The modern world is a busy, hectic place. There’s a lot to be done on any given day, and we tend to try to schedule it very rigidly; from getting to and from work, to our chores at home, taking care of kids, going to events, meetings outside of work, your at-home business; the list seems endless. This can take time away from what might be the most valuable thing in life – spending time with loved ones. An especially precarious scenario is when your loved one is beginning to grow older, especially if this aging has come with significant cognitive or physical challenges that make communication more difficult. In light of this, here are a few tips for staying in touch with your older relatives.

  1. Put Pen to Paper

There’s nothing quite like receiving a handwritten letter with your name on it, stamped and posted. Writing by hand takes a lot of care, and the physicality of the affair makes it a much more visceral experience. This creates a type of pen pal correspondence that can be incredibly meaningful, with you and your loved one eagerly awaiting the next letter that comes your way. For loved ones who might have a hard time reading, try to write in larger fonts and include other visual and tactile media, like a photo of your family.

  1. Get On the Phone

In our world of non-stop texting, it can be easy to forget how valuable a quick phone call can be. Phone calls get around any potential visual impairments, and the sound of another person’s voice is incredibly heartwarming when you’re feeling lonely, no matter what you end up discussing. Auditory connection is more spontaneous, creating what feels like a conversation instead of a series of messages; it’s also the type of communication most people in the 65+ age group prefer.

  1. Teach Them Tech

Skype is an underutilized and absolutely incredible tool for seniors, especially those who live far away. Being able to see your loved ones and interact with them in real-time is as close as you can come to an in-person visit without actually seeing them in person; there’s something special about being able to see a person’s face, their broad smile, their subtle movements. While video chats are not to serve as a replacement for physical interaction, they can serve as a type of stopgap when you live far away from your loved one.

  1. Visit Them

As you might have gleaned from point 3, there’s no substitute for the real thing; visit your aging loved one often. You can chat, watch a movie, play games, sit quietly in each other’s company; whatever you do, it will be time well spent. This is often rendered easier when your loved one is still in their own home; they’ll be more comfortable, there aren’t prescribed visiting hours, and you’re more likely to be within a reasonable distance. For loved ones who are having difficulty living at home alone, there are highly specialized home care professionals available to help with all of their home care needs, no matter how big or small.

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