30 Responses to Dementia friendly? The digital onslaught. In the shoes of… Gill’s Mum :)

  1. Trevor Plunkett says:

    Advice. You should get financial AND health Power of Attorney NOW, while Mum can reason. Activate it when necessary. Explain to Mum NOW. (NB the Health aspect of P of Att VERY VERY important)


    • Frances says:

      Trevor – good advice – any tips on how to overcome the resistance of a very clear minded parent who is unwilling to spend the several hundred pounds involved? I would happily pay myself if he would let me, but I think it is the emotional side of looking forward in this way that is the real block. How have you (or others) made it acceptable to the older person?


  2. Alicia says:

    How wonderful it is to read a blog about things that are important to older people directly from an older person. I live in Spain and see the difference between our society and British society in the way older people live. We have incredibly up to date automated systems for lots of things so we are not backward in this respect but businesses see the value of meeting the needs of their older customers- in a country where most people live in apartments, businesses are peoples social lives, people go out every day to shop, to bank to have a drink because this is what connects people together in their communities- so we have never embraced remote shopping, automated telephone systems and tills without cashiers in a big way because relationships are more important than saving a few euros and driving up efficiency. Our country may be in financial ruin but our older people are loved, welcomed and looked after….

    Thanks for sharing your thought provoking blog- keep writing!


  3. I have a heck of a time keeping up with technology, dozens of passwords, new software, etcetera, and I’m a young man; I can only imagine how frustrating it is for people in their 70’s, 80’s, and up. User friendly? I think not! #EndAlz


  4. Banks seem so focused on trying to be ahead of the technological game that they forget about their customers. But Banks aren’t alone; shops, GP practices, car parks, to name afew all doing the same. However we a vastly growing population of over 60’s who not only find it hard to embrace new technology but for some with dementia it will be a brand new mystery every single time they are faced with it. People with dementia don’t know they’ve forgotten how to do something, to them it is a new, unfamiliar and only isolates them even more from society.
    The percentages of older people is not going to deminish any time soon so it us working in business that have to learn new ways to help elderly people & those with dementia face these challenges in a non condescending manner. Banks cannot force those that do not have the recall to use a system that is not in their memory.


  5. Paul Roberts, Chief Executive, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board says:

    This is a superb “blog”. It is great to hear from someone with Gill’s Mum’s “seniority” (I am sorry I don’t think we are told her name) rather than from those of us who talk about these issues with only indirect experience. I have to admit, as someone only a little more than the half the age of the writer, I share much of her perspective. The electronic age we are living in brings with it some great advantages – like Twitter and blogs but it can reduce the amount of real human contact – automated telephones and automatic supermarket checkouts being particular bugbears of mine.

    Given the digital reality we live in we need to try to help older people to use these services and also take some of the opportunities which are available.

    I hope that this blog is the first of many!


  6. Jo Moriarty says:

    Gill’s mum and Gill – you make some really important points here. It’s about having choices – not just a question of being able to access a computer or do electronic banking. Our lives are becoming increasingly financially complicated so we need to find ways of making things simpler.


  7. Debbie Leven says:

    Great insight into the challenges faced by older people. There is so much room for improvement regarding how businesses and organisations across the board engage, and communciate, with older people. Getting their input, and listening, is a start. More blogs like this giving first hand experience sends a powerful message.


  8. Whose Shoes? says:

    Thank you for all your comments. I am delighted so many people in different places are interested. I am glad that you agree with me. Gill’s Mum 🙂


  9. Anna Geyer says:

    ‘Gill’s Mum’ – it was lovely to meet you today J, and it was interesting to hear that many of the “older people we were with today shared your frustration!! Keep blogging 😉


  10. johnpopham says:

    This is a very important post.

