Family and friends aren’t always nearby throughout your life. As you grow towards retirement, you may seek the stability of having loved ones close and accessible. As your children and grandchildren grow and decide where to take their lives, you may need to consider the best ways to stay in touch with them.
What’s your situation? Have you moved far from your hometown? Have your children moved away from where you live to start families, lives and careers of their own? Or maybe your family and friends, everyone you know and love is still in the same city or neighborhood, but you want to take advantage of the freedom of retirement to travel for the first time.
How do you maintain those connections and feel that sense of stability when your support network is not always physically nearby?
Consider moving or visiting often
This is the most certain way to stay close with family and friends: Stay physically near them! If your children have moved across the country, are they living somewhere you can see yourself living? If you’ve moved away, can you consider returning to your hometown to be near loved ones again?
If you want to stay where you are but have family and friends scattered across the country or world, how can you accommodate travel to visit them often enough to feel fulfilled? Consider your other obligations in retirement — a new job, hobbies, other travel, self-care or care of parents or loved ones — and how you can fit travel plans annually, quarterly or monthly around those.
Tips for air travel to family and friends
If traveling is difficult for you to accommodate in your life because of health concerns, ensure you’re prepared before you take a trip. Here’s a quick-reference checklist from U.S. News to keep in mind if you’re flying:
Pack your medications in their original containers in your carry-on bag. These two steps will help you avoid losing them or them getting damaged in transport.
Ask your physician to write down any past and current medical problems you have and how they’re treated, plus names, doses and frequency of any medications you’re taking.
Drink plenty of water during your flight to make up for the dry air inside the airplane.
Consider wearing special compression stockings to increase blood flow if you’re at risk of blood clots from sitting for a long time.
Create a family and friends travel fund
If you can’t or don’t want to travel, you can make it easier for loved ones to visit you. Set aside an annual or quarterly fund to help them fly out to visit you. Consider having everyone in the family regularly contribute small amounts to the fund, so when it comes time to visit, no one feels the heavy burden of the expenses.
Stay in touch remotely
If travel isn’t an option, or you just want to stay in touch between trips, consider these tips for staying in touch with your children and grandchildren who may prefer Facebook to a phone call.
Send a text before you call
Do you feel like they’re avoiding your calls? Maybe you’re just not catching them at the right time. In their carefully-scheduled and information-packed lives, unplanned phone calls might actually be unusual. Send a quick text before you call to make sure they’re available to answer and to let them know you respect their time.
Text or email instead of calling
On the other hand, maybe they are avoiding your calls. Do you call every day with small bits of information or quick questions? You could probably share a lot of it more quickly through a text or short email, and save everyone the time of making small talk to fill a phone conversation. If you only call when you want to have a meaningful conversation, they’ll be more likely to pick up.
Take your conversations and updates to email
Your children and grandchildren are likely checking it every day (probably several times), so you’ll be able to reach them where they are. Email conversations allow you both to stay in touch and have deeper talks on your own time in case your schedules don’t sync well.
Follow their Twitter feed
Most people on Twitter keep their feeds public, so you don’t have to have your own account to see them. This is a perfect way to keep up with friends and family who travel a lot or do different and interesting things day-to-day, but whom you can’t touch base with often enough to stay up-to-date. Following their Twitter updates allows you to keep up with them on their terms, without jumping into the social media yourself.
Don’t be sneaky, though! Let them know you’re reading their updates so they don’t feel like they’re being spied on.
Friend them on Facebook
This social network is a great way to stay up-to-date with family and friends who are scattered around the country or world and living busy lives. And don’t fret! If you’re concerned about your privacy, or feel overwhelmed about learning to use social media, know you can get on Facebook without making yourself public or being bothered by hundreds of people you don’t want to connect with.
Learn the various privacy settings, and just use the platform to follow updates and send quick messages to your close family and friends.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can video call through their FaceTime function. You can also use Skype or Google+ Hangouts on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer to video chat with loved ones anywhere in the world. You can’t quite give kids and grandkids a virtual hug (yet!), but these networking options go a long way in helping you feel connected to people you can’t see in person every day.
Take advantage of holiday and birthday cards
A card for an occasion is a great way to share an old-fashioned note without sending a full-on letter. Whether you hand it over in person or send it through the mail, include thoughtful notes in birthday and holiday cards. They may not write you back, but know that they’ll read it and appreciate your personal touch.
Don’t forget about good old-fashioned snail mail
In addition to cards and online networking options, you can still always stay in touch with distant loved ones through handwritten letters, postcards and care packages. These are all becoming somewhat lost arts, making them that much more special when your loved ones receive them.