How to Keep In Touch With Grandparents & Elderly Relatives in a Time of Social Distancing

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With concerns about coronavirus, we’re being asked to increase social distancing in order to flatten the curve and protect the most vulnerable including the older members of our society. According to the Centre for Disease Control, starting at age 60, there is an increasing risk of disease, and the risk increases with age. For this reason, many families are limiting or stopping their in-person contact with grandparents and older relatives. New rules have meant shorter visits to nursing homes and no kids under the age of 16 allowed to make visits. However, it’s still important to keep in touch with grandparents and our elderly friends and families so as not to have them feel isolated.

Here are some ways that kids can stay connected with grandparents and elderly relatives during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Use the phone

Get on the phone and let kids have a conversation with their grandparents. Just hearing their grandkids voices goes a long way in not feeling isolated. You can arrange to have a long call once a week or do a short call every day which is a great way to unobtrusively check in on older relatives. As some grandparents may be heard of hearing, encourage kids to speak louder and clearer.

Meet up virtually

If grandparents have an iPhone or iPad, use Facetime to virtually meet up. Being able to see faces as well as hearing voices can help reduce the feelings of social isolation. If they don’t have Apple devices, but have an Android device or a computer, help them download Skype to have video calls instead. What’s App also works well if they have that installed.

Write a letter

Get your kids to write a letter or a card to their grandparents or elderly relatives and either drop it off or send it through the mail. In this time of email, it’s special to receive a handwritten letter. If your kids are too young to write, let them scribble or draw on a letter or a card. That’s equally as special. (Some people are concerned about the coronavirus living on paper – if you feel the same, take a photo of a letter or drawing and send it via email or text message).

Send flowers

Bring some joy to your grandparents and send them a bouquet of flowers. Or if you live nearby, choose some flowers yourself and leave it on their doorstep. A bright beautiful bunch of flowers certainly brightens up someone’s day and lets them know you’re thinking of them.

Drop off a care package

Look after elderly family members and drop off a care package. If they need groceries, do a shop and leave it for them with the essentials. Or if they just need some treats, make them a customised care package that they will appreciate including chocolates, homemade snacks, hand lotion, books, magazines and crossword or sudoku puzzle books.

Send them a photo book

If grandparents can’t see you in person, give them the next best things, photos. Create a photo book and get it sent directly to them. It’s a wonderful keepsake for them to look at during times of social isolation. You and the kids can create the photobook online. Different companies that offer this service are Big W Photos, Snapfish and Harvey Norman Photos.

Get together for virtual activities

You might not be able to enjoy activities in person with older relatives but how about doing virtual activities. Grandparents and kids can watch a movie at the same time and discuss it afterwards. If they have a copy of the book, grandparents can read a picture book out loud to their grandkids, via the phone or Facetime, while kids follow along with their own copy.If grandparents are on Facebook, you can play online Facebook games together like Words With Friends, Quiz Planet and Uno. Otherwise, choose from a variety of free online games on Tabletopia that you can play with family members. If grandparents are on Spotify, share playlists. Grandparents can create and share music that they enjoy listening to and kids can do the same. It’s a great way to share music and find common ground.

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