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Reaching Out: Using Technology to Reconnect with Your Family

Updated: Dec 17, 2018

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When trying to connect your aging parents with the digital world, sometimes it can be very difficult to teach them about all of the advances in technology. Things become more complicated if you live far apart from them and they are afflicted with illnesses such as dementia, limited mobility, or Alzheimer’s. Here are three tips to help reconnect with your long-distance loved ones using technology.

Video calling applications

Applications like Skype or Facetime are perfect ways to connect with your parents from afar. In order to make video calling simple for your older parents, the first rule is to be sure that they have a reliable internet connection and phone or computer where the app will be easy to find. Before initial use, make sure that someone familiar with the application is there to help them. It’s most important to be patient and let them practice so they’re confident enough to call you themselves as well as accept it when you call.

According to the Lotsa Helping Hands website, video chatting is also a great way to spot anything that might be causing trouble with your parents, medically or otherwise. It can help you spot weight loss, hair loss, or any other changes to their appearance that may cause alarm. Video chatting has many uses, but it’s particularly helpful in letting your loved ones see your face, especially for those afflicted with Alzheimer’s who may find it easier to recognize you if they can see your face rather than simply listening to your voice on the phone.

Send them a special meal once or twice a week

For parents in assisted living homes, the food may start to feel similar day in and day out, especially if they are unable to leave the premises. With applications like Postmates, UberEATS, and Bitesquad, you can send your parents a special treat once or twice a week from their favorite restaurants. This is a wonderful way to show your parents that you care about their health and happiness while also being sure that they’re eating well. also recommends other helpful ways that you can deliver food to your parents, such as grocery delivery or meal kit delivery.

Sometimes it can be difficult to reconnect with parents who you’ve had a falling out with or with whom you’ve become estranged, particularly if it’s related to past substance abuse. Unfortunately, for seniors living at home alone, prescription abuse is a very real possibility. If your parents’ substance abuse has affected your relationship in the past but you’d like to reach out, sending them food or care packages are great ways to show them that you haven’t forgotten about them and you’d like to reconcile. Consider sending them things from their favorite places to make them feel special and loved. Try to make in-person visits when you can to drive home the message that you’d like to reconnect.

Monitoring Devices

If you have a parent with health issues living alone, you may find yourself worrying about them all day long, making it hard to focus on your own life. Devices such as the Lively Monitoring System can help you keep an eye on your parents on a regular basis. According to an article on Mercury News, this system is great for making sure your parents are eating properly, and taking their medication, plus, it even lets you know when they leave their homes. The device may appear to threaten your parent’s privacy, but it simply notifies you of their regular habits so you can be sure they’re taking care of themselves. Users of Lively consider them a relief to have.

At times technology can feel like a hindrance that keeps families from communicating with each other in person, but when connecting in person isn’t an option, technology can truly be a saving grace. With these three tips, you’ll be well on your way to reconnecting with a senior parent despite the long distance between you.

Written by Marie Villeza of ElderImpact


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