As a senior adult, you may find that the people you most care about live miles away from you, but corresponding through a video chat can bring their faces and voices to wherever you live.

Being apart, particularly during the holidays, can leave a person feeling isolated and depressed. A video chat, however, will help you carry on the tradition of celebrating these special occasions with your family. You can play online holiday bingo with your family, or each family member can watch each other create a gingerbread house online. Share memories of past holidays, or even watch a holiday-themed movie together.

The benefit of the holidays has always been about sharing special moments with family and friends, and the sense of belonging, connection and purpose we derive from these celebrations. Video chat makes that possible.

Video Chat Options

WhatsApp 

Owned by Facebook (now called Meta), WhatsApp is a free app that enables users to contact other WhatsApp users, as well as any contacts saved to the device’s Contacts directory. It has dedicated Windows and Mac apps, along with Android and iOS versions.

With group chats, you can share messages, photos, and videos with up to 256 people at once.

To get started, download WhatsApp to your smartphone. This app is available for Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices; you can find it in the app store that corresponds to your device.

FaceTime 

Also owned by Facebook/Meta, FaceTime is a video chat app that comes free with your iPhone, iPad, and Mac. There is no extra app to install if you have an Apple device.

Zoom 

The video and audio call app is available for free for Android and iOS devices.

More information about using Zoom is available here.

Skype

Owned by Microsoft, Skype also provides video and audio conferencing and is available for Android and iOS devices. It’s easy to create an account using an email address. After that, simply add contacts with their username or phone number. Selecting the username is all it takes to start a video call.

Skype allows seniors to activate a feature that provides subtitles to assist them if they are hard of hearing.

GrandPad

Another product that offers simple video calling is the GrandPad. This is an 8-inch touchscreen Android tablet designed for seniors. It comes with a stylus, charging stand and Verizon 4G LTE built-in so it works anywhere within the Verizon network – home Wi-Fi is not necessary.

This unique tablet provides a simplified menu of big colorful icons and large text to only essential features, providing a clutter-free, one-touch access to make and receive video calls and phone calls, send voice emails, view photos and videos, listen to personalized music, check the weather, play games and more.

GrandPad also has a “Help” button that offers 24/7 phone/tablet remote assistance to help you with any facet of your tablet.

Amazon Echo Show 

The voice-activated Amazon Echo Show is another senior-friendly device for video chatting (Wi-Fi is required).

The Echo Show has a 7-inch color touchscreen that lets you make and receive video calls to and from those who have their own device, or who have the free Amazon Alexa app installed on their smartphone or tablet.

Once your contacts are set up, simply say, “Alexa, call ______.” And when a call comes in, the person would ask Alexa to answer.

CallGenie

CallGenie turns your television on when an incoming call is made by anyone in your contact list of family and friends. It switches it back to its original state after the call. Everything is automated – no interaction is required by the person being called. It works with all currently supported versions of Skype for Desktop, including the latest 2021 versions.

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