Calif. ó Donít be fooled by her age or her
not-so-smart flip phone. Eighty-five-year-old Betty Lou
Luce is spurring a technology movement thatís
spreading from bridge clubs to retirement homes across
to a phone service called GoGoGrandparent, Luce, who
lives in this Los Angeles-area city, is defying the
stereotypes associated with older adults, using the same
on-demand mobile apps as smartphone-savvy millennials
and boomers. She takes Uber rides to and from Cocoís
Bakery and doctor appointments. She gets meals and
groceries delivered by trendy, give-it-to-me-now apps
such as Munchery, Postmates and Instacart.
perhaps best of all, thereís no app required.
GoGoGrandparent, created by Luceís 24-year-old
grandson Justin Boogaard, is just a hotline.
and now her social circle and their acquaintances, call
a phone number and select from a simple menu of
automated choices: Press 1 for an Uber ride, 2 for a
return trip, 3 to order a meal, 4 to get groceries
delivered and 5 for all other delivery options.
GoGoGrandparent handles the rest.
grandma is the kingpin of Torrance and when she likes
something, everybody hears about it," Boogaard
word-of-mouth referral system has thus far resulted in
hundreds of users. GoGoGrandparent first got rolling at
the beginning of the year. Now, the number of calls to
the hotline is increasing by 20 percent every week. The
nascent, self-funded company doesnít charge callers
additional service fees, but it is starting to eke out
revenue from affiliate relationships with Uber and other
service uses a custom-built, automated system to manage
all Uber ride requests. For now, everything else gets
routed to a human operator who places orders on behalf
of callers, who are, on average, around 85 years of age.
Boogaard and his business partner, David Lung, are still
toying with the right age-appropriate options to make
sure their older clients can get what they want without
too much hassle.
ease of use is paramount.
I need (a ride), I just dial the telephone number and
press 1," said Rose Iacono, 90, who recently
relocated from her home to a retirement community.
"When Iím ready to come home, I dial the number,
and press 2 and they already know where I am. Itís
really an ideal situation for me. Ö Being without a
car, itís a nice alternative."
is a go-between, porting the convenience introduced by
the burgeoning on-demand app realm (where anything you
want is usually available in an hour or less) to seniors
without smartphones who have no way to interface with
handy new tools.
70 percent of Americans ages 65 and older do not own a
smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. Yet
older adults, 78 percent of whom do have access to
old-fashioned cell phones, can benefit from speedy
delivery and ride services just as much, if not more so,
is really critical for older people, especially in terms
of help and assistance," said Dilip Jeste, M.D.,
senior associate dean for healthy aging and senior care
at the University of California at San Diego. "The
number of older people is increasing, but care is
declining. That care can only be filled, in large part,
seniors are often overlooked by technology companies.
a mistake," Jeste said.
not just because there is a need for tools to assist the
increasing population of elderly folks who prefer
"aging in place," or the practice of allowing
people in their golden years to remain in their own
homes, safely and independently. Thereís a real
financial incentive as well.
Orlov, founder of the Aging in Place Technology Watch
and a former analyst at Forrester Research, estimates
that the senior tech market will become a $20 billion
industry by 2020. Semico Research, meanwhile, forecasts
that companies creating technologies that support the
stay-at-home movement will generate more than $30
billion in revenue by 2017.
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by Luceís real-life challenges, GoGoGrandparent can
piggyback on the aging-in-place trend and help seniors
remain self-sufficient while simultaneously saving them
money on costlier care-taking services.
after grandma lost her vision, she broke her leg,"
Boogaard said. "I started looking into how
expensive a caretaker would be (to help with groceries,
odd jobs and transportation). The prices seemed
unreasonable. Iím totally a child of the 21st century.
I would rather just (use an app) to pay for the
groceries and pay the $6 delivery charge. But of course
grandma doesnít have access to those things. Now she
University of California at Los Angeles class of 2011
graduate, is the quintessential 20-something serial
inventor. Boogaard has bounced around from idea to idea
for the bulk of his brief professional career. At one
point, he was spending his weekends on something far
product, called Upmygame, helped users of the popular
dating app, Tinder, stand out from the crowd by
suggesting the most eye-catching photos and bios to use
in their profiles. There was also a college-themed
project called Bubbleboard and a contract job board
current business is seemingly a more worthwhile
for all that GoGoGrandparent can do to support
independent older adults, the service has at least one
doesnít actually teach older adults how to use the
Internet. It certainly doesnít train them to be
self-sufficient with smartphones and tablets. These are
far more pressing needs for seniors, Orlov said. After
all, the Internet is replete with information and tools
ó take the tech training program AARP TEK ó that can
be used to better the lives of older adults.
a great thing heís done in a fairly niche view of the
need," she said. "But he needs to carry it a
should be directed to Internet educational resources,
knows thereís more to be done.
living with his grandmother for two years and witnessing
the pros and cons of aging, he has found his best muse
yet: Betty Lou Luce.
realized that I am the definition of a family boy who is
making it work for him. Iím just going to keep going
with that," he said. "There is so much
opportunity in this space and there are not many people
focusing on it."
number: (310) 400-5082
Transportation by Uber; meals from Postmates, Seamless,
Grubhub and Munchery; delivery from Amazon Fresh, Google
Express and Instacart
Free to call. Customers pay the same rates as offered by
the transportation, meal and delivery providers.