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Keeping in Touch with Family during COVID 19 Back
Family is one of the most important aspects of life to all ages, especially to those in the senior community. In fact, according to a recent study on aging conducted jointly by USA Today, United Healthcare, and the National Council on Aging, more than 50% of seniors over 60 ranked keeping up good relationships with family and close friends as the most important factor when considering the quality of their life. Keeping close relationships not only affects the quality of life, but can actually add to the quantity of years in your life.
Technology, for example, has exploded with ways to connect with people. The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has confined millions to their homes and caused a huge rise in the use of many social apps. The app that has seen the greatest rise in popularity is Zoom. Zoom is an easy-to-use app available on most mobile phones, computers, and tablets. This app allows you to connect visually with several people at the same time. Thousands of businesses have used Zoom to hold their meetings virtually, but it is also a great way to connect with family. Hundreds of extended families use Zoom to come together during holidays or for family celebrations like high school graduations and birthdays. If you use a computer to Zoom, you can see up to 9 people at a time on your screen. It’s a great way to talk and see each other!
If you’re only wanting to see one person at a time on a video chat, FaceTime or Skype are great phone apps for that. FaceTime is only available on Apple phones, but Skype works on several types of phones, computers, and tablets. Both are free apps and are user-friendly and easy to download. If you have family members overseas, WeChat is popular in other countries. In China, where apps like Facebook and Instagram are prohibited, WeChat is used almost exclusively to do everything from video chatting to texting to paying for goods and services.
For keeping up with family in between video chats, apps like Instagram or SnapChat are a fun way to see what loved ones are up to. Both are apps designed for quick pictures of everyday life. They differ from Facebook by cutting out most of the lengthy explanations and focusing on the pictures.
Online games can be another fun way for seniors to connect with family. There are several multiplayer games like Words With Friends, Boggle, Family Feud, or even Chess and Checkers, that allow you to play your turn when you have time, and then allows your family member to play at a time that’s convenient for them. These games can be a continuous way to connect with family throughout the day, keeping your relationship close AND keeping your brain sharp!
If apps and games aren’t your thing, there are still many ways to keep in touch! Schedule a weekly telephone call when it’s convenient for both of you. Having the time and day on the calendar makes it easier to connect more frequently by ensuring that you both will be available. You can use email and text, too. Several members of the senior community enjoy having a running email with a family member. This can be a fun way to keep a continuous conversation going, and seeing a new email come across your computer screen can be as exciting as seeing a letter come in the mail!
Don’t discount how happy your loved ones will be receiving a card or letter in the mail, though! It may even be more exciting to find something in the mailbox now that it’s becoming less common. You can simply sign your name to a fun card that you picked out, or you can write a diary of pages and start a pen-pal tradition with a distant family member. Writing letters to grandchildren can be especially exciting if you include something personal for them in the envelope. Make old-fashioned paper dolls for your granddaughter to color and play with, or include a blank piece of paper and instructions on how to fold a paper airplane for your grandson. There are many affordable ways to include “prizes” in your letter.
Keeping in touch with family is the main goal, so get creative with how you connect with your loved ones. All of these suggestions are easy and affordable, so give each a try and see what works for you. While spending time in person is definitely the ideal way to keep your relationship close, there are dozens of ways to be an important part of each other’s lives. Whether it’s an hours-long FaceTime video chat or a quick text just to say, “hello,” be sure to put in the time when it comes to keeping in touch if you want to have a long, happy life!