Improving Communication

drmarion's picture

During your elder’s lifetime, the way we communicate has changed at warp speed. Your elders may not be familiar with recent technological advances, but you can teach them and help them to feel more comfortable. I highly recommend that you start with making sure they are comfortable using a computer. Show them how to log on and log off, and how to access the internet and email. Write it out step-by-step and go over the instructions in person. Using email can change your elder’s life since staying in touch with you, younger relatives (especially grandchildren and great-grandchildren), and other friends becomes infinitely easier via the internet. At this point, a desktop (or even a laptop) might not be necessary—tablet computers are often more user-friendly.

Think about bringing all other electronic lines of communication up to speed, too. Buy a home phone with large numbers and increased volume, and place it in the room that your elder occupies most often. Make sure there’s a list of emergency phone contacts near each phone and on the refrigerator. Make sure your elder has a cell phone for emergencies, so you can locate him or her immediately, and that he/she knows how to use it. If your situation calls for it, consider installing some home monitoring equipment if your elder is usually alone or if you want to maximize your safety awareness. 

Other elder-friendly electronic enhancements to be aware of include phones with increased volume and ring tones for the hearing impaired, as well as video phones. You can also help your elder to learn how to use video chat programs, such as Skype. These products will both enhance communication and may make it easier for your elder to avoid emotional and physical isolation.

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