When many miles separate your family from an older parent or loved one, it may be difficult to make them feel connected. This can be especially true when grandchildren are involved. To help families bridge the miles to a Michigan senior they love, we’ve pulled together a few ideas:
- Handmade cards and letters. All of those little projects kids love to make might be stacking up on your kitchen counter. Once a week, go through them with your children and bundle up a few to send to your aging loved one. If you have time, include a note that explains the artwork the child created. That makes it easier for loved ones to understand those less obvious works of art so they can talk about it with the kids by phone.
- Video conference. Skype and other video conference services are easy to use and allow older adults and families the opportunity to talk “face-to-face.” It your senior loved one isn’t excited about using a computer, consider buying a tablet device like an iPad for them. Tablets are easy to use and will allow seniors to Skype with family from the comfort of their favorite chair or sofa.
- Send pictures and video. When a loved one lives far from you, what they may miss most is watching grandchildren’s activities like soccer or tee ball. Taking videos and photos you can email for them to look at on their iPad will help them feel more involved.
- Don’t forget the telephone. In our text and email centric world it is easy to overlook how important a phone call can be to an older loved one. Technology has made telephone assistive devices easier and less expensive. If your loved one has problems with their hearing, you can find phones that have everything from an amplified ear piece to super loud ringers.
- Email and social media. Seniors are the fastest growing demographic on many different social media platforms. You can use social channels to post photos and video to share with your senior loved ones. Email is another avenue for communicating. According to Pew Internet Research, 36% of adults over the age of 50 regularly use email. While your teen might not be excited about being friends with their older loved ones on Facebook, they probably would be interested in trading emails on a routine basis.
It can be frustrating for seniors not to be as involved as they would like with faraway loved ones, but with a little extra effort they can stay in touch and feel connected.
Have you found creative ways to stay close with a faraway senior loved one? We’d love to hear how in the comments below!