Technology is rapidly evolving. New products, apps and avenues arise everyday. It’s constantly changing and hard to keep up with. With today’s troubling COVID-19 pandemic affecting everyone across the world, combined with the risk factors the virus has to older adults, makes it a very scary and stressful time.
Keeping our loved ones safe is the most important aspect right now. How do we do that? Unfortunately, all the medical leaders have agreed socially distancing and proper sanitization is key. This leaves the door open for poor social stimulation for seniors, as visits are very limited. Isolation keeps them physically safe, yes, but also leaves their mental health at risk. So how do we keep them feeling connected while staying safe? Technology!
Although the majority of older adults are not well versed on the technological options out there, we can guide them and help them choose and navigate the best option for them. Talking on the phone is nice, and most everyone does it, but let’s take it a step further and teach them how to video chat.
Firstly, pick a user friendly device that meets the specific needs of the senior and download a video chat app. Demonstrate how to turn the device on and off and print up a picture of what the video app looks like. This ensures they will be able to locate the specific app, even if they forget what it looked like.
Secondly, add all contacts by name and add a picture for easy usability, onto the app.
Go through the steps on how to open up the application and search the contact list. It’s a great idea to incorporate an easy to understand printed guide. Add pictures to help them easily recognize what steps to take and when to take them.
When demonstrating how to navigate this new world of technology, explain things in terms of relevance, avoid technological language and try to make it as simple as possible. Repeating key concepts and encouraging them to ask questions! Be patient, learning new things takes time, especially when the mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be! Validate expressions of confusion with reinforcement of the fact they can and will learn the concepts.
Having things written down, being consistent with the training and taking time will ensure they feel confident and connected.
We as a community, a country, and a world as a whole, need to come together and take all precautions and necessary steps to protect our older population. We must stay out of senior homes and away from vulnerable people, but we cannot leave them behind feeling disconnected, isolated and alone. Take the time, invest the money and set them up with a means of communication that reaches farther than the regular phone call. Check in regularly and bring some brightness to their lives through this tough time.