What The Fox Says: Teaching Older People To Use Their Phones
You may have heard me mention that, a few weeks ago, I bought my mother a new smartphone. For the last few years, she had been using a cheap flip phone that was starting to die. It was acting funky and it getting to the point where the microphone sounded muffled so no one could understand what she was saying.
During a recent trip to Houlton, I had her meet me at the local U. S. Cellular store. After getting the phone setup, the woman at the store (patiently) went over the basics of using the phone with her. Before head back to Central Maine, I told her to call me or visit the local store, if she had any questions about how to use the phone.
I checked in with her several times over the next few days. She seemed to be doing okay with the phone. She told me that she had visited the store where we got it a couple times to have them review some of the basics with her.
And, she called me once to ask how to answer her phone. Until I explained it to her, she had been letting incoming calls ring and then calling them back.
Then, early last week, radio silence... Every time I called, her phone went right to voicemail. Well, a prompt telling me that her voicemail box had never been setup. At the store, we'd made the decision not to set it up because it seemed a little confusing and unnecessary for an 80 year old.
This went on for several days, no matter what time of the day I called. At first, I just assumed she had forgotten to charge her phone. After day three, I started to get concerned. Was her phone broken? Did she not understand how the charger worked? Worse... Was she injured?
In the end, I called the Aroostook County Sheriff's Department. They rushed over to her apartment to do a well-check visit.
Thank God it ended up being nothing major.
It turns out, one of the settings on her phone caused it to beep loudly when there was a missed call. Unable to figure out how to turn the audible alert off, she was leaving her phone off. She would only turn it on when she wanted to make a call. I told her to stop by the store the next time she was in town because they'd be able to fix that problem in just a couple seconds.
The moral of the story, spend a little extra time making sure your parents, or grandparents, are comfortable with the basics of how their phone works before you turn them loose.
My next task? Getting Mom on Facebook so she can see pictures of her grandkids.