Those dreaded words came up last week in conversation with a group of old friends, and it brought an otherwise lively conversation to a screeching stop.
To catch you up – (my friend has approved this by the way) – his Dad lost his wife a couple of years ago, and has been adjusting to life in the family home – on his own.
He’s learned to cook, clean, and even socialize on his own – for the first time in his life, and by all accounts, he was doing OK with it. Of course he missed his wife of over 50 years, but he was managing.
…we talked about that word for a while, and how it has come to be synonymous with ‘barely keeping your head above water’. A minimum standard.
Still – his health had been good, he still had his sharp sense of humour, loved his Leafs, and followed politics and the markets.
But lately, things weren’t quite the same. Vague descriptions, but words like ‘distracted’, ‘not listening’, ‘the place has become a mess’ and a few more ominous/speculative descriptors entered the discussion.
As a group of supportive pals – we cut to the chase: ‘so, the old guy’s not the same, and you’re worried – let’s talk about your options.’
The conversation immediately turned to ‘how do you know for sure?’ – and a process to begin confirming/discounting the substantial worries. We talked about things like dropping-by at random hours (not really do-able with a busy family life), calling more frequently (Dad always let the phone go to the answering system, no reason to expect a change now), enlisting the neighbours in a neighbourhood-watch-like program (in progress), and pre-selling the idea of introducing technology to monitor safety.
This last item was the one that took the conversation on its most productive branch. While my friend’s Dad is not tech-averse (he follows the market on his computer after all), we locked-onto the one barrier that needs to be overcome: permission. Without Dad’s engagement – the ‘help I’ve fallen’ types of solutions that we brainstormed simply would not be effective.
We talked about putting an Amazon Echo or Google Home device into the home – and a partner one into my friend’s home, and installing the app onto his phone. The idea is pretty simple: show Dad how to use it (get him to use it for fun reasons like getting the score of the Leafs game, market results, etc), but also show him how it can be used as a ‘telephone’.
…then drop in on him periodically via voice – or just silently to listen in – and ask how things are going, talk, visit, etc. It’s a nifty little solution that costs less than fifty bucks at Best Buy.
So – we finished our drinks with a commitment that ‘Echo it is’, and drinks on my buddy next time – when he’ll fill us in on how it went.
…stay tuned for Part 2.