Staying in touch with aging parents is essential to their health and well-being. The pandemic magnified the importance of reducing social isolation and loneliness for older adults.
When family members and friends live at a distance, staying connected with an older parent is even harder. While regular visits are best, staying in touch in other ways is crucial.
Prioritize Staying in Touch.
Staying in touch with aging parents can create enjoyable life experiences. Gain from their decades of wisdom, discover unknown family history, and have some fun. Regular communication also helps families provide emotional support and recognize aging-related changes, safety concerns, developing medical problems, or unmet needs to be addressed. Staying in touch can help families approach some sensitive topics. Sensitive conversations are more easily navigated when connections are ongoing, trusted, and robust.
Have a Plan for Staying in Touch.
Whether daily for a few moments, weekly, or once a month, setting up a regular time to chat ensures that you both can catch up, spend quality time, and remain connected. Asking for input on challenges you are facing is an excellent way to benefit from your older family member’s experience and wisdom and can facilitate conversations about their well-being. Sending videos and photos of a family member, friends, and daily life is a great way to improve communication and can be viewed repeatedly over time, providing ongoing pleasure.
Communicate Effectively When Staying in Touch.
Be aware of health problems or changes your loved one may be experiencing, including reduced hearing or vision. While not a normal part of aging, short-term memory may be present.
If these limitations are present, use common sense and adjust accordingly, such as maintain eye contact, speak when facing the older adult, and eliminate background noise. If you sense trouble, try different words. For those with memory loss, do not ask if they remember a person, situation, or event. Instead, try “I remember when…” Be their memory.
Use Technology Designed for Seniors to Facilitate Staying in Touch.
Two of the best uses of technology applications for staying in close connection are video calls and photo sharing. Platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and photo-sharing options can also help them stay in close touch with family and friends who live farther away. Many platforms are designed for ease of use and safety. Families can use these tools to monitor appointments, activities, medications, and other daily tasks from a distance.
Be Aware of the Limitations to Virtual Visits.
Today, many families are spread out in multiple locations. When using virtual visits for staying in touch with aging parents, it may become evident that a parent’s needs have increased. If there is no available family or close friend nearby, supporting and communicating at a distance is more accessible and interactive than in the past. Mix it up and use the available tools! Despite more communication tools available, an in-person visit will help you better understand your elderly parent’s needs and can help you assess the safety of their living environment.
Strong personal connections are essential for the senior’s well-being and assist you in knowing that your elderly parent is okay.
Stay in touch, deepen relationships, and enjoy peace of mind knowing you are making a difference in the lives of your older loved ones!