Visiting in the digital age
there are many ways to stay in touch with the elders we love. That’s a good
thing because research suggests that older adults who are socially engaged
enjoy greater happiness and a sense of purpose. Those who are isolated and
lonely are at a higher risk of depression, heart disease, obesity, and
not all the options for connecting are equal.
exchanges are the best. Meeting in person engages many of our senses—vision, hearing,
touch, and smell. Plus, being in the same space together and sharing an
occasion deepens our sense of connection.
media don’t match up. Phones, email, texting, social media … each has its advantages.
But older adults who rely on these media have the same rates of depression as
those who don’t connect with others.
chatting is the exception! In a study of 1,400 older adults, those using apps such as Skype
and FaceTime were half as likely to be depressed as those using other media.
The visual feedback and “real time” interactions seem to offer many
of the benefits of a face-to-face visit. For example, “When I video chat,
I get to see my grandchild,” or “On email, no one gets my
ways to video chat. A focus group of seniors analyzed Amazon Echo Show, the latest
video-chatting option of the Alexa digital assistant. It received extremely favorable
reviews. They loved the simplicity of saying “Call John.”
Getting your relative set up may present the biggest obstacle. Your loved one
may need help downloading an app and learning to operate a mobile device. Or he
or she may need help uploading contacts. Or balk about privacy and the security
nothing to equal the value of a face-to-face visit. But if you can’t visit
often, consider frequent video chatting as your next-best alternative.
you live far away?
As the Metro DC experts in family caregiving, we at Debra Levy Eldercare Associates understand how hard it is to stay connected. We can help you with our team approach to care. Together, we can work to reduce loneliness and support meaningful interactions. Give us a call at 301-593-5285. Let’s start the conversation.