Dear readers: You may have heard of the GrandPad, a uniquely designed, purpose-built tablet for older adults that’s an international hit. A fun fact that many local people may enjoy is that Scot Lien, GrandPad’s CEO, can be found working and living in Wabasha, Minn. The Iowa native and his family fell in love with the river town in 1995, maintaining a presence there even before becoming full-time residents.
GrandPad came to be because Lien noticed that his mother had trouble with cellphones and computers. Determined to find a solution, he recruited advisors in their 80s and 90s, and with their input, he and his son Isaac created the GrandPad. Lien continues to maintain a board of “grand advisors.”
Now, for transparency: After COVID shut down facility visits last year, I mentioned GrandPad in the context of helpful technology. Lien noted that and contacted me, and a weekly column called “Live Grand” is the result. As I try out ideas on my GrandPad demo, I’m continually thinking that my newspaper column readers should know more about this device. Now you will.
Some of the GrandPad’s many features:
- No Internet connection or passwords needed. Easy setup with 4G LTE connectivity.
- Easy on: Just flip open the cover and the GrandPad is ready.
- No spam: The family admin enters trusted contacts.
- Useful screensaver: It displays a slideshow of your uploaded photos along with orienting time, date and weather.
- One touch answer: When you call, the user will see your picture and touch "Answer." That’s it. A video call has begun. Calling you is just as simple. *Optional auto-answer.
- Zoom: An integrated option makes Zoom gatherings easy.
- Internet: Safe web browsing through GrandPad’s secure system. The family admin can add internet sites according to the user’s needs and abilities. To experiment, I added my newspaper subscription to my demo, and it works well.
- Support: Super responsive 24/7 support with a real person answering the call. This friendly human being talks the user through any issue, even if it’s just remembering how to play a game.
- Optimized for vision and hearing loss: Front-facing speakers are tuned to a frequency that makes hearing easier; large, uniquely colored icons are clearly labeled with well-lit text; fonts are adjustable; and there's an option for you to type messages that appear on their screen during a call.
- Music: Choices from nearly any decade and genre from big band and showtunes to classical, Christian and holiday. One-touch builds their own music collection.
- Radio: The presets are fun stations for older adults, but favorite stations can also be added.
- Games: Bridge, poker, sudoku, tic-tac-toe, brain challenges and more, plus virtual game nights and tournaments where prizes are awarded.
- No popups: No potentially alarming notifications.
- Charging: Just lay it on the cradle.
Carol Bradley Bursack is a veteran caregiver and an established columnist. She is also a blogger, and the author of “Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories.” Bradley Bursack hosts a website supporting caregivers and elders at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached through the contact form on her website.