I don't have a ready answer, but one thing you could do is restart in Safe mode. If the condition does not occur there, restart normally and see if there is an improvement.
Is your Microsoft word application have all the latest updates? The reason I ask is I found reference to this condition, and maybe that's what you need to do.
Here is the article.
In July 2012, a fellow poster nicknamed "rosyfingereddawn" posted this hint/tip on the forum:Re: Simple fix for the Preview and TextEdit Crash after Lion OS X Update
There is a simple solution for annoying Preview crashes (at least, with Mac OSX 10.7+ Lion OS).
cd # make sure you are in your home directory
then " hide" the com.apple.preview folder found in your Library/Containers folder :
mv Library/Containers/com.apple.preview Library/Containers/com.apple.preview.hiding
You will notice that the next time you open Preview, the com.apple.preview folder will be automatically recreated, and your problem is solved.
The same should work for TextEdit.
Many of the work arounds in this thread are doing the same thing, indirectly.
If you are a command line ace, you can just remove the folder. But it is preferable to "hide" a folder before removing it to check the effect anyway."
It applies to Lion, so all the part about showing your Library is moot, but it points at some plist files becoming corrupted for some reason. You could try to delete the plist files related to the applications you named in your ~/Library/Preferences folder (without said applications running, that goes without saying), and relaunch Word, TextEdit or Pages.
Since all three are text processor applications, your problem could be solved by repairing permissions, too.
[...] She is on Snow Leopard by the way not Lion.
I gathered as much, roam. My point was, besides the fact that the post I mentioned was about Lion, the issue is known to affect all recent versions of OS X: in some cases, either after an update or through choosing a different default application for text documents (or even PDFs), the chosen application can hang or crash, and it has to do with preferences files (plist) becoming corrupted.
That's why I mentioned repairing permissions, and possibly getting rid of the plist files in question in the user's Library, under Preferences. If it doesn't work, it might mean a host of other things, like bad RAM, or insufficient free disk space, or even that the applications in question didn't install properly, which, in the case of TextEdit, is doubtful, since it comes with OS X.
Ladies, I were you, I'd simply repair permissions on Snow Leopard, either via Disk Utility or through a third-party such as CCleaner for Mac or Onyx, reboot the Mac and check if things have improved or not.
Also check how much free space you have on your sytem volume.
To each his own. In this case, I'm neither guessing nor using a "scattergun approach": I've been around Unix systems long enough to know that when such symptoms arise, there's a natural order in the measures to take.
The first step is inevitably to repair permissions, because the issues the OP mention could just be related to a binding problem. If that's the case, she/they are home-free, and that's one for the good guys.
On the other hand, deleting plist files in the Home directory (as opposed to plist in system folders) won't hurt either, since those files will be re-created by their parent application next time they're fired up.
So all in all, no wild guessing here, just a methodical approach inherited from decades of running Unices (both desktop and server).
Now, like I said, this could also be a case of bad RAM...