The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted life as we know it. Social distancing has become the new normal. Many find this isolation challenging, but it can be especially difficult for the elderly, as assisted living centers have closed their communities to all but essential workers.
If you have a parent or grandparent in assisted living, you know how difficult this can be. But you have options to overcome the social distance and keep in touch. Older adults are increasingly adept with laptops, tablets and smartphones, and now is a perfect time to try some new technology.
Here are some ways to remain connected when you can’t be there in person.
Skype has revolutionized the ways families stay in touch, making it easy to make free video calls from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The app can be downloaded to a mobile device or a laptop or desktop. After getting loved ones set up on Skype, they can easily log on and chat anytime.
FaceTime is similar to Skype, but it’s specifically for iPhone users and can only be used to call other iPhone users. You can have a group call on FaceTime and even leave a message if the caller is unavailable. FaceTime is available on iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, and Apple computers.
You can chat, send a video, or make an audio or video call on Facebook Messenger. It’s more like sending a text but with additional chatting capabilities. To use, both people must have a Facebook account.
WhatsApp Messenger is another messaging service that allows users to send text and voice messages, make audio and video calls, share images, and more. Available on both the iPhone and Android smartphones, WhatsApp also allows group messaging and document sharing. You can also send audio messages that your parent or grandparent can listen to at their convenience.
Watch movies together
Kast is a real-time video sharing app with screen capture, voice, text, and video chat technology. You can host a watch party and invite your loved ones to join. Download the app, and have your loved one do the same (or have them get a little help from a staff member).
Virtual reading group
If you and your loved one both love reading, pick a book to read at the same time. Many communities will let you drop off items for loved ones, or you can arrange to have the book sent there. Discuss your thoughts on the book over a video chat or call.
Use those unlimited text messages
Texting is a quick and easy way to keep in contact with people. Most major carriers offer free unlimited text messages. You can have many conversations going on at once. You can send pictures of your kids or other things going on at your home.
Use the phone
Sometimes a simple phone call is just what the doctor ordered. We all know how to use that technology.
Write a letter
Staying connected doesn’t have to be done solely the high-tech way. Now that you have all this extra time on your hands, why not write a letter? It means so much more when you take the time to write to someone. It shows real effort to write a letter, and it can certainly surprise the recipient.
Now’s a great time to make a photo book and share it. Or send flowers, cookies or whatever their favorite treat is.
If you have kids home from school, think of some fun things to do at home, such as an arts and crafts project, that show their grandparents they’re thinking about them. Or you could create a memory box with souvenirs through the years.