Geriatrics

Walking into an assisted living facility (where elderly couples can live together) with Katja brought a lot of joy to some elderly people tonight. I'm glad that we were able to be the material source of these happy moments.

For me though there is some mixed feelings. I mean why aren't these people living with their families? Where are their grandchildren? Are we living in a broken society that ships grandma and grandpa off to an independent living facility without a second thought? I understand that sometimes there are a lot, or complex medical issues. For instance my grandpa had Alzheimer's and he was a bit much for my full-time-working-aunt to care for towards the very end of his life (she had worked with him for several years prior). I understand that tough decisions have to be made all the time. I just wonder if the lack of age integration in the United States society (family) leads to stunted or detrimnetal development in the family structure and relationships. If our stratal age based society in some way robs our children of proper development and experience with aging. Just tonight I can see that it seems to rob the elderly of proper joy from interactions with the young.

It makes me think about my future, not where do I want to live, but how do want to live. I don't want to live in an assisted living facility. It might rather die young.

But we weren't just walking into any living facility. We were going to see Betsy and Eddy, the people who spent a significant amount of time raising Becky when she was little. I met them before they moved to the assisted care facility. So there was a bit more context for me. It's also a bit hard for me to watch Becky as she processes their aging. Eddy has always been "old" to both Becky and me - he served in the second world war. It does not make the task any easier when we have a little 11 month old who likes to run and get into things - everything. It sometimes seems as if we are a nuisance, but I know that the visits mean something to everyone. There just has to be a way to make this kind of social function amenable to little kids... if someone has something that has worked for them, please comment below.

For me visiting these places reminds me of visiting my dad's elderly relatives in New York City. I understand that they meant something to him. I mean he had more relational context than I did for those relatives. As a child I remember sitting for what seemed like hours not being able to do anything interesting and not being engaged with the adults in any way. Sometimes it was in a hospital, sometimes a long term care facility, sometimes it was an over crowded apartment. As a young child it was boring - as an adult it is not much better. I think it was appropriate for my dad to visit his relatives. I even think it was appropriate for me to be there. But I wonder if there's a more appropriate way to integrate children into the lives of the elderly who are not elderly care givers to the children.

Wall of honor: a picture gallery of people who live here and have served in the military

Wall of honor: a picture gallery of people who live here and have served in the military. Are we honoring them with the joy of children?

Sled and Tobbogan Research

I research all sorts of things... but one area I do not do enough research in is fun - especially winter fun.

With the resent 5" (or theres about) of snow in Eugene I thought I would pull a memory or two out of my past and take a look online to see if I could find any pictures. I am particularly interested in sledding. This is sorta new. Let me explain. Growing up I learned to ski. It was an individualistic sport and did not require cooperation. In contrast to the atmosphere around skiing (at least my exposure to it), sledding is much more of a social enterprise. In database terms, in stead of a one-to-one relationship (skier to skies) it is a many-to-one relationship (people to sled). Give this past I think it might be time to revisit the sled in context of the social element and re-evaluate "sledding".

Last night some students in Becky's program and I got out to a local hill and went sledding. It was a blast. Even though I am the guy in the red jacket.

It reminded me of a sled my dad had when I was in the third grade. The only picture I could find on the internet for the make/model is below.

Long Toboggan

Long Toboggan

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Handicapped: What does it mean?

This past Christmas Becky and I visited her cousin, who has, as of about a year ago been diagnosed with ALS. We were able to talk a bit about what it means for him (experientially) to be handicapped. We talked about laws, systems, and attitudes in our society with regard to services for handicapped people. – Much the User Experience kinds of stuff, just not with the web.

It was the first time I had heard someone discuss critically the pros and cons of the implications of the ADA. We talked a bit about how handicapped people are affected by the laws and their implementations.

One example our cousin gave was walking from the handicapped parking to a restaurant. At one establishment the handicap spot was on the same side of the driving road but the spot was further to walk than the closest parking spots. Not all handicapped cases are the same. For some it would be better to cross the street to walk the shorter distance than to walk the “safer” but longer distance.

Resturant Parking

Resturant Parking

We also talked about some experiences he had with Disney and with Southwest Airlines.

Without taking credit for our cousin’s stories or wanting to bash on either of these companies, let me relay the flowing experiences and some reflections on them. It was interesting that his interpretation was that socially in Disney being handicapped, when it came to waiting in lines, meant that you got preferential treatment. This was because there was a separate and often shorter line for Handicapped persons. He remarked that this is not exactly fair to non-handicapped persons. And that the purpose of the laws for persons with handicaps is to make things equal, not preferred.

