My mom is having more and more difficulty using her computer for emailing friends and family. Her arthritis makes it hard to manage the mouse properly and she is constantly dragging over something or clicking something without meaning to and deleting her work or having some other problem. It can take her hours to write one email. She is opposed to dictating to me or a caregiver and I think voice recognition software is beyond her. She could write regular letters, but she is having more trouble writing with a pen as well. Lastly, she is hard of hearing so phone calls can be a struggle. Am I missing a great solution? How can I help her keep in touch with friends and family without too much stress or difficulty?

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The enhanced phones are wonderful. I've had a Clarity phone for my mom (originally got it for my dad who was very hard of hearing). They work pretty well and you can really crank up the volume on your mom's end. You could also try the "speaker phone" setting if your mom's phone has that. Sometimes that can work well too.

My mom is 95 and only has two friends left. I called one for her one time (mom never would) and after listening to them both struggle to hear and create an ongoing conversation, I decided I wouldn't try that again. It was heartbreaking to me. My mom never writes letters any more (neither do her two friends). I think some of that is just what happens and there's nothing we can do about it, as much as we'd like to fix it. Good luck, it's a real struggle, I know.
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I was going to suggest voice recognition software, but if you have WIN 8.0 or 8.1, I wouldn't use it - everything's too complicated with that version. WIN 10 is available and it's supposed to be the last new platform launched by Microsoft, but it would still be a learning curve.

I like Maggie's suggestion.

1. Perhaps you could take your mother to an Apple store and let her try out an iPad before purchasing it. Go a few times if you have to, until she feels that this is something she could use. I would also ask about the voice recognition for Apple computers - it's probably more usable than the Microsoft based ones.

My aunt had a type of computer that was solely for e-mailing; I don't remember what it was called, but this was back around 2006 and as we all know that's a prehistoric era for electronic devices which now change faster than Superman can come to the aid of someone in need, faster even than a politician running for election next year can shake the hands of potential voters.

2. There's also Skyping. You could set it up and enable it when she's ready to visually connect with friends and family.

3. Are any of her correspondents local? An informal get-together might be an option as well. Just get together for coffee or brunch, or at one another's homes. Bring some bagels and fruit, or something they like and can all eat or nibble on.

4. One of my family members meets with his friends monthly; they're in a ROMEO group - Retired Old Men Eating Out. At the best Big Boy restaurant in the area, there's a special corner reserved for veterans who get together at regularly specified times.

5. I haven't used them but there are hearing enhanced phones available.

In person communication to my mind is still a great form of therapy if people are close enough.
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Yes, I think you ARE missing a great solution. It's an IPad.

The email icon is down at the bottom of the screen. It's very easy to access. Once one selects New, the keyboard pops up. When held horizontally, the keyboard is quite large. And with a stylus, it's very easy to use. Down by the shift key, is a little picture of a microphone. When you select that microphone, the voice program opens and you can simply talk into the iPad and say what you want to say. There is no mouse. It's easy to make corrections. In fact, I used the iPads speech function to complete this post.

As with anything, it takes a bit of practice. But I think anyone familiar with computers would master it with instruction in just 15 minutes.

No more mouse. Just a stylus. Very easy to navigate around the Internet. Find someone with an iPad and see for yourself.
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