How to stay connected to older loved ones

Keeping in touch with friends and family has become much more challenging over the last year, with limitations on travel, outings, and even face-to-face contact. This is particularly true of our older loved ones – whether living on their own, in independent living communities, or in assisted living.

Social contact is critical to psychological and physical well-being, so it’s important to find creative ways to stay connected with your senior loved ones. This is particularly true for those who live alone or aren’t comfortable using technology such as texting, social media, or video calls.

Here are a few ways you can help older loved ones thrive and stay in constant contact during these isolating times.

Keep digital simple

Technology can be intimidating for some older people, even if it seems simple and straightforward to you. If you want to create a digital experience that’s the next-best thing to meeting in person, take some time to help your loved one get set up and comfortable using technology… the simpler the better.

Choose a tool that has a familiar user interface, so it feels comfortable and works seamlessly with whatever device they’re most comfortable using. Zoom can be a great tool for a family-wide gathering – a virtual birthday party, holiday meal, or just a Sunday afternoon chat – and it works best on a desktop or laptop computer.

Take the lead

Whatever digital communication tools you choose, make sure you are the one to initiate contact. By taking that approach, you take on most of the technical responsibilities, so your loved one can simply answer the call or respond to the message. Once they become more comfortable with the technology, make sure they have the contact information they need to reach you. Consider setting a regular time and date each week to connect, so they’ll know what to expect and they’ll be sure to reach you.

Check out senior-friendly devices

Let’s face it: smartphones and tablets were designed for people with great eyesight and nimble fingers. Fortunately, there are a number of senior-friendly alternatives available now, including smartphones and tablets that feature larger text and buttons, added security features, and a streamlined interface to reduce confusion. Some even include a built-in emergency button, a distinct benefit for those who live independently. Regardless of the device you ultimately choose, the AARP website offers a number of guides to using communication apps on different devices.

Tie in some exercise

If you’re chatting via smartphone – either with video or without – consider taking it outside. Encourage your loved one to walk along with you as you talk. You’ll both benefit from the exercise, both physically and psychologically, and we can all use a little more time outside these days.

Don’t forget snail mail

Who doesn’t love getting mail? A handwritten note or card is a great way to show your loved one you’re thinking of them. Plus, it gives them a constant reminder of your thoughtfulness. Consider tucking in a photo or a piece of art from the kids for extra pizazz. Or up your game with a package instead of an envelope. You can include games, books, or non-perishable food or items that encourage a hobby or shared activity.

Even as social distancing measures continue, it’s still important to stay connected with your senior loved ones and their caregivers. There are lots of options available, so find the one – or ones – that work best for you and your family.

STAYING CONNECTED WITH YOUR LOVED ONE IN A NURSING CENTER

With all of the visitation restrictions nursing home residents are experiencing today, it can be difficult to see your family member in person. But the nursing centers at American Health Corporation can help keep you connected via Face Time calls or Zoom calls. If you have a family member needing long-term care or short-term rehab, but are afraid of losing touch, please contact one of our 3 Alabama homes in your area to learn more about how we provide the technology and ability for you to stay connected.

Oak Trace (Bessemer, AL) 205-428-9383

Colonial Haven (Greensboro, AL) 334-624-3054

Perry County Nursing Home (Marion, AL) 334-683-9696