Regular card playing group can’t get together any more

By:  Jim Schrempp   |  Posted: April 4, 2014   |  Updated: April 18, 2023

Problem Description

A group of friends used to get together regularly to play cards. One moved away. The others are getting older and have trouble getting out at night. They think they can’t get together any more. But perhaps they can. What to do?

Joe and Joanne, a married couple, are very good friends of mine. I visit with them every month or so. They are in their early 80’s. They do not travel very far from home. They are living in their own home and doing very well. Once a week they go to the local adult center for line dancing.

For years they have gotten together every Wednesday with Joe’s sister Sarah. Every week they played cards together. Often they played hearts. Sometimes solitaire. Sometimes another game. Sometimes they shared lunch as well.

Last year Sarah moved out of the area to live closer to her children. The weekly card playing stopped. I asked Joe about this and he said, “well, we’ll probably never be able to see her again.”

Joe and Joanne really enjoyed their weekly card games with Sarah. It was a time to socialize and keep connected. I wish there was some way for them to keep socializing every week with Sarah.

Hear this problem discussed below

from Aging in Place technologies: Co-creating the future of aging Meetup, April 2, 2014.

View Solutions from the Longevity Explorers

9 thoughts on “Regular card playing group can’t get together any more”

  1. Joe and Joanne use iPads

    Joe and Joanne each have an iPad. Joe likes to play simple games like reMoveEm on the iPad. Joanne plays local games but also plays WordWithFriends with her sons; she often has a game going with each of them.

  2. My father in law has this problem too

    My father in law is a bridge fanatic. He moved away from new Jersey where he had live for forty years and lost his bridge group connection. He would love a solution to Jim’s problem.

  3. Testing the concept

    A minimum viable product might be cobbled together using a combination of an existing online Hearts game (e.g. and a video conference platform (Skype, Google Video Chat, etc.).  

  4. I agree re ease of use. Wish facetime could work

    I agree re ease of use, and also with the idea of starting with a platform and adding a layer to it.

    I have been experimenting a lot with the various video platforms that are available and using them to stay in touch with a specific senior.

    Things I have learned that may be relevant here:

    1. Facetime is far far easier for the senior to use than Skype or other conference-type video apps.
    2. Skype seems to require much more bandwidth than Facetime, and for my senior this pushes it across the threshold of what her Internet provider can handle given the plan she has. On the other hand Facetime works well and uses less bandwidth and does not cross that threshold.
    3. I think this bandwidth issue is an under-appreciated issue. I dont think it has to work over a dialup modem. But assuming bidirectional connectivity at 1Mbps+ seems to limit things quite a bit, and a lot of video based “solutions” do assume that type of connectivity. I would like to see a product that needed no more than a “few” hundred kbps upstream to make it widely useable.
    4. I have found there is a big problem with positioning the tablet so the persons face appears in it. I would like to see some type of adjustment to the mount of the product that makes this less challenging. Most solutions assume the person will move into the field of view of the tablet but i think this would be a mistake.
    5. I have been playing around with a robot that I purchased and which can adjust to where the persons face is. My implementation is too expensive but I have some ideas of what could be cheaper i would enjoy discussing.
    • Re: #4 & #5

      I’ve been wondering about how a bedridden (or just lazy) person could most easily make use of a tablet. Hospital meal serving tables could work, but require the user to sit up. They occupy a lot of space and they wouldn’t provide an optimal face to face experience per Jim’s #4.  I’m picturing a flexible but relatively stiff arm that connects to the bedframe and holds a tablet at any desired height or angle. Stiffness is required to keep the tablet in place when it’s touched. This could also be accomplished with some sort of auto lock, easy-release mechanism. 

      For the ambulatory, the same mount could be attached to a table edge. I have an MVP for this, if you’d like to experiment. It consists of a 2 ball and 1 swivel jointed articulating arm that locks in virtually any position with a large knob. It has a wide padded screw clamp on one end and a post on the other. 

  5. Target Audience

    Jim has defined the problem nicely in his Joe and Joanne example. Defining our audience based on their needs is a good place to begin. What describes our target audience, then? How inclusive should it be? Here’s a start on a Target Audience description. Please build on it:

    1. Over 50 (60? 70? 80?)
    2. Physically separated from friend(s) or family member(s)
    3. Have access to the Internet (bandwidth minimum: 1kbs, 10k 100k?)
    4. Functional hearing, site, eye-hand coordination
    5. Enjoys company surrounding “parlor” games (e.g. card games)
    6. Enjoys chatting with family and friends on the phone.
    7. … 
    • Good idea to define the

      Good idea to define the audience.

      1. I would not restrict it by age.

      3. I think minimums of upload 128kb , download 328kbps.

      4. Moderate eyesight is required; the icons will all be big and easy to distinguish. Hand eye coordination will be required to maniupulate the cards and other controls, but the controls will all be forgiving of mild tremors (e.g. A long time threshold for double tap; drag/drop all snap to a large spaced grid).

      7. Maybe we should add, “is not afraid of tablet computing, but is not a master of it”.  I add this because someone who won’t touch a tablet is too technophobic for this. And someone who’s a master might enjoy using our solution, but they also have other choices. Our person is somewhere in the middle. For instance, Skype is currently too hard to use for our target.