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social, health, political imagery through the lens of George J Huba PhD © 2012-2017

Living with dementia is all about improving quality of life (QOL). Treatments to fix up your brain are still in development. They will not happen in my lifetime. But, as I always suggest in this blog, there are some ways of using simple cognitive and behavioral methods that may make your life (and that of your family) more pleasant. When you have dementia, a better day is priceless.

There are several products on the Apple app store for iPhones and iPads that claim to promote electronic communications among patients, family members, and paid caregivers. In reviewing many, I found them — as a group — to be somewhat expensive and typically fairly difficult to use (by me, a member of the patient target group with a PhD and 25+ years of software development experience).

I have carried an iPhone and iPad with me almost continually for the past 10 years. I have always considered the voice control app Siri to be something of a “bar toy” that you can ask questions like “who won the 1923 World Series?” or “what is the dollar-euro exchange rate?” My judgment had been drawn based on the earliest versions of Siri that had significant problems in voice recognition and returned “interesting if bizarre” information in response to questions.

Then recently I watched a teen sit with her iPhone and take notes, schedule, get smart answers, and generally zip through her homework. She did not seem to be doing anything “special” to enable the phone to interpret her voice. And she got terrific and accurate translation of her spoken words into written words using Siri.

Well … I decided it was time to start acting “cool” and flexible again and seem like I was having a conversation with my friend Siri. I started to talk to Siri and “her/him/it” and tell it to take written notes. I experimented with several Apple devices and found that multiple individuals (and devices) linked on the same account can easily share notes.

Free. Nothing special required. Easy. Doing a little research, I concluded that the transcription and note taking function now work far better than ever before due to enhancements in Siri, but more importantly because of recent upgrades in the Notes app included in iOS.

There is huge potential here for Persons with Dementia to take notes for themselves easily and simply by speaking into an iPhone they carry everywhere. And for caregivers and family members to leave notes for a Person with Dementia. Or to check the PWD’s notes to see what is going on. No lost notes and I bet that many people are likely to carry their phone everywhere than to carry a pencil and notepad.

If you and Mom (or Dad or your aging friends) carry iPhones, you can easily set up a system where notes can be shared in a couple of minutes.

Comments:
1. Apple is reliably rumored to be releasing Siri for the Mac in June 2016.
2. At this time I only recommend sharing notes, not calendars. Calendars are confusing.
3. Siri also runs on the Apple Watch. Hopefully well enough to also share notes.
4. Donald Trump is reportedly suing to change the name Siri because he does not want Syrians in the US (OK, so I couldn’t resist).

The mind map below organizes the basic information about this system and provides additional details.

SIRI, NOTES, PERSONS WITH DEMENTIA AND CAREGIVERS

The slide presentation breaks the mind map into pieces. It will run automatically or you can push the pause button and then use the arrow keys to move through the presentation manually.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Siri, take a note. Get started making electronic notes with Siri many times per day.

You can change voices for Siri [male/female and in the US Version Americanish, UKish, or Australish] easily. I prefer the female British voice (the American female version is too common, the Australian female version is too upbeat and hard to follow, and I do not want a male butler or a bossy service representative voice). Mary Poppins is quite helpful, friendly, and at times scolds you. I need a nanny.

By the way, ask Siri to take a note and say this word. It will spell it correctly.

If you use Siri, you can also find out the answer to the “argument” (discussion) you having with your caregiver about how much money Lionel Messi makes in dollars, euros, pounds, or yen.

Sorry folks. I do not use PCs anymore after 30 years of frustration and bugs or Android devices so if you do not use Apple products you are going to need to explore this area on your own.

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  1. Stephen Murphy #
    March 2, 2016

    does siri take written notes, as I am looking for an app to type up for me, can’t afford a sec on my wages.

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    • March 3, 2016

      Siri does not recognize handwritten notes. You probably want software coming under the category “handwriting recognition” in the Apple app store for the iPad. Alternately, you will also find handwriting recognition functions within many of the “note-taking apps.” I have used a number of the low-cost apps offered over the years and they get about 80-95% of the words correct depending upon the clarity of your handwriting and how well the programs are trained specifically to YOUR writing. I have not looked at these programs in about 18 months and they frequently change, so I hesitate to make a specific recommendation.

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