Norma in a digital world…

This photo was taken in the early 1930's when Grandma would have been in her 20's.

This photo was taken in the early 1930’s when Grandma would have been in her 20’s.

It blows my mind when I think of all the change Grandma has witnessed in her lifetime.  She’s experienced everything from horse and buggy to jet planes.  She’s watched men land on the moon, and seen access to information become almost instantaneous.

It’s all moved a little too fast for her.  She doesn’t interact with technology on her own very much.  Usually, I’ll sit next to her with the iPad and I’ll show her some photos or videos.  Or we’ll have a discussion and stumble upon something we don’t know the answer to.  I’ll look it up on Google and Grandma will point at the iPad and say “that’s magic!”

Despite her unease with it, she is still learning.  For example, one time I was showing her some photos on my iPad when I got a phone call.  I left the iPad with her and when I came back a few minutes later she was swiping her hand across the screen to go from picture to picture.  She’s also used FaceTime to chat with a couple of people. I do fear that this may have caused more confusion than anything.  Now, whenever she sees a full-screen picture of anyone’s face she waves at it and says “hello”…I guess when you see technology as magic anything is possible!

She is a fairly modern Grandma, though.  She’s on Facebook!  We check it every couple of weeks.  I asked her one day what she thought of it.  “it’s like writing letters only shorter, and more immediate”.  She likes to “like” things, but wonders why she can’t “dislike” other things. (See, Mark Zuckerberg?  Even a 101 year old woman wants a “dislike” button!)

Her Facebook friends include some of her old friends from when she lived in Utah as well as extended family (including her youngest sister, Lenore – Hi Lenore!).  Additionally, both my brother and I have added our own friends to her list, when they’ve asked.

Then there’s this:

Grandma loves playing with my iPond app.  She can chase those stupid frogs around for an hour.  Unless she accidentally hits one of the menu buttons.  Then she’ll just look at it and keep touching the screen randomly, hoping to “fix” it.

As funny as this is, it makes me think…I know that people are using handheld computing apps for various educational and therapeutic activities for children, those with learning disabilities as well as in rehab for people who have suffered strokes.  I wonder about the role this type of technology is going to play as our population ages.  What types of senior-specific apps will be developed in the next few years?  If Grandma’s generation can begin to grasp it, imagine what it will be like for those of us for whom computers have become a part of daily life.

A quick Google search  brings up a whole lot of “apps for seniors” but most of them are things like crosswords, health apps , etc.  Basically a lot of existing apps that are marketed to seniors, but not many that are created FOR seniors.  As with all aspects of society in the US, as the baby boomers age, there will be more and more demand for tools to enrich their golden years.  I think it’s an area of future opportunity for those who have the inclination.

In the meantime, I’ll just type “world’s cutest puppies” into an image search and Grandma and I will spend an hour at a time looking at enough cuteness to break the internet.

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