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How to Help Seniors Stay Connected with Their Family

Posted by Jennifer Colwell on

Whether your loved seniors live at home alone, in an independent living community, or in an assisted living facility, it can be a challenge to remain as connected with them as you (and they) would like. Perhaps they live far away, but even if they live relatively close, let’s face it, we’re all busy with our own lives, and it’s challenging to find the time and thoughtfulness to keep in touch.

Our seniors have done so much for us. It’s important to be diligent and remain in close contact with them as much as possible. Often, those who live alone are far more isolated than those who live in independent living or assisted living communities. Suppose you believe your senior may be suffering from depression which is more common in older adults than people think. In that case, it might be worth considering a move to a community. This is not uncommon after a spouse passes away or starts to outlive all their friends and neighbors.

Here are a few ideas to help you stay connected:

Make it a group effort. 

The more people on the “calling tree” per se, the more company our seniors will have in person or by phone! Neighbors, friends, and extended family can call FaceTime, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren, which helps tremendously. A nearby family that can visit will brighten their week or even month! Make sure the bases are covered between neighbors, friends, and close family.

Put it on the calendar.

Consistency is key. The older people get, the “smaller” their world gets, and routine is important. It’s amazing how fast a month passes, and I realize I have not seen my grandmother, who lives only a half hour away. Make sure you put the important milestones on the calendar for dates that are important to them—for example, the date my grandfather passed away, their wedding anniversary, and his birthday. Perhaps also the date her mother passed away and her mother’s birthday. My grandmother is 90, and her mother only passed away 13 years ago at 96. We have long genes in our family! 



Use Siri & Reminders
.

You can ask Siri or Alexa to remind you on a specific day of something every year, and they will do so. Trust me, the robots’ memories are way better than mine! For example, “Hey Siri, remind me every year on November 3 that it was Grandpa Kenny’s birthday and I should call grandma.” 



Schedule Greeting Cards

Postable is an app that makes it super easy to schedule greeting cards. You can do all your greeting cards for an entire year by choosing the card, typing your message, and scheduling the date for sending it. These are not emailed, but you send the physical card in the mail. The price is less than what you will pay for a Hallmark card at the store. I highly recommend their service!

Video Technology

The technology that we have today is incredible. FaceTime is one option if your senior has an iPhone. If they don’t have an iPhone, but have wifi access, the Amazon Echo Shows are another wonderful alternative. You can literally “drop in” on your seniors without them having to answer. For example, you could put a Show in the kitchen or their favorite recliner where you know they will often be. They can see you, you can see them, and it’s a beautiful combination that is intuitive and easy to use. GrandPads are another great idea that is like an iPad for seniors. There is wifi and cellular option available. Many assisted living facilities are using them extensively!

Photo Albums

Chatbooks are fairly new within the past couple of years and make creating iPhone albums super quick and easy. They can mail a book in a short amount of time so you can share your memories on paper. Just imagine how much joy your parents or grandparents would get to receive a book each month with pictures you’ve taken over the previous month. This isn’t nearly as much work as creating a Shutterfly album or other more sophisticated online tools. This is more the concept of getting a roll of film developed and handing them the pictures to look through. Cheap, easy, done.

Gifts by Mail

A number of subscriptions are also catered to seniors that may be of interest to consider: knitting subscriptions, craft boxes, food subscriptions, and my favorite, Entry Envy. For community living, Entry Envy offers personalized signs that you can hang on interior front doors and walls or simply sit on a shelf with a custom greeting, name, or initial. Personalized exterior signs for porches are also available if your senior(s) still live at home. In either case, a monthly or seasonable faux floral subscription is available to help them celebrate all the seasons and holidays with beauty and ease. More importantly, the “gift by mail” will remind them how much you still love them and think of them. Other ideas by mail if you live afar are to mail homemade cookies, crispy rice bars, or other food items that travel well. Chocolate during summer is difficult, but it can be shipped often during other periods of the year.

Digital picture frames

Another excellent option for helping your loved ones know what is going on with your family is to get them an LED digital wifi picture frame. These frames synchronize over wifi when people email their dedicated address a picture or can connect to a shared online album. My grandma has a hard time finding the photo album on her iPhone that is for those same types of pictures, and this way, she doesn’t have to do anything, and they show up on her wall!

Jennifer Lea Founder & CEO Entry Envy

Thanks for helping us stay connected with our seniors. We’d love to hear your other ideas! Feel free to email us at social@entryenvy.com, and we can include them in a future blog. We are also available at this address if you have questions about Entry Envy custom signs. 

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