When seniors are alone, such as during a quarantine or threatening weather conditions, it can be especially difficult for them to stay engaged and connected. This may create or add to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Regular mail and phone calls work fine. If possible, however, you also should try to equip your senior with a computer, tablet or other smart device like an android or iPhone that has a camera and mic. And, of course, ensure they receive basic training on how to use these tools.
This will enable them to instantly connect with friends and families via email and texting, social media like Facebook, and/or virtual visits using Skype and FaceTime.
They also will be able to:
- Browse the Internet to find topics of interest,
- Listen to their favorite music free,
- Watch YouTube videos on a wide variety of topics,
- Play online games to keep their minds active, and
- Download and watch free movies.
Seniors who are not tech savvy may be reluctant or even fearful to learn how to work smart devices or a computer. Additionally, cognitive issues or physical limitations like hearing loss might mean someone will need to offer them several sessions and/or written, step-by-step instructions as basic as how to turn on and off the device, and how to use key functions.
Start slowly and be patient. Perhaps a teenaged grandchild can help, or they can learn by watching a YouTube tutorial or signing up for a free training session at their local library. Remember when you first learned how to access the Internet? Once you did, the entire world was at your fingertips!
Don’t wait until the next pandemic or a crisis to teach your elderly loved one how to connect with others – and the world! – by using a smart device or computer. While a TV and phone enable seniors to stay occupied, smart devices provide much more interaction and help them to stay socially engaged – a critical component to their mental and physical well-being.