Video chats for seniors: Using tech to keep in touch
One of our highlights of helping people with home care during the pandemic restrictions has been the number of older seniors we've seen using technology for the first time to keep in touch with families and friends. It’s been wonderful to see the delight on our client's faces as they video chat with grandchildren and adult children, often many hundreds of miles away.
It’s a major shift for many elderly people who three months ago viewed technology as ‘not for them’ or ‘too difficult’. Now a smart phone has got a purpose beyond the capability of an ordinary landline phone, they see the value and in many cases, have adapted to using it remarkably quickly. In most cases it hasn’t been new tech either, often old phones and tablets from family or friends, but still working just fine. (The experience has also shown how few items of handheld tech are actually designed for older, arthritic hands but that’s another story!)
It’s also something that we want to encourage seniors to keep using as restrictions lift., We’ve seen the positive impact in reducing social isolation and loneliness. We do appreciate that most apps require either a SIM card or access to a wifi network to function, but having broadband access is a game-changer for older folks in many ways.
So, what communication apps have seniors at home been using? Here’s our quick guide to the top five, in no particular order. (Broadband and/or mobile data usage limits may apply depending on your provider.)
This easy to use app is built into every newish iPhone, and makes video calling someone as easy as placing a phone call. The app integrates with the Contacts list, and shows with an icon who has Facetime on their phone, If they have it, all calls are free (data usage limits may apply). However, it is unique to Apple products only; iPhone, iPad and iMacs.
Facebook is great for seniors eager to see what their family are up to without bothering them with a phone call! Facebook Messenger is the system of sending private Chat messages within Facebook, even if it’s actually a separate app on your device. You can also use Messenger to send video calls, and it’s especially good for group chats. There’s another advantage of seniors getting to grips with Facebook too. Access to local community Groups also makes a huge difference in seniors’ ability to keep in touch with what’s happening in their area.
Zoom was designed for business conferencing with the capacity to add lots of people to a single chat. Anyone can set up a Zoom chat and invite someone via email or text. The email contains a link to the chat and a password, so anyone can join in from any device. It’s especially good for seniors who may not want to use an app, but prefer to chat on their PC, laptop or iPad. Zoom calls are free for up to a certain time limit, with a Zoom pro deal available for more features and longer call times.
We’ll be honest, we thought this was just an app for teenagers and students, but it’s also very senior-friendly. Making a call or a group video chat is easy, although you are limited to just four participant devices. What our 90 year old ‘test’ senior liked most was that all the additions to a group chat showed in one window; photos, videos, etc. (What amazed us was that her 19 year old grandchild didn’t even know they could do video calls in Whatsapp!) Calls made in Whatsapp are free between users (broadband or mobile data usage limits may apply).
The Vytality app
Needless to say, we just have to mention our own communication app! The Vytality app is basically a ‘hotline’ to us for our clients, our clients’ families and our wonderful team of caregivers. It’s also a secure and direct way for families to communicate with their loved ones and their caregivers. You can download it for free from:
Donate your old tech to a worthy cause
Most of us have got some old tech sitting in a drawer or a cupboard. So, what do you do with it if your older parents have already bought a new iPad or the latest Android phone? The Electronic Recycling Association will collect any unwanted electronic devices, even if they are not working, refurbish them and donate them to local charities and programs, including for seniors.
Senior homecare with the personal touch
For more details of our home care services in Calgary, download the app or call us with your requirements.