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Im trying to start a nonprofit business that caters to the elderly community. I previously worked for a two cellphone companies and tons of older customers would come in to ask very common and basic questions. Many sales representatives don't have the patience for the elderly community. And companies has even gone as far as timing transactions. I first want to get an idea if this is truly a need before starting my business. Thank you for your time

Well, my mom had the old ‘flip phone’ and my mom was on our phone plan and my kids told me to get grandma an iPhone so they could send her photos.

At first I thought they were crazy. They said to me, “Grandma is smart, mom. She can learn!” I relented but was not hopeful.

I was wrong about feeling like she wouldn’t be capable. She was more than capable and was in her 90’s! I suppose it depends on the person but I am sure many can learn just as my mom did.

Even as her Parkinson’s disease progressed and she couldn’t navigate as well on her phone, I would go to photos for her to see photos of her grandchildren.

Budget is a consideration for people. If they are not on a family member’s plan and has to pay for themselves they are not going to make a smartphone a priority.
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shaybrittany Mar 4, 2020
Most cellphone companies are moving towards solely smartphones. 5G does not run on all flip phones or older iPhones which leads to senior citizens purchasing cheap smart phones . Big shoutout to your mom. But this is definitely not the case for all if not most. There are even smartphones cheaper than flip phones ! This is a non profit
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Where I live the libraries hold free classes for seniors to learn technology and programs.
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shaybrittany Mar 4, 2020
Yes this is what I want to do give classes within libraries or senior citizens centers/homes
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shaybrittany, I've pondered this challenge myself. There's a reason why I won't get my 90-yr old mom a smart phone. I cannot have her calling me every day to once again go through how to get to a certain function. She has a very cheap tablet that I got for her 5+ years ago when she wasn't showing any hint of cognitive decline. She enjoys playing games on it, that's all. It took a long while to train her to not touch the screen when she held it. She calls me to ask about what does the pop-up message mean and how to get rid of it. She asks why isn't it working (battery dead), and on. I wonder if my generation and younger will have any easier a time of adapting to the continuous changes. My mom's generation wasn't used to it at all. She never used a computer until she got the tablet in her 80's.

I agree with the comments posted that yours is probably a service for "shut-ins" and low-income seniors. I also think you may need to have your clients partnered with a family member because internet access has enabled lots of financial abuse. In the near future we will probably have the ability to gamble directly online, another potential pitfall. I personally would want to know if my mom was talking to a tech person, since I'm her PoA. I need to know what you are enabling her to do because YOU may not realize she isn't an appropriate client. Please do not interpret my comments as meaning I see no future or have no enthusiasm for your idea. I'm in branding, marketing and business strategy. 80% of new businesses (even non-profits) fail in the first 5 years so I want you to go in with your eyes wide open and give your concept the best chance possible. I've served on the board of non-profits. I've seen how much effort it takes to find *and sustain* funding (donations and grants). I've seen what a challenge it is to find and retain volunteers (in your case to do the in-home tech calls, or even phone tech help). Great ideas aren't self-maintaining, no matter how fantastic they are. Just do lots and lots of research. Talk to a specialist in np fundraising. See what grants may be available and what the parameters are. Think objectively about who is going to do the actual service to the seniors (will they need to be vetted? Background-checked? What is the volunteer turnover rate? Can you partner with a tech college to form a partnership/internship to add bodies to your program? What is the liability if you enable a senior to have internet access when their PoA had cut it off for a good reason? etc.)

In a few more years I will be retiring. One of the things I do not look forward to is no longer officing with a very wonderful tech guy. I don't want to fall behind in tech knowledge once I'm no longer in the workforce. I'm hoping that a service like yours may be in existence, or technology will somehow reach a point where innovation slows down. So interesting to think about! I wish you success!
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Isthisrealyreal Mar 3, 2020
You can gamble online now.
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There is a need for low income special pricing categories for any of the tech devices.    Anyone who thinks that learning how to use tech devices is the primary factor in low elder use is ignoring what it's like to be reliant only on a fixed income from SS.   

If I wanted to get even a cheap iPhone, I'd have to compromise on paying some other bill.  I could turn the heat down, find an outdoor refrigerator for cold weather purposes, or painstakingly dig out and create a root cellar, fortunately rely on food grown from my garden and frozen, minimize driving, and other money saving activities.

When it comes down to it, people need the basics of living such as food, warmth, electricity, and transportation before they need tech devices beyond a reliable phone and/or emergency communication.

