One of the most unrecognized and neglected issues affecting Canada today is loneliness and social isolation among seniors. According to research, over 50% of octogenarians say they regularly feel lonely. It is this high level of social isolation that can also increase the risk of seniors developing mental health issues. Accessible forms of communication and interaction can therefore be a critical factor in combatting social isolation.
HelpAge Canada recently launched ‘Reach Isolated Seniors Everywhere’ (RISE), a nationwide awareness campaign, encouraging Canadian citizens to connect or reconnect with a senior they know. “There are different stages of social isolation; the more one becomes isolated, the more one is at risk for health and mental problems”, says Jacques Bertrand, HelpAge Canada ED. “The goal of RISE is to gather as many organizations and individuals across the country, spread the message about social isolation and take action.”
In line with this campaign, the Doro 824 Smartphone, designed especially for seniors, launched today.This is a smartphone that is ideal for those who want to use technology such as instant messaging, video calls and photo-sharing, but may feel overwhelmed with the current smartphones on the market. Every function has been created with accessibility for seniors in mind, from the ergonomic design to the simplified software and emergency call button.
“We strongly feel modern technology isn’t just for the young. It can be a tool to improve and enrich the lives of seniors. We wanted to create a smartphone that incorporated the technology of today with a senior’s needs and requirements in mind. We hope that the Doro 824 will encourage everyone to reconnect with their elderly friends and relatives,” says Christopher Lundstrom, Doro GM for North America.
Accessible properties of the Smartphone include simplified software for messaging, email and internet browsing; step-by-step guidance and tutorials for all applications; fewer and larger screen icons; physical buttons for home, back, menu and a dedicated button for the camera; larger font size and Hearing Aid Compatible.
Relatives and caregivers who are separated by distance and can’t be there in person, can take particular advantage of My Doro Manager. This app is pre-installed on the Doro 824 phone so that relatives who download ‘the Relative App’ from Google Play and the App Store can directly connect to the senior’s phone remotely. This allows them to have full access to the phone. Relatives can use the app to add in calendar events, reminders and contacts as well as sharing photos and setting up automated video chats. It also allows relatives to help with any usage uncertainties a senior might have remotely as everything from the ringtone volume to the screen brightness can be controlled remotely.
Another function that adds extra piece of mind for caregivers is the emergency call button. When activated, the phone automatically calls a predetermined contact and sends an SMS with their GPS location, ensuring fast and easy method of communication in an emergency situation.
Social isolation among seniors is a problem that is often easily overlooked, but charities like HelpAge Canada and companies such as Doro are working tirelessly to bring light to this issue and provide the tools required to reconnect seniors with their loved ones and local communities.
Doro 824C – Smartphone for the Blind
Also launching today is the Doro 824C, the most complete smartphone on the market for the blind and visually impaired. This easy-to-use phone includes all key smartphone features while also incorporating dedicated accessibility features for the visually impaired including fixed function keys, OCR reading machine and GPS tracking.
“The Doro 824 is an ideal handset for customers with moderate visual and physical limitations, and the Doro 824C is the most full featured smartphone built for the blind. Bell is committed to making mobile technology more accessible to everyone and we’re pleased to add these innovative devices to our lineup of accessibility products,” said Blaik Kirby, President of Bell Mobility.
The Doro 824 and Doro 824C can be purchased exclusively at Bell stores across Canada and at Bell.ca/Accessibility.
 The National Seniors Council – Report on the Social Isolation of Seniors (2013-2014)