Our society has seen a dramatic shift in our way of life due to COVID-19. The pandemic has lasted much longer than anyone could have predicted, and we are all feeling the lasting effects of months on top of months of social distancing, masks – not to mention waiting for our turn in line for the vaccine. Our senior population has been the hardest hit during these stressful times. While we are all challenged to remain socially distanced until it is safe to resume “normal” life, there are ways to connect with our most vulnerable population.
Technology to Help Seniors Stay in Touch
Google Duo is a video and audio calling app made by Google. Keep the fun times rolling with your weekly game nights over group calling. Available for 32 friends or family members at a time and works on Android phones, iPhones, iPads and tablets. You can also join a group call with just a link.
Google Hangouts is a communication service that enables text, voice, or video chats, either one-on-one or in a group. It works best from a computer as you can make free internet calls and video calls by opening the app and typing in the phone number or gmail address you want to reach. Turn any conversation into a free video call with just one tap. Talk one-on-one or invite friends for a group call with up to 10 people.
Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging feature built into Facebook. The app has a built in video call option as well and it is easily accessible in the conversation window of anyone you’ve messaged. You must have a Facebook account to install Facebook Messenger.
FaceTime is Apple’s video and audio calling service. It is easy to use if all parties have apple products.
KOMP is a one-button computer, made specifically for those who have little to no experience using smartphones, computers and tablets.
GrandPad® is designed with seniors in mind – the innovative device comes with features for connecting with loved ones, without the complicated features of other tablets.
The Amazon Echo comes in five base models currently: Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot, Echo Show and Echo Spot. All come with Alexa, a voice-activated technology innovation that has amazing potential for helping seniors with dementia.
The app allows families to stay connected via video calls, instant messages and photo sharing. It can be downloaded onto a phone or tablet to make the item more user friendly for seniors. It does not require any specific hardware but does have a subscription fee.
*Paid options for seniors
Other Ways to Connect or Check-in with Seniors
- Virtual Dinner Date
Use GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats or another service near you to deliver their favorite treat right to their door! Make a date of it and share the meal or treat over your favorite video conferencing service.
- Homemade Cards from Friends and Family
Have friends and family make homemade cards deliver them in a box or gift bag with their favorite candy to their doorstep.
- Order a Jig-Saw Puzzle – of your family!
Head on over to Walgreens.com, Walmart.com, or your favorite online photo service to order your custom photo jig-saw puzzle for your senior to work on for hours. The finished product is sure to make them smile. Keeping the mind active and engaged is crucial for the healthy senior lifestyle especially in times of social isolation. Puzzles are a great way to keep the mind sharp!
- Set Up a Weekly Check-in
Whether it be a short bible study, a book club or simply a time to chat via Facetime, Skype, Zoom or another platform where they can see you smile will mean the world to them. If a phone call is easier, mailing them recent photos of you and the rest of the family (holiday updates, selfies, dog photos, etc.) would be a great alternative. We all love receiving fun mail, right? This weekly talk is a great way to check in on your senior’s mental health, how they are feeling and allow them to feel heard.