Tips for Staying Close from Far Away

When older relatives live at a distance, it can be difficult to maintain the feeling of closeness. Grown children sometimes feel out of touch, and older people may feel forgotten. Here are some tips for keeping families in the loop.

Schedule Calls

Make a plan to call every day or every week at the same time. Older people enjoy having something to look forward to, and you have an improved ability to fit the call into your regular routine.

Write Brief, Frequent Notes

Some elders are receptive to using a computer, tablet or smart phone, and enjoy the informal, brief contact e-mail or social media applications allow. But even they are not connected, a short note or post card every few days helps the older person feel remembered, and can serve to reinforce information that have been conveyed on the telephone.

Become A Clipping Service

Pop funny or interesting newspaper articles in an envelope and mail them. For people with restricted vision, enlarge the clipping on a photocopier.

Go Audio-Visual

Digitally record the grandchildren, and send the file or link. Or make a video or digital photo collage of a family outing, or gatherings at your home or office. Hearing and seeing your life helps the older person feel included. As an added bonus, creating a digital media project to show off their technical skills is an activity grandchildren can enjoy.

Help Get The Mail Out

Provide the older person with pre-addressed, stamped envelopes or cards. It makes it a lot easier for him or her to jot a note when the technical details are handled.

Double Your Pleasure

An older couple can benefit from having a telephone with an extension. That way, both can be on the telephone at once and share in the conversation. There is a much greater chance that important information will be remembered, and you won’t have to repeat yourself. Face Time or Skype can also be a nice way to keep in touch.

Encourage Local Contact

Many local elder service agencies have telephone reassurance programs. Someone from the agency can call your older relative every day to touch base and have a brief chat. Be sure the agency knows how to reach you in an emergency.

Looking for more help? Springwell’s Caregiver Support Program may be able to help.