by: Camille Johnson of Bereaver

Keeping in touch with loved ones can be difficult, especially for seniors. While video chats and messaging apps are second nature for younger generations, it’s not always easy to know what options and technology are available for older family members. By purchasing simple tech items such as a webcam, seniors can easily video chat with family at the touch of a button.

Senior-friendly technology at home

There are excellent resources available to help seniors age at home, such as the Arizona In-Home Care Association. You can find access to services and read about common issues facing seniors at home, including how best to stay in touch with loved ones from afar.

Even if technology doesn’t come easily to older generations, devices have become more simple and easy to use. For example, webcams offer video chatting opportunities so seniors can stay in touch with family and friends. Video chatting can feel almost like you’re there, and is a great replacement for in-person conversations.

When searching for a reliable webcam, be sure to take into account qualities such as resolution and microphone. While some tablets, phones, and computers have built-in cameras, webcams often offer better resolution. Be sure to compare different options, also taking into account cost and user reviews.

Easy-to-use smartphones

Mobile technology is powerful these days, and often can be more powerful than a senior needs for staying in touch. As you search for an appropriate phone for you or your loved one, consider what elements are needed for daily use.

When it comes to phones for seniors, simplicity is key. Large icons, fewer functions, and easy-to-navigate systems work best, so look for options that satisfy your or your loved one’s needs.

Along with choosing the right phone, it’s a good idea to search for a cell phone carrier that specializes in the senior market. There are a few carriers that have specialized features for those who need constant health monitoring. These phones have an urgent response button, 24/7 access to nurses, and can even be connected to medical alert devices.

If you or your senior loved one is on a fixed income, it might also be a good idea to get a cell phone plan that is prepaid. Some voice-only plans offer monthly rates as low as $10 per month, so do some research and determine what’s in the budget.

Tablets for staying in touch

Often, smartphones allow us to do almost everything we need to do online. The problem with phones for seniors is that the screens are often so small that it can be difficult to navigate the phone’s many functions. Rather than relying on a smartphone for keeping in touch, consider getting a tablet to help stay connected.

Tablets typically have much bigger screens than phones, allowing for easy navigation. Many have been designed specifically with seniors in mind: GrandPad is one that has a simplified set of apps that use easy-to-read and clearly labeled icons and allow users to make video and voice calls, take and send photos, email, play music and games, read news and weather, and search topics on the Internet. Photos and contacts can be preloaded by family members, which cuts out set-up and passwords. There’s even a live support person on call to help seniors deal with technical issues.

If you get a tablet, be sure to find apps that are senior-friendly. A few to consider are Pillboxie, which helps remind seniors about medications; IBP, which helps manage blood pressure health; Skype, to stay connected to friends and family; and Words with Friends, a Scrabble-like game that allows users to play against contacts or other players online.

When choosing the right technology to stay in touch with family and friends, consider what devices will be best for you or your senior loved one. Webcams are excellent for face-to-face conversations, and some smartphones offer the ability to easily access medical care when needed. Tablets are great for seniors, especially for those who have trouble navigating small phone screens. If you get a tablet, be sure to load up on senior-friendly apps to do everything from staying in touch with friends to remembering to take medications.