What there is high need for is special pricing and discounts on ALL essentials for older people, including food.   Granted that utilities have senior rates and some companies do recognize this need, but even some of the basic needs and force compromises in other areas.  
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shaybrittany Mar 3, 2020
Understandable.
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shaybrittany, just a heads up, there are many elders out there where a spouse will not allow a stranger into the house, so be ready for such issues. My Dad had a frustrating time trying to get tradespeople to enter their house because of my Mom.

My Dad worked for a large company as an electrical engineer so he was always inventing something and wasn't afraid of new technology during that era because it was advancing at a pace where one could learn something and not have to learn something new the following year. My Dad also did computer coding back then where no one had a personal home computer. The servers were huge mainframes. I could picture my Dad on the cast of the Big Bang Theory, but set back in the 1940's. Dad would have his engineering lab, and next door was Dad's friend John Vincent Atanasoff with a computer lab.

As Dad got older he got so frustrated with the pace of new technology. He could no longer buy a new computer where he could use his coded floppy discs for programs he developed. Back then home computer were expensive, pound for pound, they were more expensive then a brand new car.

I don't know, just the thought of someone needing to teach me how to use a modern telephone seems strange.... [sigh]. Now I do have a tech guy who comes to the house any time I get a new computer [once a decade], or if there is a moth in the system.
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shaybrittany Mar 3, 2020
Why does it seem strange ? I don't know to what capacity you can use your phone but many elderly have simple basic questions about their phone. I mostly won't do home visits only more so a need to basis for someone who is unable to travel but more local libraries and senior centers
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HELL YES!! Not only the phones, but the computers...but it has to be a modest price because so many are on limited incomes. I've worked at a senior center for nearly 30 years and we have some volunteers who will go in homes and help people. It's so overwhelming and confusing...all the phone companies and plans, and now so often people are making poor decisions in an effort to save money. Like they get the phone and cable and don't realize if one goes out the other will...so they really need a cellphone as back up...and then we have the captioned phones which need an internet connection to operate, which also go out in a power outage...You can see where senior centers are in your community, do presentations and pass out cards to generate business, then make home visits and do one on one, or rotate days on a regular basis at senior centers. I'm sure you know if you go the non-profit route you can apply for a 501c3 status, and then you might be able to even apply for some grants. My guess is this is going to be important to a particular age band and it won't last forever...because the younger ones have grown up with it and they have mastered it...but some of us, in our low-mid 60's give or take...and older...we are lost and never learned, just picked up the essentials as needed. Heck, I wore out my clock radio last week and was motivated to find the alarm function...on my FLIP phone! BTW, I can remember when cellphones were becoming popular...I got to actually pick my number, and the cellphone store had several small offices with doors that closed so that sales people could spend some time with you and show you how the phone worked...and THERE'S another issue: this stuff comes without instruction books and expecting you to look up what you need on line! Couldn't encourage you more...GO for it!
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shaybrittany Mar 2, 2020
This was so encouraging I love the enthusiasm I will do my best to make this happen in my community !! Our elderly deserve patience and kindness to things that may find hard to understand period !
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It would probably be met with mixed emotions---many 'elderly' are NOT going to even attempt to try to do anything remotely techie, besides the TV remote, and I will be honest, at age 63, I don't know how to turn on our family room TV, which actually is fine b/c I don't watch TV!

But the need is there, for sure. My mom has a super simple cell phone, you open it and there are HUGE initials for each person on her 'calling list'. All she has to do is touch the initial and that starts the call.

She can't figure it out. My name starts with a B and so I am one of the first numbers to pop up. Yet, she never calls me b/c she can't remember my number (40 years, same number, never remembered it!) and she can't remember that has to gently touch the letter on the screen. Not punch it, or swipe it, even. She also rarely answers calls, so calling her is pointless. Her TVs are set to the most basic remote needs. On, Off and channel selection. 2 channels she watches. Her Ipad sits unused and plugged in, but she can't remember the passwords and then even if one of us is there, she can't follow along long enough to get to FaceBook which is all she wants. I could strangle the sib who gave her that!

BUT--many, many seniors would love a chance to be taught the skills necessary to use the internet and phones and Ipads, etc. One of the hardest things for mother is that she cannot get the 'swipe' motion, she drags her fingers across the screen and that messes it all up. Also, the screens on everything in her house are filthy as she touches them with dirty hands--I have cleaned her phone off so many times--yet within two days it's crusted with guck.

But--mom never was very into technology. I don't think she owned a clothes dryer the whole time I lived at home.

