Lisa Vogel


Guilt-Free Holidays: Social Media Keeps Older Relatives Connected


No need to feel guilty about not making the rounds to all of your older relatives and friends this holiday season.  Thanks to social media and other tech gadgets, the seniors in your family circle can stay in the loop and up to date on the latest family news, photos, and videos.

When Graphic Designer Leslie Kovalic lived and worked in Baltimore, she constantly worried about her older parents living in rural Michigan. Enter technology. Leslie purchased a laptop for them (since replaced by an Ipad), installed Skype, and taught them how to use technology to videoconference and email with her.  “When you speak with someone on the phone, you can’t see their expressions. What they say may not match how they feel,” explains Kovalic. “On Skype, you know right away if there is a problem.” What’s more, her parents feel less isolated and in touch with friends and family, including their three-year-old granddaughter.

A 2013 study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project reports that 43 percent of Americans over 65 use at least one social networking site, compared to just one percent in 2008.  In fact, the 74-plus demographic is the fastest growing demographic among social networks, which are opening up new opportunities to reconnect with old friends from college, high school and childhood neighborhoods through Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Getting Older Relatives Ready for the Holidays


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so they say.  The weeks ahead are full of seemingly endless “to-do” lists full of holiday shopping, baking, decorating and entertaining obligations.  While the holiday season brings joy to many, it also brings its share of stress, especially for elderly relatives and friends and those who care for them.  To ensure your older loved ones and friends don’t get lost in the holiday frenzy this year, keep them active and involved.

Celebrate the past. During the holiday season, the loss of family members and friends often comes to the forefront. Explore ways to honor those who are no longer with us during the holidays, and shift attention from loss to a celebration of lives well lived. Light candles, plant a tree or make a donation in honor of loved ones.


Step up involvement. Find relatively simple tasks older family members can assist with – from opening and organizing holiday cards to sitting at the kitchen table reading recipes as others prepare a meal.

Break the distance barrier. For seniors who live far from their families, the holidays can be particularly lonely as they watch other friends spend time with their nearby families.  Even from a distance, you can schedule enjoyable and fun activities, such as sending tickets for local performances or a gift card for  a restaurant meal with friends, to give your older family members something to look forward to.

Do what makes you happy.  For caregivers and older adults alike, do what makes you happy – reading, cooking, exercising—during the holidays.  Daily and weekly routines can be a source of comfort during the holiday season.