New mobile apps help seniors connect like never before
While the days of rifling through address books and fiddling with dial-up internet connections are long gone, staying in touch with family and friends can still be a challenge, especially for older Australians who may not be as tech-savvy as the rest of the family.
However a new mobile app, called Tapestry, is an easy way for seniors and their families to stay connected across multiple generations. The app gives seniors access to their email, family photos and Facebook account. Users can also get access to popular social media networks like Instagram and Google+ by tapping the Tapestry icon on their iPhone, Android hanset or tablet.
Founder Andrew Dowling has made the app available to all after first trialling it with seniors last year.
“Tapestry is about integrating all technologies for users in the one place,” Dowling says.
Tapestry’s private social network is designed specifically for seniors and their families. It works by one family member opening a family account and inviting other members to join the group. Family members can start adding photos to the page that everyone in the group can look at and interact with.
The app is designed to make interaction between family members easy and Dowling says even his grandmother is a fan of the app.
“Her room is smaller than the one I’m in now and her only social interaction is with family members when we come to visit. She had a digital photo frame but it’s always turned off. With Tapestry, the tablet will tell you when a new photo arrives,” Dowling says.
“What’s amazed us is the impact its had on her feeling connected with the family. If she sees a photo of someone’s birthday party she’ll give them a call.”
In 2012 Dowling tested Tapestry at an aged care facility in Southern Sydney. All the people involved in the trial, who had never so much as touched a tablet before, became regular users of the app after the trial ended.
After raising $600,000 and securing a federal government grant of nearly half a million dollars, Dowling is now targeting the US market and aged care facilities.
“Because of increasing competition big aged care facilities want to differentiate themselves,” he says. “The idea is that Tapestry will be a place where people can order services like meals and a taxi from their facility.”