Elders can enjoy virtual conversations

Elders can enjoy virtual conversations with family, as Nicole Schwartz Navratil and her grandma do here. Family members can assist with setting up technology and contacts.

This great grandma, who lives in western Minnesota, is 92 and has 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. One of the grandchildren is Nicole Schwartz Navratil, who is from Aitkin, and her husband Curt.

“My grandma is very family-connected. Although she doesn’t drive anymore, she goes to all the celebrations she can. She marks every anniversary and birthday by sending handwritten notes and cards. She still lives in her own apartment and is doing well,” said Curt.

Two of her oldest grandchildren, Krista, 44, and Paul, 42, got her set-up with a used iPhone. They installed the applications on the phone for her and collected telephone numbers and emails for all family members. Now she “facetimes” with her grandkids or does Messenger video chat. (These are applications where you can talk on your phone, tablet or computer and also see the other party on the screen).

Her family walked her through it the first time and since she has the contact list, when she gets a phone call she can see who is calling her and decide if she wants to answer it.

Her daughters have been doing window visits as she is in a ground floor apartment. Her latest great-grandchild, Ernie Navratil, has a date to meet both of his great-grandmothers. They will either visit outside or practice physical distancing and wear masks.

Although we are all busy and have our own problems during these times, we need to think creatively about how to connect with our elderly relatives, friends and neighbors. It could be a great family project to set your loved one up with a computer and Zoom, an I-phone and Facetime, Facebook Messenger, or a conference phone call on a cellphone. There are many possibilities, and, if family members and friends set aside specific dates and times when they will call, it gives isolated persons something to look forward to.

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