If you help take care of a parent or other family member, you are one of millions of American family caregivers. When Presto computerless email came to market in 2006, it was designed to be an email and photo sharing service for seniors—mostly for the purpose of family fun. But in August of 2008, we unveiled PrestoConnect, and transformed Presto into the first communications platform for family caregivers ( see PrestoConnect announced on The Martha Stewart Show ). With the launch of PrestoConnect, we enabled family caregivers to radically optimize their time and activities to make their tasks easier and more effective:
PrestoConnect allows family caregivers to have a bird’s eye view of the communications going on between family, friends, care professionals and the person being cared for. PrestoConnect does not allow the Presto Account Manager to read these private messages or see any photos or documents that were delivered. But by being able to gauge the volume and frequency of digital connections the person under care is experiencing, their overall socialization profile can be monitored and managed. Here are a few socialization benefits enabled by PrestoConnect:
• Keep Caregiving Email Separate – Composing and sending messages from within PrestoConnect web mail helps keep your caregiving messages separate from your other email accounts, making it easier to stay on top of socialization for your loved one. Seeing them all in one place, which have printed and which are pending, further helps family caregivers do their tasks with a minimum of hassle. Note: using PrestoConnect web mail is not mandatory, any email account from an approved sender can deliver messages to your Presto user.
• Adding More Presto Users – In PrestoConnect, you can add four additional names and Presto Mail addresses to each Printing Mailbox (for a total of five). This allows you to include others who may live in the same location as the Printing Mailbox, adding to their social needs. Or, you can create a different email “alias” for your current Presto user to evoke a different persona—think, “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The Presto Mail service includes the Presto Newsstand, a library of hundreds of games, puzzles, comics, articles and news sources to keep your Presto user’s brain active and engaged. Fifteen of the subscriptions are free, and hundreds more are extremely low cost, with most being about ten dollars a year. PrestoConnect provides links to manage both free and paid subscriptions, making it easy to browse titles and add or delete subscriptions. We have heard from thousands of customers that the crossword, sudoku, jumble and bananagram puzzles provide a lot of enjoyment for their Presto user. Paid subscriptions can be “gifted” by any approved sender by visiting PrestoNewsstand.com allowing other family members to aid in the effort to keep loved ones stimulated.
One of the best benefits for family caregivers is the ability PrestoConnect provides to pre-schedule messages of different types for future delivery. Here are the main benefits:
• Socialization on Your Schedule – Many family caregivers are busy raising their own kids and find that the time they have available to help with issues concerning mom and dad is limited. PrestoConnect allows 1) messages, 2) reminders and 3) to-do lists to be created and scheduled for later or recurring delivery. Many account managers have told us that they sit down each Sunday evening to create and schedule the emails, photos, and reminders for their Presto user to receive the upcoming week. PrestoConnect takes over after that, delivering social engagement when scheduled while freeing up the family caregiver to attend to other things.
• Recurring Reminders and To-Do Lists – Many Presto account managers also use PrestoConnect to automate things that need to happen throughout the year. Examples of pre-scheduled and recurring reminder printouts include:
- A hairdresser appointment reminder scheduled for every third Wednesday
- A one-time reminder set to print the day before a doctor’s appointment in two weeks
- Annual reminders a week prior to each grandchild’s birthday
- A once per month, around the house to-do list.
All of these things can be scheduled once and forgotten, plus the family caregiver can cc: themselves so they receive the reminder as well!
• Automated Daily Photos – Presto provides a free companion service to all account managers and approved senders that allows groups of photos to be uploaded to a queue, which are then delivered one-a-day or whichever frequency is chosen. This free companion service is called Presto DailySmile and it can be found on the web at prestodailysmile.com or as an application within Facebook. Families find Presto DailySmile tremendously helpful because it allows up to a years worth of photos at a time to be uploaded from a computer or tagged in Facebook which can then be delivered autonomously throughout the year. Pertinent captions can be added (or not) and each page is delivered on an attractive template that is changed with the seasons. Presto DailySmile is especially helpful with grandkids who typically don’t use email as much as other communication methods. They use the Presto DailySmile Facebook application to automate their engagement with the grandparents making everybody happy.
An account manager taught us how he uses Presto to send medication reminders to his mother every day. This is a simple procedure that is a powerful aid for helping his mother remember to take her meds, and to log that they have been taken. It takes a little bit of skill with a computer, and then PrestoConnect does the rest. This is how he did it:
- Take a digital photo of the different pills in the correct doses (or find them online)
- Create a PrestoConnect To-Do List with one pill name and dose for each task
- Attach the digital photo of the pills
- Schedule the To-Do List as a recurring reminder matching the frequency with which the meds need to be taken.
- Because PrestoConnect allows you to also choose when the Printing Mailbox dials in to retrieve mail, you can schedule the medication reminders to coincide with the correct print schedule to most closely match the doctor’s prescription orders.
The account manager that came up with this idea delivered the medication reminder he created every day in the morning. When it was delivered daily as a Presto Mail printout, it functioned not only as a reminder when it arrived, his Presto user could check off the pills as they were taken and save the page as a log of which pills were taken. And because each page is date stamped, this helped users remember that had taken their pills that day and also provided a record for hired in-home caregivers.
Note: Because Presto is a system that relies on paper, ink and a printer, it should not be relied on as a faultless medication reminder system. But as an additional aid, it has been very helpful to Presto subscribers over time.
A less obvious but extremely powerful benefit of Presto is how it gets the rest of the family involved in helping care for a loved one without feeling like they are being asked to do it. Common ways of enlisting family help include:
- An uncle decides to pay for Presto’s automatic ink & paper replenishment subscription
- A nephew agrees to be responsible for keeping the DailySmile queue full of photos
- A sibling “gifts” a Presto Newsstand subscription to the condensed New York Times
- A granddaughter decides to send weekly PDF articles of favorite recipes
A handy tool for Presto account managers is a “nudge” link on PrestoConnect which automates the sending of an email reminder to approved senders who have not participated in a while.
There is no end to the benefits PrestoConnect can bring to family caregivers. All it takes is a little bit of learning coupled with creativity to put Presto to work on your behalf.