Facebook, Gchat opening lines of communication for hearing-impaired grandmother

By Graham Ulkins - bio | email

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - For one Baton Rouge grandmother, Facebook is more than just a way to keep in touch with family and friends. It's a way of life.

When Marilyn Lambert walks in to her parent's assisted living apartment, you'd think she was talking to her teenager, not her 84-year-old mother, Jane Montgomery.

"Do you have your iPod?" is usually Lambert's first question.

"It's been years and years of deteriorating hearing," she said. "And gradually, it's gotten to the point where she cannot hear anything and cannot participate in the conversation."

However, Montgomery has certainly kept her sense of humor.

"I don't know what's going on, but I just smile," she said.

It has been really tough for Montgomery's husband, Malcolm. After all, the couple has been married 52 years.

"We can send a man to the moon, have him walk on the moon," he said. "Yet, we can't restore somebody's hearing."

So, Montgomery's family decided to take a modern approach. They linked a small laptop wirelessly to an iPod Touch. The two devices then connect through a simple chat program, like Google Chat.

Montgomery holds on to the iPod while her family types their conversation on the laptop. Lambert said the setup has greatly improved communication with her mother and Montgomery agreed.

"After I got this, I got in on all the conversations," she said.

The iPod is just one way Montgomery has found her new voice.

"I do know how to get into Facebook," she said.

Looking through pictures and keeping track of her grandchildren, this granny is a social networking pro. Lambert says she notices her mom often logs on to type messages and respond to people's posts, but Montgomery doesn't stop there.

"I send out emails every night. I started with my five children and it's grown to 36 people," she added.

The new avenues of communication have opened up and the family is grateful for the renewed connection.

"I'm real pleased that we are going to have a better relationship since we can communicate better," Mr. Montgomery said.

Montgomery  said life wouldn't be the same without technology.

"If I didn't have my computer, I wouldn't know what the outside world was looking like. Tell the elderly people that this is their way to communicate with the world," she said.

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