Technology for Estranged Seniors
Children love to play hide and seek. When you were raising those sweet kids of yours, it was great fun to join them in that game. Another variation on it that lots of us play with the grandkids is “where’s Grandpa?” This is the one where you hide your face and then suddenly show it to a baby just to see that look of surprise and delight when they see Grandpa or Grandma over and over again.
While these forms of hide and seek with the kids were fun when they were little, now that they are grown and you are Grandpa or Grandma, there is a form of hide and seek that isn’t so fun. That is when the children move far away and it gets harder and harder to stay in touch with them.
We grow so used to knowing every little thing that goes on with our children. If they have grandchildren, they don’t really appreciate how much you want to see them every day and enjoy every aspect of their lives. But when the kids live in another city or another state, that becomes almost impossible to pull off.
Sure, you knew as far back as when the kids went off to college that you would go through some separation anxiety. But the desire to be more in touch with your family goes a lot deeper than just a dose of empty nester syndrome. It goes to the very foundation of who you are.
We are by nature family oriented creatures. For many senior citizens, there never was a time when they were not in the middle of a family situation. If you moved directly from the home of your parents into your married family and had children right away, family life was a continuous flow in your life. So when the time comes for the children to leave, especially if that means they will be in another state, the depth that you miss them is tremendous and the deep desire to be more in touch doesn’t diminish with time.
Is the answer to move to the same town where the kids are living? Sometimes that is possible. But we know that it’s the nature of young professionals that they may be moving again and again because careers that are being built often call for that kind of commitment. This is less difficult for the kids if their families are young and they are enjoying the adventure of living in different places. But for you as a senior citizen, living in one place, making friends, finding a church or social group and becoming part of a long lasting community is important to feeling secure as you enjoy your golden years.
The good news is that we live in a time when information technology can help you stay more in touch than ever before. There are new ways coming along every day that you can use to reach across spans of hundreds of miles and feel you are part of what is going on with your children and those precious grandkids. Some technologies that can help include…
- The internet. Through email and other modern technologies, you can exchange messages with your children many times in a day.
- Digital cameras. The ability to take pictures has gotten so much more accessible with cameras becoming part of mobile devices, phones and other machines you and your kids may have on you all the time. So you never have to miss out on a cute photo of what the grandkids did this week.
- Instant messaging. This is email taken to the extreme. With IM you can have an online conversation with your children that is as dynamic as a live chat and stay up to date on everything that is going on.
- Webcams. This is the ultimate in staying touch. You can go so far as to put cameras in different parts of the house so the kids can see mom and dad every day and you can watch the children and grandchildren play and talk to them almost like you are there.
Everybody will have to get used to these new tools of communication. But as much as you will be thrilled to see and talk with your kids every day and see them so much more often with these new tools, they will love being able to have some “mom and dad time” with you as well.