Though the holidays are a time for people to come together, COVID-19 has kept many families apart. The necessity of social distancing and avoiding large gatherings is even more crucial for seniors, who are at a higher risk of severe or even fatal complications from the disease. But COVID-19 is far from the only hazard older Americans are facing this winter season. The isolation many seniors experience during the pandemic worsens the dangers of a bad fall, a medication reaction, or other emergencies. While staying home and restricting visitors is the best way to remain safe from COVID-19, it also means that seniors can’t be sure of when help might arrive if they aren’t able to get to a phone. Luckily, technology makes it easier than ever for children to check up on their older parents.
With Zoom, Facetime, Skype, and other video-calling services, seniors can stay connected with their loved ones and friends without running the risk of exposing themselves to COVID-19. Adult children wanting to keep an eye on their parents during the pandemic have more options than ever to keep in touch.
How to Help Seniors Use New Technology
Many seniors have faced a sharp learning curve with using digital communication during the pandemic. Older adults who once might have preferred in-person gatherings now find themselves limited to digital face-to-face meetings and lack the experience to navigate the software. Learning a new skill is hard enough under normal circumstances. However, doing so under stress and isolation is even more challenging. If you’re trying to help an elderly parent start video chatting, here are a few tips:
- Introduce your parents to tutorials. Most software has video tutorials that offer helpful visuals and examples for seniors to follow while setting up their video calls.
- Encourage seniors to use new technology regularly. Learning takes repetition; if your parent only tries to use Zoom once every week or two, it will be difficult for them to remember the steps. By using these tools more often, your parents will quickly find the process more intuitive.
- Make sure their internet connection is up to the task. It may be that your parent’s technical difficulties aren’t their fault. You may need to help them upgrade their internet connection to handle the increased demand of frequent video calls.
- Be patient. It can be challenging to help older parents with tech issues under normal circumstances; trying to help remotely during a global pandemic is a whole new ball game. The key is to stay positive, be flexible, and be willing to adapt.
What to Look For When Digitally Communicating With Parents
When visiting an elderly parent, we often know what concerning signs to look for: whether it’s memory issues, difficulty walking or balancing, or not enough nutritious food in the fridge. But when all we have is a headshot on a video call, often fraught with lag or connection issues, it gets harder to pick up on the evidence that a parent might need help. But video chatting provides many ways to notice signs of decline. Here are a few things to keep an eye on next time you connect with a senior parent.
Pay attention to your parent’s appearance. Do they look like they’re taking care of themselves–brushing their hair and teeth, keeping their clothes in order, and maintaining a healthy weight? If your parent struggles with these daily tasks, it may be a sign of other serious underlying health issues.
Look around your parent’s home. If your parent is video chatting on their phone, you might ask them to show you around their living space and identify what may have changed since the last time you visited. Keep an eye out for tripping hazards, overloaded outlet strips, or other potential safety concerns.
Listen for confusion or memory issues. If your parent seems to be struggling to carry on a conversation, it may be an early sign of dementia.
Above all, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask what your parent has been eating, whether they’re digitally connecting with other friends, and how they’re filling their days. If their answers suggest they’re not eating healthy, getting exercise, and staying social, your parent may not be thriving.
What To Do If Your Parent Needs Help
Picking up on the signs of decline is only the first step. With COVID-19 making get-togethers a risk, it can be frustrating to feel like you’re watching your parent struggle and unable to help. An in-home caregiver offers the best of both worlds. At Generations Home Care, we rigorously screen our caregivers for signs of COVID-19 before each shift, so you can feel confident your parent is staying safe from disease. Our caregivers are close at hand when you can’t be, helping out with daily tasks, monitoring for health issues, and running errands. The presence of a caregiver also ensures that seniors don’t feel as lonely while staying home and isolating. With the companionship a caregiver provides, your parent will feel both safer and happier this holiday season.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.