“Teens agree that the computer increases both the quantity (70 percent) and quality (67 percent) of their communication with family members living far away,” says a report by AARP and Microsoft Corp. While technology like social media and iPad games seems geared to the younger generation, it can be a great way for people of any age to connect. If you or your child are looking for new, fun ways to interact with your loved one in a nursing home, check out these five ways you can spend quality time together using technology.
Google and YouTube
Google can be a fun way for you and your loved one to learn something new. Brainstorm topics together that you’ve always wanted to learn more about — such as something in nature or somewhere in the world you’ve never been. Try looking up videos of whatever topic you’re interested in. This is an excellent way to keep the mind sharp and leads to great conversation afterward.
There’s no denying technology has given us some cool devices. Why not teach your loved one how to use them?
“More than anything else, residents use the phone to chit chat a lot. We have free Wi-Fi here at River’s Edge, so it is easy to get residents set up with their laptops and tablets. Facebook is a great tool. Residents use social media all the time to connect with loved ones,” said Jeremy Withers, director of nursing at River’s Edge Rehabilitation and Living Center.
You can read together on a Kindle, play iPad games, try out a Fitbit, or use your phone to practice photography and then edit those photos with fun filters on Instagram. Choose your favorite device, and teach your loved one how to use it.
Skype or FaceTime
Video chatting is one of the greatest techy tools of our day. Try using Skype or FaceTime with your loved one to talk with other friends and family members. It’s a great way to keep in touch with the whole family and share your quality time with others. If your loved one doesn’t already know how to use video chats, you can teach him or her, and it’s a great way for the two of you to talk when you can’t visit regularly.
One of the most enjoyable activities when visiting with older loved ones is hearing stories from when they were younger — whether it’s where they went to school or what their parents were like. Try digging even deeper into family history by doing some genealogy with your loved one. You can use an iPad to do this together. As you discover names and places of your ancestors, you’ll feel a special bond with your loved one. Consider creating a journal of the stories they share with you. It would be a treasure for generations to come.
While techy gadgets and games may seem designed for the younger crowd, they can be valuable tools in helping you spend more quality time with and enhancing the lives of your loved ones in nursing homes. Try a few of these tips the next time you see your loved one, and you’ll be bonding in no time.
This article was previously published by the Daily Herald and republished here with permission.