Are you feeling disconnected from family and friends because you’re not able to get out like you used to? Know that you’re not alone. Approximately 3.6 million people are homebound. Medicare considers you homebound if it takes substantial effort to leave your home due to illness or injury and you leave home no more than 2 days a week.
Take heart in knowing that even if you’re homebound, you have options for staying connected and social. Modern-day devices like motorized scooters allow you to get out and visit friends or run errands more easily. And thanks to advances in technology, you have even more options for combatting loneliness. Once you have internet access in your home, you open a world of possibilities. Here are some ideas for using tech to connect:
Be open to learning. Learn how to use a few programs on a computer or smartphone. If you don’t know how to use these devices, turn to loved ones like children, grandchildren, or neighbors. Once you get a quick tutorial, you’ll be surprised at how user-friendly these gadgets are. You can also get help from computer repair technicians such as the Geek Squad, which offers in-home services for a fee.
Write letters—the new way. It’s great to get a letter in the mail, but the instant gratification of email can be even better. Keep in touch with grandchildren in college or faraway friends—no postage needed.
Spruce up phone calls. If you can’t be with your loved ones in person, you can still see them through video calling. Skype and FaceTime offer free video calls on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. If you want to connect with international friends and family, try the free WhatsApp app.
Access social media. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, allow you to see photos of family and friends as they share them, and they also have a free private messaging system so you can communicate directly with loved ones. Note that you can use social media just to keep up with others—you don’t have to share any pictures or tidbits about yourself unless you want to.
Stay in touch with religious organizations. If religion is an important part of your life, you can still participate in it. Some churches broadcast their religious services live over the internet, while others record services that you can view later. You can also ask to receive visitation from clergy members and transportation to religious programs.
Play games with others. Smartphone apps allow you to play against other people. Download Words with Friends, for instance, and invite friends or family members to play with you. It’s a fun way to connect and chat with other people while keeping your mind sharp.
Keep in touch with health care providers. You don’t need to leave your home to stay in touch with your doctor. Multiple applications and devices, such as blood pressure monitors, blood glucose meters, and activity trackers, can track your health information and allow you to share it with your health care team. Some devices can also alert your family if your health readings are out of range.
Be careful when sharing personal information with apps or programs. Ask someone you trust to help you set up or review your profile and privacy settings.
Author Bio: Jean Cherry has been a home health nurse and now works for Walgreens, where you can find home health care solutions like mobility scooters. Jean enjoys following technology innovation, especially when it helps seniors stay connected with family and live independently at home longer.