Using Technology to Stay in Touch with Your Senior Loved Ones

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, New York State executive orders currently require people to stay at least six feet away from each other and wear protective face masks when going out and when social distancing cannot be maintained. Unfortunately, there is no visiting at this time since the elderly are the most susceptible to the coronavirus.

With people following stay-at-home orders, electronic communication with others — be it emails, videoconferencing or text messaging — is being used at an astronomical rate. Here are some nontraditional ways assisted living residents and their families can keep in touch:
● Email and social media — In the past, Grandma or Grandpa could expect a letter in the mail from their grandchildren, who would write to them about school, sports, activities, their friends and other interests they may have. With email, residents can get the latest news on their grandkids instantly. They can also receive photos of plays, sporting events or dance recitals as attachments.
Social media is ideal for residents whose children and grandchildren constantly post photos of themselves taking part in certain activities. Facebook has the Messenger function, so that any conversations residents have with their families remain private; Twitter has Direct Messaging, which works the same way. In addition, Facebook sends out birthday reminders so residents will know when someone will have that special day.
● Additional screen time — It used to be that Mom or Dad would call Grandma or Grandpa at the assisted living facility and everyone in the family would take turns on the phone saying hi to Grandma and Grandpa. While residents may have enjoyed hearing from their kids and grandkids, it would be time-consuming as they waited for each person to speak.
Today, seniors just don’t want to hear their loved ones’ voices; they also want to see their faces. Residents who are more experienced with advanced technology can download a videoconferencing app to their cell phones, computers, tablets or laptops and set up a virtual meeting with their families. What these videoconferencing apps do is that they allow the resident to see and hear from everyone at the same time.
During this time when everyone was ordered to stay home, Zoom has become the most popular videoconferencing app. However, there are other choices residents have, including FaceTime, Google Meet, Google Hangouts, and Jitsi Meet, among others.
● Digital frames — Photographs capture a moment in time during special occasions like birthdays, Little League games or dance recitals. When an older relative is unable to attend these special events, their relatives will send these photos to them. However, the collection of photos can become unwieldy, as they pile up to the point where it uses up all the empty picture frames on the dresser and it takes up too much space inside those bulky photo albums.
Family members can send their loved ones a digital frame, which rotates photos automatically on a constant basis. The photos can either be loaded into a USB port from a computer or into a slot from a memory card; once loaded, they are displayed in a slideshow format. The technology inside picture frames has become more advanced over the years, with more memory available, allowing video and music to be played, as well as more photos.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially difficult for the elderly and impaired. McPeak’s has long understood how technology can help family members stay in touch and reduce the distance between us. Its staff has helped residents become more comfortable using technology, facilitating communication with loved ones.
McPeak’s Assisted Living provides care for your loved ones while ensuring they maintain a happy, healthy, and fulfilling lifestyle, right here in Suffolk County, Long Island, near downtown Patchogue. We provide particular attention to residents with cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. With our affordable prices and excellent standard of care, we have the facilities to accommodate your loved one’s needs and allow them to live to the fullest. For more information, please call us at (631) 475-0445 or visit our contact page.

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