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Technology is a big help to the Sandwich Generation as we deal with the issues of caring for elderly parents while enjoying a wide variety of activities for grandparents and their grandchildren. I’ve used baby monitors to help me in caring for both grand-infants and my senior dad when he was on hospice. One grandchild has her own cell phone and I just convinced my mom to get one as well, the Jitterbug simple cell phones for seniors. (). Another dear relative uses the Phillips Lifeline necklace which he has put to good use three times already.
Most of my beloved seniors use the computer at least a little. One taught herself to use it, with only a few phone calls to us for help. We were so proud of her! Another took a seniors’ computer class. A third enjoys the photo slideshow screensaver of all her grandkids and great grandkids.
Truly technology is a blessing. Unfortunately, it isn’t perfect. As caregivers, it falls to us to not just care for our beloveds, but to help them in caring for their technology. We can do this by passing on security alerts, such as yesterday’s warning about Gmail . We can also help by periodically checking with them about their important technology tools to make sure they are still working.
Today I tried several times to call my senior mom on her Jitterbug cell phone for senior citizens, but kept getting a busy signal. I was so glad I hadn’t gotten rid of our land-line, as I had considered doing a few weeks ago. Using it, I was able to reach her and find out she was just fine. I had her turn her Jitterbug off and on but it still gave her a busy signal. I finally called Jitterbug. After about a 15 minute wait I talked to a very helpful operator (they are all wonderfully helpful!), who explained that they were having technical difficulties but had discovered the problem and were working on it very industriously. They hoped to have it fixed sometime in the next few hours. Since my sweet husband was a data center supervisor for several years, I know very well that occurrences like that, while few, do happen. I also know the staff was probably working double-shifts, extra hard, and getting yelled at by at least a handful of irate phone callers. Unfortunately, that is one of the facts of life. Technology is great, but it does crash periodically. It’s not a question of if but when.
The point to all of this, besides letting fellow Jitterbug users know what’s up with their phone 🙂 , is to serve as a reminder to all of us, myself included, to check on our aging parents’ technology tools regularly. I know my senior with the Lifeline is required to make a test each month by the day of the month that is their birthday. If their birthday is the 8th of the month, every month by the 8th they are to check in. They are supposed to get a reminder on the 8th if they haven’t yet checked in. When I talked to him, he commented that this month that hadn’t happened. He hadn’t called them, but I encouraged him to give them a call to see if it needs to be reset.
One method to help monitor all of this is to tie it in with the time changes. Each time there is a time change, we are all reminded to check the smoke alarm batteries. We can use those reminders to help remind us to check on our beloved seniors to be sure their batteries are also fine, and to see how the other technology tools they use are doing. Your elderly parents will appreciate you for doing this, and you’ll be glad, too, as you will, hopefully, have fewer tech problems to deal with. And any time there are fewer problems, it makes the Sandwich Generation issues of our lives a lot easier!