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Technology Opens a New World for Carers

Being a Carer Changes Your Life. 

There are the misgivings, even fears, as you take on tasks that your partner had previously achieved so easily. There is a noise in the car engine – what is it? Is it serious? The gutters are loaded with leaves – could I manage to get the ladder from under the house and clear them? The fluorescent light in the kitchen isn’t working anymore: can I just buy replacement tubes? What did Bill say about a new starter? Who do I ask? Suddenly the house, garden and car maintenance are your responsibility.

Nan Bosler was her husband’s carer for 13 years and they wanted to be together in the house they had built and which became the home where they raised their children. Nan shares how technology helped her care for Bill and provide a fulfilling life.

What could help us at home?

 We know that there are many ways to help someone and the partner they are caring for stay in their own home but let me dwell on just one topic; technology.

Technology can, with the click of a mouse, open up a door to a new world for carers. If we are already using a computer we can keep open that door to the world so we can continue exploring the satisfaction of using and benefiting from technology.

Using a computer (or a laptop, or a tablet) can give you great pleasure. Let’s explore some of the ways that a carer can use technology to enhance their own lives and the life of the person they are caring for.

  • Consider the enjoyment of emails to and from friends. How often do you write a letter, put it in an envelope to post next time you go out; and how often does it sit on the table for a week or more? Information and browsing on the Internet can help you find information; it could be to check the time of a bus you hope to catch or even more fun searching for details of your family history. Don’t imagine that social networking is only for young people explore the opportunities for yourself.
  • The world appears to be shrinking. Technology is providing us with a scale of communication and e-commerce opportunities that many of us find difficult to grasp. A person from a non-English speaking background can virtually travel back to their homeland, visit sites, even read the local papers in their native language just by accessing the Internet. You can exchange photographs to share magic moments in the lives of your family and friends. Visit family and friends via SKYPE. You can remain an active member of your family and your community.

There are many websites that can provide assistance:

Carers Australia is the national peak body representing Australia’s carers. http://www.carersaustralia.com.au. Each state has a Carers’ organisation and information for those branches is available on the national site.

I suggest you make a list of the websites that can best help you.

Do you want to have library books brought to your home? Look up the contact details for your local library on www.whitepages.com.au or your local council’s website, and seek information about arranging to have home delivery and how you can use the internet to select the books you want.

Will it save you time (and energy) to have your weekly shop delivered to your home? Contact the supermarket you prefer and ask them if they have a shopping online service.

Learning is a life-long experience. Why not undertake a course, even a degree, online? If you need to be at home most of the time you may well realise that you do have time to undertake on online course during those times when you only need to be available not necessarily doing anything with the person you care for. Think about it. It is important that you take time to enhance your lifestyle.

Your journey may be in stages; mine was.

Using Technology to Travel

In the early years after Bill’s strokes I was able to take him all over Australia. He loved meeting people and being in new environments.

I would use the Internet to explore areas that we were thinking of visiting. Was there somewhere we could stay that had accessible rooms? I used the Internet to provide information but I would then follow up with a phone call to confirm the level of accessibility. I quickly learned that there were very different concepts about accessible! Next, I would view the Visitors’ Information Centre’s website to see what we would be able to see and do. I would email them with questions about transport around the area and ask about any other local information that would help us.

I would print out pictures of the various places I was investigating and then Bill and I would spread them all out on a table and decide if there was somewhere we wanted to visit. If there was, we would then plan out our trip and I would seek written confirmation (email was fine) about bookings and the accessibility features available in the room, etc.

I found that there was great help available when flying if prior notice was given that assistance was needed. A taxi that could take a wheelchair was also booked for the trip to the airport. You do need to do a fair amount of homework to ensure that your trip goes smoothly but it is surprising how well you can cope even when things don’t go just as you had planned.

A list of medication is very handy! Take it with you when you go to the Doctor either for yourself of for the person you are caring for. Don’t forget to include the name of the person who is taking this medication and the date the list was prepared.

If the person you are caring for has a form of dementia it will be helpful if you prepare an A4 sheet with the photographs and names of people who are likely to call, laminate it and have it near the phone. If you know how to do tables on your computer it is a very easy format to use to create this list. Don’t worry if you can’t use tables; just put it on your list of things to consider doing.

Create a Memory Book

 When you create a memory book make the book tell a story. The book can be created using either Portrait or Landscape as the page setup. Select the theme of your Memory Book. It might be a Family birthday party.

Select appropriate photographs and put them on one side of your page and then on the opposite side write something about the photo. If you don’t have family

photographs on your computer you can use prints – you may have to cut them to fit the space available. Put it on you wish list to learn how to use a digital camera and them you will be able to use your own photographs.

Make your book about 10 pages long. It will last better if you laminate the pages.

Bill and I were able to share 51 wedding anniversaries together and even now I call turn the pages of our memory books and remember.


Nan Bosler, OAM

Nan feels strongly that learning is a lifelong experience. She was over 50 before going to University, has five tertiary qualifications, is a published author and international speaker. She is the foundation president of the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association and seeks to empower people to use modern technology. She has been involved with community organisations for more than 60 years and is a great grandmother.