It isn’t that long ago that the average American was born, lived, and died within a 50-mile radius. Today, of course, our society is much more mobile. We may move to find a better job or take the next step in our career. Or we decide to leave the snow behind and bask in the sun (or vice versa). Luckily, technology makes it easier than ever to stay connected with loved ones.
Keep in Touch with Video Chat
Video chat via apps like Skype and FaceTime has so many pluses, it’s hard to believe more people don’t do it. First, no matter how much distance separates you, it’s free. That’s right. You can spend hours chatting with friends or family, across the state or in another country, and you won’t pay a dime.
Skype is a free app that you can download here. Of course, if you have a PC with Windows 10, it came preloaded with Skype. You can also load Skype on your tablet or smartphone. In addition to video chats, Skype lets you send messages back and forth or just talk the way you would on a traditional phone call.
If you both have a Mac, iPad, or iPhone, you can chat via FaceTime. It works much the same way as Skype does. If you’re new to the technology, Apple Support offers a full tutorial on how to use the popular app.
Make video chatting a priority by scheduling a regular “call.” Then enter it in your calendar and honor it the way you would any other appointment.
Stay Connected with Social Media
It may be famous for cat videos, but social media’s original intent was helping users stay connected to one another. And for many people under 30, it’s the main way they talk to friends and family.
Facebook Messenger is probably the most well-known. Nearly everyone has a Facebook account. However, the app isn’t nearly as popular with people under the age of 25. If you’re looking to stay in touch with grandkids, for example, you may have better luck with Instagram and Snapchat. These image-based platforms are the natural result of a world where everyone always has a camera in their hand. You just take a picture or video with your phone, add a message (if you want to), and share it with your friends.
One cool feature of all of these apps is that, in addition to posting to the platform and sending one-on-one messages, they let you create chat groups. Want to talk to all of your siblings at once? Send a thank you to everyone who remembered your birthday? Invite your golf buddies over for cocktails? Start a long-distance book club? They’re all easy to do with a chat group.
Send a Message with Email and Text
If you miss the hand-written letters of yesteryear, email is a nice substitute. In addition to individual messages, you can create a distribution list to send a regular newsletter or periodic updates.
You may prefer to send shorter missives via text. As with all of these apps, texting is quick, easy, and free. Share a photo, an interesting article you read, or just say hi.
Pick Up the Phone
Finally, there’s the old-school phone call. But if you use a cell phone, you usually don’t pay long distance fees for calls within the U.S. (Remember those old commercials to save on your long distance plan?)
As with video chat, it may be easier to schedule phone calls. But that doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally call “just ’cause.”
Use the Cloud
There are loads of file sharing apps out there that do exactly what the name implies: allow you to share files. These are a great way to share photos and videos of vacations, school plays, or just daily life.
If you use Google, you may already know about Google Drive. It’s free to anyone who has a Google account. Mac users can also share files; this page from Apple Support tells you how. You can also try Dropbox or just search file sharing apps on your favorite search engine. Most are free although they do have storage limitations (i.e. how much data you can store).
Keep an Open Mind
One complaint I often hear from friends is that their kids or grandkids don’t stay in touch. What they usually mean is that their kids don’t call. In today’s world, that’s hardly surprising. Most people under 40 rarely use their phone as a phone. And if they’re under 30, they’ve never lived in a world without cell phones. It can be hard for some of us to realize that, if we want to stay connected with loved ones, we may have to stretch out of our comfort zones.
These apps may be different than what we grew up with, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. How many times a week do you see something and think “Oh my gosh, Sis would love that!” Twenty years ago, you had to take a photo (if you happened to have a camera on you), get it developed, write a letter, and send it in the mail. Today, you can use your phone to snap a photo and post it with a “thinking of you” note, all in under a minute. In other words, it’s never been easier to stay in touch. You just have to keep an open mind about what staying in touch looks like.
Need Help with Medicare?
We can’t make your grandkids send a thank you note, but we can help you understand your Medicare options. Just call us toll-free at 855-350-8101 to talk to a licensed agent.