Oct 14 2020

Videoconferencing Has Become a Lifeline for Seniors

Tablets and smart-home tools keep older adults engaged and connected with the outside world — and each other.

Gerry Worth isn’t inclined to slow down. The 89-year-old was a ballroom dancer and skier, she learned how to ice skate in her 70s, and as recently as last year, she was taking college classes.

In March, however, her senior living community, Merrill Gardens at Kirkland in Washington state, implemented safety protocols — including restricting outside visitors. As nursing homes and assisted living facilities nationwide experienced some of the earliest COVID-19 outbreaks, Merrill Gardens moved quickly to limit residents’ exposure to the virus.

These days, Worth continues to practice social distancing inside her private apartment. But she isn’t lonely: She makes regular video calls to her children and grandchildren around the country, thanks to a partnership between Merrill Gardens, CDW and Google, which donated 1,000 Nest Hub Max 10-inch smart displays to the Seattle-based senior living company.

“I’ll tell you, without Google, I would be very unhappy,” Worth says. “This has given me a chance to see to family. I see my friends. I see three operas on Saturday, I get the news, I get musicals. I love it. I don’t feel isolated.”

With people of all ages confined to their homes, videoconferencing hardware and software use has exploded during the COVID-19 shutdown. Online work meetings, telehealth and distance learning have become standard.

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