Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My 97 yr old TechnoGran and her ipad - a lesson to us all

A couple of weeks ago my Gran had a fall and broke her leg, she's in hospital, she's had it pinned, and she is now getting ready to walk again. So far this is probably not an unusual story, apart from perhaps my Gran being 97. However, what is slightly unusual is what she took to the hospital with her. It was an ipad, her own ipad, that she got last year, when she was 96.

My Gran learned to use a word processor when she was 80 because she writes children's stories and could no longer manage a pen and paper, so my Mum taught her how to type and save files and so on. A few years later a PC was purchased and Gran learned to use a mouse. The next obvious step was to get online and sign up for an email account (judging by my Gmail search just now this was during 2007). This was really useful to keep in touch with the family, particularly the 7 Grandchildren. We move house a lot, and some of us are rarely even in the same country for very long. I have moved 4 times in the last 5 years, I am nothing unusual - in fact Jessica has probably lived in 4 completely different countries in that time - so there's no point trying to keep up with a paper address book and snail mail.

My Gran reads, a lot, several books a week. So when it started to get difficult for her to see the print on a page, the usual tactics were employed - large print books, stronger specs, a magnifying glass, and then this:

My Uncle rigged up a table with a camera and a monitor so my Gran can put her books, cross words, and so on, under the lens, select the magnification she wants, and read from the screen. It is also a digital TV with the subtitles enlarged (at 97 hearing is not always easy). Genius! It only really works as a practical solution though, because my Gran is not afraid to press buttons, twiddle knobs, and generally mess about with technology. The only problem with the awesome camera-table-TV is that Gran can't carry it around or take it to bed. So she decided a while ago that what would be really really useful would be:

 ". . .if they invented some kind of small computer I can carry around that I can have electronic books on and will enlarge the type as big as I want." 

My brother  took her to look at a Kindle, and then to the Apple Store. It took about 5 days for her to make a decision, and the ipad it was. Gran now uses it for email, playing games, and all kinds of other apps. (The current favourite seems to be The Talking Tom Cat, which she feeds and beats with equal zeal.)

So my Gran got an ipad at the age of 96. And when she got injured and took it into hospital I asked her if I could take a photo and put it on my blog, and the conversation went something like this:

Me: Would you mind if I put this picture on my blog?
Gran: What's that? Is it like Facebook?
Me: It's more like a kind of diary I keep on the internet that anyone can read
Gran: What's it called?
Me: It's called "When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Librarian"
Gran: No, I don't mean that, I mean what's the service called?
Me: It's called "Blogger"
Gran: So can anyone have a blog on Blogger and anyone can read it?
Me: Yes
Gran: Yes OK then put it on - just don't tell them what I said about the bed pans.

Firstly, I have to say, I won't tell you what she said about the bed pans - but it was very funny.
Secondly, I'm now wondering if my Gran is about to start her own blog.
But anyway - here's the photo:

The other thing about Gran having the ipad in hospital is that it is attracting quite a lot of attention, mostly positive, mostly from people who want to see the ipad, play with it, and generally marvel at the amazing old lady with the cool bit of tech (even if she is slightly disappointed that she can't get wireless access while she's in there like she does at home). The one (male) person she encountered who did say anything negative got a firm telling off - apparently it went along the lines of:

"All the women in my family use computers, and none of them would even know what you were talking about if you said to them that you were amazed I had one".

So there you have it - none of us have any excuse now for being ignorant about, or scared of, technology - even when we get to 97. I think we've also learned to be careful what we say about elderly relatives on our blogs - because we never know what they might be saying about us on Facebook!


wigglesweets said...

I love this. Thanks so much for sharing and hurray for your Gran.

Emma said...

I love your Gran! And this is the best blog post I've read in a long time.

It has also reminded me of the time I tried to teach my Nan about text messages. It was not so successful.

Sharon Says said...

Excellent and a real inspiration, your gran is definitely the coolest one I know!

Anonymous said...

That is awesome. Your Gran rocks :)

Wishing her a speedy recovery - hospitals are not fun places, even with iPads!

Sian said...

Your Gran is amazing. Thanks for writing this post.

Anonymous said...

I wish my Mum were as progressive when it comes to technology. My Mum is NOT 97

Emma said...

Your gran is amazing and I hope I'm like her when I'm older.

Samson said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. I think your gran is wonderful. I hope I am half and good as her if I ever get to her age. Please keep us up to date with her recovery and her next techno discovery

Sarah Barker said...

Fantastic, your Gran is one very cool lady.

Fiona Bowtell said...

Brilliant! I had trouble teaching my 72 year old Mum to use a lap top. She is whizzing along now mind you, but well done to your Gran! What an inspiration!

Katharine said...

Thank you very much everyone for all the kind comments. I will pass them all on :-)

Jo Alcock said...

Adding to the love for this post :)

My Grandma also loves technology - she emails me regularly and she's one of the only people I receive text messages from who uses text speak - my teenage brother doesn't but my Grandma does!

Here's to all the cool Grandparents out there and sending get well wishes to your Gran :)

Wendy said...

What a fantastic story! Best wishes to your Gran.

Debby said...

Great post - I hope you Gran is recovering well. I was incensed by a Radio 4 presenter (think it was the Media Show) who used lazy stereotype of a 'granny' as someone who wouldn't have a clue about Google, etc. (sexist too.) We bought my Dad an iPad recently as he's not well (and also highly tech-literate) - they really are an excellent solution for less mobile people.

Katharine said...

Hi Jo and Debby - since I posted this several people have told me about similar things - it seems it's more common than we might expect - my Gran will be chuffed :)

Katharine said...

Thanks very much Wendy, I will pass on your message :)

paula.short said...

a truly amazing lady!
xxx for her!

Traverse said...

Brilliant! My mum is 85 and compromised by her laptop- an ipad could be the next move for her too. Thanks

Katharine said...

Hi Paula, thank you for your comment. K :)

Katharine said...

Hi Traverse, yes, it might well be - it is relatively easy to use and my Gran even finds the keyboard OK for typing. What's really good is that it allows you to enlarge the text so easily and then navigate around the page easily regardless of text size. Its also very intuitive. It might be worth taking your Mum to the apple store for a demo. Katharine

Richard Hawkins said...

Bit late to the party with this comment but nevermind.

Lovely blog post - your Gran is an inspiration :-)

Katharine said...

Thanks very much Richard. Fortunately she is now home and regaining strength. I suspect shes very pleased not to have any more hospital food as well! She was very touched by everyone's comments and I'll be sure to pass yours on as well. Many thanks.

ingrid said...

AMAZING!!! i love your post. I am writing a blog for one of my MLS courses. It is a comment a about "coping with continual motion" and how some librarians are afraid of change and "technology" . Your grand's story is the perfect lesson.

Katharine said...

Hi Ingrid, Thank you for your comment :-) Please feel free to use the example in your work if you would like to. Sadly Gran died a few weeks ago, but not before she gave permission to an Australian technology lecturer to share her story with his students - so I'm sure she would be very happy to know you are interested for your studies too.