I think your idea is wonderful. You won't get every elder involved, but many are still very interested in new things and gadgets. And the world is going forward with more techie stuff everyday. My DH is an engineer and very fascinated by all things with remotes and Bluetooth capability. What FINALLY got him to get hearing aids was the fact that he can connect his phone's Bluetooth capability with his hearing aids, and can literally have podcasts or music piped right into his ears. He LOVES the bells and whistles that new products come with.

I'd just advise you to be gentle with your teaching and include MAINTENANCE of all electronics. Like mom never cleaning her phone off. Keeping stuff CHARGED (another bugaboo) Many elderly already feel minimized by how fast the world is running past them and they feel 'stupid'. Heck, I am only 63 and I feel that way.

Good Luck!
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shaybrittany Feb 29, 2020
Such a kind and thoughtful response thank you ! If you have any suggestion pleas feel free
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If you could find a funding source for a NP, it is a badly needed service. It might need to be directed specifically to elders who are able to get around the community or still quite able to handle mental tasks at an Assisted Living facility.

In our community, groups meet at the local library for in-depth activities or discussions. They can book a room for a 2 hour time slot at no cost. The group must be open to anyone and be devoid of religion or politics or bad language. Suitable for adults and children alike. It's free taxpayer-funded space so anybody can participate.
Some restaurants will accept groups at non-peak hours. Of course it helps to order a desert and coffee to give them some business!

There are also family counsel meetings at elder facilities. Family counsels invite guest speakers, so maybe they would allow an event that helps teach family members how to use the devices. Family members may be better equipped to teach their loved ones who can't quite do it on their own. Maybe the facility would allow participants to bring in their own food and drinks. Basically designing it in a way that makes it worthwhile for everyone.
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I think it's commendable that you're thinking of starting a nonprofit and I believe there is a huge need for your services. You can start your 501c3 with a small initial investment in business cards, a website and a car magnet advertising your business. Legalzoom and others make the business registration easy and above board.

Once you're legit - nonprofit or not - start pounding the pavement and making contact with the library, senior center, Elks, Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, American Legion, town board, grocery stores, businesses, etc. Join your chamber of commerce. Get involved in your town board. Network. Back home, our library offered services like this as did the service organizations.
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I think there is a huge need; for myself I would HIRE someone to help me. I am a bit of a Luddite, and somewhat computer illiterate. Only in last few years did I upgrade my life to a simple push button jitterbug when my bro became ill and it was necessary that I be accessed when needed.
My partner is living and pretty good at the computer, but were I ever left alone I would need the help of someone for absolute certain, and I would be most willing to pay, if only I knew how and where to access. I think being non profit would be a real godsend. Can't know the area, the size you are planning to serve, or even how you would make yourself available, but think it is a wonderful idea. The future is going to make even more a need for something like this.
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shaybrittany Feb 29, 2020
Yes I agree in the coming years this is 100% a needed service not only for elderly ... I’m in the NYC area
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Thank you for thinking of this, I think there is a need. I was just going over some computer issue with my mom last night over the phone - a very minor one, and computer/tech is on the lowest end of my aptitude roster myself. If you guys could get into places like senior homes and work there, that would probably help a bunch of people.

I do feel that in tech world, people are supposed to adapt and learn the rules to what the computers/phones/etc.. need to function. Now we are so dependent on these devices, and for elderly people, or people like myself who are not naturals at this, and especially for elderly people with dementia, it is very very difficult to adapt to the ever changing tech needs. I think the computers/phones/etc...need to adapt to us and not the other way around! The current status quo feels backwards to me. I wish there could be a big fliparoo in the tech line of thinking...if there was it could mean big business too imho.

Excuse the babbling but this has been an issue in my world for sure. Truly wishing you the best with this!
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freqflyer Feb 29, 2020
Madison, I know what you mean. Heavens, I still own a Princess landline which is probably a half century old and it still works :) Yet, Apple and other smartphone companies have a need to present a new cellphone every single year.

As for other landlines, we went from dial to push button, and that was pretty much how it was for decades. No learning new stuff every year.

As everyone can tell, I am not a fan of cellphones. When my sig other's grandchildren came to visit, to which I haven't seen in over 10 years due to helping my very elderly parents, I had about 10 minutes face time with the two girls because they were glued to their cellphones, same with their mother :P
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Absolutely! Imagine how many seniors in assisted living and nursing homes who are isolated from family and friends because they can’t use a smart phone. Going through this now with my mom. Though I’ve tried over and over she still can’t get it. Even the way she holds the phone ends up touching the volume button so if she manages to make or take a call, she accidentally turns down the volume and can’t hear. Families can’t depend on CNA’s to go to their rooms and help them with calls. This causes massive communication problems.

