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5 Easy Way for Seniors to Keep in Touch via Technology

Thank you so much to Mary for sharing the great ideas and article!!

5 Easy Ways for Seniors to Keep in Touch via Technology

Technology is a fantastic resource for communities worldwide, and it has a lot to offer seniors, too. Whether you live far from your older loved ones or are keeping your distance for health reasons, technology can help bridge the gap.

Dream Big Sophie recommends these ideas for staying in contact with your senior loved one, no matter where you (or they) are.

1. Affordable Internet

Many seniors live on a fixed income and have to stick to a tight budget. The Pension Rights Center says that half of all older seniors have an income of less than $25,600 per year.

But the good news is that even older adults with limited financial means can get high-speed internet to stay connected. Discounts are available on high-speed internet for seniors and other qualified individuals, so you don’t need to worry about high connection costs.

2. Accessibility Tools

Older folks can learn to use technology just like anyone else. But the truth is that many seniors deal with vision, hearing, and other challenges that might make it hard to use smartphones or tablets. Smaller screens, especially, can be hard to navigate.

To help seniors use their devices more easily, look into accessibility tools. Tablets and smartphones often have accessible modes for reading messages aloud, zooming in on text, and other helpful features.

Apple Insider explains that for Apple devices, a range of features can help you make your senior loved one’s iPad or iPhone easier to navigate. Android’s accessibility tools center on things like screen brightness and magnification, larger button settings, and more.

3. Simpler Tablets and Phones

If your senior loved one is resistant to handling an iPad or similar device that’s new and flashy, you might want to explore simpler technology solutions.

For example, Jitterbug phones bring back a flip phone style so seniors don’t have to deal with extras like voice assistants, web browsers, and the like. Alternative tablets like the GrandPad eliminate confusing interfaces and just leave the basics: text, calls, and video chatting, plus some browsing capabilities.

Of course, it’s essential to involve your loved one in the decision-making process. They might surprise you with their preferences about their new tablet or phone.

4. Get Voice Assistance

Many smartphones and tablets have voice assistants built-in, making such devices excellent choices for seniors. But you can also purchase different voice assistant technology like an Amazon or Google device. These units can be voice-only, or they can include screens for video chatting, viewing the weather, and other tasks.

The American Foundation for the Blind recommends optimizing your senior’s voice assistant to address their unique needs. For example, Amazon has a Drop-In feature where you can video chat anytime — as long as your senior is OK with setting it up that way. Voice assistants can also give your loved one reminders, make phone calls hands-free, and more.

5. Original Messaging: Email

Though many older generations feel uncomfortable with technology, more seniors than ever are using email online. Statista confirms that over 84 percent of internet users 65 and above use email to communicate. Your senior loved one might already be one of them.

If your family member already has an email address, you can start communicating immediately. But if they are a bit resistant to typing messages online, look into senior-friendly email clients that streamline the messaging process. In no time, your loved one can start sending messages, pictures, and more.

Keeping connected with your older loved one can feel challenging without technology. But with the right tech solutions, it’s easy and enjoyable to stay in touch from afar. Do you want to do more to help your senior loved one or others in your community? Visit Dream Big Sophie for ideas and inspiration from kids and communities all over.

Photo via Pexels

 

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An Article Idea for Your Review from mary@SeniorsMeet.org

Thank you so much to Mary from mary@SeniorsMeet.org for writing in to Dream Big Sophie.org with great ideas how Seniors and kids can work together during the pandemic.  One of the biggest problems for seniors and kids during the pandemic is not being able to see their friends or loved ones.  This loss of being able to see friends and family causes a lot of stress and anxiety.  Working together to help with ways to communicate safely and effectively through technology is a win win for all involved.  I have spent a lot of time trying to help my grandmas with how to zoom and facetime. Interesting even during my online classes at school  some of my teachers also need assistance from the students how to use the technology.   Looking forward to your article and thanks for writing in.

Greetings!

I have an idea for an article for your website, which I am happy to write free of charge if you’re interested in posting it. Would your readers benefit from an article discussing senior-friendly technology and how to use it to stay in touch with loved ones? 

