Do you Skype? Why Skype? What is Skype? Skype is a free, online service that allows users to interact over the internet via voice or video calls. In some circumstance, long-distance family caregivers are discovering that Skype can be the “next best thing to being there” for their aging parents. While a video chat will never take the place of a face-to-face visit, this electronic tool may help bridge the gap between visits.
Most computer laptops or computer notebooks include a video camera and logging onto www.skype.com offers an easy how-to on getting started with video and audio calls. Spending a few minutes on the set up may open doors to a whole new way of communicating with Mom and Dad.
Here’s a list of ideas to get you started on innovative ways to incorporate technology in your caregiving arsenal:
1. Take a quick look-see each day.
Long-distance caregivers can arrange to have a quick daily face-to-face chat with their loved ones. The visual reference is a great tool for medication reminders and checking in on the activities of aging parents.
2. Play games or sing songs.
Skype allows long-distance friends to recall their favorite pastimes such as a quick card game or song that can be shared over the internet. The video display is a great tool for interacting with grandchildren by reciting a favorite story, reading a book or enjoying their artwork or homework samples.
3. Regular exercise and stretching activities.
If you think that Mom or Dad could benefit from more exercise in their daily routine, Skype offers a simple way to share a quick yoga or stretching session.
4. Share recipes and cooking tips.
The video and audio component is an excellent venue for sharing some of your skills such as cooking, while demonstrating a few of your favorite techniques. Or, use this opportunity to ask Mom to share her secrets on making the best pie crust.
5. Assists hearing impaired.
Skype can offer visual cues and lip reading opportunities for those with hearing impairments. Also, a favorite poem, photograph or drawing can be shared with your loved one.
We know that Skype will never take the place of family visits, and we know that nothing is better than being there to give Mom or Dad a hug or a gentle stroke on the hand. However, we are glad that there are tools to help us in between visits. Additionally, sometimes hiring a private-duty caregiver to assist for a few hours each day may offer another solution for your long-distance caregiving requirements.