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24th March 2017
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I spent five minutes trying to set the clock on my elderly mother's modern oven this week and eventually needed to refer to the manual (now where had she put it?). A further 10 minutes later with the manual at hand, I discovered that the symbol which was supposed to appear when I followed a particular procedure didn't come up as promised. Isn't anyone who doesn't know these appliances asked by the manufacturer to try and follow the manual to see that it's right before it's printed?
Never one to give up, I managed to set the clock in my own way and now mostly it matches the clock on the microwave above it. The fact that one's some 15 seconds ahead of the other? Well, mum's just going to have to live with that as I couldn't remember how I'd set the clock and didn't want to risk losing it again!
I gave up on trying to set the clocks on the telephones...
My efforts and the frustration I felt got me thinking about how complicated Sky is for the elderly to get their heads around - and as for the modern combi-boiler systems and the need to top up the water whilst bleeding the radiators and taking care not to exceed the recommended pressure (if you've ever experienced a boiler 'blow' you'll know what I mean!) or even attempting to understand a seven day digital thermostat with five time zones... Well - it's easier just to switch the heating on and off at the boiler, isn't it?
During the ongoing conversation, (mum saying, "Leave it. I'll manage without") I learned that she no longer has anything 'on toast' as she's not sure how to use the grill that she's had for over a year. I quickly became cross that anyone not fully technology-savvy is going to struggle in getting the best out of household appliances and gadgets. That means most of the elderly, like my mum. And while I'm great at reading a map, me too.
I have a Whirlpool Max microwave which is very technologically advanced but so easy to use. It glows various coloured lights to remind me of the function I'm using and plays different tunes to remind me that I need to pause it to stir, or that the cooking's finished etc (when friends have visited, we've turned the lights off and stood and watched/listened to it at their request. One even said: "Who needs Christmas decorations when you have one of these?) So it can be done.
I was delighted to see that Amica is thinking of launching its RedDot Award winning Zen oven "the antithesis of overwhelming technology" into the UK (see story below, for more). I reckon it will down a storm with people like my mother and those like me that have to get psyched up before even opening an instruction manual...
5th October 2012