DEAR MS SMARTPHONE: MY MOTHER INSISTS THAT NO ONE CALLS HER ANYMORE. I DO CALL HER AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK BUT IT TURNS OUT THAT SHE HAS THE RINGER TURNED OFF OR THE MUTE BUTTON TURNED ON. I DON’T LIVE THAT CLOSE BY, SO IT’S HARD TO CHANGE THESE SETTINGS ON HER PHONE. C.K., Richmond
Dear C.K.: When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone he worried that people would not understand how to use it. The earliest users picked up the “talking stick” and completed the call with an Operator. I teach seniors about phones and find that what you describe is somewhat commonplace. You might consider getting your mother a digital assistant that uses voice commands. For a less techno approach, ask a friend or caregiver to check in on her, and also show her the advantages of sometimes using text. If all else fails, put a post card in the mail to Mom, with a sketch of the on/off and mute buttons!