I love spending time with my mom, but now that she's in her 90’s, I am much more proactive in engaging her. More and more often, I find myself doing it with a gadget between us.
Don't get me wrong; we both enjoy nature and spending time with family, but it happens less frequently nowadays. It's hard for mom to get around, and her adult grandchildren live hundreds of miles away.
Even though the time spent together is different, we’re still able to enjoy the warmth of visiting with family. Here’s four reasons why I use an iPad with my mom and think you should too.
Reason #1: Keeping Up with the Grandkids on Social Media
Studies tell us that over 70% of grandparents think being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their life. It’s no wonder my mom loves when we peruse her grandkids on social media and chat about their lives.
On my last visit, we looked at over 40 pictures her granddaughter had just posted to FaceBook. The photos were of her first and only 7-month old great grandson. Talk about a mood lifter!
Reason #2: Listening to Music
I never made a point of listening to music with my mother until more recently. It's great fun.
We pick out some of her favorite albums or musicals and pull them up on YouTube. Often, the familiar music results in her telling stories. They're mostly the same old stories (with an occasional twist or new anecdote,) but I like hearing them. More importantly, she likes telling them.
Oh yeah, sometimes we sing together too. If you would have told me that we'd be singing together 10 years ago, I wouldn't have believed it. Neither of us are singers. We use an app that provides lyrics to some of our favorite songs.
Reason #3: Taking Virtual Vacations
For many older people, travel is tough. Exploring nature, foreign destinations or a person’s hometowns virtually can be a great experience. You will be surprised by the stories you will hear.
My mom and I have used Google Earth to visit our childhood home, my son’s apartment in the city and my daughter’s foreign travel destinations.
Reason #4: Sharing Narrated Stories
Without a doubt, my family’s favorite digital activity is recording narrated stories. Narrated stories are a familiar voice recorded over a few pictures to create a short video story.
Most of the family lives hundreds of miles away, so mom really enjoys hearing their voice and seeing the pictures. We’ll watch the same video of my brother with her greatgrandson on repeat. She loves it every time!
What I Didn't Tell You About My Mom
What I didn't tell you about my mom is that she has Alzheimer's disease. She was diagnosed five years ago. She’s lost a lot of her abilities and adapting to that is hard, but we’re still able to share our special connection.
Alzheimer's is emotionally draining to an extent that words do no justice, but that's not the narrative we choose as a family. We cherish the connections and so does mom.
Do yourself a favor - whether your parents are sharp as tack, suffering from Alzheimer’s or anywhere in between, make the most of your time together. Hopefully, this article gave you some ideas on how to make that connection fun for both of you.
Generation Connect designs iPad training resources to help new learners use technology.
Our team also partners with care organizations to help professional caregivers use everyday technology to personally engage people with memory loss. If you are interested in learning more, you can sign up for our mailing list or reach out to connect.