A Moment with Technology and One from The Greatest Generation

My 97 year-old grandmother reads the newspaper front to back and every piece of mail, catalog, and sales paper that comes to her door. She is quite the reader and one who is curious about today’s technology.

As I sat in my room this afternoon, pounding away on my keyboard, my grandmother’s voice lingered down the hallway, “What is Bluetooth?” I let the question hang in the air, until I could see what she was referring to. These terminology moments don’t just pop out of thin air, knowing her, she’s likely reading the newspaper or a catalog. As she chewed on the word, trying to wrap her head around what Bluetooth is and why the term isn’t blue nor has anything to do with teeth, I took a moment to connect the dots.

She’s a smart woman, but keeping up in this technology driven world isn’t her forte. When I explain technology, I have to relate the term to something she knows. So, back to Bluetooth. It’s a way for two pieces of technology to connect. Like my computer, it doesn’t need to be connected to the wall to get internet, it picks up a signal (connection) without a wire attached to it and the wall. I can access the internet from my computer no matter where I am in the house. Some of you tech savvy peeps are thinking, that’s not it at all. And you are reciting what Bluetooth is in your head right now, aren’t you? Have grace here, grandma is from The Greatest Generation, and what you just recited is Greek to her. You have to break it down and help her connect the dots, in her own lingo. Her technology comprehension is limited and slowly the things she once knew are fading.

Last weekend, I tried to teach her how to delete pictures from her little digital camera. Years ago, she might have remembered, but as time has gone by, things have become long forgotten. So after the twentieth time of telling her the process it takes to delete and her trying it again and again, I wrote out instructions with pictures. Yes, even the patient get impatient, trust me there are times I want to tell her to, “Google it,” but that will only confuse her more. Praise God for the grace I have received through Him, so that I may give grace to others. So, I wrote the instructions out and sat beside her to help repeat into memory how to delete pictures from her camera; connecting what has been lost between generations.

I have found that for many, not all, of The Greatest Generation, computers, smartphones and anything of the like is too much for them to fully understand, yet they are curious. When they sit on the sidelines watching you gain information by using this technology savvy object, they too want to try it, even without understanding fully what it is they are doing. Whether it’s retrieving information, taking pictures, talking face to face, taking notes, or checking email/text from friends and family, why should they feel left out of the loop?


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Alison says:

    I’m going through this now with my 89 year old mom. I’ve scanned and digitized all her photos (2,500+) and put them on a computer, named, dated and tagged each photo and she is delighted except she can’t figure out how to turn on the computer!

    1. becketar says:

      These are the moments where very specific instructions need to be made. From a sticker on the computer on button that says, ‘Turn computer on, push here,’ to documenting with screen shots how to do everything.

      I’ve even started to label food in the refrigerator, hoping my grandmother will see it and think, I’ll eat that. She’s grown accustom to pulling out frozen foods for dinner, until I came this summer. So on days that I am not there for a meal, I label things, such as sliced peeled apples.

      I recall a scene in the movie, The Color Purple, where the oldest is teaching the youngest (Whoopi Goldberg) how to read and connect what things are by writing out the word and attaching it to the object. I’m finding that working with the elderly population with minds that are slipping is kind of like that.

      1. Alison says:

        Great ideas. My mom has been healthy until a few weeks ago when she fell and broke her hip. Now it seems the mind and body are both breaking down a bit. Good to meet you and I look forward to seeing you in my reader.

      2. becketar says:

        It’s a pleasure to meet you as well, Alison. P.S. My mother just shared with me a book that has helped her with caring for my grandparents. Perhaps it may be of some help with caring for your mother. 9 Realities of Caring for an Elderly Parent
        Book by Stefania Shaffer.

      3. Alison says:

        Thank you! Will check it out.

  2. Fareha Nizam says:

    You made me remember my late Grandmother. I loved her so much. When smart phones become common, she was so curious on why everybody is always staring at it. So I showed her how to take selfie and access miniclip to play pool and other games. She loved it. She was just 65 so it wasn’t too hard for her. But sometimes she will get stuck in simple things and will call me to solve the problem. Ah. Old wonderful memories!!! ❤

    1. becketar says:

      We carry little memories deep within. It is quite a joy when they surface, even for a moment, to fill the heart with happiness and love.

      Fareha, thank you for sharing your memory, it truly was a pleasure to read.

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