April 3, 2020


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The coronavirus pandemic has radically upended many of our social lives, and it’s been a challenge to stay connected during this time of physical distancing, especially for older adults who live alone. Feelings of social isolation can take a heavy toll on our well-being, so it’s essential that folks of all ages seek new ways of communicating in this altered landscape.

But what does that communication look like for older adults? How can you socialize without compromising your loved one’s health?

The good news? Trying to remain physically distant doesn’t mean we need to forgo social interaction entirely. It just means that those interactions will look a little different these days.

Here are some easy and safe ways you can keep in touch with your loved ones.

Explore easy tech options.

Since in-person interactions have taken a backseat, many people are turning to technology to keep in touch. Communication tech has come a long way in the last decade with smartphones, tablets, and laptops, which has made it easier than ever for people to connect.

While there’s nothing like face-to-face socialization, video chatting is often the next best thing. Thankfully, we live in an age with access to plenty of free video chatting apps, such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and FaceTime. Older adults are also using social media in increasing numbers, so don’t assume your loved one isn’t interested in communicating this way. If they express interest, help your loved one sign up for an account with Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to stay engaged with their social circle.

Exploring new tech can be intimidating, but a number of resources exist for beginners. TechBoomers, for instance, is a free website that offers easy internet tutorials for older adults and inexperienced internet users. The lessons are intended to boost people’s confidence in their technical abilities while improving their overall quality of life.

For older adults who struggle with complicated gadgets, there’s GrandPad—a tablet designed specifically for older adults. The company’s tagline says it all: “When you’re miles apart, stay close at heart.” This stripped-down version of a tablet streamlines the communication process, removing distractions, clutter, and spam. GrandPad users can make voice or video calls, send emails, take photos, and more. The device also features simple navigation, large fonts, and access to 24/7 live support.

Plan a virtual game night.

Who says board games can only be played in person? Like most activities these days, you can turn to the computer to host a riveting game night of Monopoly, Scrabble, or Scattegories. You can also find trivia, card games, and online bingo nights, as well as parties and interactive classes.

Pick up the phone.

Sure, Skype and Zoom are all the rage these days, but don’t forget the reassuring power that a simple phone call holds. Nothing brightens a lonely person’s day like hearing a friendly voice, so if your loved one is feeling out of touch, aim to make phone calls a regular thing. It will give them—and yourself—something special to look forward to.

Write an old-fashioned letter.

While letter-writing can be seen as an obsolete mode of communication, there’s something enduringly special about it. Don’t discount the value of a hand-penned note—it can go a long way in boosting your loved one’s happiness.

Letters don’t need to be lengthy or overly complicated to make an impact. All it takes is a simple note that says “hello” and lets the receiver know you’re thinking of them. Sending a thoughtful email is another easy (and speedier) way to keep your loved ones in the loop.

Send a surprise.

Nothing says “I’m thinking of you” like an unexpected delivery. Make your loved one feel cared for by ordering takeout from their favorite restaurant or arrange to have a bouquet of their favorite flowers delivered. Even if you can’t visit in person, this gesture will make the recipient feel loved and connected.

Enjoy the outdoors together.

The CDC advises older adults to socialize outdoors whenever possible. Outdoor activities make it easier to stay six feet apart, so you can spend time together without compromising anyone’s health. Go on a nature walk, have a picnic, or enjoy a leisurely bike ride to reconnect with your loved one while keeping them safe.

Socialization at Provision Living

At Provision Living, we recognize the indispensable value of socialization for people of all ages. Members of our community are encouraged to maintain a vibrant social life and are given the resources to do so safely. Get in touch with one of our care consultants to learn how Provision Living combats the social isolation faced by many aging adults.

Image credit: istockphoto.com