Basically, this pandemic has forced my husband and I, both seniors who are not particularly tech savvy, to embrace technology. The process wasn’t exactly easy, but the reward of being able to see our kids and grandkids while quarantined was so worth it. In fact, we plan to continue our weekly calls with faraway friends and family indefinitely!

If you think this information might be useful to other seniors, please let me know!

With gratitude,

Mary Shannon

mary@SeniorsMeet.org

SeniorsMeet.org

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Many Thanks to Hayley A. for outreaching: A Career and School Guide for Military Spouses

Hi Sophie,

I noticed that you included bestcolleges.com’s piece about scholarships for military dependents and spouses on your website:

A message from Patricia

1 in 4 military spouses are currently unemployed and looking for work. We realize that the challenges of relocating, continuing education, and holding down the fort at home can be a tall order.

We created our guide with these challenges in mind to help military spouses secure the resources they need to be successful in the workforce. We compare flexible career paths, spousal employment programs, and even include tips directly from military spouses who’ve been there before.

https://www.thesimpledollar.com/financial-wellness/a-career-and-school-guide-for-military-spouses/

Would you consider adding our guide as an additional resource to your page?

Thanks,

Hayley A

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Many thanks to Maryville University for writing in with this great resource

Hi Sophie,

I hope you’re doing well. I came across your site while researching established resources and thought I’d reach out.
I work with Maryville University, a nationally recognized private institution offering comprehensive and innovative education.
I saw you have a very helpful links/resources section here: http://dreambigsophie.org/your-stories/page/2/ and thought ours would be a great addition.

Do you mind adding our page: https://online.maryville.edu/online-bachelors-degrees/psychology/understanding-a-veteran-with-ptsd/ to your list?

Thank you so much for your help!

Sincerely,
Tracey Fowler
Outreach Coordinator

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I enjoyed being a part of the FLXGives! Community Fundraiser

November 15, 2019 was FLXGives! Sponsored by the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, which I am proud to be a member of the Rose’s Youth Philanthropy,  held region-wide, 24-hour, day of giving for nonprofit organizations from throughout our community.

I picked for my fundraising project The Arc of Chemung ( We create opportunities for individual successes.  Causes: Disability Services,  Community Advocacy)

“This is the time of year when people often make donations to the causes that mean the most to them.  I hope you will consider donating to The Arc of Chemung, where your gift goes directly to help children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, to get the support they need.  Your generosity directly translates into skills training, or transportation, or assistive technology-all which can transform someone’s life.”

I was proud to have reached my personal goal of $500.00 for this great cause.

 

 

 

 

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Thank you to brian@eldersplace.org for writing in and sharing this important article.

The Veteran’s Guide to Financial Planning in Retirement

Veterans make up over 7 percent of the total population of adults in the United States, and half of these individuals are 65 years and older! Veterans face several unique obstacles — such as mental health issues, injuries, and disability — that may affect their ability to save for retirement. Fortunately, seniors who have served in the military have many financial and healthcare benefits that the rest of us don’t. With that in mind, these tips will help you navigate the complex maze of financial planning as a senior veteran.

Protect Your Family with Insurance

Consider purchasing burial insurance. Burial insurance will help your loved ones pay for your funeral, headstone, urn, and other expenses that have to do with your final arrangements. This kind of insurance can also be used to cover your existing debts, such as medical bills or personal loans. Before purchasing a policy, think about what you want for your final arrangements and whether you need your policy to cover your debts as well.

If someone depends on you financially, life insurance will protect them from financial hardship when you pass away. Your spouse, for example, may rely on the benefits of your pension or Social Security. You can even get a life insurance policy with a long-term care rider. With this kind of policy, you can use your life insurance money to pay for long-term care if you ever end up needing it. If you don’t, the money will go to your beneficiary when you die.

Take Advantage of VA Healthcare

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also provides long-term care assistance to veterans. On top of this, the VA system offers a variety of medical benefits to eligible seniors. Contrary to common belief, you don’t have to have an injury or disability to receive VA benefits! VA healthcare includes access to preventive medical care, physical exams, prescription drugs, dental care, mental health services, and medical devices like glasses and hearing aids. Just remember, you have to apply for VA healthcare to gain access to these services.

