Now more than ever, it is time to embrace technology.
Who would have thought that social media and applications developed for the business world would help us get through a pandemic? Between Facetime, Skype and Google Hangouts, there are ways of connecting your loved one to family members multiple times a day. Zoom and Free Conference Call have been used by business for several years and are perfect for home use as well.
These applications and services vary on many different fronts. Some are free with the option for paid premium versions. Some limit interaction to two people at a time, while another allow up to 100 participants. You will need to do some research, but this Parade article is a good place to start. It introduces the best video chatting apps for 2020.
One size probably won’t fit all your social connection requirement needs. I use Free Conference Call if voice is all that is needed, but there are several people who need to talk. I’ll use Skype or Facetime for one-on-one conversations. Next week I’m meeting my cousins for a virtual happy hour over Zoom. We did not want to miss out on our scheduled time to have dinner and catch up and since sitting in a restaurant isn’t an option, this lets us be together. For my cousin with young children, this makes it even easier. By the time we meet at 8:00 her kids will be in bed and she can relax with a glass of wine while we catch up on family news. We are hoping that the new family baby due will born by then!
Once you have decided on the applications you want to use, there are fun ways to connect with your loved one online. Here are a few suggestions.
Connecting with your loved one
When you are feeling all talked out and want a fun activity to do together, many wonderful institutions are offering free virtual tours. You can each log on to your favorite museum or the one you have always wanted to visit, like the Louvre, and discuss what you are seeing together. If your loved one has a hard time navigating, then use one of the video apps to share your screen and take the tour together. Either way, a headset may help your loved one clearly hear the tour guide.
If your loved one likes opera, The Metropolitan Opera House is streaming a free series of encore live presentations.
Does your elder connect to nature? Here are virtual tours of national parks, aquariums and zoos.
- The live camera streaming from the Georgia Aquarium will let you observe marine life from home.
- The world famous San Diego Zoo has live cams of their animals.
- These five beautiful national parks offer virtual tours: Kenai Fjords, Alaska, Hawai’i Volcanoes, Hawaii, Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, Bryce Canyon Utah, and Dry Tortugas, Florida. Links to all five are found on Google Arts and Culture.
Do you remember The French Chef? I do. Not only was it fascinating to watch her cook but she made me laugh. PBS launched the PBS Living Service in mid-March 2019, where The French Chef, and other classic cooking shows, are available. You can access this service through
your PBS membership, but you can also access it through Amazon Prime Video.
If your loved one is an avid library person like my dad was, then this lockout is driving them crazy. The New York Public library now allows you to download over 300,00 books for free.
Ways caregivers can find respite
If your opportunity to interact with people was limited to grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions and doctor visits, then these suggestion above will help as well. In addition, here is a play list from Caring Advice curated especially for caregivers.
If meditation isn’t your thing, then go for Zen by watching the live jellyfish cam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Start a group text or closed Facebook group with friends that challenges each person to tell a joke. No shade allowed, only LOL’s or groan emojis. Here’s a couple for you. He who laughs last didn’t get it! A priest, a rabbit and a minister walk into a bar. The rabbit says, ‘I might be an autocorrect.’ With thanks or groans to Carol Marek.
How to stay connected with grandchildren
Nothing will ever replace a hug and a kiss from your grandchild. But being able to see them, talk about their day and read them a bedtime story will keep you connected. Watch a virtual tour of the San Diego Zoo and you can imitate animals together or start a discussion about which is their favorite. Watch an astronaut read them a bedtime story and it’s a chance to not only talk about the book, but to talk about what they like to be when they grow up. Nothing is more enlightening than the dreams of a child.
If you have older grandchildren than consider these sites that have virtual games for cards, bingo and even Monopoly, all free.
Not every elder is comfortable with technology, so these suggestions may not work for them. In our case, Mom’s eyesight does not allow her to participate in watching virtual tours or TV shows like The French Chef. If your loved one is in a facility that is locked down, you can’t get in to start them using technology, then low tech is the way to go.
The phone is still the easiest way to stay connected.
- Set up a good morning and good night call.
- Create a schedule for other family members to call and ask them to commit to it.
- Cards from the grandchildren will brighten their day.
- Go through old pictures and send them several at a time and then have them tell you who is in the picture, when it was taken, where they were and what has happening.
This is THE perfect time to have grandchildren document the family history. You can record it using one of the applications we mentioned or you can have them write it down. However they choose to capture the family history, the time spent with their elder is a gift to everyone.
We can’t control the situation we are in, but we can take positive action. Think about elders who have no one. What local volunteer organization can connect you with someone who needs a call to brighten their day?
More and more corporations are going out of their way to make life easier and help those in need and most vulnerable. CVS recently announced they will waive charges for home delivery of prescription medications. Other changes are outlined in this article for informational purposes only. You must call to understand how any changes affect your coverage or payments.
If you know of a service like this and have vetted the source, please comment and I will compile a list and post it on social media next week.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional. The articles and companies named in this article are for informational purposes only. Mentions do not indicate an endorsement.