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Monday, 18 January 2016

YouTube FaceTime singalong

On the way up to the nursing home to see mum this morning we had Wendy Harmer on 702 for the first time, and a new segment where the station invites a newspaper representative onto the program to have a chat about what stories are doing the best. I thought today's participant from the Daily Telegraph was not quite candid because he gave us two featured stories the newspaper had produced but not necessarily the ones that were attracting the most comment. This kind of spin is pretty much what you would expect from a Murdoch tabloid however.

Once I got to the nursing home mum was sitting on her bed looking a bit sad. I noticed later on that she had been throwing used tissues on the floor - not quite making it with them over the distance to the bin that is placed next to the wall - and that the tissues had red colour on them. I also noticed that she was coughing quite badly today, and so I made a report to the nurse on duty.

Then I called my brother in Houston and today for a change he answered. We talked for a while about this and that - notably about Second Life, a concept that we had to pretty comprehensively explain to mum as she had no idea what it was - and then I started singing a song. I was holding the iPad on my stomach as usual, at an oblique angle to my body so that my brother could look at my mother while the three of us talked. Mum started singing as soon as I started of course - people with Alzheimer's love singing, and can remember all the words to the old songs of their youth - and the song was We'll Meet Again. Then my brother went online on his PC - he uses FaceTime from the PC in his room - and found Vera Lynn singing the song on YouTube and played it. The song was first published in 1939, when mum was 10 years old, and she said that to us.

Once we had finished singing along to this song my brother found another old song from YouTube. The sound quality on our end was not always perfect because his system was having problems picking up the sound and sending it through to us, taking the feed on the iPad, but it was good enough. My brother chose The Band Played Waltzing Matilda but mum didn't recognise that one. He also looked up and played It's a Long Way to Tipperary, and mum recognised that one and sang along. We had a lovely time singing songs with mum on the iPad and the PC.

The iPad is a great gift for an elderly person. Even if they never work out how to use it - mum used to know when it rang with FaceTime and could answer but does not recognise the tone any longer - an iPad can help connect people together. Used in a group of people - the way we use it: me, my brother and my mum - it can be a lot of fun. I told the nursing home director what we had been doing, when I met her in the lift, and she said it was a great idea.

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