It has been a long summer. I was in San Francisco visiting our daughter in the end of May and I got a call informing me that my husband David had fallen in our house in Maryland and fractured a hip. I was desperate to find a flight back home to be with him. Of course, much of our lives had changed due to the ongoing coronavirus.
At the age of 79, it was too risky for me to fly home when most parts of America were having shortage of face masks at the time. David had an operation and then stayed at a nursing home for rehab with bans on all visitation. After the operation and all the ordeal, David was alone lying in a bed in a single room. This is the first time in our 50 years of marriage that we were apart for more than a month.
By mid-July, our son Jon was allowed to visit David outside a window. Jon would turn on his cell phone and use FaceTime to let me see David. The first time that we saw each other after two months of being apart, we both broke into tears. To show our gratitude for the short visits, Jon brought over cupcakes each time in hope that we would still have a next chance to visit as the coronavirus persisted on.
Staying-at-home in San Francisco at my daughter’s condo, I was haunted by the same loneliness and isolation that was frustrating David. This pandemic has sent many elderly into absolute isolation. Being in the high-risk age group to contract the coronavirus, most elderly and their families are diligent in physical distancing. We have been kept inside facilities and homes alone, sometimes without interacting with a person for days. We have heard horrible stories about elderly dying from the coronavirus alone without having a last chance to see their family.
David was discharged from the facility in early August. Soon enough, we realized that like many elderly, David was confronting the impact of isolation including depression, loss of sleep, and anxiety. He was home alone until I made my way home three weeks ago. During his stay-at-home recovery, we were extremely worried that he might fall again without immediate rescue.
Virtual video calling is the only solution for us during this darkest time. David and I would see each other when Jon visited him. Although David has a tablet, he was never tech-savvy enough to manage video calls. He has trouble finding the buttons to tap, and he never seemed to manage those video conferencing apps that require a password or log in.
On David’s 81st birthday a few weeks ago, when his Adult Day Services center introduced to him the JayPad made by HealthJay Inc, our lives changed for the better.
First of all, David can use the JayPad with no trouble. He talks to the voice command Chatbot to control audio and video calling. His center schedules reminders for his daily therapy and social activities which popup on the JayPad. He just taps a “Join Now” button from activity reminders and he is placed into his virtual group classes! Remember how difficult it was for him to navigate to FaceTime? David tells the JayPad to place a call for him without need to navigate. Magic. It’s just magic. Seeing David play group Bingo with his friends reminded me how much we had missed his laughter.
In addition, for an elderly who has a history with falls, JayPad’s HELP button is a handy function. He can press the button for any help that he needs, linking him instantly to Jon who is enlisted as his care circle member. He chats with our grandkids every night now and joined Baby Suzy’s 2-year old birthday party on video. With JayPad’s virtual programming, we are apart but not alone.
The moment when I got home, I knew that life is never going to be the same again. Our friends are adjusting to the coronavirus new normal. It’s been a long and lonely road. With the help of technology like the JayPad, I started to believe that the pandemic might have fast-tracked elderly to a tech-enriched path.
Content is provided by HealthJay Inc. (www.healthjay.com)