Assisted Living and Home Care Benefits

The VA system also provides assisted living benefits and caregiver assistance. Caregiver support includes homemaker services and home health aides. While the VA will not cover your rent if you stay in an assisted living facility, they will pay for many care services. If you prefer to age in place, these caregiver benefits can take a lot of pressure off your family.

Enroll in Medicare

According to AARP, it’s strongly recommended that veterans enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, regardless of whether they have VA coverage. This will broaden your coverage so you can receive care from non-VA facilities. Plus, if you lose your VA coverage in the future, you won’t be hit with late-enrollment penalties for enrolling in Medicare later down the line. Fortunately, the VA system covers prescription drugs so you won’t have to deal with Medicare Part D.

Apply for Pension Benefits

Finally, make sure you take advantage of any pension benefits that are available to you and your spouse. Many people think you require a disability to receive a veteran’s pension, but this is not true. Any low-income veterans over the age of 65 who served during a wartime period may qualify for the Veteran’s Pension Benefit. According to the Motley Fool, this pension is reserved for families with financial difficulties. While it’s only a modest amount of money, it can have a significant impact on seniors who are struggling with their financial stability. If you need long-term care, you may be able to receive additional money for assisted living care with the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pensions Benefit.

Whether you feel prepared for retirement or not, take some time to ensure you’re making the most of your available benefits and programs. Financial planning can be time-consuming and complex. However, getting your finances in shape now will prepare you for the future and set you up for a worry-free retirement.

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Many thanks to Brian B. for writing in and sharing some useful information for our Veterans

Subject:Dream Big Sophie – Contact Form

Message Body:
Hello there,

I come from a military family (my father and grandfather both served), and I have unwavering, immense respect for our country’s active and retired military members. Since you are also clearly so passionate about these heroes, I was wondering if you’d like some additional information to add to your site… maybe on this page? http://dreambigsophie.org/

Wherever you put them, here are some helpful tools that I think will be useful for the service members who visit your pages.

The Military Dad: Dealing with Deployment
http://purplecrying.info/sub-pages/information-for-dads/the-military-dad-dealing-with-deployment.php

10 Financial Tips to Do Before You Deploy
http://www.sdflc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Financial-PreparationTips-Before-Deployment.pdf

Constant Contact: How Much Is Too Much During Deployments?
https://www.ausa.org/articles/how-much-contact-during-deployments

7 Medicare Facts Every Veteran Should Know
https://www.medicareadvantage.com/resources/medicare-for-veterans

You’ve Earned It: These Grants Can Help Disabled Veterans
https://www.veteransunited.com/futurehomeowners/youve-earned-it-these-grants-can-give-disabled-vets-a-hand/

The Veteran’s Guide to Creating a Peaceful At-Home Atmosphere After Returning Home
https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/veterans-guide-to-creating-a-peaceful-home/

The Military Separation Guide for Active Duty Personnel: An Overview of What You Should Know Before You Leave Military Service 
http://www.vetsfirst.org/military-separation-guide/

This is just a really tiny way I can show my appreciation to our country’s heroes, but of course there are lots of great ways we can honor active service members and veterans. Would you like me to write an article for you that you can share on your site with ideas on how citizens can show their support? Let me know!

Thanks,
Brian

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How can a younger child be a role model for me?

It has been 6 months since I returned from El Salvador and I count the days until I go back again next year. Andrea was one of the family members of the house I helped build in 2018. When I left El Salvador that year, I didn’t know if I would ever see her again and if I did see her would she remember me. Her family lives 5 miles from a post office so we couldn’t even be pen pals. To my delight, when I returned this year in 2019 she not only remembered me but greeted me with warm smiles and a big hug. When it was time for me to say goodbye, I was crying and she comforted me that things would be ok and we would see each other soon. I am taking Spanish in school so we can speak to each other better next year. When I go to college, I plan to return to El Salvador and help the people there. There is so much need there. They are strong, kind and humble people. I hope to continue to make a difference in El Salvador as Andrea has made a difference to me.

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