    I’ve been running the Internet Station of Nominet Trust’s Our Digital Planet (http://www.ourdigitalplanet.co.uk) exhibition which is touring some city centres, and whose objective is to get people online who have not used the internet. I have come across a number of older people who feel they are being forced online, and, of course, there are probably many more who are resisting and would never approach someone like me. What worries me is that this is wholly counter-productive. I think the internet and new technologies are joyful tools that open up enriching worlds, but we risk an older generation that sees them as some sort of bewildering punishment. This has to be addressed, urgently.


  11. karims3d says:

    Lovely to have met you in person J & to read your amazing blog. Leading the way in breaking (digital) barriers, you are an inspiration for your generation x


  12. Stuart Wright says:

    ‘Gill’s Mum’ – thank you for sharing your thoughts, you have inspired a number of people living in a care home to want to follow your example and have a go at blogging…something I will be facilitating.
    Your point about contact and relationships resonates deeply. Although much of the technology used is perceived as time and effort saving, it is in danger of isolating people further and denying people opportunities for human contact and relationships which is vital for our sense of self and overall well being. I look forward to reading more from you.


  13. Whose Shoes? says:

    Thank you for ALL your comments and please keep them coming! Lovely to see the diversity – and geographical spread. Some important lessons from Spain about valuing our older people better, methinks!

    Mum’s timing with this blog is VERY interesting, co-inciding as it does with the launch of the government’s ‘Digital Strategy’ today. I have had a quick look and it is hopefully a move in the right direction… for “us younger ones”, at least. (This could be wishful thinking, perhaps, as I check my little “book of passwords” for my WordPress account….!). But I think John Popham’s comment that “we risk an older generation that sees them {internet and new technologies} as some sort of bewildering punishment” is hugely telling. Sadly, any changes in the tide are unlikely to be in time for Mum.

    On a more positive note, my ‘partner in crime’ Anna Geyer (New Possibilities – see above) and I ran a fab Whose Shoes? workshop yesterday for tenants of an Extra Care sceme. I will aim to write a blog about this as we learned so much – and hopefully the participants learned a little too. It is the first time I have tried “live tweeting” with a room full of 80+year olds. Some didn’t understand… but we had a laugh. Some were amazed as I ‘voice activated’ my friend Siri and they watched their words appear on my iPhone and disappear into cyberspace… 😉


    • Anonymous says:

      Well done! Gill and Gill’s mom. More help and advice is needed, it was my father’s continuing confusion with his debit card and pin number, that led me to recognize the start of his dementia, he would constantly call me saying he just wanted “some money” not this Damn card! What’s my pin again? It would be 4/6 phone calls a day from Somerset. Then on my monthly visit he handed me £5 to pay for 3 meals and 3 drinks, to save embarrassing him I made up the difference, only to them be shouted at in the restaurant that I had keeped his change. So I gave him £1.50 and he said ” blimey


  14. Dear ‘Gill’s Mum’, I loved your blog. I’m in the Netherlands and elderly people here are experiencing the same problems you described. But computing is getting very popular among them last years, it’s the fastest growing group online. A lot of community centres, volunteer agencies, nursing homes and home care agencies offer computer lessons and support for elderly people. And they have projects where students teach about computing and help to solve problems.
    I work in a community mental health team ,and I have plans to set up a project for people with mental health problems to help elderly people with computing. There’s a lot of knowledge that can be shared and it’s a good way to connect people.
    Hoping you will write more !
    ps: I hate the automatic check-outs too , have had many errors and besides I like to shop and chat 🙂


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  16. OPCW says:

    Really great blog and a pleasure to hear the perspective of a ‘real’ older person about the impact of an increasingly digital world.
    Many older people, even those that are digitally savvy like ‘Gill’s Mum’, tell us that they struggle to find the information and support that they need as more and more services are available only online.
    While it is good news that becoming more ‘age-friendly’ is now on the agenda of many businesses, it’s just so important that they work with older people, utilising their wealth of knowledge and experience, to develop the best possible services that meet everyone’s needs, whatever their age.
    Banking is just one of many areas where older people don’t get that little bit of help on a timely basis to overcome ‘the thousand little barriers that get in the way’, to quote an older person we met with recently.
    We’d love Joan to be a guest blogger on our website – http://www.olderpeoplewales.com – so she can share more of her wonderful experience and wisdom.


