There are many reasons that seniors might not be able to visit with their loved ones in person. From living in a different state to the COVID-19 pandemic, circumstances can encourage seniors to find new and engaging ways to visit and stay connected with their loved ones. Technology has been a vital tool in creating these new opportunities. Seniors have used it in many different ways to chat with loved ones, improve their well-being, and otherwise stay entertained.
How Seniors Can Stay Connected With Far-Away Loved Ones
1. Video Calls
It only makes sense for this tool to be the first one on the list. Video calls have become an everyday staple for many Americans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many business meetings and some school classes are being held virtually online these days. Seniors are jumping right on the bandwagon, too, and they’re learning how to FaceTime® with their family and friends.
Here at Deupree House, we launched an iPad® and iPhone® class in the summer of 2019, not realizing how vital it would be for our residents this year. In this class, seniors learned the basics of Apple® technology, like managing contacts, using the Maps feature, and sending texts. They also learned how to download and use apps like Kroger and Find My iPhone and how to use Siri®. Not only did the class give them something new to learn, but they emerged with an excellent new skill sure to impress even the tech-savviest of grandchildren!
2. Send Something in the Mail
An admittedly less technological option, everyone loves getting a little traditional mail every once in a while. Whether you want to write a handwritten note to your loved ones or put together a small care package of items you know they love, mail lets people know you’re thinking about them. You can also include favorite memories or stories you’d love to share, too.
3. Play Games Online
There are many different online and app-based games that allow people to play with one another. Whether you download a game like Words with Friends or use the game option in your iMessages®, you can challenge your loved ones to some friendly competition.
You can even set up a virtual game night with a little planning and play a board game like Yahtzee over a video call! If both sides have the game — great! Otherwise, whoever has the game can always roll for the person on the other side. Game nights like this can help you feel close to your loved ones.
4. Join a Virtual Discussion Group
Choose your favorite topic or hobby, and chances are there’s an online group discussing it. Whether you want to join a book club, a recipe swap, or a movie discussion group, there’s probably one on the internet waiting for you to join. You can find groups with just seniors or those with people from all stages of life.
This one may be slightly more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, you can probably find at least one volunteer activity to participate in that can be done in a socially-distanced way. Whether you choose to volunteer with your loved ones or you find a project you’re passionate about on your own, giving back is a great way to make a difference for others and help your community.
6. StoryCorps Connect
LeadingAge is partnering with StoryCorps; a nonprofit organization focused on connecting people through stories. Their new project, StoryCorps Connect, is working to virtually connect seniors with their loved ones to tell their stories in an interview style. Then, these stories can be recorded and saved in the Library of Congress for generations to come!
No matter what you choose to do, there are plenty of ways to stay connected with loved ones when you can’t meet in person. Seniors in independent living communities such as Deupree House have many entertainment options and ways to engage with other residents and their family and friends elsewhere.