Recovery, Hearing Loss, Frustration,
Emotionality, SNFs, Publishing
Adapting to digital technology has been and continues to be a fascinating and challenging undertaking for many people who once were on technologies cutting edge in the years before personal computers.
I've been delighted that a family member whose professional life included 1950's then state-of-the-art electronics technical activities has been able to resume some computer use. He had been involved many years ago in the space program precursor to NASA associated with unmanned satellite tracking stations. Many years later, following retirement, he had begun developing his computer skills once Internet access connections became available.
His beginning efforts to write his WWII recollections came to a halt when he experienced a life-threatening brain aneurysm from which he was not expected to recover -- but he did! A regimen of various therapies eventually ended and he returned home, but various residual effects greatly curtailed his activities. Eventually he managed to attempt playing the computer's solitaire card game. In his eighties, visual complications unrelated to his previous brain event, hampered his technical skill development.
Eventually, cataract surgery partially corrected some visual deficits allowing limited increased computer use with repeated trials. A year or so ago I had urged consideration be given to his using Skype with assistance, but received no acknowledgement my suggestion had received interest from anyone. I was delighted earlier this year to receive a Skype call from this family member. I've had a few subsequent ones, including last night, from this family member who has actually been able to retain and sequence the steps to make the call, adjust the picture and make other minor corrections.
We sometimes use the Skype short typed messages. Also, initially he was a bit anxious with our audio since he often required repeats due to his hearing loss which is unaided and not responsive to amplification. Occasional repeated calls to me, plus regular frequent calls with his adult children scattered about the country have resulted in his increased confidence and significant lessening of any stress associated with needing to ask for a repeat. By the same token, I make every effort to communicate in ways best for him.
Not only is this exciting to me on a personal level, but professionally it significantly demonstrates that the human brain can continue to recover from insults of many types, such as this aneurysm or a stroke, at any age with dedicated stimulation. I hasten to add there can be many variables that may interfere or prevent some individuals from achieving gains, so we shouldn't be judgmental toward anyone whose skills remain static.
Therapeutic intervention after an event does provide instruction for independent practice once therapy concludes. Consultation with a therapist long after the initial therapy can sometimes be appropriate, but it may be challenging to obtain financial coverage. Generally, Medicare and insurers require there must be some change in function that can be documented. Consult your physician.
My husband had accepted digital technology when our adult children gifted him with a new clock radio, then a compact disc player which renewed his interest in listening to music, generally jazz. When video tape recorders (VCR) became prominent he was less than enthusiastic when I gave him one, so I ultimately figured out how to install the connections to our older TV.
With the installation completed and video tape movies I played a few times, he gradually became interested to the degree he not only used the VCR himself, but acquired knowledge of operational fine points I hadn't learned. Privately amusing to me, was that he would then become impatient if I failed to use the VCR remote special features as efficiently as he had become. We went through this same process when I gave him a DVD player another year.
When our son and wife presented us with one of their desktop personal computers after buying a new laptop, we were quite confident that it was only a matter of time before our man would become adept and enthusiastic using this latest digital technology. Maybe this would help distract him from the constant wearing pain he was experiencing that no longer responded to epidural treatments as he tried also to avoid excessive pain medications and sleeping pills. Unfortunately, he wasn't a candidate for surgery.
At the local office supply store, after choosing a small compact desk, my son and I carefully selected a desk chair that we thought would be most comfortable sitting for my husband, since he was experiencing increasing back pain and other medical problems. When we brought the firm but cushy chair home he did try sitting at the computer, but disappointingly, given our efforts, he was unable to comfortably sit for long. Additionally, he experienced visual difficulty focusing between the keyboard and the screen with his bifocal eyeglasses. I'm sure his constant wearing pain short-circuited his concentration and patience for acquiring new skills, too.
During those early weeks of my computer use, my own limited internet surfing had revealed specific sports and jazz music sites that I thought would garner his interest. I also realized, my goal now had to be not only learning to use the computer myself, so I could help get him started, but that he would need one of those laptops coming onto the market. Wireless capability for home use was beginning to be touted as a possibility, so I concluded this was a system combination we needed.
My plan was that my husband could use a laptop in the relative comfort of his recliner. Meanwhile, to aid in my overcoming computer operation complications our son consulted remotely with me as he was able from his Midwest home, as did my daughter from the East Coast, between the hours of my part time work and other activities here on the West Coast. Also, I benefited from consultations with bloggers who generously shared their knowledge, time, encouragement and emotional support.
For numerous years I had become personally aware of how the wear and tear of constant pain, whether mild or strong, on a person's psyche can effect their attitude toward life and influence their behavior toward others, especially loved ones. Even the individual's thinking can be altered, making their concentration a tiring effort. Frustration, anger toward themselves could manifest itself by being directed toward their most trusted other.
I thought once a select few Internet sites were set up and easily accessible they might serve to draw my husband's attention to enjoyable features outside the pressing discomfort, thus distracting his focus from himself. But before wireless readily became available, or I had a laptop, he went to bed one night and didn't awaken in the morning as I've shared here before in "Time To Talk."
I think of the how the smart phones and tablets available today are even more portable. These devices provide Internet access benefiting individuals of all ages and most capabilities. Anyone interested in developing computer operating skills can likely obtain assistance from a variety of sources. I continue to be amazed at the rapid evolution of new products that have emerged in these six years, leaving me to wonder what's next?
The computer tablet has already become an effective teaching tool attracting
some autistic children to express themselves, even stimulating their speech. Elders have easily
learned to use a tablet's touch screen as their first computer. I may
even be able to use a tablet with some of the individuals for whom I
provide speech, language and cognitive services.
I'm familiar with a retirement community that recently installed wireless service
throughout the campus, including in their skilled nursing health center (SNF.) People sometimes do not realize some SNFs may have very mentally competent residents, some of whom may be able to go about on motorized scooters and leave the facility on outings with friends and family. Residents and people from the community come to the SNF for rehabilitation following some decline in function, generally due to medical changes ranging from dehydration to recovery from surgery and strokes to name a few issues. Some people will recover enough to return to their
previous residences or other living environments. Some individuals requiring more nursing care may remain
I've encountered a few SNF residents using their own personal computers. I recall a former Chicago radio broadcaster who actively used her computer to maintain contact with her network television newsman son in his travels. Well into her nineties with mental faculties intact she once expressed concern about whether or not at her age she should still be reading so many newspapers, magazines and other publications about current local and world events. The answer was, of course, "yes!" since she derived so much pleasure from an activity that was such an important part of her life.
Then there was another SNF resident I often noticed up in a chair typing at her computer. She was engaged in writing a book she self-published that I wrote about several years ago:"Salute To Janis David Cooley."
I continue to anticipate much promise for increased activities, pleasure and enjoyment for a select number of skilled nursing facility residents, whether short term or permanent, with wireless connections, tablet computers and, for some, perhaps even a smart phone. I'd best be purchasing these latest digital items myself so I can be prepared, but perhaps there will be some new digital device replacing those before my purchase. Stay tuned.