While researching the best tablets for seniors, I discovered the GrandPad, the one tablet that was specifically created for seniors. It is widely seen as having the most potential out of all the various tablets designed for seniors that are available today.
Why a tablet for seniors in the first place? Many seniors spend hours not speaking with anyone and feel left out of family activities, especially if relatives live far away. This loneliness affects physical and psychological health. The GrandPad team claims to have taken a comprehensive look at the problems that seniors face with staying connected via modern technology and solved them.
The GrandPad tablet considers the disabilities that seniors may have, namely vision changes, hearing changes, and memory issues. However, there’s one more important disability that GrandPad considers: potential psychological problems of loneliness that result from not being connected. We are all meant to be social beings. Isolation kills.
Is the GrandPad worth the cost? Is it all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s take a look.
Pros of the GrandPad
No doubt, the GrandPad has some positive attributes that you’re not going to find with mass-produced, everyday tablets from companies like Apple and Amazon.
Designed for simplicity, the instructions are equally simple. Even the box has instructions for how to open it, with a phone number on the outside flap in case the seniors need help immediately. The creators of GrandPad say they followed a 90-90 philosophy when developing the device, meaning an average 90-year-old should be able to open and begin using the GrandPad within 90 seconds of receiving it.
A lofty goal? Maybe, but not by much. It’s certainly more simple than tablets designed for the general population.
Personalized Support for Seniors
The company has a designated “member experience” agent assigned to each GrandPad user. This is a real person, not a chat bot or email help or worse yet, an email support system. The “member experience” agent offers much more than tech support and can begin to build a relationship with individual GrandPad users.
The company agents have been known to even play games on the GrandPad tablet with users in order to get the acquainted to the device. This type of advanced customer service makes the device incredibly unique. To make it even easier, the senior can call customer service directly from the GrandPad by simply pressing the red “Help” button.
The company has 24/7/365 support with locations in several cities across the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The device is 8 inches long by about 5 inches wide. There’s a high-definition screen. It comes with a wireless charging cradle that the tablet sits on, which charges it while providing a no-touch option for using the device while washing dishes and doing other things. The device is not too heavy, either. And there is not a power button or on/off switch. Once the senior user opens the cover of the tablet, it turns on and when they close it, it turns off.
You can certainly find larger tablets, but this size is a decent middle-ground between convenience and visibility.
Unlimited Phone Calls
Seniors can make unlimited phone calls on their GrandPad to whomever is in their GrandPad address book as a trusted contact. The company calls this the “GrandPad Circle of Trust.” To make a call, the senior only needs to scroll or tap on the arrows to find the picture of the person they want to talk to. Then, click either the video call button or the audio call button.
The list of trusted contacts can be created by a GrandPad Family Administrator or by the senior user, depending on their preference, as well as physical and cognitive capabilities.
Family members and trusted contacts use the free GrandPad Companion App to connect with the senior user. For example, they can record photos or videos of family events, such as a wedding or a child’s sporting event, and post it to the GrandPad for the senior and anyone else on the list of contacts to view. In this way, it acts much like a private, family social media newsfeed.
The GrandPad can also be used to make phone calls outside the circle of contacts via a number pad that appears on the screen. This way, you can call a doctor’s office or pharmacy or even have a pizza delivered.
Voice or Keyboard Entry
The GrandPad does not need a keyboard or a mouse. Users can send a text or email using the built-in touch keyboard. In addition, the GrandPad comes with a stylus that can be used for people who have arthritis in their hands or who have trouble using a touchscreen due to dry skin, which is a factor of aging.
Built-in, Always-On Connectivity
Every GrandPad comes with built-in 4G LTE connectivity, so the senior does not need a router, broadband internet access, WiFi or the skills to manage these technology factors. This will help offset some of the costs of this device (more on that in a bit).
In addition to the built-in LTE, which comes at no extra cost to the user or family, the GrandPad can be used on WiFi, if available. The tablet is completely portable and can be taken with the senior and used anywhere.
Secure Internet Access to Protect Seniors
The GrandPad features a secure internet browser, which allows favorite websites to be bookmarked while reducing the potential for exposure to fraud and phishing scams. In addition to adding trusted sites to the built-in browser, the senior has access to a curated collection of news and articles to keep up with what’s happening in the world.