Yours is a great idea!
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shaybrittany Feb 29, 2020
Thank you Twillie!!
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Shay, it helps not to post the same question twice. 

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/is-there-a-need-for-tech-help-within-the-elderly-community-such-as-learning-how-to-use-their-smartph-456841.htm
(In the Questions section).

Posters often interact on suggestions, and that's not as easy to do when we have to switch between two threads with the same question.

Don't forget to consider the legal ramifications of starting any business, including a nonprofit.   
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shaybrittany Feb 29, 2020
My apologies I didn’t get many responses on the first one so I reposted the same question .. noted !
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I call Grandson #1 for help.
Try checking your local Senior Center and see what they think. They might be willing to offer your service or they might have a volunteer that comes in to help once in a while.
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I think your idea is a good one, and yes I think there is a need.

Curious, why would your business be non-profit?
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shaybrittany Feb 29, 2020
I know cost would be an issue for a few elderly and I live in the Bronx,NY so there are a lot of impoverished elderly. But I’m open to suggestions !
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Try running that flag up the Facebook pole and see who might salute it. There’s also LinkedIn and that sort of site.

Personally, when there’s something techie I can’t figure out, I call my son or YouTube it. Then, there are cellphone stores and places like BestBuy who can help. But I wish you luck with your venture.
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NYDaughterInLaw Feb 29, 2020
My FIL: "What's YouTube"?
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Hey guys thanks so much for your responses!! I’m located in the Bronx and I don’t see a lot of these programs yet there’s a high demand. I’m trying to maximize accessibility. So instead of making the trek to Apple or Best Buy and having to wait sometimes long periods of time I would be able to come to them or give sessions in local libraries. And since we are catering to the elderly we’ll offer more patience than those of Best Buy and Apple who work off of sales
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gdaughter Feb 29, 2020
And that's another thing: the tech can be such a help to people, to help with isolation and connecting. Heck, right now we finally have an abundance of grocery delivery services...BUT you have to have the computer to place an order...and in the winter, older folks are often afraid to go out and slip on icy surfaces or to drive...
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Where I live, most older folks either get help from you get tech savvy family members or go to Apple or the geek squad at Best Buy. I don’t see a need for this kind of service here unless you were going out to independent living and assisted living communities maybe. The people who live in those facilities could probably use some tech help.
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gdaughter Feb 29, 2020
I'm an advocate of her idea so I will say while what you're saying is true:
1. Not everyone has family or friends who can help
2. Even if they do they don't want to impose or the relatives don't have time
3. The other places can charge hefty fees
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shaybrittany, looking from my side of the fence, being in my mid-70's, I find that today's technology is too many light years out of reach for many in my generation. Life was soooo simple in my era, the phone would ring, one would pick up the receiver and say "hello". Oh bring back those days. I don't mind getting off the sofa to change stations. I don't mind locking my car using an actual key in the lock.

My boss, who is also a senior, has a smartphone and every couple of weeks he's at the Apple store to get his phone put on life support due to user error.

My computer at work is Windows 6 and it is still chugging along. My boss got a brand new one, and I am seeing him being so frustrated with the computer. He keeps losing stuff. Again, probably user error. And who has time at work to print off the manual from the Internet, if you can find the website. The manual is not written as how a manufacturing process-writer would write directions.

Oh, I wish I had better news for you. You can do a practice run at a local senior center free of charge to get an idea if your idea would work.

Now a days the refrigerator is talking to the stove, which is talking to the computer, who in turn is chatting with the car, which is talking to that thingee that sits on the coffee table, while the washing machine is on strike.
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gdaughter Feb 29, 2020
But see, this is how her idea would help you!
I agree though, simpler had so much good to say for it. You should have been there when my deaf father was getting a new iphone and setting it up required him to say the words "Hi Siri". But he is VERY LOUD and his speech pattern almost has too much delay and can sound stutter like...So it was a nightmare...not to mention he had never heard the word Siri before. So we were writing notes telling him what to say...
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Shay, I’m in Australia, and local libraries frequently run sessions for older people about the things you mention. They are free, and I don’t know where the funding comes from – local government runs the libraries, but it could be state or federal funding. The Workers Education Association in South Australia also runs them. It might be helpful to look up the WEA catalogue on line to see exactly what they cover, and then perhaps ask them about take-up.
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shaybrittany Mar 2, 2020
Thank you Margaret I will definitely look into that
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