In today’s world, technological advances keep offering faster, simpler, more convenient and more readily available solutions for every day tasks. At the tap of a button, we can shop, study, research various topics, get directions, and find answers to just about any question imaginable. But one of the most revolutionary impacts of phones and computers always being by our side, is improved communication and social engagement. This is particularly beneficial for keeping families connected, especially since so many of us are having to maintain long-distance relationships with our loved ones.
For many seniors living independently, regular family contact is an important part of feeling involved and engaged. It can help reduce the risk of depression which affects so many seniors aging at home. For generations, the standard methods of keeping in touch have included phone calls, emails and text messages, mailed letters and cards and family reunions. While these can be great ways of staying in contact with our family members, we are now able to make the interaction much more personal. With the introduction of social media and visual calling, we have entered a new age of being able to share special events in our lives in real time. There are numerous technological platforms to consider:
Social media is becoming more widely used by people over 60 every day. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and others offer new opportunities for:
· Staying in touch with family
· Ability to comment, share, and express your support
· Re-connecting with old friends
· Finding new contacts and forming new relationships
· Keeping up with events in the community
· Staying on top of news and even managing health issues and home care
Apps like Skype and FaceTime are very easy to use and can help get as close to face-to-face conversation as you possibly can while being away from your senior family member. Video calls offer opportunities for:
· Personal contact with casual, spontaneous conversation
· Many important dimensions of communication like eye contact, reading body language, gestures, cadence, and intonation
· Opportunity for virtual family reunions if other relatives are available to participate
· Providing visual context for life events like showing a new home, art, pets, etc.
Video calling makes your older or disabled loved one, who is separated by distance, still feel involved in your life, like simple daily activities, which may be extremely beneficial for someone feeling isolated.
Helping your parent or grandparent become familiar with new devices and tools can be a fun activity for you to share. If you are unable to do this in-person, consider working with family friends or your loved one’s home care caregiver to educate your loved one on the steps and tools needed. The benefits of setting recurring “Skype dates” will surprise you and will make a huge difference in your loved one’s overall well-being.