My mother-in-law is a very regal, classy eighty-eight year old lady. She has had her share of health setbacks but overall is doing pretty well – with the exception of her hearing.
She has state-of-the art (aka really expensive) hearing aids, yet we can never hear her on the phone. Sometimes it’s because she doesn’t put them in. Other times it’s because we are calling in on my cell phone and I use a headset so somewhere in the mystery of technology the quality isn’t great.
But the biggest challenge we have had is finding phones for her condo. Back in the olden days you rented your phones from the phone company. They didn’t have any bells or whistles. Caller ID wasn’t invented so your options were the princess phone or the standard phone and they worked – really well!
They reason they worked so well is they were really good quality phones made in the USA. And since the phone company rented them to you, they had to last – FOREVER. The phones you buy these days are disposable. They are meant for you to keep them for a few years and, like your cell phone, upgrade when you get a whim. Or when you walk by the Costco electronics aisle and decide you want new ones.
It’s impossible to find a basic phone with Caller ID big enough for a little old lady but with no other bells or whistles. In this case, less-is-more. She doesn’t want cordless, so it has to be a desk model. She needs an answering machine, but only one.
Recently she received TTY phones from the government (no idea where really) and they work really well – for her. We thought the problem was solved.
When my husband went up last week she showed off her new phones and then warned him that it is against the law for him to answer them since they are only for the hearing-impaired.
He was sitting in the den watching TV and the phone rang and rang. He, being a law-abiding citizen, didn’t answer it. She came in using her walker from the other room after the ringing stopped and asked who was on the phone. He said he didn’t know. “Why not?” she asked. He answered that he didn’t answer the phone. She was bewildered. “Why not?”
“Because you told me it was against the law,” he said.
I don’t think that it would be illegal for him to answer the phone and then go get her. I think she missed the point. The government – or whoever has sponsored these devices – doesn’t want to pay to transcribe every call for every person in the house. It’s for the hearing-impaired.
But let’s not get crazy here. Maybe if we could buy some good-quality, made in the USA phones with Caller ID and have one with an answering machine – or a separate answering machine – she wouldn’t need the TTY phones. Maybe she could pick up any phone in the house (with her hearing aids in) and just talk.
Well – maybe that is crazy.
What are your technology challenges? Do you long for simpler days?