An older woman looking bewildered holds her hands up and backs away from a cell phone that is floating in a magical, colorful cloud.

Technowizardry: Technology Can Be Confusing with Alzheimer's

Technology. It’s one of those can’t-live-with-it-can’t-live-without-it kind of things. I googled to see how many devices a smartphone can replace. One article says 50. It’s a nice, round number, but it seems a little low. As I said, I googled, which is an uncapitalized verb now, instead of pulling out my set of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Mom's challenges with using a cell phone

My parents had a flip phone years ago. It was good for emergencies. Mom had a terrible time using it. She could answer the thing, most of the time. Texting was a challenge when you had to push the buttons numerous times to cycle through the letters and symbols assigned to them. Her schedule was pretty open, so if it took a while, that was ok. Finding the messages again was difficult, backtracking through a maze of various messages like a crazy flow chart.

My grandmother, her mom, had a cell phone bolted into her car. Her plan had about 11 minutes on it. It was really for emergencies before On Star. I remember asking her if, growing up, she ever dreamed of having a car with a phone in it. She said she never even dreamed of having a house with a phone in it!! Ahhh, technology!

The teens in our house led the way in new technology. They usually do. When one’s smartphone was due for an upgrade, they got the new one, and grandma got the old one. It was a pretty good deal for her. It was supposed to make things easier for all of us. It was user-friendly, intuitive. The problem was, the intuition is geared to a different generation, one with options and redundancies, not one that is looking for the one right way, the on-off switch vs. the dimmer and sound-activated strobe LEDs.

Technology can complicate things for someone with Alzheimer's

Technology has complicated things in our house. It is difficult to teach mom about butt dialing, touch screens, clickbait, and fake news. “Mom, it’s a touch screen. If you touch it, it will do something. You need to lock your screen. Where did your email/contacts/photos/show/puzzle/game go? How did you delete them? Hit cancel. No, you called Bill/Sarah/Marie/me.” “It did it by itself? No, ma, it’s not magic. It can’t do that.” It’s technowizardry. The TV remote works by itself all the time.

Mom stormed in the kitchen upset. “Kelly Ripa was fired from her show because she liked a beauty product she used that was not one that advertised on her show!” “What?! Let me look that up. (I googled.) Kelly is doing just fine. Mom, that’s what is called “clickbait”. Someone posts something inflammatory, so you will click on it and see the product they are advertising.” “That’s not right! They shouldn’t put stuff on the Internet if it’s not true!” She stormed back out of the kitchen. Oh, my sweet mother. Perhaps, I need to rethink the landline.

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