The spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has left the world in an unprecedented state. Older adults and those with preexisting conditions are the most vulnerable to this disease. Senior living communities have been forced to close their doors to visitors during this pandemic. So, how do you stay connected to your loved ones with shelter-in-place orders? Although we aren’t able to give our loved ones the big hugs we normally do because social distancing, thankfully there are ways we can still connect.

Technology can keep us together while we are forced to be apart. Our favorite popular social media networks are great options, along with others:

  • Video Chat – Video chat is an option from either computers, cell phones, or tablets. Apps such as FaceTime on iPhones or Skype, Facebook Messenger, Zoom are a great option for “face-to-face” interaction.
  • Facebook
  • Kast – Kast is a real-time video sharing app with screen capture, voice, text, and video chat technology that makes it easy to connect with friends wherever they are. Watch and stream movies together even when you’re apart with Kast.
  • Goodreads – Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Their mission is to help people find and share books they love. Connect with family members and share book recommendations on Goodreads.
  • Game time doesn’t have to come to a halt with our family and friends. Games like Words with Friends, Monopoly, Uno, and Scrabble can be played online or with mobile apps.
  • Whatsapp is another tool for messaging and video that can be used both on mobile devices and computers.
  • There is nothing better than learning together. Consider taking an online class together with your loved ones.

There are plenty of other fun things to do at home you are share with your loved ones while apart:

  • Stay connected the “old fashioned” way, start letter writing! There is nothing better than a handwritten note that comes from the heart.
  • Kids home from school? Have them create art and crafts you can send to loved ones in the mail.
  • Make an email or letter pen pal story writing exercise! Each person writes one paragraph at a time, and you have to improvise and build on the previous person’s paragraph. The possibilities are endless where this one can go, and is a great way to keep yourself creative.
  • Send flowers, cookies, etc!
  • Now’s a great time to make a photobook and send it. Go through all the pictures you may have on your phone, find old photos that may be hidden away and forgotten about, and create something special with memories while we aren’t able to make new ones.
  • Ask your loved one to write down all of the great family recipes they may have. You can turn them into a recipe book to share with all your loved ones!
  • Read a book together and talk about it – make it your own family book club!
  • Send them a quick-growing plant and container, and keep one for yourself. Share photos via email of how the plant is doing every day.
  • Learn a foreign language together and practice writing or talking with each other
  • Make a great care package for them of their favorite things, especially things that they may not be able to go out and get right now.
  • Traditional phone calls
  • Buy two copies of a puzzle, and work on one at home and have your loved one work on theirs in their senior living community.
  • Send a box of 7 simple wrapped gifts – photos, favorite snacks, etc. -and put days of the week on the presents. The person can open one each day of the week.
  • Create a memory box to be displayed in their room
  • Buy colored wood beads and string. Make a bead necklace for yourself and send the supplies to your loved one so they can make their own. Now you have matching necklaces!
  • Buy a friendship lamp, so they know when you’re thinking of them. The lamps change color when one person is touching it, signaling to the other person they are being thought of.