Guest post written by Mary Shannon.
COVID-19 is so dangerous for seniors but not just because of the virus itself. With restrictions still in place and out of sensible precaution, many seniors are also suffering from social isolation.Those feelings of isolation can be even worse if family lives far away, but there may be a simple solution for preventing senior isolation. That solution is tech, which can be a real lifesaver for seniors who live alone, and can help keep them connected with family from afar or during times of social-distancing.
First You Need an Internet Connection
Let’s start with the basics: a secure and reliable home internet connection. To use just about any device or service on this list, a strong internet connection is a must. This used to be a problem for folks who live outside of city limits, but with Verizon that may no longer be the case.
Verizon offers their LTE network in a home internet package. Aside from being accessible, secure, powerful and reliable, Verizon’s broadband plans are also affordable, with reduced rates offered to existing mobile customers. You can use the coverage map to see if your address is eligible for this broadband service, but also know that you may have other internet options if Verizon is not available.
Then You Can Invest in Even More Tech
Once you have your senior’s home connected to the internet, the tech possibilities are endless. There are so many gadgets and apps that can help keep you connected. There are even products designed to keep seniors company when you’re not around. So whether your loved one is aging in place at home or in a senior living community like A Banyan Residence, check out these tech products:
At the very least, your senior should have a reliable phone. There are quite a few smartphones that are simple enough for seniors to learn how to use, and these devices will allow your loved one to text, talk and video chat with you when you’re far away. Seniors can also take advantage of special phone features that can help them live healthier, happier and safer lives.
Once your senior is comfortable using a smartphone, he/she can download senior-friendly apps to make life even easier. Find My Phone is a great basic app for seniors who tend to misplace or forget things but there are other apps with more specific purposes, like GoodRX and AARP.
If your loved one has trouble seeing smaller screens you may want to buy a tablet instead of or in addition to a smartphone. Since they are much bigger, tablets also tend to be easier for seniors with arthritis to hold and operate, and you can download the same apps on tablets as you can on smartphones. Plus tablets can make video chats, movies and videos much easier.
One app you will definitely want to set up on your senior’s tablet or smartphone is a user-friendly video conferencing app. Zoom is the most popular choice right now and that’s because this service is very simple to set up and figure out. Your senior can also use Zoom for absolutely no cost, although his/her video calls will be limited to 40 minutes. If you would like to chat longer, you could always pay for the $14.99/month service that allows meetings to go up to 24 hours.
If you and your kids love playing online games like Animal Crossing and MarioKart, there’s no reason why your senior won’t love them as well. While getting your hands on a gaming system like the Nintendo Switch can be tricky right now, if you can pick one up for your loved one will give you all a fun and interactive way to stay connected and maybe even reduce some stress.
If you have an elderly parent, grandparent or other family member in your life, you already understand how dangerous loneliness can be for them. So don’t let distance or social-distancing keep you from staying connected to these loved ones. Use tech to keep those bonds tight and to keep your seniors happy, healthy and strong.
More About Mary Shannon
Mary Shannon created SeniorsMeet, along with her husband, Bob, to have a website that allows seniors to “meet up” and talk about topics that are relevant to their daily lives. They hope to build SeniorsMeet into a supportive community of like-minded seniors.