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4 Tools to Communicate with a Senior Loved One

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Tools_to_communicate_with_seniorsThere is a growing problem of social isolation and loneliness in older generations. So it’s incredibly important for elderly adults to stay in touch with loved ones.

Thanks to our technologically advanced world, it’s easier than ever to stay connected to loved ones, regardless of location. But for older generations, that may be easier said than done. Even as seniors continue to adopt new technologies, many still don’t have access to certain techs or hardware, or have difficulty using them.

To help stay connected with a loved one near or far, we’ve outlined four senior friendly technologies below, along with a few must-have technologies for elderly adults.

1. Video Calls

As easy as it is to catch up on a phone call, seeing a loved one face-to-face can makes all the more difference.  

If you’re unable to visit your senior loved one, there are several opportunities and technologies you can use to recreate that face-to-face interaction: 

  1. Facetime on Apple devices or Google Duo on Androids.
  2. Video conferencing services like Skype or Zoom.
  3. Amazon Echo Show.
  4. The Facebook Portal.
  5. Google’s Nest Hub Max.

Each of the above require different hardware (ex: iPhone or Android, a computer with a webcam or custom technology), with each offering their own capabilities and features.

Consider more than a simple conversation—try hosting a virtual family meal with your senior loved ones.

2. Social Media

Social platforms are an easy and natural way to stay connected with family members and friends. Many users are now relying on social media to help manage daily communications.

The use of social media has grown drastically across all age groups. However, the use among ages 50 and older has nearly doubled from 22% to 42%.

Facebook is always a good choice for connecting with your senior loved ones because of the ability to find friends and family members easily, as well as it being a simple platform to learn and use. Some ways seniors can use Facebook include:

  • Sharing photos.
  • Announcing life updates (ex: a new grandchild or a move).
  • Communicating via Facebook Messenger.
  • Connect with friends you haven’t talked to in years.
  • Find local groups.
  • See local business updates.

3. Family Pen-Pals

While technology offers us innovative ways to connect, it’s hard to compete with the personal touch of a handwritten note.

To prevent social isolation from setting in for our senior loved ones, consider writing a letter to them. Handwritten letters offer a memorable way to touch the people you love and research shows it can actually make you happier.

Even if you don’t have any senior loved ones in your family, there are several pen-pal opportunities where you can write a letter to a senior to brighten their day. 

If you’re in the Cleveland area, Love For The Elderly is a popular pen-pal system founded by a then-13-year-old Cleveland Native, Jacob Cramer.

4. Text-to-Speech

Although your elderly loved one may have a smart phone or other smart technologies, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are able to use them to their fullest abilities.  

Text-to-speech (TTS) is a type of assistive technology that reads a digital text out loud. TTS can take words on any digital device and convert them into audio with just the simple click of a button.

This tool may be helpful for those who struggle with reading or have declining eyesight. If you don’t have time to make a video call to a loved one, TTS makes it easier for you to send a quick text to them and feel secure in the fact that they will receive and hear it.

Must-Have Technology Hardware for Seniors

Today’s technology can help seniors stay engaged, connected and active. The following are a few gadgets seniors should have to maintain independence and stay in touch with loved ones:

  • Tablet: Tablets are accessible, portable and have easy-to-use touchscreen features.
  • Smart Phone: Smartphones are vital in helping seniors stay connected in today’s society.
  • Activity Tracker: A small, wearable device can measure metrics and encourage daily activity in elders.
  • Smart Home Technology: Smart home devices can help seniors remain independent and safe in their homes through interactive technologies and support systems. Some options include smart lighting, Amazon Echo, Hunter Douglas Shades, surveillance cameras, etc.

Seniors who do stay connected have a better chance of avoiding health issues like depression, high blood pressure, memory loss and cognitive decline.

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As a family caregiver, it’s likely up to you to introduce the one you care for to the world of technology.  

Whether you're new to family caregiving or have been providing comfort and care for some time now, understanding the various challenges, opportunities and responsibilities involved can help you navigate each stage with ease. 

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Cathy Nichols
Cathy Nichols
Considers it an honor as a Certified Celebrant to listen to life stories, and then design and conduct meaningful tributes. Cathy also trains celebrants nationally, equipping them to share those legacies in ways that comfort and enlighten. Honorably serving Busch families since 2004.
 

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