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Virtual business, virtual visits: a new way of life for everyone

by Emily Koelsch | Contributor
May 2, 2020


Amidst social distancing as a result of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased reliance on digital devices for individuals to stay connected to work, friends and family members. Many adults over 65 are not comfortable with technology, yet they are also particularly at risk for becoming isolated and lonely during this unprecedented period. In order to stay safe and connected, now is the time for all older Americans to become more computer or smartphone literate.

As COVID-19 takes its toll in the United States, most Americans have endured stay-at-home orders, which means they're only leaving home for essential activities. Adults over 60 are particularly vulnerable to this virus, and they'll likely need to practice social distancing for an even longer period of time than others in their community.

While friends and family cannot visit one another, it's nevertheless important to find ways to connect with others. This connection is always important, but it's especially important for maintaining mental and physical health in these uncertain and stressful times.

During this period, connecting with others, conducting business or visiting family is dependent on technology. While talking on a phone can help, utilizing computers or smartphones gives additional opportunities for connection that can help to make this period of isolation not feel so lonely or difficult.

In this unique context, resistance to technology will no longer serve you well. Whatever your technological knowledge or confidence, now is the time to expand your skills, face your tech fears and increase your computer and smartphone literacy.

How do I use tech to stay connected?

The good news about this time of isolation is that there are lots of innovative ways to stay connected, get things done and meet all needs while still staying at home. A few common ways to use technology to improve your quality of life while staying home include:

  • Videoconferencing and video chatting services like Zoom, Skype and FaceTime. These services make it easy to have video meetings or conversations with multiple people at once. This means you can hold a monthly meeting or get the entire family together on one call. They also allow you to talk face-to-face, which can provide a connection that a traditional phone call doesn't allow, especially if you want to check in on grandchildren and get a glimpse of what's going on in their lives.
  • Staying active with online resources. Stay-at-home orders have left many seniors without access to their normal exercise classes or exercise routines. Nevertheless, it's important to stay active to maintain mental and physical health. The good news is that there are plenty of free, online options available. YouTube offers a number of senior-focused exercise videos, as does the National Institute on Aging and AARP. Taking advantage of these videos can help to keep you active, healthy and happier during this period.
  • Food and grocery delivery. People age 60 and older have been advised to avoid all public places. While this can seem difficult to do, using food and grocery delivery options can help to make this a lot easier. Many groceries offer a pickup or delivery option. For example, Kroger offers a “Clicklist” pickup option or Instacart delivery, and AmazonFresh makes it easy to get groceries delivered to your door. Or, utilizing DoorDash or UberEats can make it easy to have meals delivered to your door. They even offer no-contact delivery for additional protection.

In addition to some of these basic services, there are some more specific services that could be beneficial. For example, for seniors with underlying health issues, there are smartwatch devices that monitor vital signs and have a button for instant contact. For people missing classes or social outings, an online class might be a good way to feel more stimulated and connected during this time. Smart home devices like Google Home or Amazon Echo can give you access to information and news without having to use a screen or keys.

How do I get started?

For individuals who are not comfortable with technology, utilizing some of these services can feel overwhelming. The good news, however, is that it doesn't have to be. There are many things that are very user-friendly and not hard

Program/App What it offers How-to-tutorial
Program/AppFaceTime What it offersEasy video-chatting with one or multiple people; can access from Apple devices How-to-tutorialLearn how to use FaceTime
Program/AppZoom What it offersVideo conferencing; great for meetings or talking with groups; can be used on computer or smartphone How-to-tutorialLearn how to use Zoom
Program/AppInstacart What it offersDelivery service from groceries, pharmacies and pet supply stores; can be used on a computer or smartphone How-to-tutorialLearn how to use Instacart
Program/AppDoorDash What it offersOn-demand food delivery from local restaurants; can be used on a smartphone or computer How-to-tutorialLearn how to use DoorDash

The first step is to learn to use some of the basic technology. Consider starting with FaceTime and Zoom. FaceTime can be accessed on Apple devices, and Zoom can be used on a computer or a smartphone. Don't be afraid to ask a family member to talk you through the basics of these. Also, you can watch tutorials to help get you started. Here are some tutorials that offer a good first step.

While everyone does have to stay home right now, that doesn't mean that you can't connect. In fact, it's important that you do find ways to connect with others to ensure that you stay healthy and get all of the essential items and services that you need.

The bottom line is that technology can make this time easier and more enjoyable. Even if you've been resistant to technology in the past, now is the time to face your fears, ask for help and learn some new skills. Hopefully the above resources will help. And, if you need additional support, don't be afraid to call a friend or neighbor for help. It will be worth it to help make sure that you're healthy, connected and cared for during this unprecedented time.

Alliance America can help

Alliance America is an insurance and financial services company. Our financial planners and retirement income certified professionals can assist you in maximizing your retirement resources and help you to achieve your future goals. We have access to an array of products and services, all focused on helping you enjoy the retirement lifestyle you want and deserve. You can request a no-cost, no-obligation consultation by calling (833) 219-6884 today.

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