By Kelsey Jochum, BSW, Certified Concierge Care Advisor

For most of us, maintaining close contact with those we care about is an important part of our psychological and social well-being. Especially for older adults, frequent communication with others is vital in preventing isolation and the potential negative health effects that can result from being secluded.

Whether life has created physical distance between you and your loved ones, or you find yourselves with conflicted schedules and not able to connect as often as you’d like, there are various ways you can continue to socialize and share experiences with your loved ones, despite not being able to be together in-person. Here are some ideas:

·         Plan regular calls into your schedule that everyone can look forward to. Mark them on the calendar and plan for them, to prevent days and weeks from passing you by.

·         Incorporate video calls into the mix for a change of pace. Several different apps (Facetime, Zoom, Skype) all offer options to chat in real time and see each other face-to-face. All you need is a computer, smart phone, or another device that has an internet or mobile data connection. If your loved one lives in a care community and needs assistance with getting connected to these apps, notify a staff member and ask if they can assist.

·         Start a group text or email chain to give little updates and tidbits as you think of them or as they happen. Those updates can then turn into more detailed stories during your next phone or video call. Even sending a simple “thinking of you” message can be a meaningful part of your loved one’s day.

·         Use any social media platforms that all parties have access to. Marco Polo is an app that can be downloaded on any smart phone, and it allows you to send video clips “in the moment” when it works for you and allows others to watch them and respond at a convenient time for them.

·         Share new recipes with each other and even plan to make the same meal on the same day.

·         Start a virtual book club, or TV-show or movie club, where everyone reads or watches the same thing and then gets on a call to discuss their thoughts.

·         If you enjoyed going for walks with others, you can still do this “virtually” by walking in your own neighborhoods while talking to each other on the phone.

·         Send written cards or care packages when you’re able, as most of us enjoy the surprise of receiving personal mail. Fill care packages with pictures, things to read or pass the time, as well as your loved one’s favorite goodies.