“Sue Ann” spent the winter of 2010 shut up in her condo. Sue Ann was in her seventies, and leaving home meant heading down two sets of stairs and a trek through ice and snow. Her kids were pressuring her to move into assisted living, but she cherished her home. Sue Ann didn’t want to fight with her kids over her independen
“Charlie” was devastated when his middle child took a new job and moved out of state. At 65, Charlie’s health was waning, and although he was in denial, deep inside he knew that he didn’t have years to live. He loved his family, and the idea of losing regular time with his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson was very difficult.
Enter the magic of Skype, which offers free video calling for personal use. Charlie’s local son arranged times for Charlie to Skype with his out-of-state son. Charlie never even knew such options existed, and when it came time to make the first call, it was truly a pleasant surprise.
Charlie was able to see his son, his daughter-in-law, and grandson, making a real connection with them. His long-distance son was no longer just a voice on the other side of a phone. He could see his grandson’s goofy antics, and even their dogs got into the picture.
After that first Skype call, Charlie said, “That was really nice. It helps feel like they’re not so far away.” Those regular Skype calls were a highlight for both Charlie and his family.
Skype, FaceTime, and the other video calling programs are a great way for elderly family members to connect with anyone they love who is far enough away to prohibit regular visits—children, grandchildren, siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews. If you are taking care of elderly parents, surprise them with a video call from someone they love. It’ll make their day, if not their week!
For basic use, such as video calling with family, Skype is free. Most newer laptops have cameras built into them, and if your computer doesn’t have one, adding a webcam can cost as little as $30 or $40. It’s a small price to pay for the connection with a long-distance elderly parent.
If you are long-distance caring for a loved one and are without family who can initiate video calling, your elderly parents may be able to initiate/answer video calls themselves. If not, friends or hired at-home caregivers can also be involved to enable video calling.
If you want to try video calling and want alternatives to Skype or FaceTime, check out Travis Dakota’s HubPages article “16 Best Free Alternatives to Skype in 2014.”
Carol Hauser, M.A.
April 25, 2014
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