Do you remember a time before smartphones? A time before every question could be answered instantly, a time when phone calls could only be made from specific places, or email could only be read in specific buildings or rooms? When mysteries and thrillers would hinge on plot devices like the intruder cutting the phone cord, or the hero not finding a pay phone? That kind of disconnectedness seems ridiculous now to most of us – but not to the landline-only crowd. There are many reasons why some seniors don’t have or want a mobile phone, ranging from cost to lack of simplicity. But there are some conveniences of modern life that are only accessible via app, and some of these conveniences are very useful to seniors. Caregivers and home care aides can celebrate a southern California start-up called GoGoGrandparent that has bridged the gap between the app-less and the apps.
GoGoGrandparent is a new service that allows those without a smartphone to use on-demand services that are app-based by calling a real-life operator. Your loved one can call from a landline to reach a live person who will book an Uber ride, order dinner, or have medications delivered on their behalf. Now available in all 50 states, this start-up is adding services like concierge shopping, and status updates to families so everyone knows who is coming and going. Like many great ideas, this seems so obvious now that someone else has thought of it, because who needs mobility and on-demand delivery services more than independent seniors aging in place?
GoGoGrandparent was inspired by an 85-year-old Los Angeles grandmother who lost her vision, but none of her marbles. Betty Lou needed the occasional ride around Torrance, but she didn’t (and doesn’t) have a smartphone. Her 24-year-old grandson, raised in Chula Vista and already a tech entrepreneur, was living with her when she broke her leg. He realized that she needed access to the services that the smartphone generation takes for granted. Now his aging-in-place grandmother orders Uber rides through GoGoGrandparent’s automated system to visit her friends and go to the doctor. Ten percent of GoGoGrandparent’s users are in San Diego, and the service’s call volume grow by 20 percent each week.
Seventy percent of people over 65 don’t have a smartphone, which means that the largest segment of the population after Millennials is incapable of accessing mobile technology services. Researchers say the senior technology market – tech that makes aging in place easier – could reach $20 to $30 billion by 2020. Connecting seniors to mobile, on-demand services is not only smart business, it’s smart caregiving.