As grandparents raising grandchildren, you may feel as though you lost touch with people as you started parenting the second time. Here are three things you and your grandchildren might try to stay connected to people outside your home. You will probably need to make time to try these before they pay off. Could you trade 30 minutes of news viewing to dedicate to making friendly calls by phone or FaceTime? Are you willing to try to master unfamiliar technology? (Or, if you’re already tech wizard, could you help a friend learn Zoom?)

Join a Facebook group

The Ties that Bind group is moderated get together spot for Oregonian grandparents raising grandchildren. You are welcome. See the link on this page. Or find your own group. Hey, start a group!

Master a new, free technology

The video conferencing software Zoom has turned out to be the most used platform for online play dates and virtual parties. A free version of Zoom allows three people to gather virtually for 40 minutes at a time. For details of how to set up Zoom calls, go here.

New to this? Even though Zoom seems to be the easiest software to learn, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make sure there are no hammers within reach as you start. The helpless feelings of trying to learn something new from an impersonal bot or machine will drive the smartest person crazy. Be kind to yourself. Take it step by step.

Create a Circle of Care

A Circle of Care is a do-it-yourself way to check in on your neighbors and have them check in on you. The goal is to connect the needs of people to local community helpers and services. A Circle of Care can be any size—an individual, or a group. If you are starting yourself, a circle of 3-5 people is a good size.

Circles of Care are not being set up in a uniform way. Do what works best for you and your community.

You can help others whether you are fit and able to run errands or you are staying at home. If you are an organizer, you can help with coordination of a local group while other people are out doing the physical activities. You can start with a simple note you leave in a mailbox: “Hello, my name is _____________ and I live at ___________ . Is there anything you need? Just want to chat? Call or text me at ____________ .”

Our sponsoring organization, AGE+, has more information to get you started here.

In the end, maybe, Ma Bell is still best

Do you remember the AT&T slogan, “Reach Out and Touch Someone?” Text messages lack that warmth and timbre of a voice. They are easily misunderstood. And you are not an emoji.