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E-mail: once a foreign concept is now a weekly routine at NHCC and LLMCU

Facebook, Twitter and Myspace are everyday terms tossed about in the English language on a day to day basis.

These forms of communication are second nature to many of us. The concept of writing a blog, a wall post or an e-mail isn't given a second thought. However, individuals that grew up in the early 1900s era, have very little knowledge of the advancements in technology, which are available at their finger tips. Simply stated, the word "e-mail" is a foreign term.

With the progression of technology, I felt it would be beneficial to introduce e-mail to the residents at Northome Healthcare Center and Lakeside Living Memory Care Unit.

To begin the process, I spoke with the resident's family members about the idea of communicating via e-mail. The explanation of using e-mail as a form of communicating for family members that are a distance away, began to gain appeal. Families were informed that they could write letters to their loved one and include picture attachments that could be printed and shared.

The concept quickly became a growing trend among relatives. Many times, family members write a paragraph while on a break at work, or send an e-mail message via their cell phone. With the advancements in technology, it is important to make such resources available to busy families. An e-mail, at times, is more convenient than a phone call. This is especially true for residents with hearing impairments. The opportunity to have a "conversation" in written form is easier for the resident to understand and also lets the resident return to the letter at a later time to re-read.

After the families were comfortable with the idea of sending messages by e-mail form, it was time to introduce the word and concept of e-mail to the residents at NHCC and LLMCU. I explained that it's a quick way to write a letter without the use of a stamp or envelope.

As you can imagine, this completely took residents by shock and surprise. Many still don't understand how it can be done so quickly, but are always happy to hear the words, "You received an e-mail today," when I bring them a printed copy. Some of the residents have received such a large quantity of e-mails that three-ring binder folders have been made and placed in their room to contain all of their mail. Families enjoy being able to see a "journal" of what others have written and passed along to share with their loved one.

It is a source of joy when residents approach me and ask to write an e-mail. The resident and I sit down in my office and I let the resident know which family members have shared their e-mail address. The resident then chooses a loved one in which to write and we begin the e-mail. I type verbatim what the resident says, so that the e-mail is truly from the resident with their personality shining through. Once the e-mail is complete, I receive looks of surprise when I announce that the e-mail is now available for the recipient to view. The resident is amazed at how quickly the process takes place.

An example of how e-mail has brought joy to the lives of individuals at NHCC and LLMCU is the touching story of a resident receiving e-mail on her birthday. The resident is a routine e-mail writer and was taken aback by the amount of e-mails she received the day of her birthday from her friends and family. All throughout the day, e-mail after e-mail came for her. Each time I entered her room and delivered another e-mail, I was thanked with a huge smile and teary eyes filled with gratitude. I knew that day, I had brought an entire new positive realm of communication for the residents at NHCC and LLMCU.

Although, our residents may not be ready for the idea of having a Facebook or Myspace profile or care to Twitter about what their upcoming plans are for the evening, they have entered into the great advancements of technology.

The residents at NHCC and LLMCU have gained knowledge and confidence to write and receive e-mails.