February Goodness: Anything Not Connected to the Internet

Today I am celebrating all things that don’t require screens in order to be enjoyed. I am thankful for books, knitting and jigsaw puzzles, face to face conversations and walks outside, cat petting and sitting by the fireplace.

And just why did you stop petting me?

This morning I went over to Mom to get a particular TV series on her set so we could watch it together. An hour of utter frustration followed, as I tried one thing after another. I encountered freeze ups, dead batteries in remotes, rebooting, forgotten passwords, locked accounts and basically one fail after another. I can get the program on my TV at my house, but not at hers and that is the end conclusion (at least for today). I am too upset to continue.

I am more than a little frightened at how dependent I (we all) have become on the internet and all our devices. I can’t even bake a loaf of bread anymore without looking on the internet for a recipe. The trouble is, this has happened so quickly to our world. I remember a time, not that long ago, without pc’s, cell phones and smart watches. I am blessed to have always lived in a world with electricity and indoor plumbing but perhaps those things also scared people who came to depend on them. If it’s true that there’s no going back, then we had better hope we don’t have to because most of us won’t know how to keep ourselves alive. It won’t be pretty.

This trend to take a day off technology every now and then is probably a smart move in the right direction. But look at me, I had to sit down and vent here on my blog. And what if I didn’t have Fitbit telling me I was “crushing it” and Noom congratulating me for logging three meals in a row? If I didn’t have the internet, who would love me? Yeah, …

Maybe, this line of thought is a good reality check, a chance to be more aware of the stress of our cyber culture. Anyway, back to the world of available choices – I am thankful for a change of pace. I’m going to do something non-technological, like taking a nap or eating chocolate. I’ll feel better soon. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll google “technology frustration” and see what the remedy is, just sayin’…

Good choice. Real chocolate.

A to Z Challenge: Letter K for Keeping Records

Do you trust your memory for a lot of things? Do you ever forget if something happened a week ago or two weeks ago? Do you ever complete a routine task without concentrating on it and later wonder if you did it? I have been in all these places at one time or another. Sometimes the person I’m caring for can help me out. Other times my person has been too young, too sick, struggling with dementia, or maybe just as distracted as I am. Learning to keep records would save me in these situations, and I admit I haven’t got this down perfectly. But, there are a few things I’ve found helpful.

I have started the habit of writing things down, and keep paper and pencil in multiple places. Even the things I think I’m going to remember may get clouded with other facts and happenings. My aunt and uncle keep a calendar close to their phone and write down their appointments when they get a reminder call. I use a datebook for appointments but also to record significant events, like a fall, the start of a new symptom or a medication side effect. Doctors often ask about these things so the datebook always goes along to appointments.

Another good use for your notebook is to record blood pressure readings if your “person” has hypertension and is on medication for that. Ideally, the doctor will want to have BP taken each day, at the same time of day and with the same monitor, until he knows the medication is working well. If you are buying a blood pressure monitor, get one that records date, time and pressure and stores the information for later reference.

See the little button bottom left? It keeps record of past readings.

Monitoring medications is one of the more serious tasks of caregiving, and it does require keeping records. A helpful website for this is Drugs.com. It keeps track of all the medications and their possible interactions for anyone who cares to make a free account and input their information. It’s almost like having your own personal pharmacist.

I love to make use of online apps that help me connect with doctors and clinics. Our rural clinic gives access to primary care and specialty docs through a health app that keeps track of all appointments, visit summaries, and medication lists. As a caretaker I had to set up my family members’ accounts and sign the necessary legal papers (proxies) to have access to their records. All four of the people I help through the app are linked to my own account and I only need one password. I can ask questions and get answers for them, change appointments when necessary, and see test results. This has been especially helpful during this pandemic time.

Portraits of our vitamin friends.

Don’t forget that if you have a smart phone, you have a valuable helper. I took pictures of all my husband’s supplements and medications, which can be referenced any time someone asks me about dosages. I also put my family members birth dates, addresses, and doctor’s names in the notes section of their contact record on my phone. It really helps to have that information handy when filling out forms at doctor’s offices.

And do you have a file cabinet? I do. I have folders for our medical, dental and vision visits and bills. I also have files for those papers from insurance companies that tell you what they’ve been billed. I’ve heard so much about insurance fraud and if I see procedures that I don’t recognize, I ask questions. I don’t always understand what I’m seeing, but I’m afraid to throw them away (most of the time.)

Start your stash of records now and keep them up to date.

Internet Bondage

One small bar and that little shield with the exclamation point… sigh.

It’s hard to explain this title. Let me start by saying that I’m in an “internet challenged” environment for the past three days and am feeling more affected by that than I thought possible. If I had purposely gone into the wilderness and left all my devices behind, intending to drop out of communication, it would be entirely different. Reality is, I have my smart phone, my tablet, and my laptop 2-in-1 with me and had thought this time away would be a chance to write and pay attention to my blog and keep up with what’s happening at home as well. Not happening.

Frustration was birthed on the first day when I wanted to make arrangements for my trip home – an overnight motel in Minneapolis and a car from Tampa to my home in Bradenton. This took hours of re-establishing connection and watching the little spooling dots go round and round. Some pages took so long to load, I thought my computer had frozen, so I rebooted, several times.

Multiple pop-ups warned me to get off the unprotected network here at the assisted living apartment where I’m staying with Mom. I had already considered the risk of all the senior hackers that might be nearby, but there was no way to console my frantic security program.  I suppose it was because I was in a different location that all my usual web venues decided to ask for passwords that I did not have with me. Add to that the apps that ask for information leading down a 10-minute-long rabbit trail, only to tell me something at the end that was totally undecipherable. At that point there were no more drop down menus, no back buttons, no boxes for input, no hidden arrows or xs, no hope… Ah, well.

You would think that I would not want to spread this misery around, but I do like to share. I decided to get my mom a smart phone. You see,  I have an “80 something” year old mom who goes on Facebook, GroupMe, does email and daily solitaire challenges.  In spite of what she can do, she has resisted moving on from her old flip phone, claiming that she is afraid of touching the wrong button, accidentally signing up for something she doesn’t want or getting her identity stolen. These may be valid concerns but, more importantly, we want to send her pictures and texts, 24/7, whether she’s on her computer or not. She needs a smart phone.

I mentioned that I was in a somewhat remote area, remote enough that even the Walmart here does not have things other Walmarts have. There were no simple Jitterbug phones for seniors. There was however, a Verizon store in an old remodeled house. Once inside, it looked less like a bed and breakfast and more familiar, right down to the four geek people, nonchalantly waiting to sell and up-sell. An hour and a half later I left with an entry level Samsung phone and a clear promise that it could be returned within 14 days if it didn’t work out (and an Otter Box, a PureGear screen protector, an offer to join Hum which I resisted, an offer to upgrade my husband’s phone which I rejected, a suggestion that my daughter upgrade her plan which I will leave up to her,  a promise that mom could come back to the store anytime with questions, and a request for a favorable response to the survey about my “experience”). Whew!

We will keep this prehistoric device around for a couple more days, just in case.

A day later, we are enjoying (I think) our smart phone tutorials. I was able to get all my travel reservations accomplished. I am getting used to the limitations of connectivity here. I am resigned to the things that cannot be.

In retrospect, maybe I should have used the opportunity to distance myself from the frustrating world of the web. Yeah, probably, but I didn’t. It’s becoming harder and harder to do that, even though it is, at times, a frustrating place to hang out.  I have to wrap this up now – it’s been an hour since I checked my phone.

What has the world come to? Are you ever plagued with a dependency on your “devices”? Are you able to take a break from them and tell the internet to get lost?