I speak to my 86-year-old mother every day. She lives independently in Manhattan, volunteers at MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) and is quite active. Last Monday, she was complaining that her iPad was not connecting to her WiFi. I tried to walk her through a reboot of her router and the iPad. She was up in arms without WiFi because she couldn’t send email. I reminded her that she could from her iPhone or laptop, so she said goodbye and hung up.
By Wednesday, she still had not figured it out. I’m fortunate to have three people in our IT department, so I called her and handed my phone to Ed, the director of the department. He was great, the patience of a saint; he took her step by step until he could do no more and said she had to call Verizon. Whatever he did or Verizon did by pinging the router, she now has her WiFi back. She is happy.
So, what do normal people do when the aged parent has a tech problem and there are no grandchildren local or children with IT departments?
The first thing I’d suggest is to make sure they know the very basic computer functions (and I’d suggest you type them out in a large font and tape them to the side of the computer or put it in a handy location for reference):
- How to turn the computer on and off. And that they should close all programs before shutting down the computer.
- How to connect to the internet (WiFi basics and secure log-in credential basics).
- How to navigate to google.com (or set that up as the home page) and then how to search any topic. Ditto google maps. Bookmark that and explain bookmarks.
- How to send email.
- How to use Facebook.
Next, it might make a nice Mother’s Day present if you popped for a reliable, reputable remote service. Geek Squad, Best Buy’s 24-hour tech support task force, and the AARP launched “Tech Support for AARP Members,” a comprehensive subscription program that supports AARP members and their personal technology with unlimited access to Geek Squad personnel by phone, online and in the store. The partnership also offers discounts on in-home service calls.
A one-year membership in the program costs between $99.99 and $169.99 and includes a personal tech shopper, setup and installation of computers, tablets and peripherals and troubleshooting and repair services. The service also includes phone training on every device from digital cameras to Internet safety.
Technology is wonderful when it works, but it’s a curse when we become too dependent on it.
p.s. Ed said my mother was better with directions than some of my techs; I may offer her a job.