While many people have learned how to use new technologies for staying in contact with family, friends and colleagues throughout the pandemic, there are still challenges for some older adults.

Loretto’s employees have been helping residents to use iPads and other technology for video calls with their loved ones this year. If you are planning to virtually connect with older adults this holiday season, Loretto offers the following 5 tips to make the experience as easy and enjoyable as possible:

1.Test the technology before “showtime” – Find time for the older adults in your family to use the technology before the day when your family will be gathering virtually. If someone can safely help your loved one in person, even better. Make sure they know how to turn the device on AND off, as well as adjust the volume and display. This gives them time to learn how to use all of the features and feel more comfortable on your celebration day. (If you can’t be there in person, consider having instructions written and printed in large font for your loved one.)
2.Opt for larger screens – Small screens like those on cell phones can make it difficult for older adults to see people on a video call, as well as the buttons necessary to use the technology. Aim for a tablet or larger screen. You might even be able to set up the technology so that your loved one can see everyone on a television monitor.
3.Minimize noise, maximize light – It can be difficult for older adults to hear your conversation if there are people talking in the background, music playing, or other noises. Find a quiet area to have your virtual visit. And to make it as easy as possible for your loved one to see you, make sure you have bright light on your face with minimal or no light coming from behind you.
4.Keep it short – Older adults may still have difficulty, become frustrated, or become tired during video calls. Make sure to manage everyone’s expectations that your virtual visit may only last a few minutes.
5.Make your virtual time together dedicated – It can be difficult for older adults see a group of multiple people who are farther away from the camera. Instead of trying to incorporate your loved one into a group gathering, have each person dedicate one-on-one time to focus 100% on the virtual visit with your loved one. And have the first person take a minute to ensure your loved one can see and hear everything through their device

Loretto says, above all, have patience. You might use this technology every day, but older adults do not.

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