Once the preserve of long-distance relationships and those working away from home, messaging apps are now a lifeline for those self-isolating due to the coronavirus outbreak. Many families and the elderly are now using these messaging services to keep in touch. In fact, being able to communicate with each other is vitally important now more than ever, as human touch is forbidden and human interactions pared down to speaking through a pane of glass at best with those most vulnerable to the viral outbreak. Many families and elderly are not only searching for the best messaging apps but also the best game apps to keep them occupied at this time. In this post, we’ll focus on messaging apps, and look at the best ones available today to help you stay in touch with loved ones.
When it comes to selecting the best messaging app for keeping in touch with loved ones, especially elderly relatives who may not be as tech savvy as younger family members, safety, security and ease of use are all of vital importance. Link-Ages is a messaging app that delivers on all three fronts. It allows family and friends to stay in touch by voice calls, texting and by video and is available on the most popular devices – smartphones and tablets. It’s simple and is ad free, so no more pesky pop ups during your calls, which can be distracting and confusing for those not so confident with new technology. In fact, Link-Ages was created specifically for care organisations, allowing them to share updates with family members in a secure, closed network, so you can be sure it’s been created with those most vulnerable in mind.
This messaging app also features built-in photo sharing, so you can create digital storybooks that can be looked back on when you’re apart. As quarantines lift, you can be sure that the children will be out and about before shielded individuals can easily be visited, so you can share an important calendar event to keep family and friends up to date and then easily share captured moments with them, keeping them in touch with the outside world. When it comes to ease of use, Link-Ages not only features large easy to read buttons and an uncluttered interface, but the app allows a nominated family member to assist a Hub user remotely; at a time when frustrations are building, knowing you can easily help everyone stay in touch makes all the difference. Finally, as this is a subscription service, unlike other social media platforms you can be sure that you’re talking on a safe and secure platform.
Another incredibly popular messaging service, WhatsApp allows users to connect and communicate via instant messaging, audio and video calls. It’s a free service and uses your phone’s cellular or WiFi service to connect with others, so it’s a great option if you’re scattered all over the world. In terms of security, it offers end to end encryption, and works across a number of platforms, including Android smartphones and iPhones. What’s more, unlike Facebook Messenger, you don’t need a social media account to set up this service. You can communicate one-to-one or create groups, so it’s good for families, although there are no special features to assist elderly family members to understand the technology.
In terms of staying in touch with elderly relatives, one of the biggest drawbacks is accessibility. It’s only available as an app on smartphones; in order to access WhatsApp via an iPad or desktop/laptop computer, you have to log in via the WhatsApp website. As many elderly people will prefer to use these larger screens, this can make the user experience more problematic. Also, your profile picture is visible to everyone who has your contact number and anyone can get hold of your profile picture and status if they have your phone number; so while the messages themselves are encrypted, it’s not as secure as it seems.
We know that there are a plethora of newer messaging apps out there, but when it comes to staying in touch with elderly relatives, Skype is still a firm favourite. Available on smartphones, iPads and computers, this free service specializes in video chat and voice calls.
Skype has long been popular for international calls, and like WhatsApp uses cellular or WiFi data to make connections, so it won’t eat into your call plan. This is a great option for calls, but messaging is more complex, so its ability to fulfil communication needs at times like these is limited. It’s also a voice over internet provider (VoIP) so relies on a good internet connection and if your connection is slow, you’ll struggle to maintain a good connection. Another drawback is the security aspect; Skype users are more vulnerable to hackers, personal data breaches and downloading viruses and malware. If your family members are all computer literate then this is a great option, but when it comes to elderly relatives who are isolated at home or in a care setting, this probably isn’t the best option.
We hope that in these trying times, this article helps you decide how best to stay in touch with your elderly relatives. We will come through this, we will again be able to give them a hug, but in the meantime the most we can do for those who are isolated is to see them every day via the virtual world. The best way to do that will always be the least stressful way, and by using a service that’s easy for them to understand and brings the whole family together in a fun and enjoyable way.