Technology offers older adults many opportunities to stay connected and avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness. More and more older adults are utilizing social media and technology to stay connected with friends and family and many are finding that technology is creating new avenues for connecting with new people near and far.
In this article we will be breaking down a handful of the most accessible and easy-to-use technologies for keeping older adults connected while also offering some tips and tricks for those who may be a bit hesitant to dip their toes in the pool of today’s technology offerings.
[As part of our Celebrations program, our independent and assisted living residents have access to a variety of technologies to stay in touch with loved ones. Find out more!]
Zoom is not a social media platform per se, but it does offer older adults and people of all ages the ability to connect with friends and family around the globe. Learning how to Zoom may appear a bit daunting on the surface but it’s really simple to set up and use.
Once you’ve established an account and login, Zooming will offer you or a loved one connectivity and friendship. It’s also a great alternative to phone calls because you’re able to see the faces of those who you’re talking to. It’s almost as good as meeting face-to-face … almost. Plus, the only barrier for entry is having an email account. If you or a loved one has an email account, setting up a Zoom profile is as simple as following the steps outlined below.
To sign up for your own personal Zoom account click here and follow the prompts. Once you’re done, check your email. You should have an email from Zoom. Simply click on Activate Account.
Sign in to your Zoom account any time by navigating to the sign in page. Once you navigate to the Zoom web portal you’ll be able to update your profile, schedule a meeting, edit your settings, and more.
It’s time to schedule your first “meeting” with a friend or loved one. We suggest scheduling meetings through the Zoom web portal (Step 2). It’s simple and easy.
- Sign in to your Zoom web portal.
- Click Meetings.
- Click Schedule a Meeting.
- Choose the date and time for your meeting.
- (Optional) Select any other settings you would like to use.
- Click Save.
You’ve scheduled your first meeting! Congrats. Now it’s time to start your meeting with your friends and family.
- Sign in to your Zoom web portal.
- Click Meetings.
- Under Upcoming, click Start next to the meeting you want to start.
- The Zoom client should launch automatically to start the meeting.
It’s time to send invites. Simply share the invitation or join link. This step is most easily done AFTER you’ve scheduled a meeting. You can email the invitation or join link to whomever you’d like to have join the meeting. Voila! You’re all set and ready to connect.
Participate in a Virtual Activity
Art, cultural and educational institutions offer a wide variety of virtual activities for older adults. Most of these resources and activities are free and easily accessible. We’ve highlighted a few of our favorite and most accessible activities below.
Guided Audio & Video
UC San Diego has created a series of guided audios and videos for people of all ages. If you or a loved one is looking to fill in some time on a weekly calendar we suggest you peruse the list of guided audio and video activities. From seated meditations to short mindfulness meditations, these guided activities are a great way to use technology when feelings of stress, anxiety or boredom set in. Meditation and mindfulness are great avenues for staying connected with others because they put you in a peaceful state of mind which allows for deeper connection and bonds with friends and family.
Tour A Museum
There are a number of museums across the globe that offer free virtual tours. This is a great activity to participate in with friends and family. If you’re all together in one place you can tour the museum virtually from the comfort of your own home. If you’d like to share a virtual experience with a friend or loved one we recommend setting a time and date to participate in the virtual tour and talk about it afterward. Think of this as a modern day book club for art!
You may consider coming up with some prompts to discuss post-tour. Your favorite piece of art? Your favorite room? Whether or not you would travel to see the tour in real life? There are so many topical discussion points that can keep older adults engaged and connected with their communities near and far.
Louvre – explore rooms, galleries and architecture from the comfort of your own living room.
Van Gogh Museum – see the artist’s most famous works up close and personal!
The Vatican Museum – Offering seven virtual tours there is something here for everyone.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – No need to visit The Big Apple! The tours are here for the taking.
Rijksmuseum – See the Dutch Masters in all their glory right from your computer.
Musée d’Orsay – Housed in an old railway station the venue itself is a work of art.
Watch a Theatre Performance
With daily offerings of virtual theatre, The Kennedy Center offers something for everyone. This digital stage offers “special series and original stories.” These virtual performances are fun for the whole family. We recommend setting up a time to watch some of these performances with friends and grandchildren. Hey, it might even be a great opportunity to invite a new acquaintance to an evening of theatre. From opera performances and acoustic sets to dancing and hip hop performances there is literally something for everyone.
There are endless ways to use technology to stay connected and keep feelings of loneliness, isolation and boredom at bay. If you’re looking for further resources we recommend checking out The University of Washington’s program designed to keep older adults connected during and post-pandemic. Developed by Patrick Raue, professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine this program offers a myriad of tips and tricks for those looking to enhance their social life.