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In this article, Carmen and I will share with you some free collaboration tools that will allow you to manage aging issues with the whole family. These tools can also accommodate, if appropriate, caregivers, neighbors, community members, and doctors.
Once upon a time a when people collaborated, they had a meeting in a room, passed around Xeroxed copies of key documents, discussed issues, made assignments and agreed on next steps. The group may even have been a secretary in the room to take notes and keep track of post-meeting conversations so that at the next meeting, these conversations can be shared.
Internet Tools Help Communication & Collaboration
Today online software tools that make all these activities available over the Internet. The tools are free, or very inexpensive. These tools allow you to do most or all of the following:
Ironically, that copy company Xerox, and its spinoff Conduent, try and provide products and services addressing this new collaborative workplace. But the leaders in the space are Slack (a newcomer) and Microsoft. In fact, Slack went public in 2019 and settled at a price giving it an initial valuation higher than Xerox and its spinoff.
Slack is so good at what they do that they are influencing what Google, Microsoft and Facebook are doing in the collaborative work space.
Carmen and I recommend that you and your family use any collaborative tools that work for you and your family. There are some that charge fees, others that are free, and some that are free if you use them creatively. Creative use of a collaborative tool is using their “free” account. It’s usually for small teams and is often prefect for a family. Slack and Asana offer free accounts for small teams.
For people that don’t want to bother with comprehensive, collaborative workspaces, every smartphone offers SMS capability and SMS thread capability (i.e., texting multiple people the same message).
Google Collaboration Tools
Carmen and I use free Google tools. We use the following tools.
Gmail – email
Calendar – family calendars (can create multiple calendars and calendars for specific purposes)
Drive – to share large documents (great place to place files you want to share with your family)
Docs – a web based word type document that can be shared with family and the document can be updated on the web (versus sending people an old version and having to send the new one every time you make a change) . There are also apps for spreadsheets and presentations.
Keep – for “to do” lists, ideas, and miscellaneous topics (think yellow sticky notes)
Hangouts* – an application that allows users to chat, talk and video call with each other and keep track of those chats
Messages** – a messaging app that allows users to message one another. Google works with Android operating systems, but not with IOS (Apples operating system). There are other free chat applications that work well on all phones like those from Facebook, WhatsApp and WeChat.
*This application may be on the cutting board
Google Tools For Communication
Other Resources On Helpful Technologies
Big list of free or low-cost helpful technologies here.