But at 86 years old, Barbara also has asthma. And since both her age and her health put her at increased risk of complications from COVID-19, gathering with the people she loves most has been at best a challenge and at worst an impossibility. That’s why Barbara’s GrandPad has been such a blessing. During long months of lockdown, the tablet was a lifeline connecting her to her family, and in particular her five grandchildren. She uses the GrandPad to keep up with photos of her great-granddaughter, to attend family birthday parties and other special occasions remotely, or to have an occasional Zoom movie night with her granddaughter Brit.
“My grandkids are busy, and they’ve got their own lives,” Barbara said. “When Granny wants to see them every day, the GrandPad allows me to see them and kind of jive with them a little while. My kids know I love my pictures, and they send me beautiful pictures. I look at those pictures and I get happy.”
Barbara, who lives in Louisville, KY, got her GrandPad as a Christmas gift three years ago, and while she had precious little experience with technology, she picked it up immediately. She uses it to play games, and as a Grand Advisor – one of a team of senior super-users who advises the company on design decisions – she has made friends across the country. The music lover even made a suggestion that led to GrandPad adding a Motown station to its radio programming.
“Once I got started, I haven’t put it down yet,” she said.
For Brit, who lives about 90 minutes away in Cincinnati, the GrandPad has meant she can still see her granny’s beaming smile, share in her latest cross stitch, or just comfort herself that Barbara looks healthy.
“It was incredibly helpful during the pandemic when we all had to be in our respective houses. This was really a way to relieve a lot of that anxiety and that social isolation,” said Brit, who records every video call with her granny so she can preserve the memories.
“I was able to call her and physically see her and talk to her without worrying whether I was putting her health at risk.” Brit said she has been impressed with GrandPad’s efforts during the pandemic to find new ways for families to connect, whether that means a long conversations or quick text message on the way to a meeting. She said Barbara has become particularly enthusiastic about using emojis.
“I use my GrandPad to talk to my grandbabies and sisters and kin people all of the time,” Barbara said. “My GrandPad brings life right back to me. I can look at my babies and see how they’re growing up. It’s fun just watching them.”