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?
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:
"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!