For Feld, who is hard of hearing, video chatting with her grandchildren or other family members is difficult. She has a caption-call phone, but the live captions don’t always work well. To keep in touch during this time, she mostly uses email.
“I’m not too comfortable with tech stuff,” Feld told CNN Business in an email interview. “Email has definitely helped me keep track of offspring and grands. Hours on the phone wear me out, but it’s easy to take roll with email. Just let me know you’re OK and we’ll get together as soon as possible. With a virtual hug and kiss.”
“Of course, it’s not the same as in person,” said Meredith Doubleday, Feld’s granddaughter. “It definitely doesn’t replace that, but it sure helps. I’m very grateful that we can still email. She keeps reminding me that in high school she was an excellent typist.”
Abby Godard has regular virtual dance parties over Apple’s FaceTime video calling feature with her 83-year-old grandmother Yvonne Simon Perotti, who lives about 15 minutes away from her in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. Godard and her extended family also get together weekly on Zoom, including with her grandmother and 78-year-old grandfather Charlie Perotti.
The Perottis consider themselves quite tech adept for their age and have figured out how to use services like Zoom on their own. “In our neighborhood, we have a book club. So, we have a virtual book club meeting with Zoom, which is kind of cool,” said Charlie Perotti.
In normal times, her family members upload pictures of themselves and their travels to the frame. But during the pandemic, her relatives are relying on the video chatting function to keep in contact with Tangney, who is in an assisted living facility in Massachusetts. Her family set up the picture frame in front of her favorite chair. When a ViewClix video call comes in, it’s set to automatically connect so Tangney doesn’t have to get up to answer it.
“I called her the other day on it, and the nurse was in her room, so she was able to be like ‘Oh look someone’s calling you on it.’ We had a whole conversation on it, she was so excited,” Leah Briscoe, her granddaughter, said. “We tried to do the tablet thing with her, and it wasn’t successful. She can’t really talk on the phone anymore, so we needed to get a little bit more creative with how we were going to keep in touch with her.” Fraser called the frame a “priceless” way of communicating with her. The 10.1-inch frame costs $199, while the 15.6-inch version sells for $299.
Adams now lives in an assisted living facility, and no visitors are allowed to come inside due to the pandemic. So her family has come up with a safe, in-person way to interact: Adams comes out onto her balcony, and DeLessio, her parents and sister shout to her from outside.
Her grandmother shouts back.