Welcome to episode 3 of the Caregiver’s Toolbox.  In this episode, we are talking about video calling options for seniors.  We recommend different products to use for video calling and how to teach video calling to older adults.  Press play and let’s get right into it!

Video Calling Options to Talk with Seniors

Ryan McEniff:
Hello, everybody, and welcome to episode number three of the Caregiver’s Toolbox, tools for everyday caregiving. My name is Ryan McEniff and I’m here with Janet. Today we’re going to be talking about different services for video calling with seniors during the holidays when we want to see our loved ones but now technology has allowed us to do that, even if you live a few hundred miles away or a few thousand miles away or, if you really want, in the next room. Janet, we do get some calls on this from time to time from men and women and what to do when a family member lives out of state and they want to get in touch with their loved one. What do you think about this?

Janet:
I think it’s a great idea. The technology’s out there. I’m not technologically savvy, so you can certainly speak to that. I think it’s great for both long distance or maybe Mom was going to come but the weather’s really bad, or the grandfather or whoever, and now they’re disappointed because they’re not going to see people. I think this is an awesome idea.

Ryan McEniff:
Yeah, there is plenty of services that can do this. By no means are these the only ones. There are always going to be smaller companies that are coming up providing these different services, but these are like the big three or four that you should know about. That way you can investigate it and determine if you think it’s good or not.

 

Video Calling Options: Skype

The first one that I’m going to start with is going to be Skype. This is probably the less known of the four that I’m going to mention. Skype has been around for a long time. I’ve used it and it allows for not only calls but video calls. A lot of people use Skype overseas, talking to loved ones that are in a different country. I have an uncle that’s from Portugal and he talks to a lot of his Portuguese friends and family members, using Skype, whether it’s a virtual video call or it’s an over the Wi-Fi network phone call. That’s something that you definitely want to look into but it is also the less known of the four I’ll talk about.

Video Calling Options: Facebook Messanger

The next three are the big three software companies that everybody in America pretty much knows about, which is Facebook. Facebook has a great service on their messenger platform that allows for video calling. That way, as long as you’re connected with somebody on the Facebook social network, you can video call them and you can regularly phone call them on Wi-Fi and data networks.

 

Video Calling Options: Google Duo & Facetime

Another one of the many video calling options, and I should say some background is that my father is down in Florida and I’m up in Massachusetts. We use Google Duo out of all the video calling options. This is something that’s come out recently. One of the things that I like about Google Duo that the other services like Facebook and what we’ll talk about, Apple, don’t provide is that there are two major phone manufacturers out there. One of them is Google and one of them is Apple. Google makes Android phones and Apple makes iPhones. When you look at Facebook and you look at Facetime, which we’re going to talk about, you either need to have compatible phones or you need to be part of a social network to be able to use that service. With Google Duo, you can download and talk to a person even if you have an Android phone and they have an Apple phone. All you need is a Google account, which many people do have Google accounts, using Gmail email accounts.

I use Google Duo and I’ve had success with that but it is by no means the only one that you can use. Then there’s the next biggest company, which is Apple, and they have Facetime. Facetime was really the leader in all of this when it became huge on portable devices and smartphones while Skype was more of a desktop service. The downside with Facetime, though, is that you need to have an Apple phone to use it as far as I know. Using myself and my dad as an example, we can’t Facetime with each other because I have a Google phone and he has an Apple phone. Hence, the reason why we use Google Duo.

Those are the four software and the four video calling options that I would look into and just make a determination on which one’s best for you, which one is easiest to use. Try it out with maybe some tech-savvy family members. Talk with some people about what they like and then that way, you can make an appropriate choice for yourself and for your mom or your dad.

 

Video Calling Options: Desktop vs Cellphone

Janet:
This is something that’s easy enough that if your parents or loved ones have a cell phone or a laptop, you could certainly do that. If they aren’t technologically savvy, if they have a neighbor, a friend or if they’re in a facility where there is staff that would know that, is that an easy thing for them to coordinate for the person?

Ryan McEniff:
Yeah, I think it should be easy enough. It’s just a matter of finding somebody that’s comfortable with it. I personally think it’s easier to use it on a smartphone. I know that a desktop is attractive because it has a bigger screen and the person that’s older might have eyesight issues and it may be easier to see, but one of the things that’s nice about a smartphone device is it’s hand-held. It doesn’t take up much room and it’s on you at all times of the day versus a desktop or laptop isn’t necessarily in hand’s reach at all times.

 

How to Teach Different Video Calling Options

As far as getting somebody acquainted to different video calling options and services, one of the things that I would do is if a family member or a friend is in the area, have them go over and show the older adult how to use the phone, maybe print out instructions or maybe even print out screen shots or take pictures of what to do and the exact process with an arrow pointing to do the five steps to open up the service. If you’re in an assisted living or nursing home or some type of facility, I am more than confident that PCAs are quite aware of how to use smartphones because one of the things that we deal with in private home care, assisted living, nursing homes is that sometimes caregivers can be on their phone too much. They are definitely aware of how to use these phones. You can coordinate a time with your loved one that at two o’clock, we’re going to be calling you on the smartphone and there will be a PCA available to help you out.

