In this day and age, there is literally an app for everything. If you look for it, you will even find an app for how to tie your shoes. Seriously! Now while apps are a great concept, obviously some things can’t take the place of real life application. But that is where technology steps in! Working with members of the senior adult population, I find that many of them truly appreciate the marvel and wonder of the Internet, email, and social media. No, not too many have their own accounts…but some do! I cannot tell you the number of times I have had children and grandchildren ask to email or text me pictures to share with their family member that lives in our community. And it is a wonderful feeling to download or even print these images to share with them! Oh, how they light up to see the face of new great grandbaby or pictures from a graduation.
As we continue our theme of CONNECTING…I encourage families and assisted living professionals alike to embrace the idea of helping your elderly continue to connect! Now, of course, sending anything or receiving anything must be HIPPA compliant and agreeable by all appropriate parties. As with all types of communication, you want to respect your resident’s rights and encourage them to navigate safely. I find that many just want help getting to a certain comfort zone. We have residents that like to do crossword puzzles or other brain games on their iPads and some just want to be able to see the pictures that a family member emailed or posted on social media. Another thing that can be valuable for them is reading on electronic devices allows for the font to be much larger that some print books. Who am I kidding…it helps me too!!
So even if you find that Mom is Facebook savvy or maybe, on the contrary, your Dad wouldn’t touch a computer if you bought him the latest and greatest…do them a favor and strive to KEEP CONNECTED! And senior living professionals…so long as you have the proper permission paperwork in place, take time to take pictures and send them to your resident’s families. Pictures don’t have to be just for marketing. We all have those residents that have family that is far away. Help close the distance by sending a smiling pic of their loved one. It will brighten their day and yours!
For information on Internet Safety for seniors check out this link from the Department of Homeland Security https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Cybersecurity%20for%20Older%20Americans_0.pdf
Naturally we all want to keep connected with our loved ones. That is one way we stay rooted in who we are and where we came from. This year the theme for National Assisted Living Week 2016 is Keep Connected. I think the original context that they planned the theme to represent was to explain how exciting it is to see our senior communities making such great use of the new technologies that are available to be connected on multiple levels. But being connected to an Assisted Living community can be that…and so much more!
Social Media and Beyond
I have had multiple family members of residents in our communities tell me how wonderful it is to see their loved ones smiling faces on social media. Some of these family members live across the country and it means so much to them to see their loved one engaged in an activity with a smile on their face. While it is important to remember that communities must follow certain protocols when taking and posting photographs including permission forms, etc. It still can be a wonderful resource of CONNECTION! I had to laugh recently when I had a resident ask me, “How many likes did my picture get on the computer?” I seriously almost fell out of my chair when he told me that he thought his picture might blow up Facebook! The “senior set” really like the idea of their picture reaching out to their loved ones and are thrilled when I share with them the comments they receive on the posts from friends and family near and far.
Another wonderful thing about working in this industry is that you have wonderful volunteers and people that want to show love to those that live in our communities. I am constantly asked “what can we do” or “what can we bring” that the residents’ might like? So with National Assisted Living Week right around the corner…here are some suggestions for you to KEEP CONNECTED.
Food items are always nice. Everyone loves a treat right?? But remember that there will be folks in the communities that may be diabetics so if possible, bring a sugar free option. Fruit is always an easy choice. If you have a group or club that wants to do something, consider coming onsite to do a project WITH the residents. We have seen everything from sewing clubs, dominoes and Skip-Bo card groups to painting door hangers. A popular activity that residents typically love is changing out seasonal flowers in containers outside the building. Sure some may want to just observe. But trust me…you will probably have some that will want to get their hands dirty with you.
The best way to connect is by giving the thing that doesn’t cost a dime…TIME! Sharing a cup of coffee or talking and traveling down memory lane is a fabulous way to connect with the folks in a community. Never underestimate the value of sharing a laugh. Taking the time to share and listen to memories will result in the CONNECTION and creation of your own.