Living in a different state, busy schedules, illness, or other obligations – there are a variety of reasons why it might be difficult to regularly connect with older loved ones. With a little forethought, and some help from technology, it is possible to support your loved one between in-person visits.
Coordinate a Support Plan
If your loved one resides at a senior living community, you will find the staff there understanding and very willing to assist you in connecting with them.
Ask to speak with someone who can help you work out a support plan. Can you drop off a few items at the front desk for a staff member to take up, or have packages delivered? Are they able to assist your loved one in figuring out how to play online board games with you, or be there to help answer a Zoom call?
Most importantly, ask your loved one how you can best support them. Would they benefit from a private family Facebook group? What about a virtual book club? If they enjoy doing yoga or light aerobics, could you participate in the same virtual class together on a regular basis?
Also, depending on the cognitive health of your loved one, consider becoming pen pals. It may seem ironic, but in a world that has by necessity become even more virtual, letter writing is a fun, personalized way to keep in touch. Make it a habit to write regular letters to loved ones; print out an article or two, include photos, and use beautiful paper with pleasing patterns.
Schedule Regular Virtual Visits
Do you usually connect with Mom over coffee… or cocktails? Schedule an hour a day or once a week - whatever works for your schedule and theirs - that is just for the two of you to connect.
There are numerous online platforms to support video chatting this way, from Zoom and FaceTime to Google Meet.
If your loved one struggles with technology, you can always ask a neighbor or family friend to help facilitate a call or troubleshoot the technology. If your loved one lives in an assisted living community, ask one of the staff if they can assist. They are always more than happy to help.
And don’t forget about celebrations! Virtual birthday parties, weddings, and holiday celebrations are a good way to feel connected even when you’re apart.
Take Care of Yourself
Self-care is vital for all of us, but especially for those who find themselves responsible for the emotional, financial, and/or physical wellbeing of others. The more you give, the more often you will have to refill and refuel your own source of energy.
Related: Simple Self-Care Ideas
Make time for activities that reinvigorate you, such as meditation, exercise, or a soak in a hot bath with a good book. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, try looking for a virtual support group or therapist offering virtual appointments.
Next Read: Assisted Living in the City
If your loved one is currently struggling to live an independent life, it may be time to explore assisted living options. But what does assisted living entail? What’s included? Find out more in our next read: