after the first few months, Ben reported that they were using it for video calling far more than they ever used the iPad and the computer combined.