writing with the shakes
July 21, 2014 6:26 PM   Subscribe

My father has essential tremor, and it's gotten to the point where he can't write legibly, or even type. How can I help him?

He is almost 70, and mentioned to my mom that he would like to find a way to create documents and type emails. He's a PC user (windows 7), and I know Nuance Dragon might fit the bill. Does it still require a ton of training? (I'm not sure he has the patience for that).

The other thing I'd thought about is getting him an iPad, and having him use Siri to control it. But, I'm not sure of the apps he would need to dictate emails or documents.

Also, if anyone has ideas on how to enable him to play solitaire with shaky hands (on any device currently available), that would be awesome. He misses that the most, I think.

He is not interested in seeing an occupational therapist, or discussing assistive devices with his doctors. I am trying to help from 2000 miles away, so any ideas the hive mind has are much appreciated.
posted by wearyaswater to Technology (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Dragon takes about 15 minutes to initially train. You can take more time, if you like, but it will refine itself as you use it, with not too much additional work on your part. I often recommend it for people with fine motor impairment.
posted by goggie at 6:36 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Earlier. When I set Dragon up for my grandfather I was really impressed at how good it was. Dealt with accent well. Took about 30 min to set up.
posted by mercredi at 7:02 PM on July 21, 2014

Best answer: Here are some possible apps, both for speech to text but also just for bigger text/buttons or other things that may make emailing or typing easier (both ipad and android):


Dragon Mobile Assistant

BIG Launcher


And here are some assistive devices or other things that don't need any trip to the doctors or an OT. Some of these may help with playing Solitaire:

the Pogo Stylus is one recommended for people with tremors

Steady Mouse

Assistive Mouse Adapter

Chester Creek products
posted by freejinn at 7:16 PM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: He might try a bridge with touch screens.

Also, take a look at large-key keyboards; with 0.75"x0.75" or 1"x1" keycaps.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:38 PM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I believe that the Lift Lab spoon people are developing a pen attachment too.
posted by fshgrl at 8:44 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nthing Dragon. Also, if he's having trouble eating, I wanted to recommend this interesting spoon that controls tremors.
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:44 PM on July 21, 2014

Yeah Lift Lab has the fork out now too, but the knife is still in the works and I have heard talk of a writing device, but I haven't seen that in any of their "coming soon" advertising yet.
posted by freejinn at 10:21 PM on July 21, 2014

Best answer: Came here to say Dragon. His speech needs to be consistent, for example if I have a cold I get more recognition errors.
posted by GeeEmm at 11:42 PM on July 21, 2014

At 70, your father is probably under regular medical care. Has he talked to his doctor about this? Some blood pressure medications (beta blockers?) sometimes have a side effect of reducing essential tremors. Some doctors will prescribe these drugs even in patients without high blood pressure to deal with the tremors.

Also, this is a pretty common genetic trait that generally affects men. How are you?
posted by BearClaw6 at 6:27 AM on July 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

A friend with essential tremor reduced it a lot by taking magnesium.
posted by leslies at 9:52 AM on July 22, 2014

A few companies make keyguards - a rigid sheet of material that lays over your keyboard that has holes you reach through to press the keys.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:56 PM on July 22, 2014

« Older Graceful way to contact company after applying for...   |   Fictional characters to arrange key exchange over... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.