Derek’s Saturday morning coffee tasted extra sweet. His favourite newspaper was open on the table.
He had lunch planned with his golf friends. He’d just seen his elderly Mum for the 3rd time this
week, and it was only 9:15am. What kind of time-machine magic was in Derek’s coffee?
Derek had found it challenging to visit June more than once a week, and even more challenging to
convince 5 busy grandkids to drive across town or fly interstate. That changed 18 months ago.
Far Better than Phone
Research links social isolation and loneliness to functional decline, poor sleep, blood pressure,
depression, dementia and morbidity. As a health risk, social isolation is worse than smoking.
In a 2015 study of 11,000 older adults, Dr Alan Teo (OHSU) showed that only face-to-face contact
reduces social isolation and halves depression risk. Phone conversations had no measurable impact,
and – specifically – the contact must be at least 3 times a week, and must be with family and friends.
Derek said he suspected this already. When he visits June, her eyes light up. Even his bad golf jokes
make her smile. And with one look, he can assess how she’s feeling.
In the Spring of 2018 in Portland Oregon, Teo’s team released a new result, so ground-breaking, it
was accepted for March 2019 publication in the prestigious American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Virtual visits work
Professor Teo’s research paper, “Using Skype to Beat the Blues”, concluded that Older adults who
use video chat such as Skype, but not other common communication technologies, have a much
lower risk of developing depression. Put simply, frequent video calls with family and friends bestow
health benefits already proven for in-person visits.
Still not convinced? World-leading dementia researcher Professor Hiroko Dodge showed in 2016 that
daily web-based face-to-face conversation improves cognitive function after just 6 weeks. The
results were so strong that two 5-year studies have been funded to quantify the benefits as a cost-effective technique to delay the onset and slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Derek smiled when he heard this. It matches what he sees when he video-calls his Mum.
Willing to Try
When surveyed, 82% of elderly said they’re willing to try video communication. Unfortunately,
according to Derek (who volunteers at his Mum’s nursing home), an estimated 90% of those in aged
care could not use video calling apps, even on an iPad/tablet.
For older seniors, tablets are too small and fiddly: Hard to hold, tiny text, unexpected updates, scary
pop-ups. Portability results in devices being dropped or misplaced, taken out of good Wi-Fi range, and left off charge. Video calling apps suffer from dozens of settings and options. Menus and icons
are hard to remember and change often. Something as simple as a bumped volume button requires
SummitCare: The right tools for elderly video calls
The Konnekt Videophone is the first video calling appliance designed for the elderly. Awarded Best
Consumer Friendly Product in Aged Care at ITAC 2017, Videophone is incredibly simple to use,
featuring a large pressure-sensitive touchscreen with huge buttons, very tall text and no menus. No
computer skills are required whatsoever.
To talk face-to-face to Videophone, you simply use Skype on your mobile or tablet/computer.
Following a successful pilot at its Canley Vale site, SummitCare now offers and recommends
Videophone as a service to those who either
- don’t receive 3 visits a week,
- miss family,
- are at risk of social isolation and depression, or
- struggle to use a regular phone.
Trial Videophone today
Contact us to arrange Videophone for your SummitCare resident. If your loved one lives at home,
contact Konnekt directly to book a 30-day trial.
Guest Blog written by John Nakulski , Marketing Director and Co-Founder of Konnekt.