One of the many indirect consequences of COVID-19 has been the isolation of older generations, who are considered at greater risk for the virus. The pandemic has prompted stay-at-home orders all over the country and has shut down visitation at nursing homes, senior centers and assisted living facilities in South Florida.
It’s safe to say most senior citizens are not technologically savvy, which makes it all the more impressive that some are turning to video chat platforms to stay in touch with their loved ones who they haven’t seen physically since March.
Carmen Munero is 88 years old and lives at The Palace, an assisted living facility in Coral Gables. She and her granddaughter, Laura, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, have swapped their regular phone calls for video chats since the pandemic began.
“I appreciate technology. I’m not very good at it, but I appreciate it,” Munero said.
“Even something as small as switching from being on the telephone to doing a video chat gives kind of that extra layer of being close, like actually being in the room," her granddaughter said.
Billie Kendall, who lives at the same ALF, also uses video chat applications to stay connected to her family -- her grandchildren, in particular. She gets teary-eyed when she thinks of the last time she was able to hug her family.
“If this had happened many years ago when we didn’t have all this technology, oh boy, it would have been so much worse," she said.
“It’s sustaining to them to still feel like they're involved in our kids' lives," said her daughter-in-law, Maggie Kendall.
No one knows for sure when Florida officials will allow visitations to resume at senior centers, ALFs and nursing homes. And though both women admit nothing can replace physical affection, they are happy to send virtual hugs and kisses until then.