While the quarantines, shutdowns, and social distancing measures have been difficult for everyone, the elderly have been particularly hard hit. Since seniors face the most health risks from COVID-19, most of them have been careful to avoid close contact with their families. This has left many grandparents unable to visit with their grandchildren.
This loss of in-person connection for such an extended period of time can cause people to feel isolated, which can eventually lead to mental health issues like depression. At the same time, children who are unable to spend in-person time with their grandparents may experience confusion and anxiety over their lost relationship.
Seeing that the pandemic currently seems to be getting worse, there’s no telling how long it will be before these restrictions will be lifted. With no end in sight, it’s important for grandparents and grandkids to find ways of staying connected during this period and not miss out on the beneficial effects a close relationship can produce.
With this in mind, here are a few tips for helping seniors maintain a close connection with their grandchildren during the pandemic using web-based technology like FaceTime, email, and instant messaging (IM). Although video chats, texts, and IMs will never replace in-person visits, they offer one of the most effective ways of keeping those relationships as strong as possible during these dark times.
- Reading Stories
One way for grandparents to feel connected with their grandkids is for them to read stories over video chat or smartphone. To do this, simply choose a favorite book at the grandchild’s reading level, and take turns reading pages. This can also give the grandchild the added benefits of improving reading skills, building their vocabulary, and helping them develop their speaking abilities. By picking a regular time to call and read together, it can additionally give both of them something to look forward to.
- Playing Games
Even though in-person visits maybe too risky right now, family game night can still happen. Grandparents and grandkids have many options for online gaming which even include classic board games, such as Scrabble, Monopoly, and Clue. Like their traditional counterparts, online games also help children develop math and vocabulary skills.
- Emailing, Texting, and Instant Messaging
Texts, emails, and IMs sent to one another on a regular basis can help grandparents stay connected and up-to-date with their grandkids’ lives. To catch up with one another, seniors can talk about what is happening in their lives and ask the grandkids to discuss the latest events in their lives. When grandchildren use texts and emails, it additionally helps them practice writing out their thoughts and work on their spelling and grammar.
- Mailing Letters or Postcards
These days, letter writing almost seems like dying art. However, sending personal letters and postcards is a great way for grandparents and grandchildren to connect with one another. Handwritten letters and postcards can also become keepsakes that will help grandchildren remember their grandparents long after they are gone. When possible, children should be encouraged to hand-write letters and postcards instead of typing them out. They can also decorate their letters or postcards with personal drawings and art.
- Group Video Chats and Phone Calls
Tech-savvy grandparents can use video chat apps like Skype, FaceTime, and Google Duo to visit with the grandkids in a setting where everyone can see and interact with one another. Video chats also allow grandparents to see how their grandchildren age over time, which can be rapid during their first few years of life. Even extremely young children like toddlers can participate in video chats, which can help them bond with their senior loved ones.
And if video chats aren’t something a senior feels comfortable with, a similar experience can be achieved simply by using a phone set to speaker mode. These video chats and phone calls can be scheduled so that they occur on an ongoing basis which gives everyone something to look forward to. Even short calls made on a regular basis can help grandparents and grandkids feel more connected and less isolated.
For the Love of Your Family
With coronavirus infections and deaths currently surging to record levels, it’s more critical than ever for parents and grandparents to ensure their Wills and Trusts planning is complete and up-to-date. This includes naming both short and long-term guardians for your minor children. If you’ve yet to name guardians for your kids, you should do so immediately. You can get this process started right now using our free online resource, known as the Kids Protection Plan®.
In addition to ensuring your kids will be protected and provided for no matter what, the Wills and Trusts planning process can also offer a unique opportunity to enhance your connection with your children and grandchildren. Communicating clearly about what you want to happen in the event of your death or incapacity can foster a deep bond and sense of intimacy.
Though such conversations can feel awkward, with us as your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help guide and support you in having these discussions in an age-and-stage appropriate way with your children. In fact, our clients consistently share that after undergoing our Wills and Trusts planning process, they feel a deeper sense of connection with their loved ones. Schedule an appointment with us today to get started.
This article is a service of Levi L. Alexander, Personal Family Lawyer®. We do not just draft documents. We help to ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. This is why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™. During this session, you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session for free.