Live Long and Master Aging podcast



Embracing mobile technology to combat loneliness among older adults

Kerry Burnight: Chief Gerontologist, GrandPad

Dr. Kerry Burnight is the Chief Gerontologist at GrandPad, a company that designs simple and easy to use electronic tablets for people 75 and older.

New technology presents a wealth of opportunities for connecting with others. Family members across the world can video chat from mobile phones at a moment’s notice, and long-lost friends from elementary school can easily reconnect. But Dr. Burnight believes that for all mobile devices have added to the world, new technology is isolating older demographics. In fact social isolation, leading to loneliness among the elderly, is one of the great scourges on society.

In this LLAMA podcast interview with Peter Bowes, Dr. Burnight discusses how GrandPads keep older family members easily connected with the rest of the family and the world. She also describes how older generations are left behind with technology, and why personal connections are so important to a person’s health and longevity.

Published on: 20 Aug 2018 @ 20:13 PST


Connect with Dr. Burnight and GrandPad: GrandPad Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

  • Prior to joining GrandPad, Dr. Burnight was professor of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at the University of California Irvine, and the founder and director of America’s first Elder Abuse Forensic Center and national non-profit group, Ageless Alliance: United Against Elder Abuse.
In this interview we discover:
  • How chronic loneliness can be just as damaging to a person’s longevity as smoking cigarettes, and can even affect a person’s cognitive impairment later in life.
“By addressing something that we can do something about, which is chronic loneliness, we would not only be improving lives, but also be improving our nation, because we wouldn’t be spending as much on health care and enabling people to enjoy autonomy longer.”
  • How the establishment of online banking in the 1990s led Dr. Burnight down the path of creating GrandPads.
  • Why the design characteristics of modern cellphones and tablets make it difficult for older users.
  • How GrandPad is designed for people 75 and over who have little to no experience with technology.
“With the demographic revolution of aging, our nation, and, in fact, our world can’t afford to miss this population.”
  • How the GrandPad can connect younger people with older generations by looping in content from applications like Instagram.
  • How GrandPad ensures online security for old people while allowing them to easily play games, listen to music and contact loved ones.
  • The importance of valuing people of all ages, and why we should be using older adults as a resource.
  • Why “being discounted” is the toughest aspect of aging for many older people.
“Seniors are our most wise and wonderful resource.”
  • The steps Dr. Burnight is taking in her personal life to prepare for physical and lifestyle changes in the years to come.
  • How music can keep people connected to the world around them as they age and lose some coherency.
  • The reason Dr. Burnight celebrates her own aging, and the silver lining she believes comes with getting older.
“We’re not going to be able to do some things, we won’t be running as fast, nor seeing as well. But there are other things that we’ll be doing better – greater spirituality, greater resilience.”

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