As most of you know both my parents are nearly 80 – my Mum is physically disabled and an alcoholic and my Dad has learning difficulties and mild dementia. They both really struggle with the modern world and are clueless when it comes to technology.
When they first got their cordless phone it took them forever to understand that they now had to press the green button to pick up a call and the red button to finish the call – they kept forgetting to press red then nobody could get through. It also took ages for them to get used to using the phone book and speed dial, but now they love it because they can’t remember anyone’s phone numbers in any event (can any of us?!).
My Dad now also has a mobile phone on which he can make and receive calls although texting is beyond him, however at least he can ring 999 on it if needed and more importantly we can ring him to check he’s OK when he’s out and about.
I live 6 miles from my parents, but there’s currently masses of roadworks and diversions and I have to drive 9 miles to see them making an 18 mile round trip. As you know, I was out all day yesterday plus have been feeling rubbish all week so today I’m exhausted but I always ring my parents every morning to check they’re OK…………..and this morning the phone rang and rang and rang and not only did no-one pick up the answer phone didn’t kick in. Summat was up (as we say in the north). I eventually got through on my Dad’s mobile, though, so at least knew they were both fine but there was clearly an issue with the landline.
So after I took Bertie out this afternoon I drove the 9 miles into town to discover the base wasn’t working on their cordless phone so neither of the handsets could make or receive a call. I tried everything Google told me to do and eventually concluded the base had become faulty and would have to go back to Amazon (luckily it’s under warranty). However, this left them without a landline, vital for Mum should Dad be out and have taken his mobile with him.
So I drove the 9 miles home, picked up an old corded landline phone I keep in case of power cuts, and drove the 9 miles back into town with it. I plugged it in, rang my mobile on it to make sure it was working, showed mum how to use it and drove the 9 miles back home again. By this time it was 4.30pm and, as I’m usually in bed by then, I was feeling pretty ropey.
I was just about to get into my pjs when my mobile rang – it was my Mum, using my Dad’s mobile to ring me to say that she’d tried to use the corded phone to ring me but it said ‘number not recognized’. So I patiently, again, went through how to ring out on the corded phone (“don’t press any other buttons than the numbers” I tell her, “there’s no green or red buttons like on the other phone”). I asked my Mum to try it again and ring me back. Nothing. So I rang the mobile back only to get a voice telling me the call could not be made. So I tried ringing the landline, only of course it was engaged as my Mum was trying to ring me. *sigh*.
Eventually Mum gave up trying to ring me so I could then ring her. “What’s happening?” I ask.
“The stupid bloody phone still won’t work” she replies testily and now your Dad’s mobile is saying “sim not recognized”. I have no fucking clue what they’d done but were effectively now without a phone to ring the emergency services if needed. I told her to put my Dad on the line, asked him to turn his mobile off and back on again, and he said he had but it still said “sim not recognized”. FFS. I couldn’t leave them like that all night, so in my slippers I bundle Bertie back in the car and drive the 9 mile back to town.
I tried ringing my mobile from the corded landline phone and it worked a treat. I also called my home phone and it worked a treat. “Well it wasn’t working when I did it!” my Mum shouted at me, obviously embarrassed that the phone was clearly fine she had just pressed something she shouldn’t. So, using every ounce of patience I possess, I went through yet again how to dial out on the phone when what I actually wanted to say was “well if you weren’t bloody drunk all the time you might manage better!”
I then turned my Dad’s mobile off and back on again and it, too, was working perfectly.
I got back in the car and drove the 9 miles home. I now feel too sick with tiredness to even contemplate eating my dinner and the much needed bath I was going to have has gone out the window as I no longer have the energy.
Things like this happen week in week out, month in month out, year in year out. Caring for elderly and confused relatives isn’t just about hospital appointments or putting the bins out – it’s about the million and one little things which frazzle your nerves, test your patience and drain you of energy. And it’s all doubly difficult when you’re ill yourself and have no-one caring for you.
Thank you for listening to my little rant – I have no-one else to tell y’see and it always helps the frustration to put it down on paper. The shitty part is I know my Mum still can’t use the corded phone and neither could my Dad if needed, so basically it’s all been a great big waste of time and energy. I’m off to order a replacement cordless phone with next day delivery on Amazon and to arrange to send the faulty one back.