My Blog

November 24, 2015

Elderly Mothers and cell phones

It’s the dadburn new technology that makes life difficult for my 96 year-old mother.

That, and memory loss.

Her phone rang yesterday morning. Fumbling for her phone, desperate at the sound, shoving hands into pockets, grabbing for her purse, unzipping zippers, finally turning it upside down, she at last found the phone. Too late. It had quit ringing.

I realize that is something we have all experienced. It is not restricted to the elderly. I don’t want to count the many times I’ve had to use my land line to call my own cell phone to find it buried under papers on my desk or in a pocket or left in the car or in another purse. Hubby Flatbottom says that until the technology wizards develop cell phone implants into our heads, the problem of lost phones and misplaced calls will continue.

We were trying to access Mom’s voice mails to see who had called. Since it was morning, it was more than likely her husband Al calling from Florida. Probably to check on whether she was packed and ready to fly out to Orlando on December 1st. She is. Even though all of her children are opposed to her travel, she’s stubborn, and she’s going.

I asked Mom if she had checked her voice mail lately.

“I don’t know how to do that,” she told me.

“Yes, you do,” I said. “You’ve been doing it for years.”

“I do?” She looked completely surprised.

I knew she had used her birthday as her password to get into her voicemail. When we tried it, we found it had been corrupted and didn’t work any longer. I tried all the buttons, the options, the choices, the commands, but nothing. I couldn’t conquer the technology either. That meant a trip to the Verizon store.

Fortunately, Bill, my Verizon guy, is someone I have known for years. He worked with Radio Shack where Hubby Flatbottom shopped for many years, then seven years ago transferred to Verizon, about the same time I did. When we arrived at the store, he motioned us over immediately, despite cutting in front of several others who were in line. Age—and friendship—has its privileges.

It only took him fifteen minutes to reset her password back to her birthdate. Then he went through the voice mails – eight from husband Al. She felt dreadful that she had missed all his calls and hadn’t known he was calling and leaving messages. His voice mail, by the way, on his phone is also completely full and she can’t leave messages either.

When we got back in the car, she asked me how to access her voice mail. She refuses to accept her loss of memory. As I slowly went through the steps, she wrote it down laboriously on the back of her Sunday school program. Then after a trip to the new Kroger’s, she again asked how to access her voice mail. And again she wrote it down on another scrap of paper. Neither of which she will remember she has.

Cell phone in the bedroom

Cell phone in the bedroom

I need to type up the instructions on a small card and tuck it into her cell phone. Perhaps she will remember, or perhaps we’ll just keep calling until she answers. That is if she hasn’t misplaced her phone or left it in the bedroom where she can’t hear it anyway.

Sometimes all the new technology is completely useless.

About Caroline Castillo Crimm
Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!

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