03 Feb 2014
This article was originally published in Montefiore LIFE magazine.
In the 21st century, increases in technological advances are seen to bring a globalised world even closer. Many of Montefiore Home's residents have families scattered all over the globe and their only means of communication with them is through digital technology. However, for many elderly people these newly emerging communications tools appear to favour the younger demographic and the older generation can be left out in the cold. Luckily for them there is a new tool which has been developed specifically to reduce the isolation of older Australians and ensure they keep abreast of social media platforms as they emerge. Tapestry, a new technology company, is working to ensure that families and carers stay connected to their older relatives and friends, and the latter to the outside world, by using safe, secure and simple table-based apps.
"Tapestry is all about giving seniors what they want with the simplest experience possible," says Tapestry's Founder and CEO Andrew Dowling. "We have learnt that simplicity is essential, not because seniors can't use technology, but because they're wise enough to know that the constant changes we see with a lot of technology today doesn't improve their lives at all. Quite the opposite: it forces them to constantly change just to keep up....so many seniors quite justifiably end up deciding it's just not worth the effort."
Tapestry's philosophy is to simplify programs for seniors, remove unnecessary functions and make the digital interface more user-friendly with larger fonts and less visual clutter. The way it works is that one family member opens a family account and invites other members to join the group. The idea is that family members will add photos to the family page everyone can look at and the individual will be notified when a new photo arrives. Each member of the family can connect their social media accounts to Tapestry, which means that senior users get the benefits of a service like Facebook without any of the downsides.
"Privacy and security are a great concern to many people, especially seniors," says Dowling. "Many of our users have been put off Facebook because of the privacy concerns about how it sells information to advertisers, and how complex it is to use. Tapestry allows them to connect with the younger members of their family who are already using Facebook, without needing to worry about having an account themselves."
Dowling and the Tapestry team are now making plans to further extend Tapestry's capabilities for retirement living and aged care senior communities, as well as introduce new features related to keeping the brain healthy as it ages.
This new platform builds on a strategic partnership between Tapestry and the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), as the two leaders in their respective fields focus on improving the lives of an ageing population - one through scientific research and practical outcomes and the other through advancement in communication and technology.
Tapestry has been trialled with individual seniors and aged-care facilities within Australia with great success. Research indicates that it isn't just a combination of healthy lifestyle and brain training that restores and improves brain function, but also social engagement.
"The significance of social connectedness in relation to a healthy brain is greatly underestimated," says Professor Perminder Sachdev, Co-director of CHeBA.
It is only through the assistance of organisations such as CHeBA and innovators like Tapestry that we can ensure our aged population can remain a part of the digital revolution and stay connected.
"We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with CHeBA," says Dowling. "It's a complementary relationship that we hope lasts well into the future - perhaps even until we are all centenarians."
If you're interested in finding out more information about Tapestry, you can contact the company on (02) 8011 3842 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.