A Senior in the Electronic World

The lack of electronic comprehension is a plague on most senior citizens. I, for one, desperately need help.

Hey, medical professionals, this could be a real moneymaker. Would it be possible to establish a brain “re-habituation” division? A couple of one week sessions in all new things electronic - computers, cameras, cars, and remote anything. It could even be bigger than knee surgery or Silver Sneakers. And maybe our kids will pay for it to stop the constant barrage of needy technical questions.

Life's Little Mysteries

My electronic life starts first thing in the morning with a phone alarm. After triple checking to make sure it's set right, the alarm goes off with a soft pinging bell that fits right into my sleep pattern, so I sleep in. Come on, who wears a hearing aid to bed? Where are the old fire-bell clanging windup clocks?

Next is using a remote to turn up the window air-conditioner. No knobs, just the innocent-looking remote. Freeze or swelter. The middle temperature is somewhere between energy saver, auto fan speed, and sleep - and it requires constant adjustment.

Finding the TV remote in the bed covers is the first exercise of the day. If it’s not in the bed covers, I use the flashlight on my cell phone. I go to “more apps”, second screen, hit flashlight and it lights up. If I run my fingers down the screen, the phone emits a flashing strobe light that can be used if I get separated from friends at a crowded event.

The TV morning news is easy to get: first, I hit the power button once, then twice, then the guide button, then the ch/pg button, pick a channel and then hit the vol button. Voila! Through many painful experiences, I’ve learned the golden rule of TV viewing: DO NOT TOUCH ANY OTHER BUTTONS!

When I’m ready to go out, I use my remote car starter. It’s great - the car is nice and toasty and some ice is melted. All I have to worry about is misplacing the remote or getting distracted and forgetting about starting the car - it can go all day until it runs out of gas.

The Bigger Mysteries

Now for the big boys of electronic mysteries - computers, printers, scanners, new cars and new phones. Just when you think you can handle one of these, you will get an upgrade that you did not want or order. I immediately pick up the phone and beg my kids for help.

Last week, I dropped my cell phone, shattering the screen. A new upgrade and the learning process have me in intense training. My kids will not take my phone calls. I’m becoming a close friend of Brianna, who works at the phone store in the mall.

I got a new 2015 Toyota this week. The dashboard looks like a control panel on a jet plane. I can make phone calls from my steering wheel!  A woman can find me an Italian restaurant, call for reservations and give me directions to get there. It’s called a GPS and it’s on the phone that magically connects with the car.

I also need to learn how “Bluetooth” works. It’s also on the phone. I can pick out my favorite songs from the 50s and 60s, burn them on a disc, and load them on Bluetooth. I don’t know how to do any of this, but my grandchildren assure me it’s easy. Each one runs on an invisible "cloud".

The dashboard on my new car has 23 knobs and dials. I have figured out power, outside rear view control, the headlight and turn signals, wiper and washer controls, emergency flasher button, clock, hood release, and key ignition. I’m still exploring steering wheel audio controls, telephone controls, paddle shift switches, DISP switch, air-conditioning controls, meters (for what?), shift lever, and tire pressure monitoring. I won’t list all the dials and knobs and what they are suppose to do - it’s just too exhausting. 

My last car was a 1998 Toyota Corolla with two dials and a radio on the dashboard. I had it for 17 years.     So, medical professionals, is there any help out there for the seniors who are technologically challenged?


Margaret Patton

Peggy Calvey Patton is a freelance writer. She lives in West Park.

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Volume 2, Issue 11, Posted 4:42 PM, 06.07.2015