How to Stay Connected with Your Senior Parents During Social Distancing
Staying connected in the age of social distancing
Creative ways for seniors and family members to keep in touch
During social distancing, it can be hard to stay connected, but coming up with ways to maintain social interaction is more important than ever. For seniors — many of whom live alone — feelings of loneliness and isolation are common, and will only be exacerbated by the necessity of social distancing. But thanks to modern technological advancements, that doesn’t have to be the case for the senior in your life.
While face-to-face visits may not be possible while we all maintain social distance, things like a phone call or virtual meeting are not only great ways to stay connected, but also will help remind your loved one just how much they’re thought of and cared for during this difficult time. If you’re looking for ways to stay in touch with a senior in your life, while still maintaining the recommended social distance, the following ideas may help.
Write letters or send cards
Older generations grew up in a time when people regularly wrote letters. And while it may seem that writing letters on actual paper and sending them through the mail is a lost art, it’s a wonderful way to stay connected to your loved ones and help ensure that social distance doesn’t mean emotional distance. Plus, the nostalgia and anticipation of writing and receiving letters and cards is a great way to break up the monotony of spending days stuck at home.
If your loved one has a cell phone, chances are it has texting capability. Sending a simple “thinking of you” or “sending you love” text is a quick and easy way to let them know they’re in your thoughts. Since some seniors find texting a bit tricky, it’s best to keep messages short and save longer conversations for when you can talk.
If they have a smartphone, you can also send photos and videos of virtually anything — from a video of the grandkids playing to a particularly vibrant sunset. In this modern age, it’s easier than ever to reach out and share beautiful, funny and quirky moments in real time, regardless of the distance between you.
Good old-fashioned phone calls
While the days of standing in the kitchen twirling the telephone cord may have passed, that doesn’t mean that phone calls are out of date. If texting is a challenge for your loved one, or they aren’t comfortable with newer technologies yet, a phone conversation is another easy way to bridge the gap. Hearing the voices of loved ones on the other end of the line is sure to raise the spirits of anyone, regardless of age. Plus, telling instead of typing will give your tired thumbs a break.
If you’re tired of texting, or want more face-to-face contact, video calls are an innovation that will bring you and your loved one right into each others’ homes from any distance. Zoom and Skype are two free and easy video calling services that work on just about any device that has internet access. If you have Apple products, the FaceTime app comes preinstalled and can be launched with just a touch or the press of a button. All these applications also host multiple callers at once, so the whole family can join in right from their own homes. Show your loved one the smiling faces of their grandkids or what you’ve been up to at home. With just a few taps, it’s never been easier to overcome long distance.
Virtual book club
Reading allows us to immerse ourselves in other worlds and, in a time when traveling isn’t advisable, books can provide a great escape. If you and your loved one enjoy reading, consider holding a virtual book club and getting together over a video call to discuss what you’re reading. It’s a fun and creative way to stave off boredom, spark lively and interesting conversations, and keep everyone’s minds sharp.
Collaborate from afar
Do you and your loved one enjoy being creative or working with your hands? Try working on separate projects together over FaceTime, with or without the kids. Painting, gardening, making music, and dancing are all things that can be done over a video call. You can host your own painting party by posting an image and having everyone paint the same picture. Put on some uplifting music and have a dance party. Creativity is an important part of senior health, and it’s a great way to keep both mind and body sharp. Plus, with the availability of video calling, there is no shortage of fun things to do at home that can be done together, despite the distance.
Watch a movie together
Maybe there’s a movie you watched together a lot when you were younger, or maybe you’re both looking to discover something new. With so many streaming platforms at your fingertips, having a movie night over video chat can be a fun activity for a rainy night. Just pop some popcorn and settle down on the couch.
Play games together
Even when you’re separated physically, you can still play many old-school games together over video chat. To play a board game like monopoly, chess or checkers, simply jump on a video call, set up the board and call out your moves. If only one of you has the game board, that person can move the other person’s pieces for them. Battleship is another game that can be played over video chat and, if you have enough people, you can consider working in teams.
Cook and eat dinner together
Have a recipe the whole family loves? Maybe your loved one has a beloved family recipe they’d be willing to share or teach you to make. Hop on a video call and cook together, then set your device on the table and enjoy your meal “together.” Cooking and eating a family dinner — even if it’s in two separate kitchens miles apart — is a great way to create a feeling of togetherness.
During social distancing, it’s important to stay in touch with family, and technology for seniors doesn’t have to be complicated. By simply staying in touch, you may find that you grow even closer during this trying time.
As a life care community, Freedom Square of Seminole offers a full continuum of senior living options — from independent living to assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. We also provide respite stays for primary caregivers who need a temporary reprieve. To learn more, call us at 727-547-3315.