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How to connect with senior loved ones while social distancing

There’s nothing like feeling the love and support you get from connecting with loved ones, sharing your feelings, a smile or a tidbit from your day. This is especially important for the elderly while we are all faced with social distancing and COVID-19. Parents and grandparents may be missing regular communication with their loved ones.
Senior couple video conference ( arekmalang/Getty Images)

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There’s nothing like feeling the love and support you get from connecting with loved ones, sharing your feelings, a smile or a tidbit from your day. This is especially important for the elderly while we are all faced with social distancing and COVID-19. Parents and grandparents may be missing regular communication with their loved ones.

“It’s well known that when people feel better connected, that they feel better physically, they’re certainly less likely to feel depressed — or if they do, they’re in a better position to get out of being depressed,” psychologist John Northman told WebMD. “Overall, it leads to a feeling of a greater degree of support and connection psychologically.”

With weeks or even months of social distancing ahead, phone calls are great, but they can be difficult without the benefit of facial expressions. Additionally, if you want to show off a child’s project, the dog’s new trick, or the sourdough loaf you successfully baked, well, this cannot be accomplished on the phone; technology offers many creative and fun ways to keep in touch with family members.

Video Chat

Video chat offers the chance to share smiles, nonverbal cues, laughter, and the grandkids’ latest artwork from a safe social distance. Beyond hearing the sound of a loved one’s voice, video greatly enhances the experience. Seeing someone’s face allows for a deeper connection, from the beaming face of someone laughing to the pride of a grandchild sharing a story or their latest artwork.

Video chat is available in many forms, depending on the device you’re using:

  • WhatsApp
  • Zoom
  • Google Hangouts or Duo
  • FaceTime (between Apple devices)
  • Skype
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Amazon Echo Show

You’ll need to help your loved one if there are any barriers to chatting on video, such as a lack of access to a smartphone, tablet, or computer. Additionally, some may struggle with operating a smart device. You can help by talking on the phone to walk them through setting up a video chat, emailing step-by-step instructions, or sending a link to a video that shows how to do it.

If your parent or grandparent lives in a senior care community, you can contact the staff to find out what options are available for setting up video chat.

“We understand that connecting with your loved ones is incredibly important,” American Senior Communities says. “We are equipping the communities with devices necessary to help support these types of communication.”

Social Media

Does Grandma or Grandpa have a social media presence? If not, now is a good time to set them up.

They don’t have to post anything, unless they want to. Simply having access gives them a glimpse into the lives of their children and grandchildren, and they can like, comment on, or share any posts.

You can walk them through the steps of setting up a free Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account. It might even be fun to have a grandchild record a video showing how to sign up and navigate around the website.

Send all the messages

Connection can happen at any moment. Just pull out your phone and send a quick text or photo to share a sweet moment or let family members know you’re thinking of them. Sending video messages, voice recordings, and funny memes are also ways of making sure your loved ones know they haven’t been forgotten.

Make a group chat for your whole family, so you can all stay in the know as you communicate throughout each day, even if you’re miles apart.

For more information about how American Senior Communities is helping its residents stay safe and connect with loved ones, visit ASCcare.com.