Ways for Comox Valley seniors to stay connected with family

For many seniors, the "most wonderful time of the year" can be a very lonely one...

As I write this column, I am getting ready to accompany my daughter’s Grade 2/3 class to Stevenson Place.

The children are conducting mini-interviews with some of the seniors and we’ll be bringing a little extra good cheer in the form of singing. With the magical sprinkling of snow out there, there is no doubt that it’s time to dust off the holiday columns.

Holidays are always bittersweet for me.

Being the youngest of four and living many miles away from my fellow Torontonian family members, I openly admit to feeling a bit blue during the festive season.

Don’t get me wrong; I have a loving family here and there are many positive elements to traditions in Comox. But for me, there is always something about missing “home and family” around the holidays.

For many seniors, the “most wonderful time of the year” can be a very lonely one.

According to research done at Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, being 65 and older doubles your chances of spending holidays alone. Add declining health, mobility challenges, inclement weather and changes in sensory (think hard of hearing, failing eyesight) and getting out the door gets that much harder.

The good news is with more seniors using technology or having access to technology, feeling connected can be just a keyboard away. While it isn’t as good as the real deal, here are a few things to embrace technology and connect with your distant loved ones this holiday season.

Please note: I am not overly tech savvy and listed below are some easy strategies for “us” reluctant tech users.

1. Skype is almost as easy as the phone: If my mother can use Skype, you can, too! It is just like talking on the phone but even better.

I love seeing all my family show up on my screen. My daughter can move around, show off her artistic creations and even play the recorder for my Mom.

The hardest part was getting the program set up on my Mom’s computer. The second hardest part was walking her through the process over the phone, several times in a row. I am proud to say she is self-sufficient, one year later.

If you don’t own a computer, consider asking your neighbours if they do and if they could help out. I have many clients who use this method and it works like a charm.

2. Send a movie. We’ve created a DVD to send to our entire family this year. Nowadays, there are endless, user-friendly programs that make great slideshows and movies, all to music.

This option takes some time up front (roughly 10 hours for our eight-minute video) and some skill and patience in editing pictures. This will easily become a new holiday tradition in our home. I can’t wait for my Mom to open it up and play on Christmas Day.

3. Set a remote setting. This may seem a little crazy or far-fetched and yet, when we held our friend’s memorial service and a longtime friend wasn’t able to travel, we simply set up the laptop and camera and Skype did the rest.

It was surprisingly a lovely and personal way to connect and share in a special moment. Sharing a virtual meal may not be such a bad idea although make sure you keep your elbows off the table!

For more great ideas, check out www.tricitypsychology.com/tips-for-connecting-with-elders-during-the-holidays.

Wendy Johnstone is a gerontologist and is the founder of Keystone Eldercare Solutions. Her column runs in the Comox Valley Record every second Thursday.

Just Posted

BREAKING: Large structure fire at downtown Courtenay hostel

A fire in downtown Courtenay has engulfed the Cona Hostel at the… Continue reading

Affordable rental housing complex opens in Courtenay

The Braidwood facility will house 34 people at risk of homelessness

Applications open for record bursary, scholarship funding at North Island College

Current and future North Island College students can now apply for scholarships… Continue reading

Second Stage Players present laughter and love in We Are Family

Get your tickets early to see the Evergreen Club’s Second Stage Players’… Continue reading

Stolen Bentley spotted going wrong way down highway found in Summerland

The car has been recorded going the wrong way on the Coquihalla, found two days later

Comox Valley Hospice Society finds new Ocean Front home

Comox Valley Hospice Society (CVHS) recently announced plans to construct a new… Continue reading

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Most Read