These are challenging times for us all, especially people with dementia who are not only becoming more and more socially disconnected but also may be confused or feel abandoned because family members stopped visiting. “Now more than ever, it’s important for people with dementia to see their loved ones’ faces, hear their voices, and know they have not been forgotten or abandoned,” says Jillian Castellano, Community Relations Director at YourLife™ of Coconut Creek, a Memory Care community in Coconut Creek, Florida. “Video chats apps are bringing families together and reassuring seniors with memory loss that they are loved.” Help your loved one enjoy meaningful virtual visits, play fun games, and engage in simple, interactive activities with family members or friends from their day program, place of worship, or other social circles with these 5 free video chat apps. 1. Skype iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Web, Xbox About 40 million people log on to Skype each day to help them stay connected through these isolating times. And for a few good reasons. Skype is very easy to use and works with all smart devices, operating systems and computers. This app is an excellent choice for seniors who prefer viewing their friends on a larger screen, are easily confused by handheld devices, or have trouble holding a phone steady. Plus, each chat can host up to 50 friends and family members at a time. While 50 may be an overwhelming number of visitors for your loved one to see and interact with at once, the option could come in handy at your next virtual family reunion! 2. Zoom Meeting iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Web Zoom is one of the fastest-growing virtual conferencing apps for professionals who appreciate its many useful features, and now it’s becoming a place for families to get together for simple chats, too. Like Skype, Zoom can be downloaded onto all devices and accessed across all platforms. In the free version of this video app, two people can enjoy an intimate chat for as long as you’d like. For visits with three or more people logging in, there is a 40-minute time limit. This may not be a problem for your loved one, however, if they get restless or tire easily. 3. FaceTime Apple Only: iOs and Mac FaceTime is preinstalled on Apple hardware, including iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. This app is a favorite of Apple users and has a lot of fun features, like Animojis and games that kids can play with your loved one, too. 4. Google Duo iOS, Android, Windows and Mac via web Google Duo is Android’s answer to Apple’s FaceTime, but this app works on both operating systems. This video chat software is exceptionally easy to use and is already preinstalled as a standard app on many Android phones. You can also download it from Google Play or the Apple App Store. Duo also allows friends and family members to record and send video messages that you can play for your loved one any time they’re feeling lonely. 5. Facebook Messenger iOS, Android, Windows and Mac via web If you have a Facebook account, you can make a video call from your phone or computer with the Facebook Messenger app right now. Just open a new message to the person or persons from your friends list who your loved one wants to visit with and tap the little video camera icon in the upper-right corner of the screen to start the chat. Facebook Messenger has many interactive games that virtual visitors can play with your loved one. TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL VIRTUAL VISIT Whether you’re the one visiting or helping your loved one connect with others, visitors should consider these tips: • Make sure all parties have the appropriate app installed on their devices prior to placing the call. • Patiently explain to your loved one what you are doing. This may be an entirely new or confusing experience for them at first. • Choose a plain wall or simple seating area for your backdrop. Patterns may be distracting, appear distorted, or confuse your loved one. • Eliminate background clutter, movement of other people or pets passing behind you, noise, and anything else that could make it difficult for your loved one to see or hear you. • If using a handheld device, consider mounting it to a hands-free tabletop phone holder to eliminate shaking or prevent accidental mis-taps. • If someone new joins your chat or pops on your screen to say hi, be sure to introduce them to your loved one. • Speak as you normally would and remember they can still read your body language. • If your loved one likes to play games, try out your app’s offerings before the visit, familiarize yourself with how to play, and choose a few you think your loved one can play successfully. “Virtual visits shouldn’t be a permanent replacement for the ‘real thing,’” advises Jillian Castellano from YourLife™ of Coconut Creek. “But until we can safely visit in person again, video chats are an excellent way to keep your loved one connected, engaged, and feeling loved during this time of social distancing.” For more tips on how to create meaningful virtual visits with your loved one, call the life-enrichment experts at YourLife™ of Coconut Creek today! 954-228-6252 Inspiring Memory Care Designed for You. Defined by You. YourLife™ of Coconut Creek was created to provide the most exceptional Memory Care and uplifting lifestyle for our residents. We focus all our energy, attention and resources on creating a community that caters to each resident’s personal needs, respects their choices and honors individuality while providing unmatched peace of mind and support for families. Because Memory Care is our sole focus, we have the unique ability to design and personally tailor plans around our residents. We understand that each resident is an individual that has their own story, specific needs and retained abilities, so we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence. Our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide assistance with everyday activities, gentle reminders and redirection. With YourStory, our signature programming, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. From cultural, educational and holistic health and wellness programming, outings and an array of other special events to personal care, assistance and therapies, we create days with meaning. At YourLife™ of Coconut Creek, our residents and families know that this is a community designed for you, with a lifestyle defined by you. Contact us to learn more! Call us at 954-228-6252 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.