Saratoga Springs seniors, families use video chat to bridge gap caused by pandemic

Mark Mulholland
Updated: March 24, 2020 10:28 PM
Created: March 24, 2020 05:20 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Soon to be 92, Leona Holstein is pretty good at video conferencing.


"I'm learning," she said Tuesday morning.

Using her iPad, she talked with NewsChannel 13 using Facebook's video chat.

"I'm not an expert, I learned through my children," said the retired deputy commissioner of Washington County's Board of Elections.

Leona has three daughters and six grandchildren who helped move her into The Wesley from her home in Queensbury on November 1.

They'd visit daily until coronavirus closed down the facility to visitors.

However, face-to-face visits continue because her daughters showed her how to connect with them even when they can't be there.

"They're not allowed to come here because of the problem we are encountering, so at least I feel like I can talk to them and see them. It just makes things a little easier."

Leona's daughter, Lisa Holstein Wells, says the video chats are a godsend. 'It's almost like there's not been a break because we're seeing her all the time and we can kiss the screen and I always say 'giving you air hugs' and I think that it's okay and we have to do it this way."

For residents who don't have their own computer or iPad, The Wesley is connecting them with their families in 10 minute face-to-face Skype appointments. Staff helps with the technology because as Leona points out, getting used to it can be challenging.

"If you've never used a Facebook or anything like that before, it would be difficult to learn maybe."

Leona's family praises their mom's caregivers and says offering video conferencing is one more way they show they care.

As for Leona, she's okay with virtual visits, but still prefers the real thing.

"Hopefully all this will be resolved very soon, but logically I'm afraid it won't be."

Lisa says she looks forward to the day when she can give her mom a real hug again.

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