Thanksgiving is all about connecting with our family, especially older loved ones. We get to celebrate their wisdom and experiences and show them how much we value and cherish them. It’s the perfect time to tell them that their stories and advice mean a lot to us. Plus, they always have these fantastic anecdotes that bring so much joy and help us all feel closer.


Alternative Ways to Connect if Unable to Be Together in Person

When you can’t gather physically for Thanksgiving, it’s important to find creative ways to make your relatives feel loved and connected. Technology can be a game-changer! Use video calls on Zoom, Facetime, or Google Meet to be together virtually. Seeing each other’s faces and sharing those special moments, even from afar, is priceless. And if your loved ones aren’t tech-savvy, a heartfelt phone call can still make them feel included in the festivities.


Benefits of Video Calls

Video calls offer many benefits for family members who can’t be physically present for Thanksgiving celebrations. The prime advantage is maintaining visual connections, significantly enhancing emotional exchanges. Seeing the joy on a grandchild’s face or sharing a smile with a distant relative can foster a sense of togetherness despite the miles apart. They even give the opportunity to participate in family traditions virtually, such as watching the parade together or sharing the Thanksgiving meal.


How to Use Zoom

Utilizing Zoom may enhance your ability to connect with family members during Thanksgiving. Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Download and Install Zoom: Visit the official Zoom website on your computer or download the Zoom app from the app store on your mobile device. Click on ‘Download’ under ‘Zoom Client for Meetings’ and install it.
  2. Create a Zoom Account: Open Zoom and click ‘Sign Up’. Fill in your email address, your name, and a password. You’ll receive a confirmation email. Click on the link in the email to activate your account.
  3. Join a Meeting: To join a meeting, click on the link shared with you or go to ‘Join’ on the Zoom app and enter the meeting ID provided by the host. You can decide whether to turn on your video and microphone before entering the meeting.
  4. Host a Meeting: Click ‘New Meeting’ on the Zoom app to host a meeting. You can invite participants by clicking on ‘Invite’ and then copying the meeting link to send to your friends and family.
  5. Navigating the Meeting Interface: During the meeting, you’ll see options at the bottom of the screen to mute/unmute your microphone, start/stop your video, view the participant list, and chat with participants.
  6. Leaving a Meeting: To attend a meeting, click ‘Leave Meeting’ at the bottom right corner of the Zoom window.


How to Use Google Meet

Google Meet is another convenient platform to connect with loved ones virtually during Thanksgiving. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Access Google Meet: Open a new browser tab and visit the Google Meet website. Alternatively, if you have a Gmail account, you can access Google Meet from the nine-dot grid (Google apps) on the top right side of the Gmail interface.
  2. Start or Join a Meeting: To start a meeting, click on ‘Start a meeting.’ To join an existing meeting, click on ‘Join a meeting’ and enter the meeting code provided by the host.
  3. Manage Settings: You can manage your camera and microphone settings before joining the meeting. Click on the ‘Microphone’ and ‘Video’ icons to turn them on or off as needed.
  4. Join a Meeting: Click ‘Join Now’ to enter the meeting. You can share the meeting details with others if you’re the host. Copy the meeting link and share it with your friends and family.
  5. Navigate the Meeting Interface: During the meeting, at the bottom of the screen, you can turn your microphone and camera on or off, share your screen, see the participant list, and chat with participants.
  6. Leave the Meeting: To exit the meeting, click on the ‘End call’ button (red phone icon) at the bottom center of the screen.


How to Use Facetime

Facetime offers an easy way to connect with family members using Apple devices. Here’s a brief guide on how to use Facetime effectively:

  1. Access Facetime: Tap the Facetime app on your iPhone or iPad. It’s a green icon with a white video camera inside.
  2. Sign in: If you still need to be signed in, enter your Apple ID and password. This is the same information you use to download apps or music from the Apple Store.
  3. Start a Call: To start a video call, tap the ‘+’ sign in the upper right corner. Next, type the name, email, or phone number of the person you want to call. As you type, suggestions will appear from your contacts. Tap the name of the person you want to reach.
  4. Choose the Call Type: After selecting the contact, decide whether to make a video or audio call. Tap ‘Facetime’ for a video call or ‘Audio’ for a voice call.
  5. End the Call: When you’re ready to end the call, tap the red ‘End call’ button that looks like a telephone.
  6. Accept a Call: If someone calls you through Facetime, you can accept or decline the call by sliding the green or red button, respectively.
  7. Mute or Pause: During a call, you can mute the audio or pause the video by tapping the corresponding button.


Take the Time to Call

Let’s utilize these digital platforms to bridge the gap and foster connection, especially during these times. Remember to offer support and assistance to loved ones in navigating technology for enhanced connectivity. Let’s come together to make this Thanksgiving a joyful and inclusive celebration of family bonds, regardless of physical distance.


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Resource links:

The Top Benefits of Video Calling for Seniors


National Institute on Aging – Talking to Your Older Patients


Benefits of Daily Calls




Google Meet


Apple iPhone Support