With many retirement communities in the Seattle area still monitoring and, in some cases, restricting the presence of visitors on campus because of COVID-19, families continue relying on technology to stay connected.
While hanging out remotely doesn’t quite have the intensity or comfort of spending time with loved ones in person, it can help sustain and even strengthen relationships and help ward off loneliness and isolation.
Online Activities for Grandparents and Grandkids
Even though group gatherings are not yet permitted at assisted and independent living campuses in West Seattle, your children can still hang out with their grandparents via Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and other video-calling apps. All they need is a laptop or tablet. Over the coming months, here are some fun things for grandparents to do with grandchildren online:
1. Skyping with Grandkids
Sometimes a conversation is all that’s needed to help your whole family feel more connected. Skype is one of the original video-conferencing apps, so it may be more familiar for older adults. However, there are several options, including Zoom, Facetime, Whatsapp, Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, and Houseparty. It all comes down to personal preference. Before you encourage your older parent to start downloading too many apps, however, make sure they are aware of common scams that are typically targeted at seniors. Additionally, try to establish a consistent day and time each week for video-calling, as it gives both grandparents and grandkids something to look forward to. If you're wondering what you could talk about, try sharing memories, life updates, thoughts on a movie or show, or history about the family tree.
2. Reading Bedtime Stories
If you want to incorporate a specific activity into your remote grandparents' time, is there anything more special than reading together? Your child can join a video call before bedtime and listen to their grandparents read a couple shorter books, or you all can start working through a series together. You don’t have to do stories right before bedtime, either. Try an afternoon or mid-morning story time—whatever works for your schedule. Even recording yourself reading a book and sending the video to your grandkids makes for a special treat.
3. Video Messaging Rather Than Texting
Any type of communication between older adults and their loved ones is valuable. For some people, texting and emailing may be in their comfort zone. For others, it’s more meaningful when they can see the other person. In that case, apps like Marco Polo, which is akin to a video walkie-talkie, are a good platform to use.
4. Teaching a Skill
What sort of hobbies or skills do you have that you would like to share with your grandchildren? Why not set up a time to demonstrate and even teach it over Facetime or Zoom? Children love learning new things, and passing on a skill is an effective way to strengthen family bonds. This works both ways as well. As children learn a new accomplishment, they may be excited to share it with their grandparents. If there isn’t the opportunity for a live call, you can still record videos to send to one another.
5. Playing Games Online
Playing games together is another way for grandchildren and grandparents to share quality time, even remotely. Some appealing games for grandparents include virtual chess and checkers, which can be played video websites like Tabletopia. You can also play games such as Uno via Facebook or use multiplayer gaming apps like Words with Friends, Scrabble GO, and Yahtzee with Buddies. Other fun online games for long-distance family members include Monopoly, Mario Kart Tour, Skribblo, or even interactive games like Pictionary or Charades. While these long-distance game nights with grandparents and grandchildren may not always go smoothly, laughing and talking together while figuring out logistics is part of the fun.
6. Going for a Walk
When you’re planning to take a walk with your children, invite your older parents to join in virtually from their assisted living campus. Let the grandkids describe what they’re seeing along the walk or even share via Facetime any cool or interesting plants, wildlife, and objects they spot along the way. It might also be fun for the grandchildren to see where their grandparents are living. If you have a favorite spot on the grounds of your senior living community, video call your family while you’re out there and give them a little virtual tour.
7. Exploring a Museum
Ready to experience some culture as a family? Numerous museums across the globe have interactive sections on their websites or offer virtual tours. Pretend you’re in France, visiting the Louvre, or enjoy the wide variety of artifacts exhibited online by the Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Art or National Museum of Natural History. Whatever subjects strike your fancy, no doubt there is an institution that provides a gateway for a fun, educational online experience that you can share with your grandkids.
Setting Up Technology for Grandparents
Don’t let social-distancing become an impediment to cultivating important relationships in your life, particularly those with your children and grandchildren. There are numerous activities you can enjoy together, even in a virtual environment. At West Seattle senior living communities such as Daystar Retirement Village, staff members are helping older adults try new technology, install useful apps, and schedule online meetings with their family members and friends. That is just one way our team at Daystar is working to maintain a high quality of life for residents in assisted, independent and 55-plus living during COVID-19 and beyond.