A lovely ‘double’ guest blog today by Sandra Springett (@SandraSpringett) and her mother-in law, Margaret (@MSpring149), sharing how Margaret began tweeting and blogging and the difference it has made. Regular readers will recognise Sandra’s name as the mastermind behind our Whose Shoes? programme in West Kent.
The truth is that we have been so busy firing up Dementia Friendly Communities in Kent and reporting the outcomes, including Sandra spending most of her Sunday yesterday working on a fantastic Prezi presentation, (watch this space!) that we have not got round to posting this important blog before now. However, the parallels to my own Mum’s situation at the moment, a.k.a ‘Gills_Mum, and the iPad lessons we have been enjoying – well, I have anyway 😉 – over the weekend, prompted me to post it today…
Sandra goes first…
Last year I attended a conference in Kent called Kent Digicare. I believe it was billed as ‘an exploration of how digital technology and social media could be harnessed in the social care sector. I was already following a few Twitter accounts. I had stumbled across @shirleyayres through my day job and checked out some of the folk she followed. When the information concerning the conference arrived , I noted that several of these people including Shirley would be there. It felt a bit weird that I would actually be able to meet these cyber folk.
To be honest, on day of the conference , I felt a bit of a stalker in a room full of people I knew things about but had never met. I had been following @WhoseShoes , @Markoneinfor plus several others and here they were in the flesh. I have since explained this to @WhoseShoes and described her as a celebrity from “my timeline”, a kind of Brad Pitt, (that was meant as a compliment!) . What do you do when you actually end up in the same room as people you have been essentially “eavesdropping” on; I just kept a low profile. It was a really interesting conference and I don’t often say that!
I went back to our organisation and encouraged everyone to open a Twitter account, I raved about all these really interesting people who were on Twitter and about all these fabulous ideas! I thought about how we could do more to engage with older people locally, we already run IT classes and have the equipment, how could we do more?
One weekend later, I was talking to my Mother in Law, Margaret and it was apparent that she was feeling low and isolated. Margaret is a very intelligent woman but of late she has suffered with her mobility, she is widowed and to be honest none of the family spends enough time with her. A couple of years ago, aged 72 , she completed a degree in English, for no other reason that it interested her to do so . She has always said she would like to write a book. To cut a long story short, she bought an iPad, lighter and easier to use than her desktop computer. We encouraged by setting up , a WordPress account and Twitter account. I suggested she should write a blog and publish it, not quite an instant best seller but a start.
I started sharing my very limited knowledge of blogging and Twitter with her, now she has to advise me. She communicates with people all over the country and world, and manages to post a blog nearly every day and best of all , it has really captured her imagination. Margaret becomes truly animated when she discusses her blogs and the responses she gets. She said that she has less time to watch TV because she is busy blogging, reading blogs and generally connecting with people. It has made such a difference to her life. I jokingly claim this as my success as I have enabled at least one older person to engage with the world via digital technology. Now , I had better get on and sign up number two………………
Margaret Anne Springett aged 75 years…
Writing down my name and age like this makes me feel I’m back at school. You know, like – Adrian Mole 13 3/4 years. To be honest, since blogging and ‘chatting’ to so many people of all ages, nationalities and sex, I feel as though I am young again with many friends.
On WordPress we have a ‘Daily Prompt’. Each day we are asked to write about a subject – some are funny, some deep or even something about our feelings. One of my fellow bloggers is a young man who lives in North Carolina; his view on life is amazing. He was in a coma for several months and the way he described the doctors and their questions made me laugh and cry at the same time. He read my ‘Daily Prompt’ which asked “What is something you have done but can’t quite believe you did?” I wrote that I, aged 70 , drove from my home to stay with my son who lived over 200 miles away. I described the three Motorways I travelled on, not finding the meeting place and thinking I might have to drive all the way home as I didn’t know his new address. He commented that , I made him laugh and he felt he was in the car with me all the way. I always try to inject a bit of humour into my blogs as I know it not only makes me feel happier but some of my followers enjoy it too.
I live alone , which is how I like it (mostly) but I find that weekends are quiet and lonely. Sandra, my daughter-in-law , suggested I join WordPress and Twitter. At first , I was a bit sceptical in view of the bad press Twitter has had on occasion. Now, I can honestly say , I have never had anything nasty tweeted to me. As for WordPress, once when I was having a bad night, my morphine patches didn’t seem to be helping so I decided to write my blog. It was about the day (March 10th , 2004) on which my husband died. As you can see this happened 10 years ago but that day is etched in my mind. The tearful outpouring was therapeutic. I didn’t expect anyone to read it as it was late at night so I was surprised and so pleased when an American blogger sent me this comment ” So sad, sending you a virtual hug.” She is now one of my cyber friends.
I realised that I had friends across the world when I asked if someone could help me transform my blog page. Straight away, I had an answer with clear directions on what to do. These directions came from America though I also have had answers from Italy , India, Canada and several other countries. I have tried to help one blogger who is is going through a stressful divorce. She said I made her laugh in my blogs and comments. When reading other blogs you realise that you are not alone and there is always someone, somewhere who will ‘chat ‘ to you.
I couldn’t or rather wouldn’t have tried these pursuits if it wasn’t for my lovely daughter in law and I wouldn’t have made so many friends that keep me writing , laughing and enjoying life. As one blogger said “A blog is like dropping a pebble into the ocean; the ripples reaching across, joining friends”.