Until the COVID-19 crisis is over, it’s important we find ways to keep ourselves occupied and in touch with our loved ones. Whether or not you deal with ongoing mental health issues, social distancing and isolating can be detrimental to your mental and physical health if you do not maintain your social connections and keep an occupied mind. Thankfully, technology has made it so we can all be alone together during these difficult times.
Outside of a phone call or text message, the following technology will allow you to maintain rich connections with your friends and family through digital video, and help us all through these challenging times. Video calls can bring people together from a distance to do everything from just chatting to playing a game or hosting a cocktail hour. Together, we will get through this!
Free; computers, tablets and smartphones
Since its launch in 2003, Skype has been the gold standard for free person-to-person video chats. You can chat with your loved ones using video, provided you have a device with an integrated camera or a webcam. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you likely already have this capability. If your computer doesn’t have a webcam installed, check out these bestselling options from Amazon. Even users without video can utilize the audio capabilities of Skype. You can have an intimate video chat with one person, or have a conference with up to 50 people. Setting up Skype is as simple as creating a free account and username.
Free; Apple devices only
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can utilize the free built-in video chat function called FaceTime. Any Apple user may use FaceTime to video call any other Apple user for free. FaceTime accesses your contacts, and adds a Facetime option to their contact page, if they also have an Apple device. Simply touch the ‘FaceTime’ option on their contact page, or open the Facetime app and look through your contacts. The obvious downside is the availability only to Apple users, but it is free, convenient and functions well. If you have an Apple device and aren’t sure if you have FaceTime installed, look for the following icon:
Free; Android, Apple, Google Nest Hub & Google mobile devices
Similar to FaceTime, Google Duo has proven to not only be an excellent Android/Google counterpart, but an excellent option for Apple users who like to connect via video with their non-Apple friends and family. Google Duo is completely free, allows for high quality video chats for up to 12 people at a time, and works with any smartphone, tablet, computer, or smart display like Google’s Nest Hub Max. If you already have an Android or Google smartphone and are unsure if you have Google Duo, look for the following icon:
The four different iterations of the Amazon Echo Show are all video-enabled Alexa devices. As you’ve likely seen somewhere on television or heard somewhere on the radio, you can ask Amazon’s virtual personal assistant, Alexa, for help with a variety of tasks. She can find recipes, products and services, define a word, and yes, make a call!
Voice-enabled Alexa devices can place audio calls based on your contact list, but if you have an Amazon Echo Show, you can also place video calls to loved ones that also have an Echo Show or the Amazon Alexa app on their mobile device. Simple say, “Alexa, video call [contact name],” and you’ll be connected with high definition to a smiling face(s) on the other side! If you already use Alexa or would like to use Alexa, the Echo Show makes sense to add to your technological arsenal. If you do not use Alexa, this option may not make as much sense for you.
Thanks to technology, there are countless ways to keep in touch during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because Southgate at Shrewsbury is a retirement community and our population is largely higher risk, we must do whatever we can to ensure the safety of our residents. Although this includes limiting visitors to only essential personal and family members performing essential care, we want to make sure you can access the technology necessary to keep you in close contact with your loved ones. Click the following link for our continuously monitored and updated policy regarding COVID-19.