Keeping in touch with older relatives 

The beginning of this crisis saw a flurry in the use of technology as the workforce pivoted to video conferencing and young people downloaded Houseparty. However, as we all scramble for our laptops and tablets, we need to be aware of the impact social distancing has on all members of our community and ensure that some less tech-savvy members of the older generation are not in danger of being left behind.  
Although we have heard a lot about ‘Silver surfers’ who are easy with the internet and social media, there are still a lot of elderly people who aren’t as familiar with computers, yet sometimes the telephone is not enough when they want to feel close to their relatives.   


Staying in touch online – the options 


For the older generation it is important to pick technology that is easy to use and well supported: 


  • Smartphone – if they have an up-to-date mobile phone with a camera Skype, FaceTime (for iPhone only), Zoom, or WhatsApp are easy to download and comparatively easy to use. 
  • Computer – Skype, FaceTime and Zoom can also be downloaded onto a desktop or laptop and provide a much bigger screen for them to see their relatives. 
  • Smart device – Amazon, Google and Facebook have each brought out innovative smart devices with screens for video calls. Amazon Echo Show has a good-sized screen and can even be set so that it starts a call without the other person even answering – you can drop in on relatives to ensure they are OK (but the permissions have to be set). The device can be called from a smartphone. The Facebook Portal and Google’s Nest Hub Max operate in very similar fashions. For older relatives this can be very comforting to know that their family can visibly join them for a chat at any time. 


Once you have your video connection set up there are plenty of ways you can keep in regular touch apart from just a call for a chat, why not: 


  • Arrange a regular lunch date

While you and your family are seated around the dining table invite your relatives to dine at the same time and put the screen at the end of the table. You can all eat and chat at the same time. 


  • Have a virtual quiz

Download pub quiz questions from the internet or get out your old box of Trivial Pursuit (the older the version the better) 


  • Play the memory game 

Put 20 items on a tray, allow the person on the other side of the screen to peruse them for a while, then take the tray away and get them to guess what was there. 


  • Bedtime stories

This is a perfect opportunity for grandparents to read some bedtime stories over the net to their grandchildren.    


  • Gardening

Especially when the weather is nice, go out into the garden with your devices and get all those great gardening tips that the older generation usually has.


However you choose to connect, the latest technology means there is no excuse to leave anyone feeling isolated and lonely.