Music and Games for Better Brain Function
Music has many health benefits, including stimulating cognitive function and memory, and providing entertainment. That’s why the GrandPad features streaming music and games. There are now over 32 million songs across 15 musical genres to choose from on the GrandPad, and many are from the 1940’s to 1970’s. The GrandPad also recently released a new GrandPad streaming radio app that gives users access to music, news, and sports programming from local and national stations.
Meanwhile, GrandPad Radio features a DJ who shares news and information about important topics for seniors, conducts interviews with guests, and plays a variety of music genres and artists that are favorites among elderly adults.
The GrandPad includes over 18 free games, from Solitaire to Sudoku to Word Scramble to crossword puzzles, and even bingo. If a senior has to leave a game for an appointment, when they come back to it, they can pick up where they left off.
Although there are two loud front-facing speakers that allow the senior to control the external volume, headphones may also be plugged into the GrandPad for private listening.
Private Family Photo and Video Sharing
Anyone in the senior’s trusted network may upload photos that will show up on the senior’s tablet. People who are connected to the senior and who download the Companion App will also see the photos and images that are shared by other connections with the senior user.
The device can be set up to share Facebook or Instagram pictures, as well. When not in use, the senior can set the GrandPad to display the photos that have been shared as a looping slideshow, so the senior is always surrounded by pictures of people they love and trust.
Senior users can even leave a comment on a photo without using the keyboard. They just click the button to leave an audio comment about a photo or video and it is recorded and shared with everyone in the circle of trust. For friends and family members, these audio comments can become lasting memories of elderly loved ones.
Easy Navigation with Large Icons and Large Print
The GrandPad is easy for the visually impaired to use. The icons are large and crisp, and there are never too many choices on the screen at one time for the user to sort through and choose from. The use of colors helps differentiate topics.
Users navigate by swiping or tapping buttons. The font size of the words can be easily changed with the touch of a screen. The web browser is also easy to use.
The senior can type or speak emails and because of the GrandPad circle of trust, spam and junk emails do not get through to the senior. They only receive emails from safe senders. Each GrandPad user receives a personal email address, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Emails are securely stored in the GrandPad cloud.
Unlike weather reports you access online, the GrandPad gives you a 5-day forecast for your location AND the locations of where your friends and family are. So, when you call your granddaughter in Montana, you can see what the weather is like in her world.
No Special Training Needed
You don’t need much training for the GrandPad. Everything has been simplified to the point where it’s easy to figure out. However, if help or training is needed, all you have to do is press the red “Help” button on the GrandPad and the Member Experience Agents will answer your questions. The GrandPad brings a senior with virtually no tech skills up to par within a few days – and that’s an accomplishment that’s hard to beat.
No device, no matter how great, comes without its set of downsides. The GrandPad is no exception.
The GrandPad is a subscription service that can be paid for on a monthly or annual basis. If paid for in full up front, the cost works out to $58 per month. If you choose to pay as you go each month, the cost is $79 per month. So, assuming the annual payment, you are looking at $696 a year. That’s not exactly inexpensive, but all of the included services come at their own cost.
That cost includes the tablet, stylus, all apps, built-in 4G LTE data package, phone and video calling, and 24-hour support. GrandPad offers a price chart comparison if that helps your decision making process.
May Be Too Simple
If you (or your elder loved one) has used a computer or smartphone successfully for several years, you may feel the GrandPad is too simple. However, even people who are skilled at using technology find benefit in the GrandPad as they age and experience limitations in vision, hearing, and dexterity.
Not Right for Everyone
The GrandPad is great for those who have a big family or existing circle of friends. For seniors who have few remaining family members or friends, they may be able to connect via GrandPad to other seniors in their communities through local organizations like an Area Agency on Aging, a public library, or a PACE clinic, with which GrandPad currently partners.
The GrandPad is a unique tablet designed specifically for older adults. To that end, it comes with features that would not be appropriate for younger users but that older adults might benefit from. If the monthly subscription charge is not too steep, it could be the best tablet for a senior.