PUTRI JUNEITA JOHARI


I remember when the handphone was made commercially cheaper than its predecessors. How my late mother and I enjoyed it!

LAST week, I wrote about how technology had advanced so much that we’re all living in an era that, some 30 years ago, would have seemed like something straight out of a science fiction movie.

Organ transplants are nothing new anymore. Certain major operations can now be done through small incisions in a procedure called “keyhole” surgery.

The lenses of our eyes can be replaced to counter cataracts. You can even choose what kind of lens you’d like to have — for short or long vision. You can select the kind of glasses you’d like to wear to complement it, whether for long distance or for reading.

Technology has helped us all in so many ways. We need only to search for it on the Internet and there’ll always be something there for almost everyone.

Just recently, I saw a video of a lift and hoist system that uses a continuous ceiling track and motor to move between rooms.

It’s one of the most amazing inventions for a loved one, regardless of age and size, whose mobility is greatly challenged. There are different models for different needs.

The thing about having a loved one who’s paralysed or wheelchair-dependent is that you’ll need to be strong to move him (or her) around and to clean him. This could hurt your back and other joints if you bend or twist at a wrong angle. Alternatively, if you can’t do it yourself, you’d need to hire people to assist you to do this.

Having such a device can also help make your loved one more independent. If hospitals and therapy centres had them, it’d also make it so much easier to hoist them in and out of the pool for hydrotherapy.

At the moment, many centres have ramps that go straight into the pool. You just push the person together with their wheelchair into the pool. The hoist and lift system may be a major investment for the vast majority. There are, however, many other things that are useful for us if we know how to use them.

VALUE OF A CALL

I remember when the handphone was made commercially cheaper than its predecessors. How my late mother and I enjoyed it! My late father wasn’t really a phone person. He loathed talking on the phone and preferred personal visits.

There were days when I couldn’t sit with mum during her haemodialysis sessions. Where other patients would have set up their little corner with portable DVD machines, mum was just happy to have her handphone and chat with me or her sisters and cousins.

When I was away travelling, brief good morning and good night calls were routine. I could actually feel the warmth of her smile through the phone. She and I would have a great start to the day, and later, sleep quite well after these chats.

More than 10 years ago, video calls weren’t available yet. Can you imagine how marvellous it would have been if they were?

My parents were very keen on having the family over during the weekends and those who couldn’t make it would ensure that they at least made a call whenever there was a family gathering.

Just hearing a loved one’s voice, my mother used to say, was balm to the soul. Children will never know how much it means to parents just to hear their voices and to know that they’re well. Only when you’re a parent would you know this, she used to tell me. Oh yes.

The handphone was the one link my parents had to all their seven children, several of whom didn’t live in Kuala Lumpur. Just the night before mum passed away, she was on the phone with my brother, telling him that she was well but very tired. The previous year, dad hung on for another day when he heard my brother telling him on the phone that he was taking the next flight home.

ALWAYS IN TOUCH

While my parents were in the hospital, miniaturised gadgets made it easy for us to bring the world to them.

Gone were the days of carrying the minicompo just to listen to recordings on cassettes, and later, compact discs. There was the iPod, and the other MP3 devices to put on their favourite songs and Quranic verses for them to enjoy.

We still had to carry several gadgets for songs and videos. It made great gifts then but you needed a little bag just for them. Today, all you need is a smartphone!

There are so many things available today that weren’t invented yet when my parents were still alive. Dad would have enjoyed them. He loved gadgets and was fascinated by how everything worked.

There are the GPS devices that you can use on loved ones who have a tendency to wander out of the house and can’t find their way home. There are personal emergency response devices and systems that are able to instantly call and alert you and the hospital, in case of an emergency.

There are also close-circuit televisions (CCTV) that you can access from your smartphone to monitor the safety of your loved ones in the care of others. As caregivers, you can now plan how you’d like your loved one to be monitored and cared for from a distance. You may not always be there in person but you’re definitely not out of touch.

Putri Juneita Johari volunteers for the Special Children Society of Ampang. You can reach her at juneitajohari@yahoo.com

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