It’s an uncertain time right now. And in times of uncertainty, many of us want to connect with the people we love and care about. But unfortunately, that’s not always possible.

To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, local, state and federal governments are encouraging people to “shelter in place” and only leave the house for essential tasks like grocery shopping or doctor’s visits.

These regulations are in place largely to prevent the disease from affecting the most vulnerable members of society, including older adults.

But sadly, the very efforts that are in place to protect them can also cause unintended consequences.

Social isolation among older adults, particularly those living alone, can increase one’s chances of developing mental and physical conditions including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Loneliness has also been tied to an increased risk of anxiety, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

As much as we want to visit our loved ones — for their sake as well as for our own peace of mind — a personal visit can increase their risk of exposure to coronavirus.

Fortunately, even if we can’t get together in real life (or “IRL,” as the kids say), we can still leverage today’s technology to check in and stay in touch with the people we care about thanks to video calling tools FaceTime, Skype and Google Duo.

The Importance of Face-to-Face Interaction

Calling your loved one is always a lovely way to connect. But on a call, we can’t see the person we’re talking to.

Video chat (or “video telephony,” if you want to get technical) enables audio and video communication in real time. On a video call, we can see the other person’s expressions. We can show we’re engaged in the conversation by smiling and nodding. Video chats also allow callers to share physical objects in their environment, whether it’s a grandchild’s latest drawing or a card from a longtime friend.

This visual connection provides reassurance and comfort for everyone on the call.

Video Calling Apps

There are many apps and services out there that you can download on your smartphone or computer to connect with loved ones without putting their health and well-being at risk.

Here are a few of the most popular.

FaceTime

FaceTime is Apple’s proprietary video calling app. It’s built into every iPhone, iPad and Apple computer. The only downside is it can’t be used on a non-Apple device.

In 2018, Apple added a Group FaceTime option that allows up to 32 people to connect, assuming they all have Apple devices. This can come in handy if you have family spread across the country who all want to group chat.

Skype

Skype is one of the oldest video chat services. It can be downloaded and accessed on your computer, tablet, phone or smartwatch. It’s also available via the Xbox One console. Unlike FaceTime, Skype can be used on virtually any operating system, including Windows, iOS and Android. The service supports video chats between up to 25 people for free!

Google Duo

Google Duo was released in 2016. It can be used on the Android and iOS operating systems and comes pre-installed on most Android-based devices. Google Duo also supports group calls of up to eight people. It can also be used to record and send video messages when the other person is not available.

As powerful and helpful as video applications are, they can’t serve as a replacement for your telephone and should never be used for emergencies.

To learn more about each tool, Tom’s Guide and Wired offer helpful overviews and tutorials.

#SonataSmiles

To make it easier to stay connected, Sonata Senior Living is setting up video chat appointments for residents and families.

Sonata Senior Living encourages family and friends to connect with residents via video chat, calling, texting and social media. To learn more or to schedule a virtual tour, contact us today.

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