How to Help Senior Loved Ones Connect Through Technology
Guest blog post by Mary Shannon
Connection has never been more important – or more difficult – than this moment in time. We need one another in order to get through the stress and uncertainty we’re all facing right now. This is especially true for seniors. Older people were at high risk for social isolation before the pandemic. Since they have to take extra precautions to avoid the virus, it’s all but guaranteed now. Fortunately, there are ways you can help.
Digital connections can allow us to connect with our older loved ones without putting them at risk. This will help you prevent major mental health problems, and can help you detect any that do crop up. If you spot major issues, TCG Insurance Solutions can help your older loved ones find the healthcare coverage they need to seek mental health care. In the meantime, here are a few ways you can use technology to connect from a distance:
Make Sure They Have Sufficient Internet
All the senior-friendly tech in the world won’t mean anything if you don’t have a good connection. Unless your senior loved one was already an avid internet user, odds are they have a relatively low-speed internet plan. A shoddy connection isn’t just annoying – it can also make video chats nearly indecipherable for anyone with vision or hearing issues. Because of this, HearingLikeMe recommends an upgrade of their plan to something that can confidently handle video calls.
If they live in a rural area, they might not have access to broadband service. This doesn’t mean they can’t get reliable WiFi, however. Look into LTE home internet, which uses cell data to broadcast a WiFi hotspot. This is a great solution for people who otherwise might not be able to get high-speed connections.
Focus on Safety for In-Person Visits
Getting your loved one set up with technology they can use might mean scheduling an in-person visit. Although going into an at-risk loved one’s house isn’t ideal, there’s a lot you can do to mitigate risk. For example, you can schedule your visit to set things up for a time when your loved one is out on a walk, or otherwise out of the house. You should still wear a mask while inside to reduce your risk of expelling the virus on surfaces they may touch later.
If they are home, take all the appropriate safety measures. Wear a mask, keep six feet of distance whenever possible, and wash your hands before and after your work. Keeping the windows open may improve ventilation and reduce the number of viral particles hanging in the air, but it’s no substitute for mask usage and distance.
When it comes to finding the right technology for your older loved one, you need to think about accessibility first. There are a lot of barriers that prevent seniors from fully enjoying technology. Small screens can be hard to read, devices aren’t always easy to hold, and user interfaces aren’t necessarily intuitive. Think about how your loved one will use the device, and plan accordingly.
For example, your loved one might prefer something that can work entirely through voice chat. If so, PC Mage explains that a smart home hub with video calling capabilities might be your best bet. Not only will it allow them to call you, but they can also use it to play music, turn lights on and off, adjust the temperature – a fully outfitted smart home can do wonders for seniors.
If they’d prefer a tablet or other hand-held device, look into the device’s settings and see if there’s anything that will make their experience easier. You can increase text size, add voice commands, and, depending on the device, adjust tons of other settings to find your loved one’s ideal experience.
Remember, connecting with your loved ones can go a long way toward reducing feelings of loneliness, stress, and anxiety. Facilitate safe, healthy means of communication so you can help keep your loved one feeling their best. we hope you’ve found these tips helpful on How to Help Senior Loved Ones Connect Through Technology.
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