Social isolation is a serious problem for many seniors today. Not only does it decrease a senior’s quality of life, it can actually increase the risk of an early death.
Unfortunately, social interactions in the 21st century are less and less about face-to-face interactions and more about connecting electronically, which can be scary for many seniors. But with friends and family that live across town, across the state, and across the country, it is more important than ever to reach out and make meaningful connections to your elderly loved ones.
There’s a lot of technology out there, but that doesn’t mean grandma or grandpa needs to learn it all! Here are just a few easy ways you can use technology to stay connected to the seniors in your life.
A good old fashioned phone call
People today are moving farther away from phone calls when it comes to social interactions. However, it’s one bit of technology that seniors are very familiar with.
Even if it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, it’s worth it to reach out and give grandma a call, especially if you don’t live close enough to schedule brunch. If you have a limited amount of time to talk, make sure that you let your loved one know. Even if you can only talk for 5 or 10 minutes, it may be just enough time to make her day.
Email and texting
Emailing and texting may also be an option. Even if grandpa isn’t overly fond of technology, chances are, he was young enough to set up an email account when the internet first became popular. The benefit of email is that you can send a heartfelt message whenever it’s most convenient for you, and your grandpa can respond when it’s most convenient for him. You can even send pictures of your family!
More seniors may be comfortable with texting than you think. About 50% of seniors over 65 own a cell phone, making the cell phone an increasingly acceptable piece of technology for the elderly. Try sending a text and see if your loved one replies. If they are curious enough, they may be willing to learn how to text because they know it’s a great way to keep in touch with you and your family!
Nothing beats meeting in person, but a video chat is the next best thing. Not only can you catch up with everything that’s going on in your lives, you can even use video chat to teach your loved one how to use technology that will help them keep in touch with you!
Most computers come equipped with webcams, so it may only be a matter of showing your loved one how to use a program like Skype. If they don’t have a webcam, consider purchasing one as a gift. Grandma and Grandpa will love it!
It may take a little coaxing, but encouraging the senior citizen in your life to become familiar with a few pieces of technology will greatly increase their social interactions, which could end up saving their life.