The best tech and online devices to keep in contact with elderly relatives

From Netflix to Facebook Portal, there are a range of technologies that can help ease the fear of looming stringent isolation policies

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As the UK goes into lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus, it may be months before many see their friends and family in person again.

Anyone the age of 70 has been asked to stay at home to protect themselves from the disease. 

For many, that will mean long stretches of isolation and loneliness at a time when they may need the support of friends and family more than ever. 

However, technology can help offer a solution, if it is implemented in the right way. Here are some of product that could help you keep in touch with the vulnerable elderly:

Facebook Portal

This tablet can sit in any room and can seem like a window into your parents’ home. If they have a Facebook or WhatsApp account they can call those in their contact book. With Alexa built-in they can even do this without needing to engage with the interface, which is very simplistic regardless.

The gadget also boasts a tracking camera so if you think they would enjoy your company as you’re busying yourself around the kitchen or in the sitting room, the camera will follow you around the room - keeping you in shot. It’s also easy to set up, plug in, connect to wi-fi, sign-in and you are set.

Portal helps bridge the gap with elderly relatives with even Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison is using it to keep up with his folks during these unusual times.

Prices for the Portal Mini start at £79.

Facebook's mini portal Credit: Josh Edelson/AFP

Amazon Echo Show

Similar to the Facebook Portal, the Amazon Echo Show can link you to your loved ones with video-calling. The Show is central Amazon’s push towards the connected smart home.

If it’s paired with a smart doorbell or smart lights it can make basic tasks that may be a struggle for those with mobility issues that bit easier thanks to Alexa’s voice commands. Of course, the introduction of such speakers brings with it the worries of a microphone in one's home.

Its cheaper Echo 5 edition starts at £49.

Skype, WhatsApp, and FaceTime

For the elder who already boasts a smartphone, apps may be the solution. There are so many apps for communication but right now users need ubiquity and simplicity.

Both of which can be found in Skype, Facebook’s WhatsApp, and Apple’s FaceTime. These apps are easy to download from respective app stores and can make your loved ones instantly contactable through voice and video.

Amazon Prime and Netflix

Streaming on demand isn’t just for those that have turned their back on traditional television. Entertainment will be a huge part of self-isolation. Amazon Prime is £7.99 a month and has a wide range of TV shows including The Grand Tour, which is fronted by former Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond.

Meanwhile Netflix’s basic package starts at £5.99 a month and has a slightly more user-friendly interface than that of Amazon’s. It’s also got the back catalogue of Sherlock and Luther that can make for great binge-worthy viewing for the detective drama lover.

Buddi fall detector

If you have elderly relatives, you can’t help but worry they may fall when they’re on their own. It happens often and can be a traumatic experience for both the person that fell and indeed their family.

Fall detectors can help ease some of the worries in that they will flag when they think someone has fallen. This can be especially useful if they are told to stay indoors. Buddi is among the best-known brands and it will alert loved ones if you press a button on it or if it detects the person has fallen.

The wristbands start at £99.

Deliveroo/ Just Eat/ Uber Eats

These apps may be a tricky for an older person to navigate but there’s nothing stopping you sending food to their address. Restaurants will likely be struggling over the weeks and months to come and they will battle to keep their delivery service open as long as possible.