What’s nice about the smartphone and what I like about it is a very simple popup occurs and it says, “Janet is trying to call Ryan on whatever service you’re using. Do you want to accept this call?” There’s a big green button for yes and there’s a big red button for no. It is pretty simple to use, especially if the family members, the adult children take the initiative and are always the one calling the older adult. That way, the popup shows up and they can just press the green button and boom, there you are on video.

 

Setting Up A Time For Video Calling

Janet:
That’s a great idea because I think that, just like planning anything else, if on the day of the holiday or when people gather, to have a set time and then for your family member or the person that’s receiving this call, they can have a note on their fridge or whatever to remind them of when the call is. Make sure that it’s not in the middle of meal-time or in the bathroom or something like that. Then they can just sit back and enjoy the festivities. Maybe you and your family rehearse a Christmas carol or a holiday song that you sing and you make it a mini party. I think that’s great idea.

Ryan McEniff:
Absolutely, and as long as you do some very simple coordination beforehand, you’ll be able to pass that phone around to the whole party of people that are involved and everybody will get their turn at being able to say hello to mom or dad or grandpa or grandma and they’ll feel, at least for the 15 or 20 minutes that they’re on the phone with everybody, that they’re part of that and it’s great to see everybody and hopefully, at the next event, they’ll be there live in person.

One of the great things about technology and video calling options is that we’re seeing on an everyday basis that it is that it is rapidly advancing. Five, six, seven, ten years ago, maybe these services were not as stable as they are now but as long as you have a good Wi-Fi connection at both ends of where these phones are, more than likely, you’re going to have great audio and you’re going to have great video and you’re going to be able to clearly see who you’re talking about and you’re going to be able to clearly hear what they’re saying to you. I think the technology is great and if you put in a little bit of effort, it definitely can go a long way toward making someone feel that they’re involved, they’re loved and they’re missed during the holiday season.

Janet:
That’s great to make them a part of it because then it’s not just a gift that may or may not arrive UPS on time or a card in the mail. They’re actually part of the festivities and that’s great.

 

Video Calling is Not Just for the Holidays

Ryan McEniff:
Absolutely and once somebody gets comfortable with the service … Like with my father, once he got comfortable with using a smartphone and using texting and using Google Duo, then there is no reason you can’t do this throughout the course of the year. Instead of calling somebody on Sunday afternoons, as the cliché always is, you can video call them and you can see mom. You can see dad. You can see your loved one and you can walk around the house. That way, if you bought a new painting or you bought a new TV or whatever it might be; if your son made a really great painting at school, you can show that to that person versus just talk about it.

Janet:
That’s awesome. I didn’t even think of that.

Ryan McEniff:
Absolutely. Then you take one thing that helps out with the holidays and then it just translates into the rest of the year of being able to show somebody what’s going on and getting to have them involved in your day to day life, even when you’re hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. I think it’s a great service that everybody should look into.

Janet:
I think that would be helpful, too … When you get families together, you get the college kids and the grandkids and maybe they don’t even know what to say so much to grandma but to be there in the picture in the background saying, “Hi, Grandma” or “How are you,” it’s a bunch of people saying hello.

 

Excitement of Learning New Technology

Ryan McEniff:
As we’re talking, one of the things that pops into my head is it’s also really cool to do. The older adults feel like they’re a part of this new technology. Do you know what I mean?

Janet:
Oh, my mom would be psyched.

Ryan McEniff:
They’re like, “Wow, this is unbelievable.” It’s easy to forget that they’re from a time where this wasn’t even in their heads that this could be possibly done and now they’re living in a technology age where you don’t have to be even close to one another to be able to see each other and hear each other. I think it would be just a cool experience to have for them as well.

Janet:
Virtual visits sounds like something from out of space but the reality is to have everybody together on the phone and have them be a part of it, I think they’d have a pretty good time.

Ryan McEniff:
You know, Janet, who knows? Maybe in a few years, we’re going to be doing this stuff from Mars. Technology is going so fast that we’ll have a set of men and women up on Mars and we’ll be able to video chat every week on what’s going on.

Janet:
We won’t even have to go to the mall. We can talk to Santa Claus right from the house.

 

Wrapping Up Video Calling Options for Seniors

Ryan McEniff:
Absolutely. Hey, Santa Claus, North Pole. You don’t even need to make your trip anymore. Anyways, that wraps up our third episode of the Caregiving Toolbox. We thank you for listening. We’re going to be putting this out every week so we will be doing another podcast next week and you will be hearing from us. Until then, if you have comments, questions, please reach out to us on Twitter. Our handle is @mwhomecare. Again, thanks for listening  to video calling options for seniors, have yourselves a great week.