Presto “How To” #3: Using PrestoConnect to Help Family Caregivers

Family Caregivers

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, “”

Presto Newsstand PuzzlesSTIMULATION
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 allowing other family members to aid in the effort to keep loved ones stimulated.    

Presto Newsstand

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.

Presto Doctor Appointment Reminder• 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!

Presto DailySmile Winter• 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 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.

Presto Medication ReminderAn 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.


Presto “How To” #2: Getting the Rest of the Family to Send Presto Mail

As wonderful as the Presto system is, if no one sends any mail to your Presto user, it won’t provide nearly as much value as it could. We have developed supplements to family emails, but those will be covered in a different section. This Presto “How To” is all about getting the extended family and friends to engage with your Presto user by sending mail via Presto. As the Account Manager, if you follow these four simple steps, you can greatly improve the life of your Presto user while making your life easier as well.


1. INVITE  >  2. MONITOR  >  3. NUDGE  >  4. REPEAT
The single most important thing you can do as a Presto Account Manager is ensure the right people are added to the approved sender list for your Presto user. These approved senders—whom we call “Presto Friends”—are the only ones whose emails will be allowed to get through the system. There are three ways to add people to the Presto Friends list:

Presto Friends

Three Ways to Add Presto Friends:

i. Add them online
 – Presto Account Managers chose a username and password when signing up for the Presto Mail service. This allows them to access the PrestoConnect account manager website located at: To add a friend or family member to a user’s Presto Friends list, sign in to PrestoConnect, and select “Add a friend” in the teal “Friends” section. On the window that opens, be sure to fill out as much of the information as you can because many times, people use more than one email address to send email to their Presto user (i.e. work, personal, gmail, etc.). Try to also input their name and phone numbers which will be printed on the top of each Presto Mail printout to facilitate callbacks.

PrestoConnect Friends Card Request

ii. Call Presto and have us add them for you – Presto Users and Account Managers can also call Presto CustomerCare toll-free at 1(800) 919-3199 between the hours of 6:30am—3:30pm Pacific, Mon.—Fri. Names on the Presto Friends list can be added or deleted, or contact information can be updated after Presto users or account managers verify their identity to the Presto CustomerCare agent.

iii. Let family and friends add themselves – When the Printing Mailbox first connected with the Presto Mail service, it printed out a welcome packet and a sheet of “Presto Friends Cards.” These are incredibly handy items, printed 8 to a page like business cards, ready to be cut apart with scissors.

Presto Friends Cards

On each card, instructions and a unique, one-time security code are printed that allow someone to add themselves to your Presto user’s approved sender list. These cards are great for giving to a trusted service professional’s office (i.e. doctor, handyman, caregiving company, retirement community office, or neighbor) so that they can send written notifications, instructions or announcements to your Presto user via email. Another sheet of Friends Cards can be forced to print by calling Presto CustomerCare or by signing on to: PrestoConnect and then clicking on Manage Friends and look for the underlined link in the top paragraph: click on: “Presto Friends Card.”   


>  2. MONITOR  >  3. NUDGE  >  4. REPEAT

As Presto Account Manager, you have the unique ability to see who is sending mail to your Presto user and how often. You cannot read those private messages, but you can see the frequency statistics by visiting: PrestoConnect > View Activity Details > Friends Activity or > Printing Mailbox Activity. On either page, you will see all of the approved senders and how many emails they have sent over the last 30 days. In the Printing Mailbox Activity page, you will also see all printouts of subscription pages. This will give you an overview of how digitally connected your Presto user has become, or if change happens over time.

>  2. MONITOR  >  3. NUDGE  >  4. REPEAT

Everyone needs a good kick in the rear now and then. Presto makes that easy by putting a “nudge” link right next to the activity report for each approved sender. Clicking “nudge” auto-composes an email addressed to the corresponding Presto Friend with a canned message of encouragement. Or, you can change the message to personalize it before sending.

Presto Nudge feature

>  2. MONITOR  >  3. NUDGE  >  4. REPEAT

For Presto families, it seems that: “The price of family connection is eternal vigilance.” As the Presto Account Manager, you are in a unique position to have situational awareness of your Presto user’s online socialization. The best thing to do is set a reminder for yourself once a month on a calendar or in your smart phone to review the Presto Friends List and update any contact info changes, review how many emails have been delivered and from who, and nudge those who need nudging. This simple task performed a dozen times a year will go a long way to improving the live of your Presto user. It will also help ease the job of being a family caregiver just a little by spreading around the task of keeping mom or dad’s in the know about family events to everyone in the family.

Bottom Line: no one in your Presto user’s friends and family network needs to know that Presto even exists. They just need to know your mom or dad’s Presto-provided email address. Once they do—and once the approved senders’ email addresses are put into the Presto system—all anyone needs to do is…send an email…with a photo…or an occasional PDF document. Presto is like leading the proverbial horse to water, but you can’t make him email grandma. Encourage everyone to put your Presto users on their family distribution lists. Have the local senior center email announcements via Presto. And be sure to remind people to keep mom and dad in the electronic family loop. They may not have text messaging, Skype, or Facebook, but grandma and grandpa now have email without any of the hassle or cost of a computer and Internet connection.