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Posted: April 13, 2005

Professional Caregiving

A Short Reverie to the Non-Technological Past

It was my birthday this past week and I got a gift from my family -- an IPod. I know, everyone has one, but somehow, I have still resisted this technological bump, resting more comfortably with my CD/DVD player as my most techno-savvy home product. I am a cell phone user, and I fax, yet I haven't really mastered the photo scanning tool.

But an IPod? I had to ask my guyfriend, quietly, with no one around, how they actually get the songs in them. I know, I may be slow here, but truthfully, I just don't get it. I can say I have taken it out of the box, and ooohed and aaaaahed a bit, but in my gut, I was thinking more like "yikes, oh nooooooo, not another step forward into the world of technological gadgetry!" It's going too, too fast for me! How do seniors do it? They started off with so much less "stuff'," and so many are computer savvy, techno-chatchies (I just made that up) spilling out of every gym bag, pocketbook, briefcase. Blackberry anyone? I can only imagine, daughters saying to their septuagenarian mothers, "Where did you put your Palm Pilot?"

When I think back about black and white TV, watching Howdy Doody and Sky King, I remember drinking Bosco (that's chocolate milk for you younger bunch) and sitting on the floor not one foot away from the television screen. This was before we were told we could go blind if we sat that close. (You couldn't go deaf sitting near a radio, I used to think...)

Fast forward to transistor radios -- wow! -- and then telephones with long cords. That was the technological precursor to the cordless. We would take the phone receiver and stretch the cord into our bedroom for some privacy, and before too long, we had a stretched out, limp cord that could reach almost to my sister's bedroom at the end of the hall.

I remember learning how to use the slide rule...ok, truth be told, did ANYONE really know how to use it? It worked great as a backscratcher, and to this day, I still have mine, knowing somewhere in my heart that this will be an archaeological find for my future grandchildren.

My high school was very advanced -- we took computer classes. OK, so what if the computer was the size of the entire classroom and all we learned was how to feed those punch cards through them! Maybe they could have been helpful in the elections of 2001, poor Floridians!

I am moving at lightning speed to the present, so bear with me. I remember having to completely retype my term papers in college if I forgot a paragraph.

There was no insert button on my Royal Typewriter. It wasn't even electric. It was magic when the erasable paper came out, but alas, it was too late for the many nights I spent, retyping and retyping. Now I smugly sit at my computer typing, inserting, deleting, without a blink.

Record players, 45 RPM, 78 _ rpms or am I hallucinating here? Tape cassettes, tape decks beta tapes, VCR tapes, CD;s and now DVD's.

Have we arrived? What a joy it was to be able to talk on the phone outside, in the garden. We have all been thoroughly convinced that we need to be reachable at any and every moment in the day. When did that happen? Wasn't bit just yesterday when we said goodbye to our mothers in the morning, and not talk with them again until we came home from playing after school?

Remember the phone dials and the old telephone numbers? I still remember mine: WYdown 3-4354. There was PArkview, too and so many others that became faceless when all seven digits tuned into numbers. Phone numbers used to have personality!

Anyway, here I sit with an IPod and in the 52 years that I have been on this planet, with all of the personal-use technological gadgets that have already invaded our homes and purses, I fear for my ability to function in the future if I don't venture out into IPod land. By the time I get all 1,000 songs (do I even know 1,000 songs?) on it, I will be far behind the techno scouts out there pushing the future even further.

Kudos to all the older adults out there who have kept right up with the pace of things. I only hope my IPod experience will prepare me for what's to come.


Sylvia Nissenboim is a licensed clinical social worker and who has been working in the field of adult day services in the St. Louis area. She is the director of four adult care and enrichment centers for the American Red Cross and also operates a personal and professional coaching firm, LifeWork Transitions, specializing in caregiving concerns, adult day care management and other aging services, such as virtual coaching and family care giving support groups. She co-authored The Positive Interactions Program, is a national speaker, and has served as president of the Missouri Adult Day Care Association and as a member of the Missouri Governor's Advisory Council on Aging..

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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