Saturday, December 10, 2011

What Technology Brings

Logitech Webcam - about $50
A few days ago I was talking with the District Governor of the Wisconsin Lions about a workshop I will present at the March District meeting, and described for him how my brother and I are able to use technology to stay in touch with my Dad.  The next day I was reflecting on the Miniatur Wunderland posted yesterday, and the technological progress it has meant for all of us.  And I realized - it's all the same topic!

The Governor has asked me to write a story in the State Newsletter for our Lions, many of whom are aging, to encourage the use of technology now available.  Reviewing what I wrote, it is probably suitable as a story to post, and challenge each of you who are in need of staying in touch with your aging parents or elders, or even with your children/grandchildren if they are far away.  Here's what I wrote:

Dad in 1939

My dad is 94.

He has had a computer for close to 25 years, and as he has aged we have found ways to use the computer and internet to accomplish a number of things.  In late 2009 we added a webcam, and this past summer we upgraded him to a Mac.

We checked out a few options for video conferencing and finally settled on Logitech Vid software because it is the easiest for him to use.  We added a Dropbox folder for storing and sharing documents, and TeamViewer software so we can control his computer remotely.  My brother, a Mac guy, uses their iChat function.

Dad loves his music, which he plays using iTunes, and, an avid reader his entire life, he has a long list of e-books including several Zane Grey stories that are his favorites.  Using an online photo service we are able to share several photos and videos with him.  He has seen our oldest grandson performing at a jazz concert and now has enjoyed the youngest grandson running the train we set up under our Christmas tree, smoke, whistle, and all.

We are able to make all this happen by doing hookups and software setup when we are on-site, then connecting with him by video conferencing on a regular basis.  When he has problems with the computer or we need to show him something, we connect by way of TeamViewer and I can operate his computer remotely even though he lives miles away.

About three years ago I started helping him with his bank accounts, viewing them online, downloading transactions to Quicken, and providing him reports on a monthly basis.  He lost his right arm 50 years ago and has difficulty writing checks, so doing it for him online is a big help, and I am able to watch his bills and payments for him.

At the end of the month I put all the transaction and balance reports in his Dropbox, check in with him by video conferencing, take over his computer remotely with TeamViewer, and walk through each report with him, line by line.

From time to time I will tell him about the weather outside my window, and can take down the webcam, point it out the window and show him – the wind blowing the trees, rain sweeping across the street, or snow piled up by the snowplow.  When I do this he just giggles – at what he is able to see from so far away, at the marvelous changes in technology, how all of that is "live" and fed through, for him, a phone wire.  Progress.

In times of crisis the video feed is invaluable as a tool to check his mental and/or physical health; my brother, especially, may have a better handle on his needs than my sister who lives but a block away but works in Rochester.  

Dad used to complain about the cost of the phone and internet service, but that doesn’t happen anymore.  He loves the video chat, especially with his great-grandchildren.  And my brother and I are pleased that by way of his computer and the internet we are keeping him “out of the four walls” of his apartment. 

Technology provides so much – if you are willing to step out of your own limitations.  If you choose to do something like this I encourage you to "Keep It Simple Stupid" and let the usage grow as the comfort level increases.  You can set programs to load automatically if the computer is turned on, and set Vid to open simply by pressing the enter key when a call comes in.  

Demonstrate the potential by showing them a video conference you might have with your own children, and let them know they have that same potential.  Be bold.  You won't be sorry.

1 comment:

  1. It's fantastic that a man in his mid-90's is so willing to try to keep up with today's technology. It's wonderful that you have provided him a way to stay connected and tuned in. Kudos for looking after Dad in such a progressive way!
    Janis H.


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