  17. begethers says:

    ‘Gill’s Mum’- thank you. My feeling is that there is no substitute for a good chat with someone you feel comfortable with – simple. I had the privilege of meeting Gill in Brighton recently, you must be very proud – you are both an inspiration. Using all these clever digital tools is wonderful but I do worry when I see people who seem (literally) attached to the smart gadgets. I saw a young mum heading into the park recently pushing buggy with right hand and eyes down on phone in left hand – she bumped her daughter into the gate, briefly looked up, redirected and carried on.

    A few minutes later I saw a couple, maybe in their 70’s – granny pushing pram and grandad slightly ahead – no phones, but instead engagement with the baby, commentating on the trees, the park and building anticipation of playing together in the park.

    I am not judging the young mum at all but I do worry about the loss of connection as we struggle to let go of our digital world to be fully in the moment with the people we are with.

    I hear too many stories for comfort about care workers helping an older person with their meal with one hand whilst checking facebook with the other – imagine the impact on the self esteem of the older person (and the care worker who has become unconnected from their role).

    Many many thanks



  18. Frances says:

    Hello Gill – and Mum!
    I agree with all the comments about the importance of making technology more user friendly – and particularly with Joan’s view on automated checkouts. They are both dehumanising and inefficient – we should boycott the horrible things. Technology should faciltate human contact, not replace it.


  19. Eric Greenwood says:

    Read your post, and during my life i have worked and played with machines ever since my dad got the first home computer the zx81. I know them inside out backwards and forwards I do NOT trust them because first they can get rid of the staff and second they always fail when you dont want them to. In a bank i wait to deal with a living human person where i can see the money going into their hands. with machines you have to “trust” its gone in if the machine makes an error then they will say its your fault. I would rather deal with a living person and i am 39 years old. So it isnt just the old that distrusts them.


    • Anne Deas says:

      I so agree with you Eric, whatever happens in our “digital world” there will also be a deep instinctive need to interact with with each other – we must fight to keep this going. Don’t get me wrong – I love my technology, but when all is said and done it’s about us – people who need people (as Barbra Streisand put it so well!).


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  21. Whose Shoes? says:

    Thank you for all the great comments here. Isolation is horrible for anyone, but particularly if you are old or disabled or otherwise “vulnerable”. Technology must never REPLACE human contact but it can play a vital role, if used properly, in reducing isolation. A great blog today by Shirley Ayres How the internet and digital technology can combat isolation collates some of the very best tools / resources around to help, including Mindings and Chill 4 Us Carers, both featured in this blog series.


  22. chrisconder says:

    We need ubiquitous, reliable, affordable connectivity. Until the internet is easy to access from simple devices and intuitive (like the ipads are) then older folk won’t engage. I have worked with older people on a voluntary basis for years, and I have seen some miracles, but also the reasons why they resist. I agree that person to person interaction is always essential in our lives, but there is so much the internet can offer. In the case of dementia, making visual and audio contact with people through a smart tv or tablet is of great benefit, but it has to be easy to use. I think computers per se are not what the internet is really about, the gadgets can make interfaces simple. From skype to blogs to all sorts of social media, pick and choose what interests you, then move on to online shopping or banking if you want to. Most folk will do that, if they have been hooked by something they really enjoy.
    The trick is to get a good connection that works first, and that is really difficult in many areas.
    I repeat, many older folk, especially those without families local will resist change if it isn’t easy. Its only human nature. Build it properly, and they will come. If by banking online you save a trip to the bank and can spend more time in the library or in a nice cafe having tea and cake then folk will do it. If by shopping online you can save lugging it all back on the bus you can use the bus trip to visit nice places instead. Online isn’t a substitute for real life interaction, it just opens up a new world of time saving, cost saving and gives you the chance to meet new friends and find new interests.
    Keep the faith. Well done both of you!


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