Active 55+ Community Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Active 55+ Community / Oklahoma City, OK

4 Tips for Keeping In Touch with Long-Distance Family

Jul 13, 2020

If you’re like many other seniors, you value family relationships and rank them as a top priority. That’s why it’s worth learning a new technology that will keep you in the loop. It’s especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic, when relatives may be unable to visit in-person.

Keeping in touch isn’t always as easy as it seems. We have plenty of tools, including social networks like Facebook and Instagram, to help us communicate with long-distance family members, but it can still be difficult to create a lasting connection. You may have privacy concerns with Facebook or be concerned about finding topics that keep the conversation going with your grandchildren, for instance.

Fortunately, all those concerns are easy to overcome. Here are four tips that will help.

1. Protect your privacy by moving off Facebook and onto more secure options.

Facebook and other social media apps have a history of privacy concerns, ads and small print that can make them difficult or problematic to use. However, they’re popular for a reason. Facebook is convenient, simple and can connect you to a large range of friends and family without much work.

Fortunately, there are other options that provide the same benefits without the concerns. For example, Tapestry is an alternative to Facebook that helps you stay in touch with family using a private, simple interface. It’s designed for mature adults and their families, so the tool is usually considered easier to use. Tapestry lets you create a private social network just for your family, so it contains similar benefits to Facebook without the drawbacks.

Other alternatives like Oscar Senior provide similar functionality, so if you’re interested in breaking away from traditional social media platforms, consider browsing the iPhone and Google Play app stores. You’ll find plenty of options to try with your friends and family.

2. Use a screen you’re comfortable with.

Many adults have trouble reading small print or dealing with confusing buttons that aren’t labeled. That’s a common issue, especially as technology changes and different symbols replace labels. Most adults, even young adults, take some time to adjust. If you’re prefer to make technology easier, you can look into technology options, such as tablets, that are designed to be easy to use. Some of the adjustments included in these options are:

  • Large, labeled buttons
  • Larger text
  • Clear instructions
  • Easy methods for importing contacts
  • Password and login alternatives
  • Built-in wireless internet

If you’re interested in exploring this option, consider options like GrandPad. Grandpad is a tablet for adults with a simplified design. You can easily email your family and share pictures and videos with ease. There are plenty of other options available as well, if you’d prefer another device such as a more accessible phone or computer.

3. Find something to talk about with a themed application.

One of the biggest struggles for families and friends is finding ways to connect across generations. If you’re dealing with this as you talk with your children or grandchildren, it may be worth creating more structure for your conversations.

Book clubs, discussing moves and documentaries and talking about shared hobbies like gardening are all examples of this. Technology can also help, with options like StoryWorth. StoryWorth is an online service for telling your family’s story through shared memories. Each week, family members get an email that prompts them to write down fond memories or legendary family tales.

If you’d like to connect over shared history, you can use StoryWorth or create more structured discussions on your own. At the end, you can compile the stories into an album or book that reminds you the times that mean the most to you. As you build your family history and explore your unique cultural heritage, you’ll bring your family closer together in the present.

4. Consider bonding over books or other shared interests.

While connecting over shared memories works for many families, it doesn’t work for everyone. For those families, it may be a good idea to turn to a hobby you all enjoy, such as reading and storytelling. It may sound tricky to share a story with a preschooler or a book with a teen long-distance. But once you try it, it becomes a beloved routine. These tips help smooth the way:

  • Schedule a weekly storytime with a preschooler by using Storyline Online. This free website features celebrities who read books out loud. Get on the phone and listen to the story together, laughing at all the good parts.
  • When choosing a book, remember that kids like funny ones the best, according to Scholastic. And 40 percent say they want books that help them explore new places and worlds.
  • For older children, consider reading a book together as part of a family book club. Then, discuss it over the phone or by video each week. Older kids can have busy schedules, but it doesn’t really matter if they’ve read the chapter or not. You’ll get closer just by talking. Grandparents can lend a sympathetic ear when a teenager just needs someone to listen.

If books don’t work for your family, consider alternative themes that help you connect, such as watching a movie or TV series together and discussing it afterward. You can do the same with other interests such as gardening, sharing tips for keeping plants healthy or sending photos of the flowers or vegetables you’re growing.

The key is to find an activity or interest you share with your family member, whether that’s books, gardening or something completely different.

Want more information on staying in touch when your family is long-distance? Check out our Starter Guide to Online Communication Tools.

Stay Connected at Grand Tapestry

At Grand Tapestry at Quail Springs, you can live a connected lifestyle with all the extras. Our 55+ senior living community in Oklahoma City features resort-style living at prices you’ll love.  We encourage residents to connect with family from their private apartments or from one of our beautiful common areas, all of which are connected to high-speed WiFi. Contact us for more information or download our community brochure.

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