Anna is one of my friends at the home; she doesn't speak English. Greek is her native tongue; she seems to speak louder and slower hoping that I'll understand what she's saying. How many times have I done the same thing throughout my life, even though I know it doesn't elicit understanding.
Tuesday afternoon when I was visiting my mom, Anna stopped me in the hall. Looking up at me with tired eyes, she grabbed my hand and began to speak in Greek to me. She was anxious as she tried like hell to get me to understand her. I didn't.
Suddenly, it dawned on me.
Holding Anna's hand I said to her, "Ah, I bet my Italian grandmother had the same communication problem. It must have been so frustrating and scary for her."
My mom's mom never spoke English, just like Anna.
I want to talk to Anna. I want to have a conversation with her because she can... only her voice is Greek.
I thought, "How can I talk to her? There's got to be an answer."
Of course! My iPad. If I could find a translation app it could possibly open up Anna's world of jumbled sounds. We'd be able to converse. The Tower of Babble would be torn down between us.
Yesterday, I got an app working on my iPad. I couldn't wait to get to the home to see Anna and try to talk to her. Mom was in a good place after her nap, so I had her sit with Anna and me as I tried to make the idea work.
Reminisce of days gone by when we used to use dial up to connect to the internet, the connection was turtle slow. It made it difficult to keep Anna and Mom's attention while my iPad seemed to spin through the translator.
I followed Anna around with my iPad, determined to speak to her. Mom and I found her and she looked like she needed the toilet. Of course she didn't know what I was asking her no matter how loud or slow I spoke in English.
"Ah, let me see if the translator will work." I said to my mom who had no idea what I was trying to accomplish, she was happy to be with me.
I typed on my iPad, "Do you need the toilet?" and pressed the button. It worked. It spoke the phrase in Greek to Anna.
She looked up and busted out laughing as she put her face in her hands. She laughed hard, finding the humor in the first phrase I got my device to speak. Anna said, "Yes." She laughed more.
I ran to get the aide to help her. It worked. Unfortunately, she already went to the toilet by the time the aide got to her room.
Why doesn't the home use today's technology to communicate with their residents? It's not difficult, it's not expensive. Imagine how much happier folks will be if they can communicate and answer the important questions like, "Do you need the toilet?"