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Ways to Stay Connected to Seniors

Published in Senior Living, Senior Services, For the Health of It Author: Betsy Horsch, Therapeutic Recreation Supervisor, CentraCare – St. Cloud St. Benedict's Community

Nothing replaces hugging your loved one. FaceTime isn’t the same as a kiss on the cheek. A phone call can’t compete with the touch of a hand. But we can’t put our elderly loved ones at risk of getting COVID-19. So how can we make the holidays special from a physical distance?

Even though you can’t be there in person, you can call or do video calls. Play checkers or bingo over Zoom or use Google Hangouts for a sing-a-long. Start a virtual book club. Discuss the book and have a glass of wine.

For younger kids, the app Caribu lets grandparents read books to their grandkids as they follow along on a device. They also can color and draw together.

Everyone loves to get mail — that isn’t a bill or solicitation. Send a letter, a card or a small gift so your loved one knows you care.

If your loved one has a smartphone or tablet, you could share links for virtual tours. After you both have done a tour, you can discuss what you saw and learned. Many of the most popular tourist destinations in the world now offer virtual tours. Here are a few ideas:

Gift Ideas

  • Newspaper and magazine subscriptions (infection control prohibits sharing publications)
  • Gift certificates for salon services, coffee and gift shops
  • Grow kits: flowers, chia pets, herbs and spices
  • Make your own greeting card kits or boxed greeting cards and stamps
  • Arts and craft kits such as jewelry making or painting
  • Jigsaw puzzles: Companies such as Shutterfly can create puzzles using your photos
  • Handheld electronic games: slot machine, poker, Yahtzee or solitaire
  • Crossword puzzles, sudoku, word finds and adult coloring books with colored pencils and markers
  • Books by a favorite author
  • Daily devotional with inspirational quotes and prayers
  • Music or audiobooks
  • Tablet or smartphone
  • Framed family photos, albums or digital photo frames