A man on a cell phone

By Libby Howell

As COVID-19 cases spike all over the country, seniors are strongly encouraged to stay home. Unfortunately, with the holidays right around the corner, this is a particularly heartbreaking time to be forced apart from friends and family. The good news is, there are tons of ways to use technology to stay in touch with your loved ones. It’s not a perfect replacement for meeting in-person, but it can remind you that you’re never truly alone.

The Sonoma Hills Retirement Community is dedicated to making sure tenants have the resources they need to live a happy, healthy life despite the pandemic. To that end, here’s a guide for how seniors and their loved ones can stay connected using technology. We hope this helps you come up with safe, socially-distant ways to stay in touch with the people who matter most.

Buff Up Digital Security

If you’re going to be using technology more often and connecting with loved ones online, you need to take some time to make sure you’re following good digital security practices. For example, your WiFi should be password protected with a strong, random password so passersby can’t hop onto your network.

You should also be mindful of email scams. Unfortunately, seniors are frequent targets of these kinds of digital attacks. Never, under any circumstances, wire money based on an email conversation alone, even if you think you know who you’re messaging. Scammers can easily spoof an email address and make you think you’re talking to a loved one, banker, or landlord. Similarly, be wary of links and attachments in email, and never send passwords, credit card information, or other personal info online.

Best Communication Tech

When it comes to video chat devices, you have plenty of options. However, they’re not all created equal and seniors tend to find some much easier to use than others. For example, if you already have a smartphone, you might decide to just use video chat there. However, smartphones have small screens, and it’s not especially fun to talk to someone you can barely see.

Instead, you should invest in a tablet. These are practical as portable as smartphones, but they offer a much larger screen. This can feel, from the outside, like a minor feature, but it can make a huge difference.

If you have trouble hearing on a video chat, invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. These block out ambient noise around you and transmit audio directly into your ear. Many people who are hard of hearing are amazed at how much of a difference a pair of headphones can make when it comes to improving audio quality.

Smart Home Tech

Another tech investment seniors should consider making while self-isolating is smart home technology. There are smart options for nearly every appliance in your home, from the fridge to the thermostat to your kitchen sink. A smart hub can connect all of those devices into a single, voice-activated assistant. This means you can turn on your lights, order more paper towels, and turn up the heat – all with the power of your voice and while staying right where you are. You’d be amazed how many smart devices are out there, ready to make your life easier.

Smart home tech is also a powerful tool when it comes to communication. That same voice-activated hub has the power to start phone or video calls with your loved ones. This is obviously great for general communication, but it can be especially useful in emergencies. The peace of mind you and your loved ones will feel knowing you’re just a voice command away from help is invaluable.

This pandemic has put us all in a difficult spot when it comes to connection and communication. However, technology can help bridge the gap. When we use technology to stay in touch, we’re able to remind ourselves that we still have one another, even if we can’t meet in person. Eventually, this will all be behind us. But in the meantime, we can use digital connections to show one another how much we care. Don’t forget to visit the Sonoma Hills Retirement Living blog for more inspiration and resources on living your golden years to the fullest.

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