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Caregiving and Technology

Years ago I could only use a yellow legal pad for my writing. If I didn’t have my yellow pad, I couldn’t write. Then a determined Bill coaxed me to try word processing. Now I love the ease of editing, the spellchecker and the way words flow from my fingers onto the page. I especially like Microsoft Word, a program that I always thought was too complicated for me until we started blogging.

Today, with my right hand encased in a stunning purple cast, I can’t use my cherished Microsoft Word. The best I can do is to hunt and peck enough to edit this.

And what is this?

I am “writing” this post via an iPad app called Dragon Dictation. Since I had joint replacement surgery on my hand almost two weeks ago, the iPad and especially Dragon dictation have helped immeasurably in my convalescence.

We use the iPad for many activities including watching TV and movies. In the middle of watching Hamlet, we discovered that Netflix had sent us a damaged second disc. No problem. We easily found the same production on one of our iPad apps and streamed it to our TV .

The iPad also enables me to play Words with Friends with several far-flung and close-in relatives. This helps me keep my mind off the strange claustrophobic feeling of having my hand in a cast. It also helps my primary caregiver, Bill, who doesn’t feel like he has to entertain me all the time.

Dragon Dictation has helped with the practicalities too. I use it to keep track of when and what kind of medication I’ve taken throughout the day. I can make notes about what I’d like Bill to pick up at the grocery store and reminders to myself about things I want to mention to friends and relatives when I speak to them. I’ve even used it once or twice to e-mail.

My imagination has long been captured by futuristic ideas of technology that can help the elderly safely and comfortably age place or increase the affordability of care. The small help I’ve gotten from my iPad during this convalescence is just a beginning. Perhaps we are already inching toward the Brave Old World envisioned by Paula Span’s journalism students at Columbia University. In any event, my first experience of home-based technology aids for convalescence has been great.

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