However, his experience with Southwest was of a different nature. Being a faithful customer of Southwest since the early 2000’s I have often enjoyed my “plane crackers”. He remarked that it was really difficult for someone with muscular challenges to navigate between the rows of seats. (Someone else with several kids, was using a kid to reserve the front seat for other people who were boarding later.) It was also difficult to get seats which were together for his family. I found this a little hard to believe until I was flying Southwest this past January. Having heard my cousin’s story, I took note with new eyes on people boarded the aircraft and how the elderly, families and handicapped people were assisted.

On my way to Oregon, there was a man next to me who had lived in the U.S. for a number of years but was originally from Columbia. He was in his 80s and wore hearing aids. He never heard the cabin bell saying that it was alright to get up and go to the bathroom. This would normally be alright but the light for buckling the seats never went off. When the stewardess asked for his drink he could not hear her ask if he wanted cream and sugar with his coffee. Luckily, I was there to “yell” in his ear and he got cream and sugar.

On the way back from Oregon an elderly lady with an oxygen/nebulizer kind of machine with her was disembarking from the plane. She was slow moving and felt really bad for keeping others waiting who were going to disembark. After most of the passengers had disembarked I asked the steward on duty how he would have handled this kind of passenger in the case of emergency. He said that they hope to never have an emergency, but in the case of one, it would be challenging. They would probably have to do some kind of two person carry to get the passenger out of the plane.

I am not sure that I have a strong closing paragraph for readers. But it is eye opening for me to think of systems (lines at amusement parks or customer service and boarding systems) in terms of User Experience and Usability with disabilities in mind.

Family for Christmas

This Christmas Becky and I spent some time with family. All of my brothers and sisters were there and so were my mother's two daughter-in-laws.

We had lots of fun together. We went and saw Sherlock Holmes 2 together.

After watching Sherlock 2

All the Patersons After watching Sherlock 2

The Five Boys

The Five Boys

After which we went out to eat.

Jed stroking his Chin

Jon Stroking his Chin

It was good to see my brothers and sisters talking, laughing and smiling.

Jeremiah Smiling

Moriah and her Scarf

Moriah and her Scarf

We did a lot of game playing...

Playing Mario Cart.

One of the interesting stories about this Christmas was that my bother Joe, sold his Xbox to buy our sister Monica a Wii. Monica really wanted a Wii. Jed, didn't know that Joe sold his Xbox and bought Joe some Games for the Xbox. It reminded me of the story of "The Gift of the Magi".

Playing Mario Cart

Hugh and Jed Playing Axis and Allies

Hugh and Jed Playing Axis and Allies

Playing Munchkins

Playing Munchkins

Playing Carcassonne

Playing Carcassonne

There were a lot of interesting interactions over our time together.
We learned that all of us like to play the game but we each play it differently. Some:

  • Play the game to win.
  • Play the game for fun.
  • Play the game to keep certain others from winning.
  • Play the game for the game's sake.

There was lots of silliness.

Over Lip

Over Lip

Jed Modeling his new hat and gloves.

Jed Modeling his new hat and gloves.

Hugh and Becky

Hugh and Becky

And we saw Jeremiah smile.

Jeremiah actually did smile

Jeremiah actually did smile

Sleeping...

Sleeping... There seem to be a lot of pictures of Jeremiah doing this...

Prime Suspect v.s. Aunt Carol

Whoever is doing the background research for the Lead character in Prime Suspect is doing a great job.... at least when one compares her to my aunt Carol... It is like my aunt wrote the book. I just started a few episodes with my wife, Becky, and not only are there phrases, intonations, but also discourse features which I have heard my aunt use. I was particularly impressed with episode 108, Underwater. (Especially the dialogue where Detective Timmoney is saying good-by to the little girl.) (Perhaps this is just the time of year that I start to watch NY/NJ police shows to hear the familiar pronunciation of the words.)

Skyping in for Jon’s Wedding

My brother, Jon set the date for his wedding the day after Becky and I set the date for our return to México. Unfortunately they were both set for the same day. So Becky and I Skype'd in and watched the wedding from the Houston Airport.
Hugh and Becky at Houston AirPort

Hugh and Becky at Houston AirPort

Jon waiting for the Bride.

Jon waiting for the Bride.

Blocking the Camera.

Blocking the Camera.