During the holiday season we all have plenty of opportunities to spend time with family. But once we get into the New Year, how often are we really making the effort to stay connected? As time goes on and families continue to grow, it becomes harder to get everyone under one roof.
This can have a big effect on aging parents or grandparents that may be less mobile than they used to be. Whether you’re sharing a home with your care receiver or living separately, it’s important that they continue to feel connected to the people in their lives. And today, there are plenty of both modern and classic ways to stay in touch.
Five caregiving tips to stay in touch are:
- Video Chat
- Social Media
Busy families mean less time for long conversations. A quick check-in via text or email can be an excellent way for your care receiver to stay in touch with that family member that’s always on the move. There are those out there that would dismiss texting as being only for tweens and millennials, but the tech savviness of elderly family members often surprises younger members! Helping them get used to emailing and texting is probably the best thing you can do to make sure they’re not feeling left out of family communications.
In this world of fast-paced technology, it is a real rarity to receive a handwritten letter from a loved one. However, keep in mind that some older family members used to write letters quite often—or even exclusively—and they may prefer this form of communication. When everyone else is moving at such a fast pace, taking the time to sit and write to a family member will go a long way to show them that you are thinking about them, and that you truly care.
If you can’t be in the same room, the next best way to communicate is through video chat. Now, this might scare off some of those older care receivers who may be skeptical of new technology, but if they give it a try they may not regret it. Apps like Skype or Facetime, or new devices like the Nucleus home intercom system let you stay connected with the touch of a button! With easy-to-use interfaces and outstanding video quality, they can have the face-to-face interaction they’ve been missing, without having to leave the house. Whether checking in, or catching up, video chat makes people feel like they’re in the same room even though they may be miles apart.
As strange as it may seem, phone calls are slowly becoming an “old fashioned” way to communicate. The good news is the days of waiting by the phone so you don’t miss a call from your loved ones are long gone!
Using a smartphone can help your loved ones stay up to speed and connected. And yes, you can certainly show someone you care by writing an email, letter, or a text, but telling someone you care is often more effective. Hearing your voice is a great way to brighten your loved one’s day and reconnect on a more personal level.
You could even show how much you care by offering to help them choose the best smartphone. Consider things an elder may have challenges with: such as the size of the buttons or images, the screen size, audio clarity and brightness. Even the availability of a printed manual instead of needing to rely on an online version can make the selection easier.
And a phone with GPS tracking can mean that if your loved one who carries the phone is overdue, you can more easily and safely find him or her.
For members of the younger generation, it is hard to imagine life without a twitter account, or a facebook page. Many people use platforms like these as their one-stop-shop for news, entertainment, and communicating with friends and family. Again, don’t immediately assume that the age of your care receiver makes this a less viable option. It just may be a case of finding the platform that they’re most comfortable with. A couple quick tutorials and they’ll be posting and sharing with the rest of the world!
2017 is here, and the options for staying connected are plentiful. Make sure your care receiver is well suited to keep up with the future of communication. These are just a few caregiving tips to keep in touch when you can’t be in the same room as your loved ones. What style of communication works best for you?
To your Happy & Healthy Caregiving,
Ina Gilmore MD
Founder, Caregiving With Purpose
Purple Angel Dementia Ambassador
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