Expert shares four ways to make elderly relatives and those shielding feel appreciated and supported

It’s important now, more than ever, for families to stay connected and in touch. But how can you show your grandparent, or older parent that you appreciate them?

Chris Millington, the managing director of senior mobile phone brand emporia, explains four ways in which we can make elderly people in our life feel loved and supported:

 

Give them a call 

With lockdown forcing everyone to stay separated, we quickly turned to technology to stay in touch. With the elderly generation though, it’s not always that simple; using Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp and sending emails is not a second nature. This generation has not grown up with technology and use it far less than millennials for example. In fact, our research from 2020 shows that those aged 65+ only use their  phone for an average of 15minutes a day!

This means they have plenty of time to be having phone calls, but most sadly aren’t receiving them. As humans, we thrive on personal connection and interaction, so make sure you give your grandparent a phone call. Ask them how they are, what are they reading, watching or cooking. Ask them about them – after all, this generation has some amazing lifetime stories and a lot of wisdom; invest the time in learning about these special people in your life while you still can.

 

Send pictures of what you’ve been doing 

A picture speaks a thousand words. Often those hard of hearing may struggle with phone calls or technological communication if it’s not suited to their needs or ability. So, if you’re lucky enough to have a grandparent or parent using a smartphone or tablet, send them pictures. 

Even simple things like a flower or bird in your garden, right through to pictures of your children or latest baking creation. Anything. Keeping in touch and regularly updated will help remove the distance many of us are feeling right now. If possible too, encourage them to send pictures back. It can be as simple as a picture of you on a walk; just let them know you’re thinking of them often.

 

Help them with areas they’re struggling

When you invest the time to see what your parents or grandparents are doing or how they are keeping, you’ll soon notice some areas they struggle with. The pandemic has imposed a whole new wave of challenges for those who are not familiar with technology. The track and trace app is a prime example. Our research shows that three quarters (76%) of those aged 66+ do not use a smartphone so have little experience of its capabilities, or may not be able to access key apps.

This means ordinary things to you like ordering a food shop, a new book, or a picture frame bracket become a lot more difficult when you don’t have Amazon or know how to use the web! Consider how you can help them practically, whether it be assisting with shopping, helping them around the house or with technology. Consider how they stay in touch; perhaps they may feel reassured with a smartphone that is more intuitive to their needs and comes with a self-teach guide to learn at their own pace. If there’s anything you can do to make them feel more confident, but most importantly loved, then that can only be a good thing.

 

Give them a thoughtful gift

Who says birthdays and Christmas are the only time for presents?! A small little “thinking of you” present can completely uplift someone, so who better to treat than our grandparents. Often, you’ll find this generation is completely selfless, and you’ll have fond memories being around Nan or Granddad growing up. 

Why stop there? Buy a meal voucher for when hospitality reopens for dinner with you, send them an updated, framed family photo, or even just the latest book, film or series they may have mentioned. It doesn’t even have to be about money or cost anything; a handmade card from their young grandchildren or a home-baked treat shows they are thought of. And if you’re far away, don’t forget the postal service still exists; there’s something very heartwarming about receiving a letter or gift in the post.