Staying in touch with family and friends that you care about has long been an issue that has needed to be addressed. From very early times, people have sent messages for other people along with a courier of some sort, even if it was another friend who was travelling nearby. In Victorian times letter-writing became an artform. People spent an extensive amount of time writing with beautiful manuscript. There was not a question of whether one should keep in touch, but rather, how often. These days our predicament is a little more complex. It involves not only how often to contact someone, but also HOW. What is the best way to reach that individual in a way that will be welcome & not disruptive.
- This form of communication was the most popular for many of the previous decades for its ease & instant access. While the phone is easy to use, it also has its shortcomings. One of these is that people may answer even though they do not really have time to talk at that moment. Some people now feel it an annoyance rather than a welcome interruption if they do not know you will be calling.
- Letter writing. This form of communication has an obvious downfall, the length of time to receive the letters. But, on the other hand, if you do not speak often with a person, you can update them on the major events of life in a relatively short missive. It also has the added benefit of a personal touch. If something is handwritten, we tend to pay closer attention to it.
- Long thought of as a replacement for the handwritten letter, this form has the benefit of being free (if you have an internet connection). Email has more recently fallen out of fashion with the younger generation, however, & they rarely use this to communicate.
- Some people communicate almost exclusively by text, especially if they have a very full schedule. The downfall to this is obvious in its shortness, but many people think of it as a benefit so that they do not have to engage in small talk & messages are straight to the point. Texts also do not have to be dealt with immediately, like phone calls.
- Social Media. Social media sites like Facebook make it easy to communicate with family & friends, but often have the reputation of being “time wasters”. It is true that when you log in, you end up seeing notes & posts from so many people, you can end up forgetting the person you were intending to contact. It is also home to advertising of all sorts.
- Visiting in person. This is, by far, the most personal form of keeping in touch. It is, however, not as common for people to “drop in” as it once was. These days you are better off calling and setting up a visit so that the other party welcomes your presence & is not offended.
So, with all of these ways to keep in touch, how do you decide how to contact a person so that you can maintain a good relationship with them? Probably the best way to decide is just to talk about it with the person. Different people prefer different things because of their time & schedule constraints. Do not be put off if they don’t like to talk for long hours on the phone, or if they do not respond to an email or letter. Try asking the best way to reach them, then be aware of their time constraints. They will sense your consideration & be appreciative that you are wanting to stay in touch.
Whatever you do, do not give up. People need to connect with others who care. They need to connect with others of varying generations & backgrounds. As an aging individual, this is something very important that you can contribute to our society, the ability to remain outward focused & intentionally keep in touch with those whom you care about. We need one another more than we know!