Residents of Aviva’s campus make a true home here, aging in place comfortably, and often forming close bonds with one another, whether they are in independent or assisted living. Yet there is no replacement for family or other loved ones, whether they live down the road in Sarasota or across the country. Yet what happens when friends or people who love one another can’t visit face to face?
For some, it’s an ongoing reality because they live far apart and perhaps get to visit once or twice a year. For others, it happens under extenuating circumstances like the COVID-19 outbreak or a natural disaster.
No doubt, it’s hard when you are isolated and cannot meet with friends and neighbors to play a game or watch a movie, let alone hold a loved one’s hand or give them a hug. But reaching out in other ways can go a long way to helping people feel loved and supported, especially during tough times. We hope you’ll find these tips helpful for staying connected when you can’t visit face to face.
Make Video Calls
For members of older generations, using video may not come naturally and can even sound intimidating. Like most things, it becomes easier once you simply try it. Remember, it’s important for people who are comfortable using digital technology every day to have patience with those who do not. We’re going to show you how easy it can be with three common ways to make a video call.
FaceTime is a video calling application that is as simple as making a phone call. It comes automatically on any iPhone and on any iPad starting with the iPad 2. As long as both people have one of these devices, you can call one another. Just touch the icon for FaceTime (a white video camera on a green background) and enter the phone number of the person you want to call. For a senior who is not as comfortable with technology, it’s probably best for the other person to place the call and the senior to simply answer it.
In order to video call using Google Hangouts, both people will need a Gmail (Google) account. If a senior doesn’t have a Gmail account, perhaps a more tech-savvy friend or relative can set up the account for them and give them the login information. Once logged in, go to the Hangouts home screen and just follow the instructions on the screen.
We’ll call this the more “advanced” option since it requires actually installing something on your computer, tablet or smartphone. That being said, it might be slightly more intuitive for seniors used to Bing and Outlook, since these are all part of the Microsoft family of products. Just download Skype and follow the instructions to download the application. You will need to set up a username and share it with the person you plan to call.
Send a Letter
We sometimes forget about the most simple yet inexpensive way to stay connected. And just because someone lives only a few miles away doesn’t mean you can’t send them mail!
Adults who use a computer all day can actually find letter-writing relaxing and creative, and children especially enjoy it. Then there’s the fun of receiving letters; when was the last time you got mail that you were happy to get?
Some people say they don’t know what to write in a letter but you can stay connected in any way that suits you. Write about your day, tell a story, make a list of your favorite things, or draw a picture. You might also send photographs or mementos.
You don’t need a post office to buy stamps. You can typically buy them at grocery stores or drug stores, and you can also buy postage online.
Share on Social Media
Social media is another area where not every generation is as comfortable on every platform. However, around 40 percent of people 65 and up use Facebook, according to Pew Research. Facebook can be relatively easy to use, although it offers a large and growing range of features. Beginners should keep it simple, connecting only with people they know in real life and posting status updates and photos. If you encourage a senior in your life to create a Facebook account make sure they know three things:
- Facebook collects information about their interests and interactions, even when they’re not logged in. Many people don’t mind, but it’s good to know.
- There are scammers out there who target seniors using social media.
- A lot of “fake news” makes it onto the platform.
With a little education and a “think-before-you-click” approach, many seniors find Facebook a fun and fulfilling way to spend time and stay connected with loved ones.
Don’t Forget the Phone
Phone calls seem less and less frequent in our modern society but they’re a great way to connect with seniors. Whether a senior has a mobile phone or a landline in their residence, they will feel great when it rings. Set aside a little time, when neither person is distracted and just talk! It doesn’t matter what you say, as long as you get to hear each other’s voices.
Make a Commitment to Staying Connected
Whether you’re a resident in an active senior community or someone whose parent or relative lives depends on assisted living for daily care, you can commit to staying connected, even when you can’t visit each other in person. These ideas are only a start. Get creative and think of all the ways that you and your loved ones can stay in touch.