App Spotlight
by Kristin Easterling

Providing care for an aging loved one can be stressful, and one source of that stress can be the seemingly endless check-ins by a caregiver when a senior simply wants to maintain independence. GreatCall, a provider of mobile PERS solutions, is seeking to alleviate some of this stress through its Link app—now with the Check-in feature. GreatCall believes in "active aging," according to David Inns, CEO. "We provide technology and services to help older consumers stay active and connected longer," he says. The Link app is just one service that allows seniors to age independently. Many family caregivers find confidence in the app, which allows for location monitoring, medication monitoring and access to GreatCall's 5Star emergency agents. Independence is important to seniors, so GreatCall sat down with actual families and went through scenarios that could occur in a senior's home to help balance issues of privacy and autonomy. "The location and movement feature can be disabled by the older consumer," Inns says. "Some people are OK with being tracked by their children, but some aren't. Still, we can notify the caregiver when mom has left home for the doctor and when she returns." There is also an option to add favorite addresses to the senior's personal Link profile so the caregiver is alerted when a family member is at a particular location on or off the usual schedule. "But if mom is at her secret boyfriend's," Inns jokes, "we can hide that for her." GreatCall also covers the caregiver. Inns says when the app was conceived, the goal was to present a useful analysis of data to the caregiver. Artificial intelligence tells the caregiver a story each week of how their loved one is doing. GreatCall found this narrative form of data presentation a better method than charts and graphs for most consumers.

The newly launched Check-in feature (pictured at left) was also a request from caregivers. Daily calls from caregivers can get annoying; the new feature functions with the GreatCall Jitterbug Smart smartphone or new Jitterbug Flip, and allows the caregiver to program five specific yes or no questions for their loved one to answer daily. A negative response to any or all of the questions can prompt a response to 5Star agents, or the caregiver can choose to handle the situation. The Check-in feature allows the caregiver and senior to save the time of a lengthy phone call. In addition, the new Jitterbug Smart includes all the connectivity of a typical smartphone, while also being senior-friendly. The phone features a large screen and keyboard and full access to the 5Star service center. The new Jitterbug Flip offers LTE connectivity and comes with larger buttons, a brightly lit screen and a camera that doubles as a reading magnifier and LED flashlight. Like the Smart, the Flip comes with a dedicated 5Star emergency button. The Link app is available free on iPhone or Android devices and can be synced to any GreatCall device.