Career changes, retirement, illness, and downsizing can remove us from our support network, including friends and family members. But everyone has the right and the need to stay socially engaged and connected. Thankfully, there are a number of innovative companies that can help address barriers to communication:

With Ily, NYC-based startup Insensi returns to the simplicity of the family phone by fusing video chat, talk, and messaging all in one device. A child can video chat with grandma simply by tapping on her picture. He can also send uploaded photos or drawings. On the flip side, grandma can voice or video call from either her own Ily device or by downloading the Ily app on her smartphone or tablet. No more convoluted phone plans, no recurring monthly fees and no additional costs.  Simply plug Ily into your landline, allow it to connect to your WiFi network, add in your contacts and you’re ready to go.

Smartstones is pioneering the use of haptic feedback technology: the use of forces, vibrations and motions. Your iPhone/Apple Watch uses this technology, vibrating to alert you to an incoming call.  Touch is a small stone-shaped device you can tap and swipe to communicate with others. Prose is a smartphone app that helps non-verbal individuals communicate by speaking phrases in over 30 languages, in response to gestures and movements.  Draw a circle on your touchscreen with your finger to say “I love you” in French; shake your phone at a cab driver to tell him where you need to go in Turkish.

amazon echo

amazon echo

About the size of a popular potato chip canister, Amazon Echo allows you to use your voice to interact with the Internet instead of using a browser. Echo can read you your favorite audiobook, tell you jokes, review your to-do lists and even order pizza upon command.

For coordination and communication that is caregiver-specific, CareZone is my own family’s go-to app to restore balance to our roles in caring for our octogenarian mother.  This free app features a calendar, journal, contacts, notes, to-dos, medication information and more: all shared electronically among those invited to be a part of a personal care network.

Whether you use Skype, FaceTime, Instagram, FaceBook, no one should have to struggle to find the right method for reaching out and engaging with others. However you choose to stay connected, the goal is simple: stay entertained, informed, involved and in touch with your world.


Mark Britton is President & Founder of TellaBoomer TeleCare Services a Westchester-based provider of innovative high-tech, hi-touch products and services to help meet the care needs of individuals, families and communities.  He can be reached at