Of the many things we have learned during the pandemic, one of the most beneficial is how to use technology to stay active, stay in touch and stay healthy even when we have to stay at home.
The opportunities are endless—from online classes and book clubs to virtual visits and video chats. Here’s a sampling to get you inspired.
Whether you’re a technology novice or ready for advanced applications, you can get help at your local library. Most libraries offer computer classes and tech support. The Simsbury Public Library provides computer help as well as online book discussions and more. And did you know—if you’re a resident of McLean, you can use the Sorenson Media and Technology Center to learn everything from how to use Skype and email to how to use the center’s genealogy software.
1) Exercising your mind
McLean’s media center offers residents online access to the Great Courses System of Education, Yale University courses and foreign language instruction, to name just a few. Residents of McLean also take part in a variety of continuing education classes. Everyone can find an online class in any subject offered by colleges, museums and other organizations.
Looking for games to stretch your brain? You can play chess, crossword puzzles, word searches, number games such as Sudoku and puzzle games such as Tetris, all online and many for free.
2) Strengthening your body
Missing in-person exercise classes or not able to attend due to a schedule conflict or weather? The popular Silver Sneakers class, which is offered at McLean, also provides live online classes and workshops to nurture community and healthy lifestyles. You can also find free exercise sessions on YouTube for any kind of workout and fitness level. Just be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
3) Connecting with family and friends
Using video chat programs like Skype, Zoom or Facetime allows you to visit with your family and friends no matter where they are. If you’re new to these social tools, start with a simple one-on-one conversation or small group happy hour. As you become more familiar with the programs, try other virtual activities such as book clubs, card games or chess matches.
Many online games and phone apps combine a social dimension and a mental workout by allowing you to play against others in real time. Wordle and Words With Friends are two great options.
4) Improving convenience and safety at home
If you’re not able to get out easily, check out online banking or grocery delivery. And if you’re looking for more security, comfort and independence at home, explore “smart home” technology. This technology allows you to control devices such as lights, thermostats and appliances remotely through a phone or computer. Amazon’s voice-activated Echo smart speaker is one example. There are also smart medication dispensers, guide lights and sensors, vision and hearing assistance, security alarms and adaptive devices. McLean helps residents access and learn how to use smart home technology if desired.
5) Obtaining healthcare
Needing advice but don’t have time to wait in the doctor’s office? Many health providers now offer telehealth appointments to answer questions and provide direction during a video chat.
You can make a telehealth appointment with your physician for certain injuries or illnesses, or even to have your physician certify that you are eligible for home care services. For the telehealth appointment to be approved for this purpose, your physician must use an interactive audio and video telecommunications system that permits real-time communication with you at home. As with an in-person visit, write down your questions ahead of time; during the appointment, be sure you understand the follow-up instructions and next steps in your treatment plan.
6) Connecting with support groups
Support groups can provide vital connections with others dealing with the same issues. Many of these support groups are available online through nonprofit organizations.
McLean Memory Care offers virtual support groups for families and caregivers of those who have memory loss. In addition, McLean partners with the Connecticut Alzheimer’s Association to offer a Giving Alzheimer’s Purpose program, which includes group activities for those with early-stage memory loss. Virtual meetings are being held until in-person events can resume.
7) Exploring senior living communities
If you’re thinking of touring communities but would rather narrow the field before you visit in person, you’re in luck. Many communities, like McLean, can conduct a virtual visit via Zoom. This way you can look at floor plans and photos with a real person to answer all of your questions and give you a feel for those who live and work at the community.
We hope this inspires at least one possibility that you hadn’t considered before. So go ahead, try something different and put technology to work for you in a new way this month!