Close ties to family help seniors to live longer
I have a small, but close-knit family. I grew up in the outskirts of Boston in a cosy house with my parents and younger brother. We were lucky that my grandparents lived close by. They were still young and active, so they took a significant role in helping my parents raise us. Every day after school my brother and I would run straight to their house for some home-baked cookies and milk. I still have fond memories of those times.
Fast forward ten years and I’m in college hundreds of miles away from family. Although I love the new found independence, sometimes I find it tough when I am having a bad day or when I get sick. Luckily, I am able to keep in touch with my parents almost daily. But I faced the problem of speaking to my grandma on a regular basis. Sadly, my grandpa had passed away a few years ago.
After more than a decade of seeing each other nearly every day, it was a huge blow to my grandma to lose me too, in a way. The loss of her partner in life had already devastated her, so I felt terrible that I had added to her pain.
After I moved away, I tried giving her regular calls, but it just wasn’t as personal as seeing each other face to face. So I began to call less and less. She tried to reach me too, over the phone. But either I had a class and couldn’t pick up or I was in the library studying.
My parents told me she was getting frequent colds and the flu, her arthritis flares up often, and her eyesight seems to be getting worse. The few times we spoke, she said she felt lonely and bored.
She was starting to stay home more often and my gut feeling was telling me that she was getting depressed. Unfortunately, I even had a hard time going for a visit. During my days off I had to study, or work in the local café.
Rebuilding a connection
Knowing I might be able to help grandma, I started thinking of a way to connect to her meaningfully, despite the distance. I talked to my parents and we decided on getting her a tablet so she could tap into the online world and hopefully, feel less alone. Of course, the first thing was trying to talk via Skype. It didn’t go as easily as I had hoped. Sometimes we couldn’t hear or see each other and it was hard to troubleshoot at a distance.
Soon I discovered Oscar Senior, an app made specifically for the elderly.
How frequent calls have helped grandma
Ever since we have started our regular video calls, I have noticed grandma’s mood has lifted. My parents also tell me that she’s smiling more and has started talking about the future and new things she’d like to do.
We frequently mention that buying the tablet for her was the best choice we made. Grandma is simply happier. She even started getting out of the house more. She got a Poodle puppy and takes him out on walks, chats with neighbors, and meets friends for breakfast.
The importance of making time for our elderly loved ones
Multiple studies show that the senior generation can expect a longer, more fulfilling life, if they are taken care of by family members.
In an investigation called Loneliness in Older Persons, among the participants who were older than 60 years, loneliness was a predictor of functional decline and death. In older persons, health outcomes, such as worsening disability and death, are influenced not just by biomedical factors but also by psychosocial distress.
We have an important role in life as children and grandchildren. Although our busy and hectic schedules make it hard to focus on our elderly loved ones, the benefits are huge with regards to their health and wellbeing.
Seniors who have children are expected to live longer according to a Swedish study on longevity. There is a substantial difference of 1.5% higher life expectancy compared to those who do not have children.
Researchers say it might be down to children helping to look after their ageing parents through physical care, emotional support or even taking a stand to get better treatment.
To keep in touch face to face with your seniors, download our senior-friendly application Oscar Senior.